Jean Hubert Martin
Art, Religion and Anthropology
12 July 2003
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti
Talking about the work of some of the artists exhibited in Les Magiciens de la Terre, exhibition of 1989 that became famous for comparing non-occidental artists with european and american masters, Jean-Hubert Martin faces some themes linked with civilizations without writing systems and interculturality. What emerges from his speech is an accurate portrait of the West, unwilling to lose its cultural (economical and political) supremacy and highlighting unapologetically the autonomy of art from contexts and power relations. Responding to a dangerous hyper-generalization which leads the West to oppose a generic “Other”, that is underdeveloped and dependant from the former, the artists that he illustrates (among others, Huang Yong Ping, Chéri Samba, Fredéric Bouly-Bouabré and David Malangi) rivindicate the specificities of their contexts and the differences in the ways of producing and perceiving art. Knowing their works, western audience has the possibility of understanding how cultures are fragmented and have to be read through spatial -non temporal- coordinates.
Jean-Hubert Martin (b. Strasbourg, 1944) is a french curator, critic and art historian. His interest for contemporary art is always linked with creation of boundaries between the cultures, and was indeed one of the first european art workers to look into non-western art and to present it not as a folk phenomenon and on the same level of western art. He has been the director of Centre Georges Pompidou of Paris, of the Kunsthalle of Bern, of Museum Kunstpalast of Düsseldorf and of the PAC of Milano. His most famous exhibition, Les Magiciens de la Terre of 1989, is a benchmark of the last three decades’ curatorial research.