That Tea Tasting Party

It has almost been months since my visit to the Solomon Guggenheim. A friend and I queued 10 minutes under the cold winter sun in New York City. It was a pleasant wait really. We chitchatted a bit about why people have to form lines to get into museums and my rather ridiculous experience of sneaking into MoMA during the free night with another friend. And the visit was more than enjoyable: the works by Agnes Martin spiraling along the corridor, Maurizio Cattelan’s golden toilet that everyone was hoping to take a dump in, other permanent collection pieces, and of course, Tales of Our Time, a much anticipated group exhibition by artists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China, or as described by Guggenheim itself: “Tales of Our Time is not a monolithic report on the state of contemporary art in China, nor does it encapsulate any artistic trends or phenomena. Instead, it highlights the unique aspects of each artist’s perspective.”

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Why it matters: in looking at specific postcolonial topics

The one pertinent and dominant symptom in the understanding of the globe as it is today, in a postcolonial discourse, is that most non-western cultures or sub-cultures are seeking to be recognized or legitimized by the west. It is often taken for granted that the non-western cultures are inferior to the western culture, or, at least, less developed and cultivated. The best example for this is that contemporary artists from regions or countries that are outside the "normally" western would quickly raise to fame after participating in a group exhibition or hosting a solo exhibition in an western recognized , i.e. Huang Yongping, after his participation in Magiciens de la Terre, which became the milestone in his artistic legitimation by the so-called global art market.

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BRIDGE TO PALESTINE: A CULTURAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN GENERATIONS OF ARTISTS AND GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS? NOT SO MUCH.

At first, it seems politically incorrect, to name a group exhibition not even perfectly Palestinian, “Bridge to Palestine”. It has been quite ambitiously arranged - with Tayseer Barakat’s Ijtiyah Ramallah (The Invasion of Ramallah) , to open the whole exhibition. The painting is bold and outspoken. Even an “outsider” could read the message conveyed.  However, the presentation of it, on the very right side of the main entrance behind the uninviting designer-commissioned stainless couch, falsely leaves the audience an impression of the stereotypical snob of the contemporary art sphere, not to mention the entire exhibition is held in a transparent glass artifact. This alone could be quite intimidating for anyone to enter. As viewers slightly tilt their heads to the side, making one first attempt to decipher this preamble, another Barakat work soon becomes visible, a rather abstract piece which seems to be more mild and vulnerable as opposed to the previous work. It is mostly white paint on canvas with minor edges and brinks covered in black, and what appears to be a sneak preview of cherry.

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