How the Global South Used Art as a Tool of Resistance

July 29, 2020

In the current moment marked by the coronavirus pandemic, the existing geopolitical and socioeconomic notions are questioned on a global scale like never before. The uncertainty saturates every possible aspect of human activity, so the reality becomes unbearable to an extent where it creates an immediate and rush reaction. In particular, environments contaminated with social contestation and serious political turmoil become sites of spontaneous or organized resistance aimed to make a change amid all the difficulties.

When it comes to the concept known as the Global South (a politically correct term used to encompass countries formerly known as the Third World), these processes differing from one country to another, occurring frequently in the past twenty years. Various forms of resistance were performed to oppose the authoritarian governments, protect human rights, and critically speak of the colonial heritage and the present-day consequences of the same.

To revisit the artistic practices coming from the above-mentioned region and make their relevance connected with the current moment, Centre Pompidou is the host of an all-encompassing exhibition titled Global(e) Resistance.

Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña - The Couple in the Cage: Guatinaui Odyssey, 1992-1993. Video production: Paula Heredia, sound, 31 min © Center Pompidou, MNAM - CCI / Dist.RMN-GP © Coco Fusco / Adagp, Paris, 2020

Focusing On The Other Perspectives

The exhibition will bring around one hundred works by more than sixty artists that were acquired by the museum throughout the past decade under the theoretical framework primarily grounded in the exploration of the connections between aesthetics and politics.

The selection will mostly bring to light the resistance strategies developed through the practices of artists coming from the “South” (the Middle East, South-East Asia, Western and Southern Africa, and Latin America) starting from the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s and the era of decolonization, to the more recent alternative interpretations of history.

As a reaction to existential hardship and lack of freedom, various artists started developing political forms of resistance aimed to critically examine collective and individual histories and memories.

Ibrahim Mahama - Kae Dabi, 2013-2018. Jute bags, metal, charcoal, 337 x 384 x 13 cm. Center Pompidou, MNAM - CCI, Paris. Donation from the friends of the Center Pompidou, International-Africa Circle, 2019 Courtesy of the artist and White Cube © Ollie Hammick

The Works

Two early works from the Centre Pompidou’s collection such as the film The Couple in the Cage (1993) by Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and the video Partially Buried (1996) by Renée Green will open the exhibition, to show how the protests have contributed to the transformation of thought systems.

Barthelemy Toguo’s sculpture Redemption that explores the concept of Panafricanism and the redemption and salvation of peoples will be exhibited for the first time since its acquisition, while other works on display at the entrance of the gallery will act as manifestos, with Khalil Rabah investigating the Palestinian situation, Teresa Margolles articulating the notion of the Mexican border, and Nadia Kaabi-Linke evoking the wandering of the migrants.

Among the works, the visitors will be also able to see how certain cities as the embodiment of social and political unrest and the economic fall became a matter of interests by several artists including Braddock (LaToya Ruby Frazier), Johannesburg (Mikhael Subotzsky & Patrick Watherhouse) and Dakar (Cheikh Ndiaye).

On display will be the works thematizing decolonization (Kiluanji Kia Henda and Abdoulaye Konaté) in South Africa, and the remnants of the apartheid policy (Penelope Siopis, Kemang wa Lehulere, and Sue Williamson); the critical articulation of communist theory by The Propeller Group, and the works by Chim Pom and Yin Xiuzhen, which deal with environmental threats.

Bartholomew Toguo - Redemption, 2012-2014. Wood, metal, plastic, fabric, ink, 430 x 600 x 150 cm. Center Pompidou, MNAM - CCI, Paris © Adagp, Paris, 2020

Global(e) Resistance at Centre Pompidou

This exciting and above all important exhibition tends to produce a new kind of knowledge and empower younger artists; it also encourages the audience to resist, and claim their freedom.

An extensive catalog including essays by Christine Macel, Alicia Knock and Yung Ma, will accompany the exhibition.

Global(e) Resistance will be on display at Centre Pompidou in Paris from 29 July 2020 until 4 January 2021, a date still to be confirmed.

Featured images: Ming Wong - Life of Imitation Redux, 2009-2018. Audiovisual installation, 4min 18s. Center Pompidou, MNAM - CCI, Paris. Donation from the friends of the Center Pompidou, International-Asia Pacific Circle, 2018 © Adagp, Paris, 2020; CHIM ↑ POM - REAL TIMES, 2011. Mixed installation. Center Pompidou, MNAM - CCI, Paris. Purchase through the Society of the Japanese Friends of Center Pompidou, 2019 © Courtesy of the artist and MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo. All images courtesy Centre Pompidou.

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