Previously at the ICA - Events

Photo: Chinese toys in Liberty window

And I Bring Back Untold Treasures: The Curator As Artistic Importer

14 May 2008

In the postwar period progressive institutions had the unenviable task of attempting to re-orientate British culture away from colonialism and imperialist attitudes. As such the ICA frequently used its spaces to showcase art from other cultures. There was often a faddist tendency to art-world Internationalism: America was the home of the new in the 50s, while Germany seemed to lead the way in the 70s. Exhibitions such as Fluorescent Chrysanthemum: Contemporary Art from Japan celebrated other countries as 'different' and 'exciting'.

The current explosion of exhibitions focusing on art from China shows that the curator is still crucially involved in this cultural diplomacy. Increasingly the job of the curator is to see the world via its art fairs and biennales and to select 'treasures' with which to return. Is it arrogant to assume we have the tools to understand artwork from very different cultures? Is the practice of presenting different countries via their art scene a continued form of imperialistic attitude? What are we in search of in the international quest for the 'undiscovered'?

Speakers: Paul Domela, programme director (higher education and international exchange), Liverpool Biennial; Nicolette Kwok, director, The Red Mansion Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes artistic exchange between China and Britain; Mark Nash, head of curating contemporary art, Royal College of Art; Andrea Rose, director of visual arts, British Council. Chair: Anthony Downey, programme director, Contemporary Art MA, Sotheby's Institute of Art.

In association with the London Consortium and London Centre for Arts and Cultural Enterprise.

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