In 1989 the ambitious exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ opened in Paris, presenting the work of over one hundred artists, only half of whom would be described as Western. In a radical bid to open up the art world centred in West Europe and North America, ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ argued for the universality of the creative impulse and endeavoured to offer direct and equal aesthetic experience of contemporary works of art made globally.
Making Art Global (Part 2), the fourth title in the Exhibition Historiesseries, focuses on ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, with photographs and gallery plans representing the exhibition in detail. An essay by Lucy Steeds provides an extended examination of its context and choices, while arguing that the show may be seen as an inadvertent model for transnational and project-based curating in the ensuing era of neoliberal globalisation. Jean-Marc Poinsot contributes a reflection on the discursive legacy and Pablo Lafuente’s opening essay inscribes ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ within the wider history of exhibition practice. Texts from the time include previously unpublished material, such as a programmatic statement by curator Jean-Hubert Martin and a conference paper by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
This book will be launched in London at Tate Modern in conjunction with film screenings that revisit elements of the cinema programme curated by Jean-Michel Bouhours and Gisèle Breteau to coincide with the exhibition. Films from the original Pompidou programme will be shown at Tate together with additional works, contextualised through discussion involving participants from the time, academics and artists. Almost a quarter of a century since ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, these events will both complement and complicate the exhibition and Afterall’s book on this subject, exploring the history and legacy of colonialism, developments within ethnographic film and emerging discouses of globalisation.
Curated by Lucy Steeds (Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London) and George Clark (Assistant Curator: Film, Tate Modern).