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December 14, 2005

The Trading Routes

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The massively shifting global political dynamic that Nigel alluded to - in conjunction with the internal non-NY-centric dynamic that Cathy referred to - is in reality a sum total of local political dynamics in transformation that are pulling cultural behaviors in their wakes. In Europe, the move to the European Union (out of the Common Market) and its later extension into a (mostly) common currency, liberalized labor movements within Europe's borders and finally into its expansion into East Central Europe is mirrored in the evolving artistic practices and mutual arts financing across the continent. Throughout the 1980's and 1990's, young producers and creators (and their dialogues through such organizations as the Netherlands Theatre Institute, the Informal European Theater Meeting and Airwaves) consciously anticipated the economic and political partnerships that were legislated for the New Europe. The focus on constructing multi-national, demonstrably European artists projects across previously inpenetrable national boundaries became the norm. Nowhere was this more apparent and successful than in dance and related performance forms that could immediately bypass the still significant and politically resistant barriers of language. The result was a deliberate turning inward to the emerging creative ideas and structural issues, and the new citizenship of formerly national artists within Europe (and the nascent pan-national European support structures) as a whole - and away from the disempowerment of the past, symbolized in many cases by the ubiquitous presence of US artists across the landscape of that past.

In the 1990's, sub-regional networks centering on the Baltic region, the Mediterranean basin (southern Europe, North Africa and tentatively the Middle East) and the energetically emergent countries of Eastern Europe further complicated the artistic picture. Similarly in other parts of the world, in Asia and Latin America, artist- and producer-driven networks demonstrating regional pride and non-US affiliation championed and promoted artists, festivals and longterm collaborations that gave the regions (and their animators) a significant public identity, with the notable absence of Americans in their midst.

There are so many variables in this tectonic shifting of underlying cultural plates - but without a doubt, the emerging isolation of the United States through its conservative, non-engaging, unculturally aware and ultimately military geopolitical stance, in great measure, pulled its own artists - New York and otherwise - into its isolationist shadow. Whatever New York has been as a great creative center (and it assuredly still is), the world that formerly applauded it as such would no longer do so as their own political realities continued to grow and thrive, and our politically dominant cultural xenophobia continued, tumor-like, to thrive.

Posted by at December 14, 2005 6:23 PM

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