On some days it is more apparent than others that the ground is shifting below our feet. On a clear day, we can see the horizon that tells us we are in the midst of a global regime change, yet we do not yet know the face of the new power just beyond it. But what we can see is the limit of an economic regime that has dangled vast advances in symbolic spheres of information and communication, in capital flows and even human movement across the globe. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before we realized the extent to which the freedom to move across borders required that the goods, information, and people being moved conform to protocols ensuring that they will be recognizable upon reaching their destination. Just as the movement of commodities presupposes a demand, for an artwork something similar happens where it must conform to an established, shared language of representation in order to be understood as art when it travels. It could even be said that this protocol has superseded the role of the exhibition space in deciding what can be presented as art.
Many artists now join others in feeling that a capacity for lateral, horizontal movement has had a flattening effect upon not only their production, but now also their bodies and minds. This realization makes it all the more interesting to begin to perceive the shape of something else on the horizon—something that will follow the convergence of new forms of popular expression that do not deny, but include the economic realities that have allowed advances in symbolic exchange, but that also cannot be taken any further. With this in mind, what do we then make of the provocative museological safari into a geopolitical stalemate proposed by the Picasso in Palestine project? The persistent comedy of right-wing fanaticism in what is arguably still the most powerful country in the world? And the soft revolution initiated by a demographic identified by Richard Florida as the Creative Class?
The March 2012 issue of e-flux journal also features essays by Mladen Dolar and Alenka Zupančič, as the second installment of texts from the conference “One Divides Into Two: Dialectics, Negativity and Clinamen,” held at the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry from March 28–30, 2011, and organized by Aaron Schuster, Gal Kirn, Pascale Gillot, and Ben Dawson.© 2012 e-flux and the author