Jubilee
Jan 2002 – Jul 2002

written by Gilane Tawadros


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Race and nation have frequently defined the way in which culture and society have been understood and yet over the past two decades supra-national structures, networks and alliances have played an increasingly prominent role in all of our lives. This may be manifested through international governmental structures such as the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations; or through multinational corporations like Microsoft, McDonalds, or BP, whose impact on every aspect of our existence grows daily; or through the global environmental movement, which connects people's experiences across different continents.

Far from dispensing with the categories of race and nation as defining identity within the public and private realms, the most recent phase in the process of globalisation adds another layer to the intricate construction and experience of individual identity. In spite of the call of political leaders in the aftermath of 11 September to be 'with us or against us', the reality is that many of us now occupy the grey expanse that is inter-national, inter-racial and inter-linguistic. If anything, the tragic events of 11 September have highlighted the arbitrariness of drawing lines in the sand differentiating 'us' and 'them', the North and the South, the local and the global.

The work of many of the artists, writers and curators with whom inIVA works emerges from those very inter-national, inter-racial and inter-linguistic spaces. And so, as the UK embarks on one particular kind of commemoration, inIVA launches its new season jubilee that takes an alternative view of contemporary Britain - at its place in global culture and at new ways of representing its constituents through the visual arts. The season seeks to engage with internationalism and what it means from a British perspective. The past decade has been marked by increasing visibility for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds, but jubilee questions the substance behind this shift towards cosmetic cultural difference. It investigates different cultural positions, ideas and experiences that cannot be easily digested in this new local and global context, an artworld 'packaged' for public consumption. jubilee searches for a new role model in the wake of the yBa and explores an emergence of interest in political engagement within contemporary art. Uniting the contributions of artists, film-makers, theorists, critics and the general public alike, the jubilee season presents pertinent questions in a nationwide sequence of events - far removed from traditional celebration.

The season focuses on the work of five British artists: Andrew Lewis, Janette Parris, Johannes Phokela, Alia Syed and Mayling To who work across a range of different media from painting to video, from performance to film. Jigar is the first solo touring exhibition of artist and film-maker Alia Syed whose poetic films weave fragmented narratives of lives that are continuously moving between different geographical spaces and emotional states (Walsall Art Gallery and TheSpace@inIVA, February-March 2002). Johannes Phokela's ambitious paintings derived from seventeenth-century Dutch works embrace four centuries, three countries and two continents and are as much concerned with the history of painting as with the violent history of the Dutch in Africa (The Gallery, Café Gallery Projects, May-June 2002). Andrew Lewis's Systems follows his recent Spatial Awareness Show, reconfiguring urban architectural spaces in startling new ways that are both playful and mysterious (TheSpace@inIVA, April-May 2002). Mayling To's witty but disconcerting videos cast the Panda as the protagonist of her gritty, urban dramas. In the newly commissioned work The Stranger, he continues to search for the meaning of life in the high street charity shops of London (TheSpace@inIVA, June-July 2002). Janette Parris is the main protagonist of her performance in which she assumes the role of a soul diva (Hoxton Hall, 17 May 2002).

The season kicks off in the New Year with the Chat Room series Changing States - a unique year-long programme of debates covering themes as diverse as race, history and representation through to the increasing commercialisation of the contemporary art world and the impact globalisation has had on the concept of a 'new internationalism'. The debates will take place at different venues throughout the UK and will take a variety of formats from a Question Time-style open debate to intimate one-to-one discussions.




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