Global Art and the Museum (GAM)

Research Group
Directors: Peter Weibel, Hans Belting and Andrea Buddensieg
Global Art Museum
2012 ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, DE

GAM – Global Art and the Museum was initiated by Peter Weibel and Hans Belting in 2006 at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. The project represents a first attempt at documenting the contested boundaries of today’s art world; its aim is to spark a debate on how the globalization process changes the art scene and to undertake a critical review of the development 20 years after its onset.

Globalization is the most important phenomenon in the history of recent art. Biennials and landmark exhibitions initiated the global turn in the art scene when the so-called New World Order removed Cold War restrictions and not only introduced international free trade with all its implications, but also shifted the attention from a bi-polar political conflict to new ideas of cosmopolitanism or multiculturalism after 1989.

In many countries contemporary art has since become an economic project including huge cultural districts with museums and art fairs. But it has also become a sociopolitical endeavor powered by – often diverging – ideologies of identity, self-determination and overall social change. Especially spectacular has been the rise of a new type of art museum, the MoCA, which promotes contemporary art without borders and without history. Collectors’ and corporate museums are a result of the new clientele within the art market, which, today, extends to more than 50 countries. Whereas, with the new geography of auction houses, the art trade acts on a global scale, art museums, by contrast, operate within a national or urban framework in which they encounter the most diverse audiences. While art collecting has become en vogue on an unprecedented scale, it often lacks a common notion of art. Contemporary art also invades former ethnographic museums, which are forced to remap their areas of collecting. As yet, the novelty of the situation defies any safe categories. Under these circumstances, GAM is presently building up a network that will help to obtain otherwise rarely available information and to win partners who represent the art scene worldwide.

Global Window
The GAM website provides up-to-date news and information on current events in the art scene, and also lists publications of interest. The site is connected to a database that functions as a research tool for documenting the present art world. International experts offer their own views on the changing art scene as Monthly Guest Authors, while the MoCA type museum is introduced with important examples in a separate column. In September 2009, we re-structured and expanded the website, adding a column for Critical Perspectives on Current Issues from the GAM team, one for Reviews, and one for regular reviews of topics debated in The Art Newspaper.

Following the ZKM Summer Seminar 2009, GAM has also created a Facebook Group as a platform for exchanging ideas, links and media concerning our topics, and for announcements regarding our website and related events. Everyone with a Facebook Account is invited to join and contribute under GAM – Global Art and the Museum.