About the Project

Global Art and the Museum

Cover of the publication »Contemporary Art and the Museum«
GAM – Global Art and the Museum was initiated by Peter Weibel and Hans Belting in 2006 at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. The project represents a first attempt at documenting the contested boundaries of today’s art world; its aim is to spark a debate on how the globalization process changes the art scene and to undertake a critical review of the development 20 years after its onset.

Globalization is the most important phenomenon in the history of recent art. Biennials and landmark exhibitions initiated the global turn in the art scene when the so-called New World Order removed Cold War restrictions and not only introduced international free trade with all its implications, but also shifted the attention from a bi-polar political conflict to new ideas of cosmopolitanism or multiculturalism after 1989.

In many countries contemporary art has since become an economic project including huge cultural districts with museums and art fairs. But it has also become a sociopolitical endeavor powered by – often diverging – ideologies of identity, self-determination and overall social change. Especially spectacular has been the rise of a new type of art museum, the MoCA, which promotes contemporary art without borders and without history. Collectors’ and corporate museums are a result of the new clientele within the art market, which, today, extends to more than 50 countries. Whereas, with the new geography of auction houses, the art trade acts on a global scale, art museums, by contrast, operate within a national or urban framework in which they encounter the most diverse audiences. While art collecting has become en vogue on an unprecedented scale, it often lacks a common notion of art. Contemporary art also invades former ethnographic museums, which are forced to remap their areas of collecting. As yet, the novelty of the situation defies any safe categories. Under these circumstances, GAM is presently building up a network that will help to obtain otherwise rarely available information and to win partners who represent the art scene worldwide.

Global Window

The GAM website is connected to a database that functions as a research tool for documenting the present art world. Under the category “Global Window” you can find a series of essays that international experts kindly shared with us as »Monthly Guest Authors«, while with the series »Moca of the Month« we wish to draw attention to the fast-changing landscape of museums, institutions and alternative art spaces devoted to contemporary art on a global scale. It is our goal not to limit the selection to institutional global players but rather to broaden it with alternative and non-for-profit organizations which play an important role in supporting a local art scene. Besides the two ongoing columns, »Global News from The Art Newspaper 2009-2011« offers a retrospective of Hans Belting’s monthly reviews of the topics discussed in the eponymous magazine.

Following the ZKM Summer Seminar 2009, GAM has also created a Facebook Group as a platform for exchanging ideas, links and media concerning our topics, and for announcements regarding our website and related events. Everyone with a Facebook Account is invited to join and contribute under GAM – Global Art and the Museum.




International Conferences

  Between 2006 and 2007 GAM prepared its activities with four international conferences, which took place in Vienna at the IFK (International Research Center for Cultural Sciences) and at the ZKM | Karlsruhe. The last conference Curating in Asia, held at the ZKM in December 2011, was a follow up of the Hong Kong platform (2009) and was attended by curators and artists active in the Asian art scene. With the conference we addressed the issue of the complex phenomenon of art curating in Asia, which involves various institutions or even creates an art context, which before had not existed. In 2014, as part of the theoretical foundations of the GLOBALE an international conference with with approx. 40 curators who seismographically record and reflect the process of transformation triggered by globalization was organized.


  GAM’s book series opened with the volume »Contemporary Art and the Museum. A Global Perspective« (2007), followed by a second volume edited by Hans Belting and Andrea Buddensieg under the title »The Global Art World. Audiences, Markets and Museums «(2009). The third volume has been released in conjunction with the exhibition opening in September 2011 as a ZKM publication and, like the previous ones, was published by Hatje Cantz. »Global Studies. Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture« was edited by Hans Belting, Jacob Birken, Andrea Buddensieg and Peter Weibel and includes 22 international contributors. In occasion of the project’s exhibition »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989« we published an extensive brochure in English and German, a catalogue was released in 2013. In 2015 the proceedings of the international conference »Biennials: Prospect and Perspectives« were published.


  The project is conducting a series of preparatory GAM-platforms. The first platform took place in August 2008 (São Paulo), the second in October 2008 (New Delhi), and the third in May 2009 (Hong Kong). In each case, the platform entertained a workshop where the project GAM was discussed by experts from the region, followed by a general debate about the impact of globalization on the respective art scene. The platforms were organized in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, and with an academic institution on the site. They have found a vivid resonance and served for building up a network.

ZKM Summer Seminar

  The Fritz Thyssen Foundation has supported ten ZKM Summer Fellowships given to overseas scholars for participation in a seminar that took place at the Forschungskolleg für Humanwissenschaften Frankfurt in Bad Homburg, and at the ZKM | Karlsruhe, from June 21 to July 1, 2009. The seminar was directed by Hans Belting and guests, and presented individual papers and current reading materials for discussion. The aim of the seminar was to analyze the situation of art museums, the art market and art criticism under the spell of globalization. The program was followed by a public event with a general debate, which was held at the ZKM on June 28.

ZKM Global Studies – Summer Academy

  Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the GAM Project together with the ZKM | Karlsruhe launched the first edition of the “ZKM Global Studies”, under the working title Art and Visual Media Today on June 18/20 2010. With the “ZKM Global Studies” the GAM project established a platform for an interdisciplinary discourse on art and media on a global scale. Although not being a university itself, during the course of the seminar the ZKM gathers scholars from different German-speaking universities and different disciplines such as art history, ethnology, film studies, cultural studies, philosophy or sociology to share and discuss their current researches.

ZKM Global Studies II – Fall Academy

  On October 19/20 2011 the ZKM research project GAM, in partnership with the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, held the second edition of the “ZKM Global Studies” under the title A Quest for the Concept of Art. Focus of the seminar was a critic and interdisciplinary approach to the possibility of a global notion of art. In continuity to the previous edition, the “ZKM Global Studies” aimed at bridging different disciplines such as art history, ethnology, film studies, cultural studies, philosophy or sociology by inviting scholars from different German-speaking universities to share their academic backgrounds around a given topic.

ZKM-Exhibition »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989«

  From September 17, 2011 to February 5, 2012, the GAM project has become visible to a larger audience by the comprehensive exhibition bearing the title »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989«. By means of artistic approaches and documentary materials, the show examined the way in which globalization, both with its pervasive mechanisms of the market and its utopias of networking and generosity, impacts upon the various spheres of artistic production and reception. The exhibition comprised several thematic modules exploring the complexity of the contemporary art production. In addition to the thematic set up, in a specially organized artist-in-residence program more than twelve international artists discussed the issues surrounding the project and the exhibition by producing site-specific or conceptually-related artworks. With the documentation segment Room of Histories the show undertook also a critical survey of the globalization of art, touching upon historical, geographical and economical issues.