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Art With an Accent
Jim Supangkat

The cp open biennale 2003 currently being presented at the National Gallery in Jakarta is not only being participated in by Indonesian artists. Around 20% of the participants of this cp open biennale 2003 are artists from various different countries. As it turned out, the entry forms distributed in the United States, and a number of Asian countries, and in Europe were filled out and returned.

Although it has turned out that this cp open biennale 2003 has taken on more of the character of a "national-plus biennale", the cp open biennale is meant to be an international exhibition that attempts to set out a new framework that views Indonesian art as a specific model of art that has developed outside of Europe and America.


The tradition of presenting international exhibitions in biennale or triennale format emerged at a time when internationalism dominated the thinking in Europe and America. Internationalism believes that international art exists in a homogenous condition around the entire world. However, there is developing now a new framework of thought in which internationalism is no longer popular. Internationalism is being criticized because the art it embraces as core to its beliefs is the art that developed only in Europe and America. In relation to this train of thought, internationalism is perceived to have ignored the developments in art outside of Europe and America, and to have placed the development of this art in a marginal position.

Actually, the tradition of presenting international exhibitions in the format of the biennale and triennale should have been left behind when the doubts about internationalism began to emerge. Or, at least, the tradition of holding such exhibitions should have continued only in Europe and America. However, this is not what has happened. The tradition of presenting international exhibitions has continued, and, in fact, more and more of these exhibitions have been initiated. The presentation of these shows occurs not only in Europe and America. New biennales and triennales are emerging in countries outside of Europe and America.

Those exhibitions have consistently adhered to the views of internationalism on international art and continue to view art as a global phenomenon. In the beginning of the 1990s there emerged a framework of thought that attempted to differentiate "diversity" from "difference". The thinking about "diversity", which is diametrically opposed to the uniformity inherent within internationalism, has the potential to close down entirely the discussion of art as a global phenomenon. Meanwhile, the thinking about "difference" is more open. Although rejecting uniformity, this thinking does attempt to step into the gray territory between diversity and uniformity. This way of thinking embraces the belief that cultures not only exhibit differences but also similarities.

The thinking about "difference" has expanded into a discourse that has closed the possibility of the thinking about "diversity" and has brought "difference" to the fore as the strongest thinking in opposition to internationalism. In the last 10 years, the thinking about "difference" has become an issue central to the new biennales and triennales that are emerging outside of Europe and America. The fact that the thinking about "difference" is more popular, in itself, indicates an agreement that retains the tie between "international" and "art" as a global phenomenon within international exhibitions.

When the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, was launched at Queensland Art Gallery Brisbane, Australia in 1993, Dr. Caroline Turner, the curator of Queensland Art Gallery, stated, "The Triennial will, it is to be hoped, provide new ways of looking at art on the basis of equality without a 'center' or 'centers', as well as an approach to cultural interchange open to the future in which we can recognize what we have in common and yet respect what is different." Caroline Turner's views reflect the basis for the thinking that is developing now in relation to the presentation of international exhibitions. She pointed out "difference" and "commonality" in terms of art because she was speaking in front of a gathering of art circles. However, she set this art phenomenon squarely within the context of "cultural interchange". In so doing, she placed the issue of art within the context of culture.

This tendency indicates a shift in efforts to comprehend works of art from the framework of art to the framework of culture. This tendency views the art presented in international exhibitions as "global art" which is linked to the discourse on "global culture" in order to avoid the problem of "international art" which could be misread as an art issue based in internationalism. However, this tendency causes the issue of "international art" in international exhibitions to hang on and become a never ending problem with no visible solution.

In the past, the label "international" on international exhibitions had no real meaning because these international exhibitions were generally participated in only by artists from Europe and America. The distortion of the label "international" occurred simply due to the matter of "false claims". This could have been corrected easily by just changing the label "international" to the label "European, American". However, this kind of correction never happened. The correction that had taken form was the inclusion of works by artists outside of Europe and America. This presence has been corrective in that it motivated the emergence of all of the realities behind this label of "international". The international exhibitions now being held certainly present a much more "international condition".

This phenomenon is, in fact, what has made the understanding of "international art" that developed in the past that only took into consideration the art of Europe and America o had to change; it needed revision. This change required the re-identification of the art being presented at international exhibitions. However, this identification constituted an effort that did not make sense because there did not yet exist any art discourse that viewed international exhibitions as being an autonomous world of art. Until now identification of art, which is an issue of art theories, continues to be an activity that has no direct connection to international exhibitions. However, identification of art, one of the most basic frameworks of thought existing in relation to art, is the dominant basis within the process of understanding art, including art presented in international exhibitions.

When internationalism or modernism were still dominant, the relationship between identification of art and international exhibitions was clear. International exhibitions were a part of the institution of art existing within the thinking of Europe and America. As part of this institution, the international exhibitions had characteristics parallel to other institutions of art in Europe and America. The art presented in these international exhibitions was identical to the art being presented in other local exhibitions being presented in Europe and America. This international art was none other than the art of Europe and America. The public of international exhibitions was also the public of the exhibitions being held in Europe and America.

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In the first half of the 20th century, the identification of art in art theories was dominated by the effort to define art as focused in the question: "What is art"? The identification was done through defining artists, as well as defining works of art. This identification also covered efforts to find a method to determine the differences between what is "art" and what is "not art". This tendency within the identification of art influenced the thinking behind internationalism/ modernism within the development of art in the 20th century. It is known that modernism also has a tendency to differentiate "art" from that which is "not art". This tendency is one of the basic reasons that the art emerging outside of Europe and America has been marginalized.

Based on the history of development of western society, which has its roots in post-enlightenment western thinking, modernism made the contradiction between traditional and modern an absolute. Besides that, modernism also caused both the concepts of breakthroughs and of renewal to become absolutes within the development of art. These two beliefs make it impossible for modernism to understand works of modern art that are influenced by tradition. Modernism also cannot understand works of modern art that take the form of paradigmatic art, those being artworks that set out a specific paradigm for exploration within their creative process o as occurs within the painting traditions of both China and Japan o and then carry out these explorative efforts within a limited frame in order to achieve a greater depth.

When works of modern art created by artists from outside Europe and America exhibit signs of the above tendencies, these artworks are immediately viewed as "not modern works of art", but, rather, as "traditional works of art". In totality, the works are "not works of art". This is the basis for setting the artwork developing in places other than Europe and America outside the circle encompassing the international art which is identified with and is, in fact, identical to modern art. Art theories that focus on the question "What is art?" attempt to analyze the characteristics apparent in a work of art in order to find the essence or essences of art within the effort to answer the question: "What is art?". This tendency reflects the thinking that is based on epistemology (in Greek, the word epistemé means science) that constitutes the root for almost all of the frameworks of thinking existing in Europe and America in the first half of the 20th century. Epistemology embraces the belief that the thinking process can conceptualize reality by seeking out the essence of reality that could become representative of a complex reality.

The implementation of this belief has resulted in the emergence of "centers of thinking" spread out in each of what are called scientific discipline. These centers which ignore the process of culture within society have become very powerful institutions or centers of authority that dominate the understanding of reality through concepts of reality. It is these centers of thought that believe that modernism has resulted in a modern world with the same characteristics that can be observed worldwide. Around the middle of the 20th century, there emerged a new structure of thinking that set forth the idea that the developments of the modern world, in fact, did not reflect the absolute concepts of modernist thought, as has been much discussed and analyzed. The thinking about the existence of a homogenous world, which took universalism as its fundamental premise, was, as it turned out, simply a prediction within speculation that could not find any concrete form in reality.

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This does not require a long discussion here, because these matters have been frequently analyzed and discussed, and have resulted in various types of reactions - within a bipolar confrontation - that then motivated basic changes. A framework of thinking emerged that put its faith in the internal dynamics of society. This belief set forth thinking that tended to delve into the phenomena emerging within culture and the developments of society.

Within the exploration seeking to identify the internal dynamics of society, the phenomena considered for measurement or analysis were those that "emerged" rather than being "formulated" or "formed". These phenomena were perceived symbolically as "text" for which there was no author (in rhetorical thinking this is referred to as "the death of the author"). From this analysis emerged the thinking that has become the basis for the reading of all kinds of texts that are believed to be cultural texts - including works of art. There also emerged cultural studies that analyzed the domination of the centers as reflecting the thought of the elite, which denies internal dynamics of society through repressive acts.

The new channels of thought continued to oppose and deride internationalism and modernism. To replace these structures of thinking, there emerged a discourse on global culture, which used contemporarity as a parameter instead of modernity. Within the discourse of global culture, there developed efforts to expose cultural realities existing in the peripheral areas of the world, areas previously marginalized, along with the cultures that had not been touched by the impacts of modernization. Parallel with the development of this thinking, in the second half of the 20th century, there emerged a new framework of thinking in the identification of art, which runs counter to the structure of thinking that had emerged and developed during the first half of that century. This new thinking was reflected in the theories of Arthur Danto and George Dickie, who saw the importance of social context in the attempts to identify art.

These theories left behind the tradition of identifying art through defining "artist" and "work of art". These new theories enter into attempts to define the "artist" and the "artist's public" within a space called the "artworld". Within George Dickie's theory, which is known as the institutional theory of art, it is stated " The definition of 'the artworld' depends entirely on the notion of artworld system. An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public."

This shift in thinking caused the theories of Arthur Danto and George Dickie to undertake the decontextualization of art as reflected in art history and thoughts in the theory of art in the first half of the 20th century. The defining of artist and work of art and the attempts to find methods to differentiate "art" from "non-art", and even the efforts to answer the question "What is art?" became not important any longer. Arthur Danto called this, "The end of art."

It is clear to see that the new theories had shifted as well to the internal dynamics of society. George Dickie viewed the artworld as being a cultural construction o something that members of society have collectively made into what it is over time. Culture, within the perception of George Dickie, is in the hands of the people. The perception of what is "cultural activity" and what is "non-cultural activity" is shaped arbitrarily within the process of history within the development of a society. George Dickie stated, "The institutional theory of art focuses on human culture and its history".

The changes in the thinking toward the development of art theories from essentialism to the framework of thought which views the social context as important are reflected in the developments in art in Europe and America. A tendency to leave behind "conventional" media whose characteristics had been explored by the essentialists in their search for the essence of art emerged in the creative process for the production of works of art. In place of this there emerged a tendency to explore new mediums, media and mixed media. There also emerged a tendency to read works of art as cultural texts.

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In the midst of the turmoil of thinking which induced these changes, there arose the awareness that international exhibitions were not part of the European-American art institution. The art presented in international exhibitions was thus understood to not be the same as the art presented in the exhibitions held in Europe and America. However, this awareness caused the relationship between the identification of art and the international exhibitions to show signs of paradox.

The turmoil of cultural thinking, the shifts in the thinking in the theories of art and their influence on the practices in the creation of art, which then gave birth to new tendencies, also, as it turns out, appeared in international exhibitions in much the same format. This phenomenon caused the international exhibitions, even those exhibitions occurring over the past 10 years, to become all but indistinguishable from the exhibitions being held in Europe and America. The setting of the past, which clearly reflected a situation of domination had actually not changed at all. The tradition of identifying art used during the period of modernism continues to remain dominant within the process of the identification of art that is currently developing. Both approaches were developed in Europe and America, while the assumptions made within and the influence of these frameworks of thought continue to impact the tendencies occurring within works of art in international exhibitions.

The paradox can be clearly seen; the massive changes within the thinking on culture, which have influenced the theories of art, are changes, which have been taking place in Europe and America. These changes are reflected in the efforts to "correct" the errors in thinking that have had major impacts. The turmoil in thinking is also reflected in the overall developments in western thinking. The new thinking, which brings change with it, opposes the basis of thinking perceived as faulty; that being the set ideas and values reflected in post-enlightenment western thinking o the ethics of individualism, linear narratives of historicism, the homogeneity of the social, and the sovereignty of the "rational".

Within a condition such as this, only the works of the artists of Europe and America have a clear background. The works of the artists from outside of Europe and America are works, which appear to be making an effort to adjust themselves to this condition. There is no other word to apply to such a situation besides the term "domination". In the worst case scenario possible within this unfortunate condition, such works of art are considered to show signs of "aping" existing trends, while the better case scenario would simple bring the criticism that these works of art are "fashion".

This phenomenon pinpoints the fact that, from the very beginning until now, the world outside of Europe and America has yet to play a role in the identification of the realities existing within what is said to be the global culture. In the past, when modernism functioned as the institution for the dissemination of the principles of modernist thinking to the nations of the world, the peoples existing outside of Europe and America, who lived far beyond the boundaries of the centers of thinking, accepted these modernist principles as vague ideologies (that were not fully understood).

Now, as the opposition to modernism generates new thinking, the situation really hasnot changed that much. The new thinking, which considers the internal dynamics of society through the analysis of cultural text, has spread beyond the boundaries of Europe and America once again as "vague ideologies". This thinking, which is disseminated from Europe and America in the form of writings, books and theories o which are most certainly "authored" -- constitutes assumptions that can not yet be fully analyzed because it is impossible for the peoples living in societies outside of Europe and America to come into contact with (to see, to analyze, to reflect on, and then to understand) all of the texts that are utilized to build those assumptions, theories and frameworks of thought.

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There is yet another reality that is also phenomenal. This reality relates to what is called the institutional theory of art, the "artworld system" whose limitations I have cited, and, also, the artworld public, which, according to George Dickie has (1) a general idea of art and (2) a minimal understanding of the medium or media of a particular art. For the international exhibitions with long histories, such as the Venice Biennale, the Sao Paolo Biennale, and Documenta (having emerged and developed within the context of Europe or America), the artworld systems and the artworld publics are not difficult to identify. Through the history of these biennales, the public comes to understand the various breakthroughs and contradictions being exhibited within the works, which have been presented for display. The public can comprehend, for example, why the works being presented must be read as cultural texts.

In the biennales and triennales that have been emerging throughout the last 10 years (presented in Asia and Africa), the artworld systems and the artworld publics are phenomenal. In these biennales and triennales there continues to exist a problem of how to measure the responses of the local publics, which, it turns out, do not fully recognize or comprehend the major trends in thought on culture and its changes, or even the art discourses that are influenced by them.

In the international biennales and triennales held in Japan and Australia, in which it turns out that the art infrastructure is good, the problem of identifying the local public is not felt. However, in the case of the biennales and triennales that are held in Thailand, Korea, South Africa, Bangladesh, China o and now in Indonesia o the problem of the local public always motivates the curators to find a way of popularizing these international biennales and triennales.

In his theory, George Dickie gives a larger role to the public, which is believed to have characteristics parallel to those of the artist. In this theory, the public is expected to determine the cultural framework. In international exhibitions being held over the past 10 years, this prediction of the publicos ability to act as determiner did not come to fruition. In order to understand the works of art being presented, the people who actually must become the artworld public must "learn" the cultural framerork whose formation has occurred outside of their own local culture. Is there any other term that could be appropriately applied to this kind of situation besides "domination"? .

In relation to the local publics that do not understand the background of the art being presented at international exhibitions, heated discussion and arguments often occur. Certainly, it is difficult to expect local publics to easily or consistently understand the works presented by cutting-edge artists. And, it turns out that this also occurs in Europe and America. If these perceptions are accepted, it must be assumed that the Age of the Avant-garde has yet to end within the development of art. This assumption points out the paradox that emerges not only in the art presented in international exhibitions, but also in the art now being presented in Europe and America.

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Considering all of these phenomena and realities, the identification of art being shown in international exhibitions cannot be fully linked to the identification of art as reflected in the development of theories of art in Europe and America. Besides that, international exhibitions must be set free from the art institution that always refers back to the western institution of art as seen in Europe and America. There is no other possible valid way to look at international exhibitions than to view them as an autonomous art institution in itself.

In the midst of this kind of condition, the only basis for identifying art presented in international exhibitions is the "label" international that has turned out to be not just a "sign". Observing the international exhibitions that are being held now, both those that have a long history and those that have started emerging in only the last 10 years, there appears to be an agreement to continue to hang onto the context of "international" in the naming of these shows.

Certainly we are not so naïve as to define the term "international" behind the existing situation in relation to these exhibitions as meaning that these exhibitions do truly and fully represent the whole world, as is the case with the United Nations. In the existing international exhibitions, the understanding of "international" is simply to point out the fact of the involvement of the artists, the publics, the organizations and the curators of a number of countries, more than just two or three.

This understanding of the "international" in fact "emerged" and is far from having been "formulated" or "formed". Up until now, no theory of art has been formulated to provide a basis for it. This understanding has been sorely tested. In the midst of a situation in which internationalism is being drowned in a torrent of criticism to the point where the only natural response is to put forth the idea of "de-internationalization", international exhibitions retain their international orientation. On the basis of this, the identification of the art presented in these international exhibitions seems to return us to the old question with a slight twist: "What is international art?"

The question, "What is international art?" exists within the connotation of the already agreed upon conception of "what art is". This question is different than the queries about art made within the traditional framework of thought giving rise to the initial question "What is art?" that emerges from existing theories (theories that carry the potential for domination within them). The question "What is international art?" is one that still requires an answer. The distortion of its meaning in the past have never been corrected.

The emergence of the question "What is international art?" however, does not necessitate a return to internationalism. This question could still be developed through the observation of cultures that would, in the end, return to the issue of art. However that may be, it is not my purpose to bring up the matter of "international culture" because that would only give rise to "absurd" thinking, and no longer be just vague like the thinking about "global culture".

I tend to prefer to discuss international art in the context of a somewhat odd-sounding analogy, that being in relation to observations about the use of English as the international language. As an analogy, the idea of English being the international language has characteristic parallel to the concept of international art.

Seen from any possible point of view, there is no valid or clear reason behind English becoming the international language. In truth, any language could have emerged as the international language. However, there is no use in making an issue of why it is English that has been chosen as the international language, and, there certainly also is no point in hoping to discuss the possibility of another language being designated as the international language instead. The important thing to observe and consider from this reality is that it is difficult to change what is perceived as appropriate because this appropriateness involves the construction of a highly complex and complicated process of communication.

As the language of communication in the international world, English is no longer truly "the English language". In international forums, the English used is an English language spoken with a wide variety of different accents. These accents are not apparent only as faulty intonation and odd pronunciation, despite this being the way that the dictionary defines the word accent. These accents reflect usage of the English language within the frameworks of the logic of other languages entirely. Within this understanding, the "accent" is a reality that truly cannot be avoided. Even the speakers of English who have mastered the grammar of that language and can even perfectly mimic the intonation and pronunciation of Oxford English will never be able to avoid this particular kind of "accent".

Returning this analogy to the issue of identifying international art, we will be able to read clearly the reality that there is art that has become international art. Within the international context, this art appears as "art with an accent". What is needed now is the identification of the art that has become international art. We also need to find a way to recognize the "art with an accent". As well, isnot there also perhaps the need to provide a description of whether or not international art reflects the sense of the appropriate that is so difficult to change?

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Within the current developments in thinking relating to art theories, there are efforts being made to explore what is being called cross-cultural aesthetics. These efforts are focused on the belief that works of art are cultural texts existing within any culture to be found anywhere. Based on this perception, cross-cultural aesthetics tries to connect the theories of art that have traditionally developed in Europe and America (the culture of the West) with the expression of visual art within the framework of the "culture of the other" o tribal arts, primitive arts and forms of art falling within the framework of ethnicity - which is generally perceived as material for ethnographic analysis.

Cross-cultural aesthetics is critical of two things. First, it criticizes the marginalization that views art falling within the framework of the "culture of the other" as something that is not actually art. Second, it criticizes the incommensurability thesis existing within ethnographic analysis which is of the opinion that art falling within the framework of the "culture of the other" cannot be read without first comprehending its context. Besides giving rise to a critical debate, this view also raises the general question, "Do they have our concept of art?" or "Do they have art in our sense?"

This terminology, "concept of art" which is on the same level as the phrase "art in our sense" contains a general understanding. The understanding is in no way the same as the understanding of the "aesthetic concept of art" that is tied closely to the understanding of the "concept of aesthetics" in the development of theories on art in Europe and America. This term, "concept of art", which is on the same level as that apparent in "art in our sense" is not much different at all from "art in the western sense" as generally understood. This understanding is far from the understanding of "western art".

The questions arising within the debate on cross-cultural aesthetics can be applied to the issue of international art in international exhibition. They are specifically directed at the works of art created by artists working outside of Europe and America. Without expansive debate, it is only possible to answer the questions arising in one way, that being "Yes, they have our concept of art" or "Yes, they have art in our sense ". In other words, it cannot be denied that the art works created by artists outside of Europe and America do shows signs of "art in the western sense".

While the issue of the marginalization of non-western art was being debated heatedly in 1989, the Magiciens de la Terre exhibition was held at the Georges Pompidou Cultural center in Paris. This exhibition applied the principles and thinking of cross-cultural aesthetics, and because of this became the subject of discussions for years afterwards within international art forums. At the time the exhibition was held, it gave the impression of having the potential to open up new concepts in relation to the presentation of international exhibitions. However, the Magiciens de la Terre exhibition turned out to be "not popular". Until now, there is no international art that has taken the concept of this exhibition as a framework. The international exhibitions that followed continued to adhere to the traditions focused in the idea of "art in the western sense". The works of artists from outside of Europe and America were never looked as within the context of works of art existing within the framework of the concept of "culture of the other".

It is not difficult to see that "art in the western sense" is the "art" which has become "international art". The agreement to retain the context of international in the presentation of international exhibitions has its focus in "art in the western sense". This agreement was not the result of and kind of pledge or negotiation. This agreement was based on the ingrained sense of the appropriate that was difficult to change, and because of that it was never made an issue of. There is no use asking why "art in the western sense" was "chosen" to be the basis for international art. Is there any true use in asking why it is that western culture has become the root modernization and modernity? What is the use of imagining any other possibilities. As it turned out, it is the appropriateness that has been overlooked within the thinking about art that is now developing just as the international exhibitions are beginning to give rise to opportunities to develop the sense of the appropriate into a concrete concept or understanding. This opportunity, which did not exist previously, was the presence of artists from outside of Europe and America.

Contrary to the efforts to understand the significance of appropriateness, the thinking that is now developing calls this appropriateness into question as a sign of domination by the West. This excessively critical attitude toward internationalism, marginalization, and domination has given rise to an international art phobia. This phobia is not only causing an avoidance of internationalism and the discussion of international art. This phobia is even causing an avoidance of discussion about art. The analysis of why the concept of Magiciens de la Terre has not been picked up on as the concept for international exhibitions, for example, has developed into a discussion of incommensurability within contextualism in cultural discourse, which has caused the problem to become so complex that it cannot be resolved.

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The question "What is international art?" is an effort to comprehend the idea of appropriateness by delving into the various realities behind it. The one reality that must be dealt with first and foremost is the "art in the western sense" concept that forms the basis for international art, which is not the same as "western art", and because of that there is no reason to perceive it as being a sign that domination exists. And there is still another reality to face, that the forming of international art does not end with "art in the western sense". The most important part of this process of formation, the element that has been most blatantly overlooked is "art with an accent".

"Art with an accent" is the matter or issue of culture that reflects the occurrence of cultural translation. When, at the beginning of the 1990s, Hommi Bhabha sought "the third space" between universalism and cultural relativism, he made an issue of this cultural translation. Hommi Bhabha stated that "The translation is a way of imitating but in a mischievous, displacing sense - imitating an original in such a way that priority of the original is not reinforced but by very fact that it can be simulated, copied, transferred, transformed, made into a simulacrum and so on : the 'original' is never finished and complete in itself. The 'originary' is always open to translation so that it can never be said to have a totalized prior moment of being or meaning - an essence."

The translation of "art in the western sense" to "art with an accent " is a long process whose footprints can be seen in cultural history. In various writings, I have encountered examples of the translation of the term "art" within the context of Javanese feudal ethnicity occurring in Indonesia at the beginning of the 18th century, before Hegel set out the framework for High Art. It is through these examples from this writing that I would like to correct the misperception that views "art in the western sense" as being transferred in totality to non-western societies through the framework of scientific thinking in the 20th century.

The development of "art with an accent" could certainly be observed and perceived as a development in art (seen as part of the history of art). In the translation of "art in the western sense" there is the possibility of "art to art encounter" which has the potential to result in developments that give the impression of being parallel with the developments in art in Europe and America. However, as an element of cultural translation, "art with an accent" cannot be "removed" from the framework of its culture and seen only through the framework of art (the error made by the identification of art in modernism/internationalism was to remove art from its cultural framework and place it within the framework of autonomous art). When the development of "art with an accent" is returned to the framework of culture the developments that give the impression of being parallel begin to exhibit a variety of very basic differences. These differences occur because (1) the development of "art with an accent" is based on its own development that began, more or less, in the 18th century, (2) the development of "art with an accent" contains another translation, that being the translation of various art phenomena within the framework of ethnic traditions. Within totality the difference is "localness" which not only indicates the presence of indigenousness and ethnicity, but also indicates the presence of a translation of "art in the western sense".

In the presentation of international exhibitions, from the very beginning until now, the development of "art with an accent" has been paralleled with the development of art in Europe and America. This parallelism in international exhibitions reflects the general perception within a larger context that holds the view or opinion that international art consists of only one substance, that being "western art", and because of that, international art, no matter where in the world, has or follows the same developmental pattern, and thus has parallel art history. It cannot be denied that this perception, which until now remains firmly imbedded in the past, is the basis for the internationalism that believes in uniformity. This phenomenon indicates that this perception has not changed substantiality form the past until today. The only difference between then and now is its "position". In the past, this perception was placed openly as a statement, while, at this time, this perception is hidden and tends to not be discussed.

This issue has once again been overlooked within the framework of thinking about art that is developing now. Behind the spirit of opposition toward marginalization and domination that is exhibited within the defense of non-western cultures, there is a hidden perception reflected in the quotation of Kipling, "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet o". This preconception sees the cultures of the West and the non-West as being two completely separate things that will never converge. This tendency to find indigenousness and ethnicity to be the element that presents the difference, and, the cross-cultural aesthetics approach that attempts to see the relationship of art in the "culture of the other", as well as the phrase "art in our sense", are only a few examples that indicate just how ingrained this perception is.

This perception is not interested in the translation of "art in the western sense", and it is this perception that has caused the thinking that is developing now to not see international art as a plural phenomenon, as art that carries a variety of "art with an accent" elements that very basically indicate that there is a connection between the cultures of the West and the non-West. "The articulation of cultures is possible, not because of the familiarity or similarity of contents", says Hommi Bhabha, "but because all cultures are symbol-forming and subject constituting, interpelative practices."

The reluctance to see the translation of "art in the western sense" which is shadowed by the international art phobia that is concerned with the advent of domination, is the neglectful attitude that has given rise to the emergence of parallelism that automatically leads straight back to the issue of domination. This parallelism is an undeniable reality because it is reflected in the presentation of almost all international exhibitions that are being held at this time. The utilization of the question "What is international art?" within the analysis and context of my discussion here is basically meant to query the phenomenon of parallelism.

The tendency to read art as a cultural text, the emergence of the tendency to leave behind "conventional" media, whose characteristics have been explored by the essentialists in order to find the essence of art, and, the tendency to explore new mediums and new media that appear in almost every international exhibition that is developing now, all indicate this parallelism. And it is this parallelism that must be questioned because all of the tendencies apparent in the international exhibitions being held at this time are based in the changes in thinking taking place in Europe and America, ranging from essentialism to the frameworks of thought that include social contexts.

Are these tendencies reflected in the issue of "art with an accent" ? This is the basic question. If, indeed, the tendencies inherent in "art with an accent" are different from those tendencies based in the developments in thinking in Europe and America, the difference is not based on the intensity of viewing issues. "Art with an accent" has had its own process of development, since, at the very latest, the 19th century, and this is what makes the development of "art with an accent" different from the development of art in Europe and America.

It is almost certain that the thinking behind the art theories that have become traditions in Europe and America would not be popular outside of Europe and America. Even if essentialism is known outside of Europe and America o within certain limits because not all thinking is transferable o I doubt if the artists have achieved the awareness that the characteristics of the various mediums and media can carry "essence". I also doubt whether "the age of the avant-garde", was ever truly formulated outside of Europe and America because the vast majority of works by artists from outside of Europe and America exhibit paradigmatic art that indicates a perception that runs counter to avant-garde perceptions.

All of these possibilities point out the tendency for works of art that reflect a sense of seeking that see art as sensitivity, or perceive it as a nounish phenomenon, to be viewed as irrelevant for consideration outside of Europe and America. In connection with this tendency, trends in works of art that reflect the turmoil of thinking emerging from conceptual frameworks ranging from essentialism to ideas that emphasize the context are not reflected in the issues under consideration outside of Europe and America. There are possibilities, the works by artists from outside of Europe and America, which at a glance seem to exhibit the exploration of a conventional medium, may just be based in the translation of the principles of art inherent within an ethnic tradition which makes those works closer to cultural text - while ignoring the rhetorical statement regarding "the death of the author".

Understanding "art with an accent " is to understand the totality of its development. This understanding will build an awareness of the developments in art outside of Europe and America, which cannot be considered without including the idea of cultural translation due to the risk of achieving only a partial or fragmented view. Even though a part of this art exhibits similarities to a part of the art developing in Europe and America - because cultural translation is a continuous and ongoing process - these similarities may bear different meanings.

The international exhibitions developing now, whose spirited opposition to and attempts at the eradication of domination should not be questioned, cannot avoid this reality. It is basic to the efforts to identify the art that is being presented in international exhibitions. The urgency is to understand the developments in art occurring outside of Europe and America, which, until now, remain difficult to comprehend. Dominance and domination, from the past until now, occur mostly because these developments in art are not understood.

Jim Supangkat
Chief Curator


i "Introduction - From Extraregionalism to Intraregionalism ?" in the catalogue 1st Asia Pacific Trienniale of Contemporary Art 1993, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.

ii "The Institutional Theory of Art", George Dickie in Theories of Art Today. Noel Carroll (ed.)The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison. 2000. Pp. 93-108. In this writing, George Dickie sets forth his most recent views on the Institutional Theory of Art, and also puts forward various reposnses in answer to the various criticisms directed at his theories.

iii ibid.

iv ibid.

v See, "Simultaneous Translation : Modernity and The Inter-National". Hommi K.Bhabha. Keynote speech. Conference on International Exhibitions. "Expanding Internationalism" Venice, Italy. 27-28 May, 1990. Conference Proceedings. Art International. NY.1990.

vi "The Institutional Theory of Art" ibid.

vii "The Third Space" Interview with Hommi Bhabha, in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference.Jonatahan Rutherford (ed.). Lawrence & Wishart. London. 1990.

viii Among these is "Multiculturalism/Multimodernism". In exhibition catalogue for Contemporary Art in Asia: Tradition and Tension. Asia Society Galleries, New York. 1996.

ix "The Third Space". Ibid.