Magazine article Art Education

Identity: Three Global Perspectives

Magazine article Art Education

Identity: Three Global Perspectives

Article excerpt

In 2012, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced the launch of a new major project, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Hailed as an unprecedented cross-cultural project, its goal was to broaden the geographic representation of the Guggenheim's holdings and create a truly global collection. With funding provided by UBS, the project has focused on three major geographic areas: South and Southeast Asia; Latin America; and the Middle East and North Africa. It has added 126 works from 37 countries to the museum's collection.

For each phase, a curator with deep knowledge of the area in question joined the Guggenheim staff. During a period of research and development, these curators traveled extensively, visiting artists and their studios across the region of focus. These journeys resulted in three distinct exhibitions, each of which premiered at the Guggenheim in New York before traveling to additional venues in parts of the world with which they were concerned. The exhibitions were as follows:

* No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, organized by June Yap (February-May 2013)

* Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, organized by Pablo León de la Barra (June-October 2014; Camnitzer, 2014)

* But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, organized by Sara Raza (April-October 2016)

In spite of the vastness of the territory addressed by the project, certain themes recur throughout, including the mutability of borders and the legacy of colonialism, alongside aspects of national and international conflict, geography, heritage, history, and migration. In addition, the theme of identity echoed through each of the exhibitions in various forms. For this Instructional Resource (IR), I have selected three contemporary artists, Navin Rawanchaikul (b. 1971, Chiang Mai, Thailand), Alfredo Jaar, (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile), and Kader Attia (b. 1970, France, raised in Algeria), who hail from different parts of the globe and consider the concept of identity from various perspectives. When these artists' works were on view in the museum's galleries, they sparked conversations, raised issues, and prompted new areas of inquiry for students and teachers alike. I am hopeful that sharing these works in this IR will encourage other educators to bring them into their classrooms, prompting student engagement and personal response.

For each of the three artists, I have included:

* A short essay focusing on the artist and the selected work;

* Sample inquiry-based questions designed to support classroom discussion;

* Suggestions for cross-curricular activities that may include writing, research, and/or artmaking; and

* Additional online resources that may include links to highresolution images, videos, interviews, and/or articles.

PHASE 1: South and Southeast Asia (Navin Rawanchaikul, Places of Rebirth, 2009)

* The Artist and This Work

In Places of Rebirth, Navin Rawanchaikul considers issues of identity by carefully researching his own family history. Born in 1971 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Rawanchaikul has made a painting motivated by his journey back to his family's homeland. Although he was born and raised in Thailand, the artist's family emigrated from India in 1947. By train, ship, and foot, his mother and greatgrandfather traveled from Gujranwala (the Punjab region that is now Pakistan) and India to Chiang Mai in Thailand to arrive at the place of his family's "rebirth."

Painted in a style typical of Indian Bollywood movie posters, Places of Rebirth deals with the artist's background as a son of the Hindu-Punjabi diaspora and his cross-border, cross-cultural heritage. It blends images of his family and relatives with others showing people he encountered in Pakistan, alongside historical images from the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. These portraits of a community's passing through time and place are bridged through the imaginary journey of a local Thai taxi (tuk-tuk) transporting Navin and his Japanese family across the border between India and Pakistan. …

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