Geeta Kapur

SubTerrain: Artists Dig the Contemporary

Lecture given at the conference "Migrating Images"

Geeta Kapur

Geeta Kapur

Media Files


It is part of my larger theoretical and curatorial intention to unmask what can now be called the post-modern aesthetic of global negotiation, to see if I can rescue at least a residual politics where the artist as citizen, at home and in the world, dreams of a more democratic and just society.
My focus is on art practice in the social, political and psychic “subterrain” of third world “global cities”. Here too the contemporary is an inevitable part of the deconstructed history of modernity that valorized the ambiguously masked artist and set up an elaborate masquerade around the theme of what Freud called “civilization and its discontents”. This civilizational discourse was furthered by the revolutionary working-class history of the twentieth century and, subsequently, by the history of decolonisation that added new contours to the very idea of civilization by revealing the vast limitations of a Europe-centred universe. The latter half of the twentieth century saw the emergence of differently situated modern artists all across the third world whose acknowledged presence shaped a hermeneutic retake on the (political) unconscious of the contemporary. It necessitated the relatively privileged interlocutor – the artist – to assume the position of a conspicuously underprivileged subject of an unequal social order, and this led to reasonably located (in regional, national and third world terms) interventions in and through art.

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The House of World Cultures



The House of World Cultures, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin, Germany




, Jan 27, 2004



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