Художественный журнал
№4/2004

Globalization Failure?

Till recently the notion "globalization" pretended to be the key one for the whole epoch. This notion has represented "the new meta-narrative", "an unassailable supraterritorial new world order" (J. Roberts, "The Failure of Modernization: Globalization and Culture"). It seemed there was no alternative to globalization: it was operated by the very schematic opposition – "the opposition of connection/exclusion – like in the case of entering Internet; it seemed that only one globalization project existed – on the basis of commercial mass-culture, international medial market, modern communication systems, and, finally, economy of global capitalism" (B. Groys, "Globalization and Theologization of Politics").

However, the experience of the latest decade showed that many sociological and cultural theories of globalization did not justify themselves. Reality corrects hypothesis that modernity "'disembed' individuals and groups from customary ties and
allegiances to given local contexts and traditions", that "the new
'informational economy' has produced forms of cultural disembedding
in which the memory and actuality of local cultural traditions are weakened" (J. Roberts). The world today as well as yesterday is far from being unified. "Various zones of modern world are marked not only by different levels of cultural difference but by other levels of economic development. Nowadays, the distance between "the center" and "periphery" does not divide traditional and modernized cultures but economic systems on the various levels of evolution to global capitalism" (N. Bourriaud, "Globalization and appropriation"). Moreover, it is also justified that "there is no single notion for globalization, but there exists an American project of globalization, Islamic project of globalization, European, and some other... It turned out that globalization projects lead to re-fundamentalism, radicalization of traditional religious streams, while secular political projects are getting weaker and weaker. Thus, we got something opposite to what everybody was anticipating" (B. Groys).

However, the notion "globalization failure" does not mean only unrealized promises, given by this project at the end of the 80-s of the XX century, but also disappointment in what was realized. Globalization turned out to standardization, which is imposed to the rest of the world by the center (the West). These globalized norms, instilled in the consciousness by mass media, destroy "obvious difference between the internal world of the subject and external objective reality" (I. Basileva, "Is It Possible to Find the Way Out of the Context?"), enslave even such sacral beginning of a human being like a dream (P. Peppershtein, "Postcosmos"). Modern neo-colonial normativity demands from the local artist not only to reproduce universal canons generated by the center but opposite, to affect their own locality, specificity, folkloricity. "Universal art language of the West dominates national cultures that become meaningful only under the condition that they behave like typical, i.e. bearing "difference", assimilated by this international language... The artist of non-western origin feels to be obliged to present his "cultural identity" like "a permanent body tattoo" (N. Bourriaud).

However, not all peripheries are ready to follow these directions of the center. "It is true that the old axiomatic distinction between Western
development and non-Western underdevelopment is implausible. New cultures of
modernity that do not replicate or mimic the West have begun to develop and thrive.
Non-Western social subjects are in the process of establishing new
configurations of modernity that are not assimilable to the West." (J. Roberts). In the sphere of contemporary art, the most audaciously thinking artists of periphery refuse neo-colonial ideology of multi-culturalism imputed by the center and offer the strategy of "inter-culturalism". They "use art language that goes back to the matrix of modernism and rethink the history of avant-garde in the light of visual and intellectual environment" (N. Bourriaud). This critic of globalization and its ideology makes some people to put forward a question of replacing this notion by another one "mondialization" (H.-U. Obrist, "Mondialization versus Globalization").

However, whichever notion defines processes that were crucial for two latest decades, whatever position towards them we are going to take, it is obvious that we are living in different reality. Consequently, "we can not ignore globalism. That would have been uninteresting (O. Chernisheva. "Always Hot Bread and Coca-Cola").

Moscow, November 2004


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