“Intense Proximity”, La Triennale 2012

Art& dialogue

Field trip 4Art & Dialogue

waiting for the barbarians

On April 19, 2012, Paris’ newly renovated Palais de Tokyo opened La Triennale 2012 contemporary art exhibit and the Art & Dialogue group was invited. It felt good to be on familiar grounds, an environment that I understood. I recognised a number of works from la Biennale di Venezia and saw many new works.  I meandered around Palais de Tokyo looking at the art and the people that were behaving like at any other opening, backs turned slightly to the wall, peering over the heads of others, looking to identify familiar faces, telephones clamped to ears to hear where other party members were, and trying to negotiate a point of assembly near the refreshment bar.
It felt like staying in a 3 star hotel, a little rough around the edges, but the cultural attractions and diversity made it very pleasant. The Louvre museum with its status might be experienced as a 4 star hotel. A gallery as a B&B , and the artist studio, well for this intense proximity you would need an invitation.

Prune Helfter spoke to us in the morning session about the House of African Art in Tokyo.  “The purpose of the House of African Art is to allow the Japanese public to discover the dynamism of a continent that has preserved its deeply rooted traditions while giving birth to innumerable creative geniuses: photographers, painters, musicians, dancers, film-makers.” Prune Helfter explained to us the challenges that she faces when generating an audience for contemporary African Art in Japan. In our first session of Art & Dialogue, we came across inter cultural Sensitivity and Milton Bennett’s framework in which we see how people can react to cultural differences. The first three stages of the framework are the ethnocentric, where one sees ones own culture as central to reality. I could see that Prune Helfter position was the  external negotiator, the independent liaisons officer, the relentless outside educator that helps to bring the contemporary Art of Africa to the people of Tokyo.
A safari for the people of Tokyo (safari meaning “long journey.”)

Despite the cultural differences or similarities, educating about art is crucial to humanity. This morning at a meeting at the educational arts center of the Hague ‘Koorenhuis’, I heard that the city of the Hague has decided to cut funding of the center. They will make it to the end of the year 2012 after that ….? Not 15km from the Hague, another small art center for children and young adults stichting Trias of  has already gone through drastic measures, resulting to the closing of their building in Voorburg by August 2012. (Trias will continue their activities in Rijswijk) In the Netherlands and other places in the world we are taking a journey away from humanity. It will be a long journey back.

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