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ENWEZOR SEES “MAJOR PARADIGM SHIFT”

A press conference held last week in Berlin for “Platform 1: Democracy Unrealized,” a series of lectures that will take place from October 9-30 as part of Documenta11, offered some indications of what might be the fallout of the terrorist attacks in the US in the world of international art. Artistic director Okwui Enwezor spoke of “a major shift in paradigm.” “We can only describe the events in the United States as changing our perception of reality,” said Enwezor. “What happened in New York and Washington has given us the possibility to think more critically about the questions that underlie the platforms of Documenta11.” Enwezor also announced that Thomas Hirschhorn is the first artist chosen to participate in Documenta11, but didn’t say whether the choice was informed by the recent events in New York.

“Democracy Unrealized” was designed to be a process of reimagining the global conditions under which politics and culture come together, and Enwezor insisted that its theme had gained a new urgency, but he offered few specifics about how he might be reconsidering Documenta11 in light of the recent events in the US. “It was part of the procedure of Documenta11 that artistic production must not be seen as autonomous to the general field of culture in which artists and institutions function. It must not be in isolation. I’m not trying to speak here of politics as a medium for art, nor about theory as a medium for art, but about a wider field for the engagement of art.”

Launched last spring at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, “Platform 1: Democracy Unrealized” is only one of four lecture series intended as traveling “discursive sites,” which explore diverse thematic issues surrounding the visual arts but also attempt to engage a public beyond the city of Kassel. “Platform 2: Experiments with Truth” was held in New Delhi last May, while “Platform3: Créolité and Créolization” will take place in St. Lucia in January 2002. “Platform 4: Under Siege: Four African Cities” is scheduled for March 2002 in Lagos. Documenta11 will open on June 8 as the fifth and final platform. Speakers in Berlin—including Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka and political theorist Ernesto Laclau—will have the difficult task of dealing with a new world order, if not a new form of war. The opening lecture, to be presented by Homi K. Bhabha, will be marked by the launch of Point d’ironie (No irony/Point of irony), an independent magazine curated by Hans-Ulrich Obrist. The first of twelve planned issues will feature the work of Thomas Hirschhorn.

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