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Dirk Michel-Schertges

Contemporary Asian art and Western societies: cultural “universalism” or “uniqueness” in Asian modern art

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The expectations modern art has to fulfill are of various kind. Modern art is to
be a seismograph of societal developments and thus sensitive to political and
economic themes. Thus, Western (critical) contemporary art is in the dilemma
to deal with and challenge capitalism in mostly bourgeois frameworks of
musealized exhibitions, criticizing political leadership and social inequalities
and presenting it largely to exactly the established classes. Here contemporary
art’s task lies in both the individual and arts self-reflection and self-critique.
Creating awareness of individual and collective historical processes and being
able to sense and experience societal antagonisms can be described as
conscious making by the means of critical modern art. Taking in account that
to learn (socio-historically) art and thus to be able to sense dissonances is a
pre-condition to understand modern art the question arises: How to deal with contemporary art from foreign cultures and unfamiliar civilizations? How to
understand Asian critical contemporary art with a Western sensual kind of
sensing and understanding? It is the question of universality and uniqueness of
modern art and/or the integrating power of Western capitalism and
consumerism within the sphere of critical art. Is it possible to sense and
understand Chinese or Japanese art with a Western education and different
socio-historical and political-economical understanding? How to decipher and
contextualize modern art without “cultural expertise”? This contribution deals
with the contradictions between the (cultural) particular and the general
serving as gatekeepers for sensing societal and historical grown antagonisms
and sensing of cultural and social dissonances in modern art production. Is
modern art by definition Western? By experiencing Asian modern art the
purpose of this research is to find the particularities and the general of (Asian)
critical modern art.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalAsian Journal of German and European Studies
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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