The giant octopus called Globalization

I am going to give my point about Post-colonialism and Globalisation starting with a kind of anecdote. Basically, I will    support this text with some information taken from El Syndrome de Marcopolo by Gerardo Mosquera as well as the text: Art and globalization by Niru Ratman. Finally, ill give some examples of artist working on post-colonialism and globalization.

In my country, there was a well-know national brand that disappeared and another crossed the national boundary. Some weeks ago, a classmate asked me if there is, in London, some brands from my home country. I had not taken account of that before; so, my answer was:”there must not be any brand from where I was born, here in London. Due to globalization, some brands, from my country, just disappeared. For example, there was a well-know brand soda, well accepted  and  more consumed than any other, basically due to its genuine flavour.  According to statistic studios, it was forecasted that in five years later, it would rise up getting spread all over South-America. However, a while later the result was not the expected, the reason was that the well-wide- know transnational company Coca-Cola   bought it; thereby the soda brand of my country did not increase any more.

I was  still thinking about  the question of my  classmate, to my surprise walking around  I found a   brand  and  it is  a beer, Cusqueña, from Cuzco –Peru. Perhaps it is not well known in Europe but is right here, somehow. So, one brand was absorbed by a transnational while the other crossed the national boundary. It seems that one was unable to deal with the so-called globalisation while the other is   still facing it. So, How does it happen?

At this point I would like to relate this example  with  the subject Globalization and Post- colonialism in  the field of Art.  Perhaps an answer for the question made will pop up…how to deal with globalization?

The borders between colonialism and globalization seems to be not that far away. Post-colonialism is a cultural reaction of what is colonialism. Indeed, it is a kind of proposal to leave the colonial period and get a place of acceptance of all races, in other words a space of  plurality.  

Franz Fanon, who is  one of the early writers related to Post-colonialism, in his  book “Black Skin, White Masks”, made an analysis   regarding the lost of identity. Basically, how black people assimilate the codes of the colonizer losing its identity.  So, definitely, the key word so far is IDENTITY

Globalization is a sort of unstoppable force that manifests itself in a variety of ways -economically, politically, and culturally –get over  and all of these . It is the force the power –Imperialism. It is said that with the fall of the Berlin wall it came out; perhaps it was just the name that was emphasized. It seems that that started long time before. As we can see,    over several centuries the European imperialism tried to spread its power over the world conquering new lands, what meant thousands of life sacrificed, colonized; however for them it was a discovered…In some way, what the present globalization does is just as one more step of what the old colonialism made; and it  is to reinforce  the power of dominant countries, having so far more than ever  ,the massive media such as television, films, and publishing to  their favour.

The tentacles of globalization are present in the field of art.  Definitely, what globalization nowadays could cause is the lost of cultural identify since globalisation central power comes exactly from the empire power, economic and politic; where the stereotype are created. Thus the empire in the name of peace, justice, human rights, whatsoever reason, it   is able to invade any place; indeed to impose and make others feel where the power comes.

Moreover, as an octopus extending its limbs it gets to the field of art. The  Documenta 10 the Kassel was criticized for work on globalization but since a  western perspective; basically  ­“ for continuing to draw   the overwhelming  majority of the artists  represented from the traditional western European/North American heartlands of the avand- garde” .( Pg. 277 Art and globalization, Niru Ratnam, Documenta 11  Kassel 2002, Themes in Contemporary Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press). Definitely, it is the dominant culture  somehow which imposes the current  standard in all field. So,  Art  is the exception, as it is    emphasis by Gerardo Mosquera: “Today’s art in these cultures is not  the result  of an evolution of   traditional  aesthetic: it’s very concept was received from the west through colonialism”…So far the answer to the question above about dealing with globalization  seems to appear ,”  the way to  deal with it  is by  constructing  a contemporary culture “ one capable of acting today `s reality from a plurality of perspectives”. Also, according to Gerardo  Masquera view “  the postcolonial challenge is  that  cultures those called exotic should not lock themselves in isolated traditions if they want to take part in today’s  , instead of that traditions should be  made  to work withing the new epoch. Pg 220, El Syndrome de Marcopolo,  Gerardo Mosquera. 

 Getting back to the anecdote about brands, mentioned at the beginning, the question again is:  what  is the way to deal with  this globalized epoch?.  Perhaps, the beer manufactures in my country survive because it was leaded according to the standard required by global market but still keeping its meaningful essence- source- what make it unique. On the other hand, the soda  was just absorbed by  a transnational and no longer grew up . Definitely, regarding this two examples there are others circumstances that explain what happened with these two companies.

Art from the third world was seen by the western culture as exotics and just that. It is said that what dominant cultures or the Post -contemporary require to the third world culture is what  exotic is.  If it is emulated what the contemporary art practitioners make it is just a way to get absorbed and disappear.  It is better to use the post contemporary tools and used it in favour to create a work based on identity, and not doing a mere exotic practice. For instance, in visual arts, the work of the Cuban artists Wilfred Lam or José Bedia have proposals related with this point. Their   works are inside of  what is  contemporary art.

The jungle -LAM

Bedia bases his work on his origins basically, Cuban culture -the myth and cosmovision; his work is inspired in Afro-cuban traditions, not making a simple exotic work but according to the postmodern concepts.  He makes an anthropological studio of the culture of his ancestors and American aboriginal cultures   to make his work.

 Waiting on the hills -JOSE BEDIA

Another example  regarding working inside the Contemporary art related to identity is   the  Mexican artist Guillermo Gomes Peña.

Guillermo Gómez-Pena: Instant identity ritual-  

 Gomes Peña  works on, from his latino perspective,  themes such as cross—cultural and hybritity identities, the effects of globalization.


The work Undiscovered Amerindians, Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña 1992, is a  performances related to post-colonialism.

It shows the role of a colonized and a colonizer; dealing with   racial and cultural difference and “otherness” in Western society. “Our cage became a blank screen onto which audiences projected their fantasies of who and what we are. As we assumed the stereotypical role of the domesticated savage, many audience members felt entitled to assume the role of colonizer, only to find themselves uncomfortable with the implications of the game” Quote about Undiscovered Amerindians from Coco Fusco.

Links related to the work of  Guillermo Gomez-Peña


About azulrojo

peru/lima- painter prectitioner-art teacher
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