“Bashed on the Head: Global and Local Tensions in the Life of an Artist,” is the new essay that I am writing for the TransCultural Exchange conference at Boston University organized by Professor Mary Sherman. The essay, which also gives the title to the panel, will be a moment of conversation between esteemed colleagues and the audience. The panel location is:  Boston University, George Sherman Union, 2nd Floor, Metcalf Hall, Small Hall – Thursday, February 25, 2016 3:15pm – 4:45pm. Moderator: Jean-Yves Coffre, Director, Camac, France. Jean-Yves Coffre’s presentation is supported, in part, by a TransCultural Exchange Travel Grant, and made possible by the generosity of Mrs. Ralph Ghormley. Fellow panelist members are: Moez Surani and Nina Leo, Poet and Multi-disciplinary Artists collaboratively working with language and scent; Alia Farid, Curator, Kuwait Pavilion, 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale; Luigi Galimberti, Co-Coordinator, Transnational Dialogues, whose presentation is supported, in part, by a TransCultural Exchange Travel Grant, made possible by the generosity of Mrs. Ralph Ghormley; Flavia D’Avila, Performer and Guest Member, Cultural Policies Committee and Binational Cultural Committee of Santana do Livramento, Brazil.

The panel could also be a moment to meet with me, if you happen to be in Boston, and discuss future projects and activities that we are developing for Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) and the Arts Administration @ Boston University.

Abstract: What does it mean to develop an artistic practice between cultures on the rise and cultures in disappearance? Is it possible to envisage an aesthetic of transformation devoid of conflict?

The paper will address the conflict and the differentiation between ‘this humanity’ and ‘that humanity’ [1] discussing the possibility or impossibility of establishing cultural dialogues in a context of religious and political conflict where freedom of speech and artistic expression are constantly denied and forced to be constructed within a socio-political discourse of glocal institutional and collective consensus. [2]

The importance of existing in the locus in order to understand and experience fractures, conflicts and problems, becomes a fixed fixture of contemporary aesthetic global interventions – which increasingly have less to do with the development of a critical artistic practice and more to do with the satisfaction of re-confirming preconceived cultural constructs, stereotypes subjugated to ideological stances and dogmatic perceptions of body politics which are disconnected from critical analyses and experiential practices.

In this context the artist has to negotiate between local and global practices by separating the two and filtering content for each activity taking the risk of either becoming all things to all audiences or confronting both local and global audiences, disregarding their expectations and wants.

The essay will conclude by exploring the possibilities and the lack of possibilities – within a world increasingly characterized by divides and conflicts – to develop artistic practices that are beyond the dichotomy of acceptance and rejection.

[ 1] Conflict, ideologies and identities divide humanity in acceptable and unacceptable groups, acceptable and unacceptable deaths. “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shed tears live TV on Aug. 22 over an Egyptian father’s letter to his daughter, who was killed by the security forces in Cairo.” No tears were shed over the hundreds of Yadizis being killed in Iraq and women and children being sold at the slaves’ markets. “Turkish PM Erdoğan Sheds Tears on TV over Egyptian Father’s Letter to Slain Young Girl,” Hurriyet Daily News, August 22, 2013, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-erdogan-sheds-tears-on-tv-over-egyptian-fathers-letter-to-slain-young-girl.aspx?pageID=238&nid=53078 (accessed January 3, 2015.) Also: Rya Jalabi, “Who Are the Yazidis and Why Is Isis Hunting Them?,” The Guardian, August 11, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/who-yazidi-isis-iraq-religion-ethnicity-mountains (accessed January 1, 2015).

[2]  “Many in authority regarded the cinema as a potential breeding ground for radicalism on the understanding that the lower classes were more gullible and open to political persuasion.” Tony Shaw, British Cinema and the Cold War: The State, Propaganda and Consensus (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), 11. Also: “At its peak, the Congress for Cultural Freedom had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances. Its mission was to nudge the intelligentsia of Western Europe away from its lingering fascination with Marxism and Communism towards a view more accommodating of ‘the American way.’” Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Art and Letters (New York: The New Press, 1999), 1.