IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Anna Maria Guasch
Globalization and Cosmopolitan Imagination

Contemporary art production and its critical reception around the world can be readily identified with notions of ‘the global’ and ‘globalization’. I believe that one of the most crucial issues in art today is the extraordinary increase in its practice and circulation at the regional as well as international levels through a variety of spaces, events, circuits and markets, and especially through electronic communication. Artists tend to be well informed about other contexts and aware of hegemonic art, while they also seek an international audience for their work, moving inside, outside and alongside local, regional and global spaces. The important issue becomes how to deal with the feeling of belonging to a place on the basis of the demand for subjectivity or, more precisely, an "affective" form of subjectivity in which the essential principle of difference is combined with what Marsha Meskimmon calls the "cosmopolitan imagination". In this context, we understand cosmopolitan as "relational", and aimed at a cultural diversity that goes beyond the narrow confines of geopolitical boundaries that link the concept of home with the notions of dwelling and hospitality. The theories of Kwame Anthony Appiah take a similar route. The central issue of how proximity and distance are constituted in the aftermath of colonial modernity connects with Meskimmon’s aforementioned concept of "cosmopolitan imagination", "locational identity" and embodied ethics, seen as a new version of political responsibility in the global age.This new form of political responsibility opens up new questions, such as, how can we be, both literally and metaphorically, cosmopolitans in our own place of origin, shunning simplistic myths of origin and authenticity? How do we analyse the various relationships between the global and the local, without it being a mere exercise of one (the global) dominating the other (the local)? Can questions arising from cultural hybridity and diaspora help us to rethink the traditional conventions on cultural identity and interaction?