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Pavilioning Manchester: boundaries of the local, national and global at the Asia Triennial

Kennedy, B (2013) Pavilioning Manchester: boundaries of the local, national and global at the Asia Triennial. Open Arts Journal (2). ISSN 2050-3679

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Abstract

Responding specifically to the Asia Triennial Manchester (established in 2008), this article locates the triennial’s title theme of ‘Asia’ within the historical and cultural locale of the city of Manchester, and considers the conceptualisation of categories such as exhibition, festival, pavilion, city and continent, and divisions of ‘east’ and ‘west’ within this cultural landscape. It offers some alternative approaches to the presentation of so-called global artworks in the local spaces of galleries and pavilions, evaluating the international tri/biennial in relation to market forces and notions of nationhood and authorship. Two case studies – the Asia Triennial Manchester of 2008 and 2011 – highlight processes of categorisation and the difficulties these present for participating artists, explored from the perspective of the author’s own involvement as an academic and curator. The article compares approaches taken by curators at other such art events in Istanbul, Gwangju and Singapore, in order to interrogate the place of such large scale festivals within global cities, and to consider how to represent art from different nations, with or without using pavilions. Finally, suggestions are made as to how this background of analysis may assist in envisioning the potential creative format for Asia Triennial Manchester 2014.

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