[-empyre-] Thinking differently in scholarship and curation

William Bain willronb at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 13 23:21:04 AEDT 2020


DearEmpyre,

Thankingyou all as usual for the important discussion. I just wanted to comment brieflyon Ana Valdes’ menttion of alterity as something that links our presentunderstanding of ‘The Middle East [that] occupies the place where Eden and theParadise were situated in the imagination of the people of the Middle Ages andthe Renaissance.’ So I would also say it is difficult to avoid the eastern inaesthetics or for that matter in the quotidian task of waking up in themorning. For example we find Virginia Woolf giving the abstract artist shecreates in *To the Lighthouse* ‘Chinese eyes.’ A way of seeing interpreted.That (1927) was at a time when the peripheral hadn’t taken on the same sort offocus as now, Ana, as you indicate, when our global news now comes to us in thesame machine we write and draw on. But the historical palimpsest thatinevitably comes into the symbolic activities that move us have this constantof easterness. How it’s presented or interpreted is another matter, with all theobviously dangers—as this month’s whole Empyre thread has brought to the fore.Artists have to take risks, polititians as well. And it’s never enough. Oneexample is when, possibly aware that nothing could really say it, the artist AiWeiwei egoistically had himself photographed lying on a shore on Lesbos Islandin the same pose as the lifeless body of the child Alan Kurdi, the drownedSyrian refugee. Thanks again to Empyre for the importance of this, specifically just now the contextprovided  by Nat Muller’s thought that ‘theissue remains that the fabric of the contemporary art field makes it verydifficult to have an open discussion about ethics.’  Best wishes, William

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