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RETHINKING MARXISM VOLUME 15 NUMBER 3 (JULY 2003)
In this special
issue we are proud to publish the official catalogue of Global Priority. This art exhibition, conceived and curated by Susan Jahoda and Grady Gerbracht, was sponsored by RETHINKING MARXISM and inaugurated during the â€śMarxism and the World Stageâ€ť conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 6â€“9 November 2003.
Fortunately, we are no longer compelled to make the case that visual art is important in and for Marxist theory. The long history both of Marxist art criticism and of artistsâ€™ engaging Marxist themes and issues has established the central place of aesthetic appreciation and artistic production in the changing contours of the Marxist tradition.
But this exhibition and catalogue are special for a number of reasons. Consistent with its title, Global Priority encompasses artists and essayists from around the world, utilizing a wide variety of contemporary styles and techniques (including collage, appropriated images, architecture, performance, photography, sculpture, video, and web sites). It represents an international collaboration in still another sense, since the curators of the RM exhibition discovered, and then chose to launch a joint venture with the curators of, a second project with the same name.
Even more important, this issue of RM documents the creative ways in which curators, artists, and art critics are responding to the looming problemsâ€”and, of course, emergent possibilitiesâ€”associated with the priority accorded to images and instances of globalization in the current conjuncture. Together, they record both examples of a hegemonic project and of the fractures and fissures within that project. They illustrate multinational centers of economic and cultural power and, at the same time, the fact that that power is constantly being challenged and contested. They register borders that divide groups of human beings and the diverse ways such borders can be recognized and transgressed and new identities established. They resist simple celebrations or condemnations of global processes in favor of subtle and provocative engagements with the contradictory and ultimately undecidable reactions that are elicited in themselves and others.
In the end, the images and words contained in this catalogue serve to make strange what is taken to be normal, and to make connections between those elements that already strike us as strange. All with the purpose of not only frustrating â€śtheirâ€ť nightmarish project (with which we are always-already complicit) but of cultivating â€śourâ€ť own dreams and imagining real alternatives. We want to thank the curators and contributors (along with the conference organizers, the staff at Routledge, and the others named above) for making this Global Priorityissue possible.