Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 52

THE ARTS, PARTICIPATION, AND GLOBAL INTERESTS verbal exchanges were hurled back and forth. The trio of questioners also served as “senators” by voting in favour of one side for the following debates: are you global or local citizens/artists; should the arts be funded by the state or private philanthropy; is art for social change or the exploration of aesthetic possibilities. Tensions and decibel levels ran high, but the Fellows managed to re-group in a civilised fashion and break off into smaller discussion circles. Mikael, Ariel, Solomiya, Manuel, and Karim gave short presentations on the topics and directed questions on specific debates that comprise culture wars. Their topics were, respectively: iconoclasm and those symbols that should be protected from deconstruction or satire; how to measure the value of arts in a given community; public art as a public good and the role of the state in deciding what art gets chosen for public spaces; the identity of artistic creations in the context of globalisation; and the role of the art and artist during violent conflict. Each of these discussions produced thoughtful commentary on socio-political fault lines. In the subsequent large-group session, the group members asked one question that encompassed the overarching themes for each topic with time for brief debate between all the Fellows. These questions refined the scope of the conversation and how the Fellows engaged with specific terminology. Natalia Mallo rejected the presumed fluidity between global and local in the Fellows’ discussion on these identities. She stated that as a non-native citizen of Brazil, she is excluded from state arts funding and practices of social inclusion despite her 20-year residence in the country. Natalia argued that because she has greater agency as a Brazilian artist when abroad, she demonstrates that global and local identities can be mutually exclusive. Similarly, Ann Henderson refuted the premise that the tension between local and global would be a point of conflict for her. An advocate for economic equality, Ann stated that she feels greater affinity for African miners working under unfair conditions than the national symbols that populated her native Edinburgh during the 2014 Scottish Referendum. “That’s my community,” Ann said of African laborers. Gideon Wabvuta stated that while he is influenced culturally by his international travel, he values the practices that allow him to keep himself grounded in his Zimbabwean identity in any location. Gideon’s comments bridged the discussions between spatially-defined identity and memorialisation and heritage work. Faisal Abu Alhayjaa said that in his culture, statues memorialising public figures are integral to Palestinian identity. In the Palestinian case, there may be congruency between its public art and popular opinion, but locales with histories of successive political regimes must negotiate their remnant monuments with their current societies. Chris Creegan questioned some cities’ practices to remove such symbols, such as Budapest’s decision 51