La Triennale exhibition at Le Palais de Tokyo
, which reopens after refurbishment. In an introduction to the Triennale the lead curator Okwui Enwezor
proposes “Intense Proximity” as the underlying principle of the exhibition:
Rather than conceive an exhibition project that smoothes over differences, and blends the inherent tensions between aesthetic and critical concepts, between social diversity and cultural differences; or between national and secular identities on the one hand, and ethnic and religious identifications on the other; or between civic rights of indigenes and human rights of aliens, La Triennale 2012 proposes the concept of Intense Proximity as an organizing principle.
The great heritage of post-enlightenment thought created a model of global relations in which the concept of distance, particularly in the field of ethnographic research, delineated a spatial paradigm that all but severed temporal contiguity with a broad array of cultural scenes that were assumed to be incompatible with the modern conception of social identity. Incompatibility framed a world of the outside. And on the inside, it furnished a philosophical program that in turn shaped decades of discovery and exploration. Twentieth century ethnography’s great legacy, and its impact on the world of forms and visual production, is not simply in its prodigious research output, or its voracious appetite for radical alterity. Rather, it is in that moment of ethnographic poetics: the entry into the field of research by the speculative camera. As long there existed that critical measure of distance between the near and far, ethnographic poetics invariably projected to the world: the image of man at a remove from modern society. Thus, in this historic moment when there are arguably no more outside cultures to discover or far away places to explore, when the asymptotic relationship between outside and inside has become cause for alarm and anxiety, it appears that our time is emblematized, and equally traumatized by the collapse of distance. With this collapse, difference and alterity leaps out of the abyss where it had long been confined, and we enter the zone of Intense Proximity, a form of disturbing nearness that unsettles as much as it exhilarates and transforms the coordinates of national cultural vectors.
Distance might have collapsed but I don’t think that it has the same effect on everyone. Some people live within, or have build, very big walls around their own little world. The question then is how to turn the wall, or the boundary into a ‘zone’ of proximity… Not a no-mans-land where no one dares to go. On the other hand I don’t agree with the idea of ‘social engineering’, something that lays at the heart of the motivation to build museums in the first place (see for instance Alberro, A. (2009). Institutions, Critique, and Institutional Critique.) Mmm stuck in the middle again?
Talking about getting stuck between two worlds: Andrea Fraser describes her dilemma and disgust in Texte Zur Kunst “Where Do You Stand Collegue?”