معلومات عن مركز ماك
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Commissioner’s Statement

By Kimberli Meyer

At the close of 2008 digital technology has made the world visible and accessible in new and rapidly unfolding ways. With YouTube, Google, e-mail, blogging, text messaging, satellite-aided mapping, photography and video-recording at our fingertips, knowledge of others and ourselves is increasingly supported by consumer technology. Mediated narratives play out across the digital field—from virtual reality gaming to social networking to Internet-enabled video and music. Digital technology enables a network through which communities are born, affinities are strengthened, and self-representation is possible. This is good news for diplomacy—as the decentralization of media has yielded plentiful opportunities for cross-cultural exchange—and for global art, as the means of self-expression becomes increasingly accessible and the ability to receive visual language evolves to be more sophisticated.

Circulating on an international scale, contemporary art cannot remain unaffected by such changes. In approaching the United States’ presentation at the Eleventh International Cairo Biennale, I had two major themes in mind: the increasingly influential role of digital technology in shaping our views of reality, and the longstanding power of art to bridge distinct cultures by opening a dialogue about aesthetics. The choice of Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Steinkamp to represent the United States seemed clear: Steinkamp’s digital animations use state-of-the-art technologies and employ elements of popular culture while raising fundamental questions about politics, perception, and existence. The catalogue and Web site attempt to illuminate her work through several forms: the documentation of her real space installations, an artist-imagined simulation of her biennial presentation on the streets of Cairo, a book design that transmits graphic elements of her work directly into the layout, and an essay that contextualizes her practice in a theoretical framework appropriate to her generation.

The presentation also includes a public program that broadens the United States’ contribution to the Biennale. A screening of experimental animation will be shown to situate Steinkamp’s work in relation to contemporary animated film and video. Additionally, a team of Los Angeles-based artists and curators has been formed to launch a dialogue with our cultural counterparts in Cairo that will culminate in a roundtable and public presentation during the Biennale’s opening week. These dialogues will appear­ and develop on the project Web page and blog. It is not enough, however, to simply offer a finalized presentation of American art and thinking. The Biennale should be a departure point—and not an end point—to further cultural exchange and understanding. With that in mind, the Los Angeles-based public programmers and I intend to meet with as many artists as possible while in Cairo, and we look forward to being exposed to art from the entire region through the exhibition and its auxiliary activities. We eventually hope to organize another project that will include artists from Egypt, other regions in the Middle East, and the United States that will congeal around topics uncovered during our Biennale-driven exchange. By approaching the format of the international biennial as an opportunity for ongoing dialogue, my hope is that through art, we can foster greater cross-cultural communication, tolerance, and respect.

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