Identity Politics, Institutional Multiculturalism, and the Global Artworld

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Abstract:

Questions of cultural identity and the status of non-Western artists in the West have been important to the discourses on contemporary art for at least two decades. This article considers the connections between the critical discourse on cultural identity, the globalisation of the artworld and the adoption of multicultural policies by Western art institutions. It is argued that discussions from the last two decades have not only made it clear that institutional multiculturalism is not the answer to the problem of attaining ‘true’ recognition of non-Western artists, but have also revealed that critical discourse on identity politics has not come up with solutions either. In fact, it is marred by the same binary thinking and mechanisms of exclusion that it aims to deconstruct. To get beyond the present deadlock of the critical discourse on identity politics it is necessary to reconsider the works of art themselves from an aesthetic and epistemological point of view.
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