HYBRIDISATION: A METHOD IN CONTEMPORARY ART
A panel discussion moderated by Raphael Cuir (France) and Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (South Africa)
The way one senses things is far more important than categorisations, which are but commodities for the intelligence.
—Jorge Luis Borges
The Theme of the Discussion
The word ‘hybrid’ hasn't always had positive connotations. It stems from hubris, suggesting disorder or excess. According to Bruno Latour, the ‘moderns’ banished hybrids, intent on repressing hybrid forms as part of a purification process, to reject everything ‘impure’ and inappropriate, even though such attempts in no way prevent monsters from reproducing and proliferating below the surface. Indeed, the production of monsters and hybrids is what constitutes modernity, says Latour.
Taxonomists, anthropologists, linguists, philosophers, scientists, sociologists and many other specialists, including art historians, order the world, organising creatures and things according to constantly shifting criteria—which artists in turn up-end in order to question them and create new meanings. Many contemporary artworks, through their ‘reorganising’ of the world, encourage us to break free from preordained logic in order to explore and even transform the world as we see it.
Contemporary artists present ‘hybrid forms’ in multiple ways: through excess and play, through combinations of seemingly opposing things, through fusion of organic with inorganic materials. These combinations and—sometimes radical—reorganisations allow critique of the status quo (of politics, of ‘mainstream’ culture, of capital, even of systems of knowledge that we accept as given.
The French Institute, Art Logic and France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 are delighted to be hosting a distinguished panel of international scholars and artists to consider and interrogate the idea of hybridisation and hybrid forms in contemporary art. Art South Africa will publish a selection of texts arising from the discussion as a supplement in the December 2012 issue of the magazine.
Mélanie Bouteloup is Co-Founder and Director of the Bétonsalon Centre for Art and Research that aims to foster research and intellectual production through a programme of exhibitions, projections, conferences and workshops. In 2011 she co-curated, with Anna Colin, Ce dont on sera dans l’avenir capable, an exhibition of the work of Frédéric Moser and Philippe Schwinger; Eldoradio, examining documents related to radio micro-histories; A Lure a Part Allure Apart, a screening of the films of The Otolith Group; and Une légende en cache une autre, exploring the ethical, scientific, political and juridical questions raised by museum repatriation cases. She is an associated curator for the 2012 Paris Triennial under the artistic direction of Okwui Enwezor.
Christine Buci-Glucksmann is Professor Emeritus of aesthetics, philosophy and contemporary art at Université Paris VIII and the author of many books in the fields of political philosophy, aesthetics, contemporary art, the Baroque, ornament, Asian art and virtual art. Her most recent works include Esthétique de l’éphémère (2003); Au-delà de la mélancholie (2005); Philosophie de l’ornement: D’Orient en Occident (2008); and Une femme philosophe (2008). Two of her books have been translated into English: Gramsci and the State (1980) and Baroque Reason: The Aesthetics of Modernity (1994). Her current research focuses on new systems of images, time and art in a virtual world and in the context of the post-colonial.
Elisabeth Couturier is a journalist, art critic, author and curator. She contributes regularly to journals such as Art Press, Art magazine and Historia. She produced a weekly programme, Les mardis de l’expo, for French cultural radio. She is the editor of ‘Mode d’emploi’, a book series published by Flammarion, and the author of three titles in that series: L’art contemporain: mode d’emploi (2009); Talk About Design (2010); and Talk About Contemporary Photography (2012). She regularly presents papers at conferences and participates in numerous professional juries.
Raphael Cuir is President of AICA–France (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) and Vice-President of AICA–International. He is the author of The Development of the Study of Anatomy from the Renaissance to Cartesianism: da Carpi, Vesalius, Estienne, Bidloo (2009) and has contributed to numerous books, including Ouvrir-couvrir (2004) and Il corpo digitale: natura, informazione, merce, (2011). He is the editor of Pourquoi y-a-t-il de l'art plutôt que rien? (2009/2012). He has been scientific coordinator for the Chair of Research in Creation and Creativity at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts de Bruxelles and a scholar in residence at the Getty Research Institute. In 1999 he created the first online art history TV channel. He recently edited a special issue on the theme of ‘cyborg’ for Art Press magazine.
Raimi Gbadamosi is an artist, writer, curator, and Associate Professor of Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. He received his doctorate from the Slade School of Fine Art. He is a member of the interdisciplinary research group Afroeuropeans, University of Leon, and the Black Body group, Goldsmiths College, and has curated a number of exhibitions. He is on the editorial board of Third Text, has published numerous essays and written several books, including incredulous; ordinary people; extraordinary people; contents; Drink Horizontal; Drink Vertical; The Dreamers' Perambulator; and four word. He is an ambassador of The Republic (www.the-republic.net), which negotiates the meeting of language and social constructions. Gbadamosi’s work investigates the complexity of social and cultural politics, often challenging our view on ethnicity, race and culture.
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen is Senior Lecturer and Director of Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand, Editor and Co-Founder of Fourthwall Books, and Editor of Art South Africa magazine. She received her PhD in literature from New York University. From 2005–10 she was Managing Editor at David Krut Publishing (DKP). She has written essays on South African art for various books and journals, and contributed to and edited books on art, design and architecture in South Africa, including Fire Walker: William Kentridge, Gerhard Marx (with Oliver Barstow); William Kentridge Nose; Dis-Location/Re-Location; Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; TAXI-015 Paul Stopforth; Handspring Puppet Company; and William Kentridge Flute.
Jyoti Mistry is a filmmaker and Associate Professor in Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. She has taught at New York University, University of Vienna and Arcada University of Applied Science Polytechnic in Helsinki. Mistry's work includes films, documentaries and film installations. Her research focuses on cultural policy, identity and multiculturalism. She has also worked as a photography and film curator. Her recent film, Le Boeuf sur le Toit (2010), premiered at the Durban International Film Festival and forms part of a new installation project exploring facets of urban and city life. 09:21:25 (2011) was part of WELTRAUM: Die Kunst und ein Traum at Kunsthalle Wien and the installation ITCHY CITY, from her acclaimed film i mike what I like (2006), was part of the exhibition AFROPOLIS, Cologne (2010–11).
ORLAN is a multimedia artist (painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, digital image and biotechnology). Her work interrogates the status of the body and the social, political and religious pressures imprinted on it. She is well known for her performance The Kiss of the Artist (1977) and the surgery performance she undertook from 1990–93. She has received numerous prizes, including the Arcimboldo Prize for photography (1999). Her work has been presented in major museums internationally, including Centre Georges Pompidou; LACMA; MOCA; Palazzo Grassi; Andy Warhol Museum; and Musée d’art Moderne de Saint-Etienne. She has featured in many biennales and her work has been published in monographs, including ORLAN: Carnal Art (2004); ORLAN: The Narrative (2007); ORLAN: A Hybrid Body of Artworks (2010).
The France South Africa Season
The France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 are an initiative conceived and facilitated by the governments of the two countries to give the people of France and South Africa an opportunity to understand each other better through cultural, scientific, sport, education and business engagement.
The French Season in South Africa runs from June to November 2012 and comprises more than 100 exhibitions, performances, film screenings, literary events, workshops, conferences and round tables.
The South African Season in France will take place in the second half of 2013.