Globalizing Contemporary Art: The Art World's New Internationalism

By Lotte Philipsen | Go to book overview
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Racial, sexual and aesthetic
differences in art

Postcolonial theory

When discussing how New Internationalism is articulated through its relation to time, space, and modernity, a lot of the references and arguments are similar to those found in a broader postcolonial field, as we shall see. New Internationalism, however, differs from postcolonialism on significant points.

First, post-colonial theory primarily takes literature as its point of departure. Its founding point in Western academia, Edward Said’s book Orientalism, from 1978, is concerned with disclosing Western, stereotypical ideas of the Orient and the Orientals as they were presented in literature (novels, declaration documents, speeches, etc.) but not in the visual arts.134 This leads us to the second point at which postcolonial theory differs from New Internationalism: the former is politically and ethically informed, insofar as its primary antagonism is one of confronting Western colonialism. As one of its most influential characters, postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha states:

[Postcolonial perspectives] intervene in those ideological discourses of moder-
nity that attempt to give a hegemonic ‘normality’ to the uneven development
and the differential, often disadvantaged, histories of nations, races, communities,

According to some of its critics, this means that postcolonial theory is governed precisely by a traditional Western developmental scheme. As philosophers Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford put it:


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