On being unique: world art and its British institutions

Wainwright, Leon (2009). On being unique: world art and its British institutions. Visual Culture in Britain, 10(1) pp. 87–101.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14714780802686696

Abstract

The current interest taken in Britain by art historians and curators in the areas of World Art, cultural diversity, global culture and multiculturalism is failing to challenge the exclusion and marginalization of artworks, artists and academics historically associated with cultural, ethnic or racial differences. Such a failure can be explored in British institutions of art history, collecting and display in their efforts to examine cultural difference, cultural diversity and World Art. While this article avoids a survey of such art institutions, it offers a comparison of three key locations: a recent touring exhibition called 'Alien Nation' (Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Institute of International Visual Arts); the Globalising Art, Architecture and Design History project (GLAADH), a national project of curriculum change funded by HEFCE; and World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia. What emerges is an account of World Art as a category of institutional experience in Britain, as the basis for suggesting critical and theoretical initiatives and alternatives for historicizing art and difference.

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