PRINT March 1990


The Global Issue

When asked why he wished to be buried upside down, Diogenes replied, “Down will soon be up.”

“WRITING BEFORE THE EXHIBITION,” I remarked in the catalogue of the Centre Pompidou’s ”Magiciens de la terre“ show in Paris lost summer, ”I do not know (nor moy I after) how well or badly it will fulfill its post-Modern agenda.“ My essay was written three years ago. Now the exhibition has happened, occasioning a hail of mostly negative criticism rather similar in premise to the attacks (including my own) on the Museum of Modern Art’s ”‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art“ show in New York in 1984. One has to be sympathetic to the antihegemonic impulse behind this criticism of ”Magiciens de la terre." Still, in the end, I feel, it misses the point.

Like many viewers, I did have problems with the show. There were many distressing signs of residual colonialist attitudes. As various reviewers pointed out,

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