Art Goes Global, via Venice: Globalization, Art & The Venice Biennale

by Lakshmi Kumar

“While the romantic travelers transgressed the symbolic order to create their own destiny, the enlightened explorers had in their pursuit of knowledge a desire for conquest, imposing taxonomies, cartographies and regulations to mark their domain over the real,” writes Rosa Martinez in her curatorial statement for the 51st Venice Biennale. She goes on: “A melancholic Lévi-Strauss proclaimed the end of the voyage, stating that there no longer existed any unexplored places nor the possibility of real encounters with the Other” (2005). This metaphor of citizen as traveller resonates compellingly in today’s global society—one where, Martinez points out, the tourism industries guide us not only in our choice of leisure activities but also guide us in our cultural and economic preferences.

Co-curator Maria de Corral highlights this type of seemingly paradoxical globalized optimism and cynicism in her statement as well, reinforcing a global idiom—the exhibition becomes a place to celebrate “diversity” and “exchange experiences, ideas, reflections,” where one can get lost in a space that she lauds as one that is “more like a centre of research than a mass of certainties.”1 Both women, the first female curators of the Venice Biennale, the world’s most famous international art exhibition, express their ideas using cartographic metaphors— ones involving space and geographies, “new territories of meaning” as Martinez calls them, underscoring a geographic conception in which a large diverse exhibition is organized without dividing walls in a deliberate attempt to create "new forms of neighborhoods" between disparate artists, cultural contexts and audiences. Here, the influence of globalization on the recent incarnations of the Venice Biennale is utterly apparent. The art world has been focusing on crossing traditional borders, not only metaphorically but also tangibly, providing exhibition space for countries, cities and other groups that were once ignored. But this recent awareness of the global complexity of our current society, and its effects on the art world, does not necessarily imply deep tectonic shifts in cultural power, profit and understanding. Globalization, its definitions and ramifications, are highly contested still. The difficulty in discussing and dealing with this contemporary process is exemplified by the many ideological and organizational contradictions called to attention at the last three Venice Biennales. “Globalization is not single but plural,” writes Michael Mann2, and it is this plurality that makes analyzing the outcomes and influence of such international art exhibitions so arduous and interesting.

“Robertson defines globalization as ‘the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole’,” explains Mann, but he does not agree. He believes that “we are not moving toward a singular world society or system because the sources of social power are globalizing, and their principles of integration are often disjunctive and occasionally contradictory.”3 This debate over whether the world is homogenizing or diversifying is one that is at the heart of any globalization discussion; and this debate was considered so pivotal to the trends in international culture and politics that the 50th, 51st and 52nd Venice Biennales all referred to globalization as a fundamental theme. Director of 2003’s 50th Biennale, Francisco Bonami, wrote in his exhibition catalog that “the ‘Grand Show’ of the 21st century must allow multiplicity, diversity and contradiction to exist inside the structure of an exhibition…a world where the conflicts of globalization are met by the romantic dreams of a new modernity.”4

So how was this ‘multiplicity, diversity and contradiction’ reflected in the shows at his and future Venice Biennales? After Bonami (and his critical failure), the directors of the next two exhibitions took opposing ideological stances regarding the importance of global sensitivity when choosing works. In 2005, Maria de Corral (Co-Director along with Rosa Martinez) curated the show, “The Experience of Art,” for the Italian Pavilion and stated clearly that she was not attempting to reflect any sort of universalism in her selection of artists, and that furthermore, she was not concerned with finding artists from so-called peripheral regions, reasoning that she would rather focus on the artistic content, since “the major exhibitions of recent years have proven…exceptional artistic achievements from Africa, Asia, and Latin America come from artists currently living in western metropolises anyway.”5 The Korean pavilion at this Biennale clearly supports her stance as a young, Yale-trained artist named Hyungkoo Lee, who fabricated the presumptive fossil remains of Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry presenting them soberly in glass cases as if they were historical specimens, was the star—a Korean-born expatriate working within the traditional boundaries of the Eurocentric art world model. But this oversimplifies the artistic selection process and disregarding complicated issues surrounding folk versus commercial and ‘high’ art and the processes of global artistic production. As Gerardo Mosquera points out in his essay, “Alien-Own/Own-Alien: Globalization and Cultural Difference”: “The exclusivist and teleological legitimization of the ‘international language’ of art acts as a mechanism of exclusion toward other languages and discourses.”6

Deciding to play with spatial openness rather than directly addressing these complicated issues, the two Spanish female directors used the vocabulary of inclusivity and diversity in their curatorial statements while reducing the global scope of their exhibition. Still, there was an increase in the number of countries and regions represented with their own pavilions or independent exhibitions: in 2005, Afghanistan, Albania, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and Belarus were included for the first time.7 The chaos of Bonami’s 2003 exhibition, that explicitly focused on ‘globalizing’ Venice with 350 artists’ works spread throughout the city, was a primary reason for the paring down of the 2005 biennale, including only 90 artists, along with a newfound understanding of the intricacies of global economic development.

At the next biennale in 2007, Robert Storr was hired as Director and reverted to a much broader and more inclusive vision of the ‘global’ biennale. Beginning as early as autumn 2005, Storr organized an international symposium on contemporary art where,for four days…art-world luminaries, city officials, and academics gathered in Venice…to debate the future of large-scale international exhibitions in general (and, by implication, the Venice Biennale)… The symposium could only mimic the pseudo-egalitarianism that is the art world's favorite scam, masking the much larger geopolitical structures that are actually at play, which routinely demonstrate that biennials are global politics by other means. The underlying question was unstated, but everywhere: Has the Venice Biennale (the "mother of all biennials" according to symposium literature) become obsolete?

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Underscoring the economic complexities of running such a large event meant primarily to bring prestige and tourists to Venice, Storr organized panels on postcolonial development and the ‘new art worlds’ blossoming outside Europe and the U.S., reflecting the art elite’s growing desire to stay ‘on top’ of changing markets and audiences. And of course, Storr, and all future directors of the Venice Biennale, must remain aware of the rapidly growing biennial industry, one flourishing around the globe with new international exhibitions opening in Sao Paolo, Istanbul, Beijing and Seoul, just to name a few.

Storr’s symposium, meant to address the complexities of dealing in a growing global art market in which the global economy is defining and, perhaps is equivalent to, the global culture, could not delve too deeply into these complicated issues for as Mosquera explains, “globalization has responded less to a new consciousness than to a tolerance based on paternalism, quotas, and political correctness.” With clear economic winners and losers, can globalization in the art world be regarded as a true opening of cultural appreciation or is it instead the introduction of a new visual language in which the old assumptions still remain standing? Mosquera continues:

While there has been an economic shift in which former Third World countries are asserting and celebrating their newfound economic success, exemplified by the rise of competitive art auction houses in China and India giving Sotheby’s and Christie’s a run for their money, Alan Quemin contends that while “the richest countries may have allowed the development of biennials in the peripheral countries, [they] do not really compete with the most established events, which are clearly those organized in the western world.” He goes on to emphasize the importance of the production process and the influential power of the West’s established institutions even in creative endeavors, (what Maria de Corral mentioned in her curatorship in 2003): “While more and more artists from peripheral countries are managing to gain international recognition…most of these artists only come from those countries: they do not live there.”9

These migrant artists filled Robert Storr’s 2007 exhibition, larger, more diverse and consequently, more fragmented than that of Martinez and de Corral, playing up those peripheral countries that were left unaddressed (at least explicitly) in 2005 by devoting the entire Arsenale to new and young international contemporary artists. The exhibition was filled with a dramatic array of mostly conceptual works—Storr working consciously to overshadow the more conservative shows in the national pavilions. The Venice Biennale operates on two levels—each director gets to curate a large group show exhibited around Venice, usually centered around the Arsenale, the old abandoned shipbuilding yards; and then each country with a national pavilion gets to organize a show of artwork from their homeland. In recent years, there has been much criticism of this national pavilion system, particularly when the term ‘globalization’ is thrown around as a central theme. The permanent pavilions mostly represent the Western hegemony, though China was recently granted a permanent exhibition space. Christopher Hawthorne, writing in 2003 for The New York Times, drew attention to the fact that “among Arab nations, only Egypt has one.”10

As early as 2003, then Director Francisco Bonami considered adding a Palestinian pavilion to the exhibition but was met with harsh criticism from the press, even being labeled as anti-Semitic. The pavilion was then scaled back to one large work called “Stateless Nation” by Palestinian-born Sandi Hilal, comprised of 10 seven-foot tall passports dispersed through the exhibition grounds. Years later at Storr’s symposium, an audience member yelled out, “’You should give France's pavilion to Palestine!’ This got a good laugh since the French had been trading on their imperial bona fides for days, insisting on speaking their native tongue and forcing Italian translators to scramble...”11 This sort of ‘international language’ which Mosquera criticizes highlights the complexity of dealing in global cultural commodities that do not necessarily share, at home and abroad, fixed meanings—perhaps not everything can be translated:

The exclusivist and teleological legitimization of the ‘‘international language’’ of art acts as a mechanism of exclusion toward other languages and discourses. In many art institutions—as among many art specialists and collectors—prejudices based on a sort of axiological monism prevail. In a catch-22, this circle tends to regard with suspicions of illegitimacy art from the peripheries that endeavors to speak the ‘‘international language.’’ When it speaks properly, it is usually accused of being derivative; when it speaks with an accent, it is disqualified for its lack of propriety toward the canon.This art is asked to present an originality related to traditional cultures—which is to say, oriented toward the past—or to show an abstract, pure originality toward the present. In both cases, such art is required to state its context rather than to participate in a general artistic practice that at times only refers to art itself.

Storr attempted to empower the peripheral countries and their exhibitions by stepping out of the past into a contemporary interconnected chaotic landscape, grasping onto a more intuitive understanding of art—one melding globalization with tradition—reflected in his choice of title: “Think with the Senses—Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense.”

But relying on intuition and the subconscious, particularly with such a long fraught history as the human one, can get tricky. Tim Griffin of Artforum points out, “Grand exhibitions used to simply show the ‘best’ international work. This has changed: Beginning with the Pompidou's ‘Magiciens de la terre’ in 1989, these shows began to stage ‘globalization’ itself as their core theme.”12 While Storr claimed to try to exhibit as much of the best art he could find, following his intuition and advising his audience to focus on theirs, the extreme globality of his exhibition makes it explicit that globalization was a conscious factor affecting his arrangement. In terms of cultural influence, one wonders which approach (Bonami’s, Storr’s or de Corral and Martinez’s) is more artistically valid and honest. Should a curator consciously put globalization up on a pedestal, announcing it from the door of every pavilion? Or rather, should globalization be left in the background, to quietly flow as an undercurrent that will undoubtedly affect the proceedings but may run on so smoothly that it is left unconsidered? Unlike Storr’s free-flowing style, focusing his attention on the Arsenale rather than the national pavilions, Martinez insisted on a more traditional framework for the biennale, yet globalization’s influence can still be heard in the background of her curatorship: she highlighted the idea of the journey, of travel and the power of art to influence behavior—drawing attention to, with de Corral, a feminine presence by exhibiting the highest number of female artists ever shown. Storr moved closer to the chaos of his predecessor, Bonami, choosing intuition, fragmentation and diversity over manageability and control. In 2003, Mr. Bonami noted, “We live now in the midst of this huge conflict between the rise of globalization, where in some significant ways there are no borders and no limitations and at the same time we see this growing need for, or growing imposition of, defined borders.” Referring back to the controversy over the possible erection of a Palestinian pavilion and the consequent empowerment that some marginalized groups felt as a result of the international consideration granted Palestine—Bonami said, ''I've had all the possible questions: 'What about the Kashmiri pavilion?' 'Why don't you do Kurdistan?' It's never-ending.''13

Yet even today, the Venice Biennale born in 1895, still holds to the tradition of spotlighting the national pavilions. These are permanent buildings where certain nations hold their independently organized exhibitions. In today’s postcolonial,globalized, transnational society, the national pavilions appear outmoded. In recent years, additional pavilions and temporary structures have been erected for countries that are now powerfully entering the international stage, but one can’t disregard the imperialistic undertones of these nationally defined spaces of cultural prestige. Nation-states are eager to assert their independence and dominance on these cultural grounds, particularly newly independent nations entering a new phase of economic and cultural prominence. Scotland and Ukraine were eager to get their own pavilions at recent biennales and China erected a large pavilion at the 2003 Biennale, that site soon becoming its permanent home. But it’s not just nation-states laboring for some ground to stand on; Manchester got its first pavilion in 2001 and the Catalonia Pavilion plans to arrive in 2009. The Catalonia Pavilion is interesting in that its artistic identity is directly tied to the region’s political activism against Spain, one of the nations of course with a permanent pavilion at the Giardini. Artist Gavin Morrison writes, “Within all of this is the palpable sense that both nations and non-nations are using art with political intent and that a presence at the Biennale is a form of cultural capital. Dependent upon one's perspective, Venice during the Biennale is either a glut of art jingoism or the site of a profusion of diverse cultural expression.”14

Whether displayed in a pavilion or as part of a group show, the artists are defined by their national identity, the country of origin listed on every museum label. It does permit the viewer to contextualize the artist and his/her work but could not this contextualization become problematic, particularly when dealing with ethnic and cultural stereotypes, clichés and generalizations—dangerous during a time of globalized technological advancement leading to a certain exaggerated understanding of other people and other cultures? “A stroll through the almost pastoral setting of the Giardini—where the 'old guard' pavilions of Germany, Great Britain, France, etc. are clustered—can initially be heady with the utopianism of this 'meeting of the nations.' However, this quickly gives way to the realization that the enclave is smothered by a distinctly languid colonial air,”15 Morrison continues. The overtly political air of the biennale cannot be ignored— identity is established here not by the art itself, not fundamentally by style or content, but rather by political and/or ethnic definitions. Gavin Morrison recently called for the construction of a Texas Pavilion, to give the Venice Biennale audience a fun way to play with these notions of cultural cliché and niche identity. But these identity battles, particularly between nation-states, are continuously being played out, as MAP Magazine described in its review of the 2003 Biennale:

If nationalism is being pronounced dead with such regularity by cultural contracting conglomerates, why are China and Scotland so eager to enter into an allegedly defunct nationalist arena? China boasts the world’s largest population and is a growing player in the global economy, while Scotland is one of the world’s smallest countries, a nation struggling to emerge from its former guise as a colonial partner in the British Empire into a modern European micro-state alongside Wales, Cornwall, Alsace-Lorraine, Brittany, Catalonia, the Basque Country… This presents a paradox. As the art world becomes increasingly globalised, it also becomes more localised, a forum for vernacular mobilisation and an analysis of suppressed parochialisms. Scotland and China’s presence in Venice might be seen as indicative of a global desire to create credibly distinct cultural foundations… Guo-Qiang is confident that China’s presence will finally transform the international exhibition’s historically Eurocentric structure and present a more inclusive picture (just don’t mention human rights abuses). For Scotland the opposite is true. As Richard Demarco has convincingly argued since the 1960s, Scotland’s independent participation in Venice is essential if it is to assert its cultural and political independence within a European stage…”16

The cultural struggles and geopolitical issues played out at the Venice Biennale highlight the many complications of the underlying globalization debate—that while the world is more connected, there are also elements of disparity counteracting the homogenization. On the surface, it may appear that China and Scotland were fighting for the same sort of recognition, but dig a little deeper, and the foundations will weaken, shuddering in their difference.

In his speech for the grand opening of the China-Hong Kong exhibition site at the 49th Venice Biennale, Dr. Patrick Ho, mused on the similarities between Hong Kong/China and Europe, citing the homogeneity of modern cities and urban life in a globalized landscape, the immense wealth accumulated by trade and business in both Venice and Hong Kong, the Marco Polo connection and lastly, the fact that pasta and noodle dishes are as Chinese as they are Italian.17 Falling back on cultural clichés, one must recognize the political diplomacy at work here, parading politics under the guise of artistic encouragement. But then no art historian can refute the fact that money, power and art have always been entwined; now, the connections are played out in a more democratic and public forum but they are still entangled all the same.

Looking at the Venice Biennale and specifically the last three ’Grand Shows’, the complexity with which globalization is transforming global cultural and economic hierarchies cannot be ignored. Even while Rosa Martinez tried to bring down walls and erect ‘new neighborhoods of meaning’, her exhibition generated much criticism from the art world elite like art critic Maeve Connolly who wrote, “superficial similarities between other-wise distinct practices [were] overemphasized. In the opening room, for example, Joanna Vasconcelos' “A Noiva/The Bride”, a chandelier constructed from tampons, is surrounded by Guerrilla Girls' billboards, which develop a more overtly political critique of women's experience. Videos by Adrian Paci and Berni Searle, both shot at night but otherwise unconnected, are also presented in close proximity, creating confusion rather than a productive interplay.”18 This superficial connectedness can be both problematic and productive—visually the Spaniards’ exhibition was more focused and manageable, yet the contradictions in their presentation reflect a dangerous tendency to view globalization as a wholly connective process. Instead, it is a complicated network, one in which old borders are being redrawn and in which, even the old standard of the nation-state may have to be reconsidered: “The new mapping of the world focuses on cities rather than states. It is based upon Castells' (1996) conceptualisation of the contemporary world as a network society wherein 'spaces of flows' are coming to dominate 'spaces of places'. The latter space is defined by separation and boundaries, the former by interaction and connections.”19

But since we are dealing here with the contemporary artistic landscape and at the Venice Biennale, the emphasis is still placed on national, state-run identities, a short analysis of works reflecting this commanding idea of nationhood displayed at the past three biennales is necessary. Cultural cliché and a harking back to familiar cultural myths and generalizations abound at the Venice Biennale. Curators and audiences alike are comforted by the familiar contexts the national pavilions provide—curators focused on letting viewers revel in the countries they already know rather than choosing to shock them with worlds they may not recognize. At the 51st Venice Biennale, the Chinese Pavilion played with cultural clichés while evoking a certain communion between China and the rest of the world. The pavilion gained much critical acclaim with their process-based works, such as “Unidentified Flying Objects” by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu in which the artists collaborated with Du Wenda, a farmer who spent years handcrafting a flying saucer, and launched the craft during the Biennale. Architectural historian Wang Qiheng created “The Fengshui Project for Venice” which analyzed the feng shui of the city and was used in the development of the Chinese Pavilion. The political overtones are clear: the connection between the farmer and the city dweller, the artist, are highlighted here, reflecting China’s desire to throw off the negative images of its Communism and instead be seen as a country full of satisfied citizens engaging productively with the world. Instead of displaying art inside the Austrian pavilion, Hans Schabus built a mountainous construction around it and David Knorr left the Romanian pavilion empty: he simply painted the walls black and opened the emergency exit. Visitors were invited to take away a small book filled with essays on cultural and social issues regarding Eastern Europe. In all these cases, the political context is intimately mingled with the artistic content selected for these national pavilions.

Juliana Engberg, a New Zealand artist, notes how Australia has been actively working to define itself artistically but has kept falling back on stagnant cultural clichés that don’t seem to have anything to do with the people themselves. But a new wave of artists exhibited at the Biennale has seemed to find innovative ways to address the fantastical aura of Australian life (arising from the images of unique flora and fauna). This need to develop an international institutionalized definition of a culture is a by-product of the extreme diversity available to us in the globalized society. The established countries of the United States and Europe have already projected their cultural selves out onto the international stage for centuries but, as Engberg points out, it is different for new nations in the postcolonial world: “Is there another country so fixated on defining itself artistically as Australia? Maybe. But if so I am not aware of it. I never read or hear anyone attempting to describe British art for instance. It just is. It's a given that the Brits continue to develop an art practice out of the fundaments of portraiture, pastorale and social politic.”20 Patricia Piccinini and Ricky Swallow are examples of artists playing with the exoticism of Australian culture—inserting that exoticism into art that challenges not only cultural clichés, but those about technology, life, death and artistic practice. “’SO2 (Synthetic Organism 2); Still Life with Stem Cells’, ‘The Young Family’ and the creatures in her Venice project, ‘Leather Landscape’, are all exotics that appear to evolve from the already strange zoo of animals that have represented Australia to the world. But Piccinini pictures not the creatures of the 'new world', but the newest world, which identifies itself as the next frontier beyond the bio-technological horizon.”21 These works are rare examples of artistically exciting projects that, separated from their national staging, would remain intriguing and profound—a quality that often gets lost in the political cultural production of the Venice Biennale.

With these national exhibitions and their emphasis on cultural tradition and the consciousness of the role of art in public diplomacy, the African artists’ statement at the 2007 Biennale could not be more compelling: “We are no longer dealing solely with the aesthetic, whatever its nature; this is political assertion.22 This statement is even more penetrating when considering the global economic context of their first-ever African exhibition, “Check List-Luanda Pop” which explores broadly what it means to be African, and includes paintings by and about African-Americans by artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marlene Dumas exhibiting them next to works by little-known African artists. This at first seems an explicitly curatorial decision meant to emphasize the problematic definition of “Africanness” and the fact that the African continent in general, rather than country by country, were given an exhibition space, due to economic restraints. At a closer look, the viewer discovers that the works are all from the same collection: that of Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese businessman. “The exhibition was chosen by a jury from among several alternatives, and some who were not selected objected that one person’s collection could not be representative of African culture. They also contend that it was selected partly because Mr. Dokolo was able to pay for the exhibition, estimated to have cost more than $100,000. Fernando Alvim, a curator of the exhibition, said it was “difficult to represent an entire continent’ and called the accusations ‘cynical.’”23

When looking closely at the artists and works selected for the Biennale, one can’t help but notice the emergence of cultural stereotype again and again, etching onto the minds of the audience that even in the global creative process, one must remain sternly aware that our understanding of each other is based on a long, complicated history that we desperately long to simplify (perhaps primarily for market-driven reasons). As the African exhibition ‘Luanda Pop’ stressed in its emphasis on the connection between past and future: “The shock of being seen: The white man enjoyed three thousand years of the privilege of seeing without being seen; he was pure look, the light in his eyes extracted each thing from the shadows of its birth, the whiteness of his skin was also a look, a concentration of light.”24 Still, given more changes and more voices, the Venice Biennale can be seen as a productive place that provides a physical space where cultural and ethnic clichés and assumptions can be addressed, considered and reinterpreted. It is the complexity that must be chased after—the romance of the traveler, the Ulysses, Don Quixote and Marco Polo that Rosa Martinez holds so dear is no longer the answer. In a globalized world and economy, the traveler is left at the airport, in yet another liminal space where arrivals and departures are defined and borders are crossed rapidly, a space that resembles the outside world and yet possesses a different air—one of transience and loss, or excitement and hope—all dependent on the one perceiving.

“The new, reflexively urbanistic biennials such as Istanbul may offer a better example for Venice's restructuring than, for instance, a new pavilion for China in the Giardini.”25 Biennales like the one held in Taipei have also repeatedly regarded globalization as its central theme but have framed the globalization debate in novel, more inclusive ways. The Taipei Biennial’s curators address the debate through an emphasis on “do-it-yourself practices, humorous approaches, and idiosyncrasies,”26 rather than relying on national and ethnic banalities. There is even hope visible for new modes of thought on globalization at the Venice Biennale itself. The liminal spaces within the global economic framework are sometimes spotlighted, those spaces and situations in which roles and rules cannot be easily regulated, mimicking the liminal spaces in global geopolitics— the high seas for example, where lawlessness often reigns and global powers have difficulty regulating because borders are difficult to draw and maintain. “Art group Gelatin, by now a staple of international art events, mounted an assault on the exclusivity of the Biennale opening by arranging makeshift rafts for outsiders to sail across the waterfront and past the security cordon.”27 Playing with this theme of regulated identity, there was also Santiago Sierra's famous Spanish pavilion, accessible only to Spanish citizens with the documentation to prove it, and Kader Attia's vending machine that dispensed passports, alcohol and soft drinks alike.

Borderless regions are again emphasized by the Kingdoms of Elgaland- Vargaland, an imaginary country created by two Swedes, Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren, who after deciding it was absurd that Sweden still had a king, decided to crown themselves royalty of their own nation—“one made up completely of the borders between other countries: the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea; the blue line between Lebanon and Israel; the porous line between Mexico and the United States…Wherever borders are disputed, the lands of Elgaland-Vargaland can be measured in actual miles: its land, in other words, is no man’s land, the places that don’t quite belong to anyone.”28 They have established embassies around the world and have even “claimed possession of some mental states, like the one just between sleeping and waking.” Every person upon death is automatically granted citizenship to this fantastical country, and as Mr. von Hausswolff explained, “So far no one has complained.” It is this sort of playful boundary crossing that expresses what art, in a globalized economy, can do best: draw attention to the people, events and philosophies (beyond rigid national and ethnic lines) that would otherwise never be acknowledged in such an increasingly complex and complicated world. This acknowledgement is essential if we want to continue as travelers and discover what ‘global’ really means.