Indigenous or Global? The Politics of Art-Historical Terminology and their A-humanist Modifications

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


For decades, expressions like ‘indigenous’ and ‘global’ have been used to refer to very different artworks, practices and artists. Whether justified or not, there are many reasons for this: the bi-cultural versus transcultural conception of culture; the pantheistic/animistic versus atheistic conception of the universe; the cyclical/circumstantial versus linear notion of time; affective presence versus market value. Departing from the idea that art (re) frames reality, aids communion (with human and non-human entities), renders the invisible visible (and renders the invisible political), the first part of this paper ponders the cultural-epistemic genealogy of ‘indigenous’ and ‘global’ through a close reading of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Inuk Silis Høegh, He Xiangyu and Ai Weiwei’s work. This is followed by a comparative analysis of the National Gallery of Australia’s indigenous exhibitions and the global biennale culture of such curators as Hans Ulrich Obrist and Hu Hanru.

In the second part of the paper, I discuss the epistemic and emancipatory merits highlighted by these areas through an a-humanist lens, entwined with the rapid development of AI and the internet of things. I argue that although the post-relational a-humanist approach is not without its problems – it’s steeped in dubious progressivist ideologies that were once at the root of industrialisation, capitalism, and were, in fact, the indirect cause of colonialism – it is nevertheless the best possible platform for a cross-pollination of indigenous and non-indigenous epistemologies, concerned with the physical and spiritual configuration of the universe and the lived dimension of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2019
EventIndigenous Epistemologies and Artistic Imagination - University of Barcelona , Barcelona , Spain
Duration: 25 Oct 2019 → …


ConferenceIndigenous Epistemologies and Artistic Imagination
Period25/10/19 → …
Internet address


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