The Global Contemporary
Exhibition view The Global Contemporary
Art Worlds after 1989
Sat, September 17, 2011 – Sun, February 19, 2012

Globalization as a phase in the geo-political transformation of the world is at once a transformation of art – of the conditions of its production, and possibilities of its diffusion and dissemination and presence. At the same time, artists, and above all the institutions of art – large-scale exhibitions, museums, the art market – are faced with questions as to the extent to which the concept »global« can and must be thought – and how this reflects back on its own methods of working. By means of documentary materials and artistic approaches, the exhibition »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds after 1989« will examine 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.

This critical analysis of the key institutions and dispositives of the art world seeks to illustrate the manner in which globalization has both shaped and itself become a theme in artistic production that intentionally creates and reviews its own conditions and parameters. With »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds after 1989« the ZKM | Karlsruhe, as a utopian »factory« and work place in the best sense of the meaning, itself plans to thematize these conditions, which also influence everyday life beyond the art world: to make the museum itself a site of contemporaneity – a place in which local experiences of time subvert the unity of the new »universal time«.

The conception and design of the exhibition forms part of the research project »Global Art and the Museum (GAM)«, co-initiated by Hans Belting and Peter Weibel at the ZKM in 2006. Over the past two years, a network of protagonists and key institutions within the global art scene was established, which was then consolidated and extended by way of several seminars and conferences in both Karlsruhe and abroad. The ensuing discourse, captured in two publications and an extensive Website, thus constitutes the thematic framework of the exhibition, and through experimental implementation in »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds after 1989« is then reflected back into the »GAM« project. This academic, experimental examination of the art system, also remains decisive for the exhibition itself. Thus, the exhibition’s self-reflective dimension becomes one of its fundamental features, as underscored by a specially organized residency program and the work on art mediation. To this end, more than twelve international artists have been invited to discuss the issues surrounding »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds after 1989«, and to help throw critical light on the exhibition’s concepts. This critical discussion will take place in a particular place within the exhibition by the setting up of a »studio« in which visitors, mediators and artists realize artistic-educative projects, workshops and temporary presentations, and thus together help shape and co-author »The Global Contemporary«. Lastly, the critical, scholarly discourse initiated at the inception of the »GAM« project will be pursued throughout the course of the exhibition before being published in a comprehensive catalog.

Exhibitions team

(exhibition architecture)
Hans Belting (scientific advisor)
Andrea Buddensieg (project management)
Janine Burger (Museum Communication)
Martin Häberle (technical project management)
Samuel Korn (exhibition architecture)
Cathrin Langanke (registrar)
Antonia Marten (project management)
Marianne Meister (registrar)
Henrike Plegge (curator art education)

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Museum für Neue Kunst

Kulturstiftung des Bundes ; EnBW, Goethe Institut ; Haus&Grund, Karlsruhe ; Ikono ; Hubert Burda Stiftung

Accompanying program