Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12-19, 2009

I have been thinking about my turn to post a provocation this week and would like to pick up the strand begun by Bill Gilbert in his post and open up the idea of “hybridity” to more conversation. On one hand, this is another term appropriated from science, so it makes some sense to follow Bill Fox’s week 1 provocation. But beyond that, of the five terms I have been working with at the Walker Art Center, this one has given me the most trouble conceptually. While a hybrid is at its root a biological term about mixing species, the post colonial cultural discourse around this term has taken over and made it much more problematic. In the Elements/Principles of Contemporary Art materials that I have been developing, I have attempted to bring the discussion to a point that might engage high school students, but fear that I am over simplifying the very complex idea of cultural hybridity in a globalized world.

Even the Center for Art + Environment is a hybrid form of institution (note the “+”). Of course, ecology and environmental work transcends borders or cultural boundaries. Or does it? Is this practice really above the global issues of cultural hybridity? How do artists who are interested in the environment address their own cultural histories, roots, and biases -- and those of the people they encounter -- as they work globally?

I also have been aware that another way of thinking about hybridity is emerging (or has been emerging for a long time) in the practice of artists. I found myself noting in many of the introductions for this conversation that we describe ourselves with a blend of interests, professions, and pursuits. (artist / author / educator /scholar / researcher / scientist / writer / musician / architect / printmaker / activist / etc.). We all seem to hybrid-ize our practices in our artistic and professional work and, further, in how we craft our lives. Mixing media is common among artistic practice today, but this seems to go further to impact how we view ourselves as creative individuals. Do you think this is a valuable conversation to have, or are we at the point where it is no longer relevant to include our choices of media and techniques when we express an idea or theory? Do you think of yourself as a hybrid artist? Is it necessary to cross, mix and blend disciplines in order to be truly relevant in our practice?

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