The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age. The exhibition takes an in-depth, multidisciplinary look at how contemporary art and culture are defined and presented in a global context. Examining the ways that globalization affects visual culture, the exhibition includes work by twenty-eight international artists, many making their United States debut. The work of these artists is determinedly individualized, yet provocatively informed by its cultural context. Artists from Brazil, China, India, Japan, South Africa, Turkey and the U.S. who work in media ranging from drawings and architectural structures to new media installations and documentary films are featured in the exhibition.
Organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, as part of an ongoing global initiative, the exhibition includes groundbreaking work such as the Brazilian artist Marepe’s Acoustic Head where tin washbasins and cook pots are transformed into a one-person movable echo chamber; Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Ozawa’s Museum of Soy Sauce Art, a tiny three-room “museum” that traces the supposed use of soy sauce in the making of several centuries of Japanese art; and Indian artist Anita Dube’s wall drawing, The Sleep of Reason Creates Monsters, a recreation of the sphinx-like image from Goya’s Caprichos using hundreds of the tiny ceramic eyes that are often affixed to figures in Hindu temples. Yin Xiuzhen, who lives and works in Beijing, employs used clothing to make fragile and quirky models of various metropolises in old suitcases that sit open on the floor. Tabaimo, who is from Tokyo, lampoons familiar stereotypes of Japanese life—commuter trains, sushi, overworked businessmen—in an affecting multi-projected animation; and Moshekwa Langa creates drawings, photographs, videos and installations that use common, everyday detritus to comment on his diasporic identity as a native South African who lives in Amsterdam.
Other featured artists include: Jennifer Allora (United States); Guillermo Calzadilla (Cuba); Bahri Alptekin (Turkey); Can Altay (Turkey); Kaoru Arima (Japan); Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Japan); Momoyo Kaijima (Japan) Cabelo (Brazil); Franklin; Cassaro Brazil); Santiago Cucullu (Argentina); Esra Ersen (Turkey); Sheela Gowda (India); Zon Ito (Japan); Cameron Jamie (United States); Karamustafa (Turkey); Hiroyuki Oki (Japan); Raqs Media Collective/Artists in Residence (India); Robin Rhode (South Africa); Usha Seejarim (South Africa); Ranjani K. Shettar (India); Song Dong (China); Wang Jian-wei (China); and Zhao Liang (China).
Ranging from drawings to architectural structures, new media installations to documentary films, the work in How Latitudes Become Forms resists simplistic artistic designations. Many dwell in a realm between technical and conceptual borders, combining popular culture, the mundane and traditional to reveal the subversive, expansive power of art. How is art from other countries being displayed? How does it travel and translate from the locales where it is conceived into the global arena? Do new meanings result and are original assumptions lost during the course of this journey? Often creating site-specific, collaborative works and privileging process over form, the artists in the exhibition stretch the definitions of their media. Embracing a sense of civic responsibility that redefines activism, they seem to prefer “making art politically” rather than “making political art.” Their work explores concepts of the local and the global, but avoids making a distinction between the two. How Latitudes Become Forms presents projects intended to be explored by artists and audiences together in an alternative and open-ended reflection on the ongoing shifts in our global age.
“This exhibition allows us to examine how art changes depending on the context within which it is viewed, inviting the setting to be almost as important as the works themselves,” said Paola Morsiani, Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. “These multi-faceted pieces invite us to acknowledge that there cannot be a homogenous definition of what constitutes a work of art and that our own criteria of evaluation should be constantly reassessed. ”
How Latitudes Become Forms explores how global change impacts art, blurs the lines between disciplines and takes new physical shapes. These findings result from the input of a global committee made up of curators and scholars from around the world including Walter Chakela, Director, Windybrow Theater, Johannesburg, South Africa; Vishaka N. Desai, President, the Asia Society, New York; Hou Hanru, Paris-based independent curator-critic with an emphasis on contemporary Chinese art; PauloHerkenhoff, independent curator, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and former Adjunct Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; VasifKortun, Director and founder of Proje4L and Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum, Istanbul; Hidenaga Otori, theater critic, Tokyo, Japan; and Baraka Sele, Curator and Producer, New Jersey Performing Arts Center World Festival, Newark, New Jersey.