UCLA NEW WIGHT BIENNIAL 2020
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING...
Oct 1 - Oct 31
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formed as a product of and catalyst for the struggle against and emergence out of colonialism. The Non-Aligned countries sought not only an inalienable right to self determination against hegemonic forces of the capitalist west and the soviet east but they drew a connection between anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle. Given this, it is no surprise that recent years have witnessed a resurgence of scholarly interest in NAM, understood as the formation of a very different globalization to the contemporary neoliberal one.
What is the conceptual and contemporary relevance in Non-Alignment today?
In the process of trying to answer this question, we found ourselves repeatedly circling around the often remarked phrase “we live in polarized times.” To which we respond with a gesture in inverse - how artists pursue the non-polar as a method of countering polarization in terms of politics and identity. Non-alignment and non-polarity provide unique prisms through which to address economic, political, social and cultural imaginaries that challenge the dominant hegemonic order.
We are interested in the global conversations to be had on this topic, and we are thinking about the historically repetitive nature of polarity and the political shifts between countries. The working title of the exhibition, Once more, with feeling…, alludes to the allied areas of performativity, embodiment, representation and constructions of identity (and difference). How are artists dealing with aligning themselves or being aligned by their surrounding environment? We are acknowledging that non-polarity and non-alignment can be contextually and geographically specific and inhabit differing forms. We hope to highlight the ways that non-alignment and non-polarity can be visualized across different political cultures and places. We are interested to see what happens when artists’ responses from different locations are put in conversation with one another.
Already the distribution of the effects of COVID-19 are felt in different intensities across the globe. Medical anthropologist Adia Benton has pointed to the naivety of the idea of “border promiscuity”, that the virus doesn’t discriminate based on identity, as “viruses move in bodies, and the freedom of certain bodies, certain people, to move across borders needs to be acknowledged.” We hope that this exhibition can also begin a conversation on thinking through these nuanced and complicated social and political distributions.
We are interested in applications from Artists working across the globe. The global scope of this exhibition allows for inclusion of countries from the traditional Capitalist West, the Soviet East and the Non-Aligned Nations. The intention of such geographical scope is to interrogate the global idea of contemporary non-alignment and non-polarity.
We hope to raise questions of non-aligned identity by sourcing work from each country above, but not necessarily people who identify with or are identified by the country. We will focus on how artists utilize different visual, conceptual and methodological mechanisms in order to challenge conceptions of alignment. In choosing to structure our curatorial approach in such a way, we hope to interrogate not only the difference between non-alignment and non-polarity but also:
What a non-aligned / non-polar artistic gesture looks like?
What it feels like to enter a space which is non-aligned / non-polar?
How non-aligned / non-polar works speak to each other in a way that is productive or critical in responding to not only each other but also the viewer?