ISSUE 7 The Heterogeneous South
The Heterogeneous South
The notion of the South has been generating heated discussions and debates in art and curating practices for the past several decades. Positioned passively in relation to the Global North, the South represents the asymmetrical allocation of social, cultural, economic, technological and political capitals, due to the long history of globalization, colonialism and global militarism. The South is an umbrella term used for designating the dire human conditions of the poor who suffer psychological and cognitive cultural symptoms around the world. In the past, postcolonial forms of psychoanalysis, critical theory and political science attempted to account for the plight of the South in terms of its poverty, lack of education, inadequate housing, and impaired subjectivity—namely what Achille Mbembe describes as “necropolitics.” Boaventura de Sousa Santos even goes further in analyzing the cognitive problematics of the South, and makes claims for an epistemicide, via the constructing of inaccurate and indifferent discourses, anything from deliberately distancing the South from mainstream modernity to valorizing the Western-centric political formation. There is no denying that the poor South is always strategically positioned in relation to the rich North, as much as the Brandt Line, established four decades ago, can still mark the divide through the shifting and transient global economy and technological sphere. However, the theory of the South may run the risk of overgeneralization, by depending on the dynamics of the North-South divide, without looking into the intricate interdependency between the South- South geopolitical spheres, involving a long history of complex and particular colonial and regional relations.   

It is therefore necessary to recognize the South as a heterogeneous entity without sacrificing the differences and distinctiveness existing among the large variety of countries and continents referenced under the umbrella term. These individual and particular historical and political relations, in terms of their geographical significance, can be intricately contingent. A homogenous South can only obscure these particular historical relationships, by ignoring the different degrees of co-operation and resistance among the South’s many countries and specific regions. A theory of the South cannot be teoria povera, which is constructed solely on the basis of the North–South divide, by distancing the North and by imagining an ideally united solidarity of the South. Firstly, in order to more thoroughly emphasize the significance of these layered intricacies, the realities of differences in the cultural, political, economic and demographic make-up of the South’s various countries shall be examined and articulated. Therefore, it must be kept in mind that the term, “the global South,” is unable to address and/or articulate the complexities of the particular localities whereby the interrelations among certain countries and the historical tensions of their respective regions are left unnoticeable, or are deliberately elided.

Manray Hsu curated one of the first exhibitions on the notion of the South in Taiwan, Ask the South, installed in the Kaohsiung Museum of the Arts in 2017. Tracing the epistemological and historical construction of the South from the period of post WWII modernization, Hsu defines the classification of the Third and First World under the rising hegemonic globalization of late capitalism, which clearly mirrors the fate of Taiwan as part of the Southernization within the World system, namely the rise of the Four Asian Dragons. Hsu also applies the notion of the South to Taiwan’s own geopolitics, displaying the political and economic imbalance between Taiwan’s North and Taiwan’s South, whereby the voices of the social minority, the subaltern, and the other are silenced and/or ignored. To conclude, Hsu takes the notion of the South into the concept of cosmolism, in which nature, technology, and the ways in which humans dwell on the earth, namely human ecology, are understood in terms of the hybridity of objects.   
Ayos Purwoaji takes into consideration the subjugated situation of art in Indonesia, in working out the historiography of curating practices and contemporary art. His project points up how some counties in South East Asia emphasize the effects of national formation as one of the key factors in the development of art, which serves for advancing the political ends of nationalism. Tracing back the history of curating in Indonesia, the methods of ethnography, albeit their being a part of the colonial agenda and its cultural property, nevertheless attend to the complex and hybrid relations of traditionality within the local cultures in detailed descriptions—interpreting practiced as a heterogeneous composition drawn from different tribes and communities—that can be attuned to the materiality of culture, instead of serving merely for promoting a monolithic national narrative. Exhibition making, according to Purwoaji, can be ethnographically written within actual time and place; the ideology of the white cube is transgressed, for eternity and sacredness are no longer displayed.

In South Fever, Lu Peiyi takes on the concept of the South though applying the theory of Derrida’s deconstruction, targeting the disease of global culture, and decrying the viral fashion of its application, though responding to three exhibitions in Taiwan, all of them bearing the key term, “the South.” There is the exotic imagination from the North, regarding the tame South; the cultural specimen, collected for the curiosity of anthropological knowledge; and the projecting of a utopian dream, substituting for the unfulfilled and/or failed political task of the West. Far, far from it. According to Lu, the South is the Hegelian “being-for-itself, ” and “being-in-itself ” as well.

To conclude, through presenting the aforementioned articles, these heterogeneous formations and their pluralistic modes of signification need to be considered in relation to the global and regional concept of the South:

The South needs to be understood in terms of its being a heterogeneous formation representing dynamic and pluralistic significations: the South, depending on its various geopolitical situations, demands that its visions and revisions be regarded as the basis for cultural sites practicing their self-defining differences and differentiations. The South can thus find its anchoring point, which is retroactively done from the South-South co-option, not from the dichotomy of the North–South division; these invited articles have therefore demonstrated a way out of the dilemma of teoria povera

1 Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future, New York: The Viking Press, 1961, pp. 165-171.
2 Ibid., p. 170.
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Author
Hongjohn Lin is an artist, writer and curator. Graduated from New York University in Arts and Humanities with Ph.D. He has participated in exhibitions including Taipei Biennial(2004), the Manchester Asian Triennial 2008, the Rotterdam Film Festival 2008, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial, Guangzhou Triennial (2015), and China Asia Biennial (2014). Lin was curator of the Taiwan Pavilion Atopia, Venice Biennial 2007, co-curator of 2010 Taipei Biennial (with Tirdad Zolghadr), and numerous curatorial projects such as Taizhong’s The Good Place (2002) and Live Ammo (2012). Lin is serving as Professor at the Taipei National University of the Arts. For the past 10 years, he has been working on project based on George Psalmanazar, A fake Taiwanese in the early Enlightenment. He is interested in transdisciplinary arts, politics of aesthetics, and curating. His writings can be found in Artco magazine, Yishu magazine, international journals, and publications of Art as a Thinking Process (2010), Artistic Research (2012), Experimental Aesthetic(2014), Altering Archive: The Politics of Memory in Sinophone Cinemas and Image Culture (2017). He wrote the Introductions for Chinese edition of Art Power (Boris Groys) and Artificial Hells (Clair Bishop) . His books in Chinese include Poetics of Curating (2018), Beyond the Boundary: Interdisciplinary Arts in Taiwan, Writings on Locality, Curating Subjects: Practices of Contemporary Exhibitions.
Archive
Archive

Issue 7 The Heterogeneous South
Editorial / The Heterogeneous SouthHongjohn Lin
The South - An art of asking and listening Manray Hsu
Uncharted Territory: The Roots of Curatorial Practices in Eastern Indonesia Ayos Purwoaji
South Fever: The South as a Method in Taiwan Contemporary CuratingPei-Yi Lu

Issue 6 The Beginning of Curating
Editorial / The Beginning of CuratingSandy Hsiu-chih Lo
Are Curators Really Needed? Bùi Kim Đĩnh
The Documents 15 and the Concept of Lumbung ruangrupa
The Three Axes of Curating: Ethics, Politics, and AestheticsSandy Hsiu-chih Lo

Issue 5 Curatorial Episteme
Editorial / Curatorial EpistemeHongjohn Lin
Epistemic EncountersHenk Slager
The Curatorial ThingHongjohn Lin
Ethics of CuratingMeng-Shi Chen

Issue 4 Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-Nationalism
Editorial /​ Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-NationalismManray Hsu
When Kacalisian Culture Meets the Vertical City: Contemporary Art from Greater SandimenManray Hsu
Pathways and Challenges: Art History in the Context of Global Contemporary ArtJau-Lan Guo
Curating Commemoration: Conditions of Political Choreography, a Performance Exhibition in RetrospectSophie Goltz

Issue 3 Curating Performativity
Editorial /​ Curating PerformativityI-wen Chang
Choreographing Exhibitions: Performative Curatorgraphy in TaiwanI-wen Chang
Living and Working Together in the Now Normal: Visual Arts and Co. at Bangkok Art and Culture CentrePawit Mahasarinand
The Curatorial as A Praxis of DisobedienceMiya Yoshida

Issue 2 Curators' Living Rooms
Editorial /​ Curators' Living RoomsSandy Hsiu-chih Lo
Extended Living Room: Space and Conversationruangrupa(Ade Darmawan, Mirwan Andan)
Freeing the Weights of the HabitualRaqs Media Collective
Curating TopographySandy Hsiu-chih Lo

Issue 1 Curatography
Editorial /​ One Step Forward, Two Steps BackwardHongjohn Lin
What is Curatography?Hongjohn Lin
Les fleurs américainesYoann Gourmel, Elodie Royer​
There are No Blank SlatesEileen Legaspi Ramirez​
Issue 7 The Heterogeneous South

Issue 6 The Beginning of Curating

Issue 5 Curatorial Episteme

Issue 4 Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-Nationalism

Issue 3 Curating Performativity

Issue 2 Curators' Living Rooms

Issue 1 Curatography