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Art in times of exception: Kassel's Documenta in the age of the war on terror


This research aims to study how contemporary art answered to the new world order after the start of the so-called War on Terror. The War on Terror, declared by President George W. Bush after the terrorist strikes of September 2001, introduced a geopolitical and discursive rupture of profound consequences, and is arguably a turning point in the globalized state of affairs. With the end of the Cold War and the advance of neoliberal globalization, the world of art seemed to be equally redirected by a global paradigm. The postcolonial discourse became a valuable tool in the attempt to overcome the Eurocentric paradigms of modernism that had so far oriented the making of art history. Nevertheless, a new international scenario emerged after 9/11, with new military interventions led by the United States in the Middle East. Many contemporary artists have tried to answer to this new geopolitical context characterized by a sense of emergence and the recurrent use of legal means of normative exception. To apprehend such a phenomenon, we propose to study the three editions of Kassel's Documenta - the leading contemporary art periodical exhibition in the world - that took place during this period. We shall analyze the exhibition's curatorial discourse and specific works of art of artists that dealt explicitly with this problematic. Subsequently, we might establish comparisons with other exhibitions and other artists. Finally, we believe that such a specific study might help in the understanding of more broad reaching epistemological questions, such as those concerning the very definition of contemporary art. (AU)

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