Since the beginning of the 2000s, the recomposition of service networks has been questioning the emergence of a new hierarchy of electricity systems. The changes in scale in production, even in distribution, is modifying urban and regional energy futures. The share of decentralized renewable energy is being discussed on the international, national, regional and municipal scale and the micro-grid has appeared as a recurring reticular figure. There are many projects in the United States, in New York in particular, but also in London in the United Kingdom, whereas in France, these electricity micro-grids have been tightly restricted in the framework of the law on individual and collective self-consumption. The large historic distribution operators are attempting to keep their hands on this historic competence by developing smart grids whose principle is to envisage local micro-productions as an import–export reserve in the energy market to benefit the balance of the large distribution network. By analyzing energy decentralization through the angle of the micro-grid technical object incorporated into urban projects, this chapter queries the spatial effects of the infrastructural changes underway. The infrastructural transition presents a large diversity of technical, political and scalar responses today; there are new elements – additions, but also coexisting elements and hybridizations.
Energy autonomy emerged from the ecological craft industry, and all these references give an account of its expansion. In the mid-1970s, its growing popularity was accompanied by a change in program: universities and public institutions, companies and private agencies mobilized to rethink the distribution system on every scale. If the self-builders were generally focused on the individual living space or a community group, the second wave would experiment with autonomy and would shift it from the family unit to the city-region. We will see how Sean Wellesley-Miller and Day Chahroudi, Georges and Jeanne-Marie Alexandroff and Yona Friedman took hold of this operating concept that re-examined scales and governance modes.
In the early 1950s, the “externalization” of pipes and conduits became widespread and made it difficult to distinguish what was mechanical or structural. The exaggeration of mechanical visibilities became a deliberate choice, a decorative or obvious element. What the Modern movement had generally removed from view would appear in the foreground and explode in a spectacular manner. And it was probably the megastructure projects in the 1960s that would take this technical rhetoric to its summit. The city was to be apprehended in terms of networks, energy or information connections. In the late 1960s, a wave of nihilism and dystopia triggered a mutation in prospective. In the context of a widespread crisis, the apprehension of a cataclysm favored the idea of nomadism. Mobility would query the possibilities of a change in the habitat on the vertical, horizontal or territorial energy grid. A first deterritorialization occurred – it was the famous “twilight of the sedentaries.” But this disappearance of architecture to the benefit of the enhancement of its network would make the question of the dependence on, and illusion of, disconnection rise to the surface. A few years before the 1973 oil crisis, its apprehension would lead to the disfavor of postwar technological optimism, promoting the scenario of an unprecedented boom in so-called alternative and renewable energies, bringing about a second deterritorialization: total energy autonomy.
Agostina Segatori, best known as a model for Vincent Van Gogh, posed in Paris during the Second Empire and Third Republic. This chapter situates her life and representations of her produced in Paris within the context of the history of Italian immigration to France and French perceptions of Italy and immigration. It traces the beginning of encounters between French artists and Italian models to Rome early in the century and follows the models’ emigration from the Italian peninsula to the French hexagon after mid-century. In Paris, Italian models became a focus for complex and conflicting ideas about immigration, cultural difference, and modernity which animated French discourse, both textual and visual. In the popular press Italians were represented as alien intruders, but within the Parisian artistic community, the French aesthetic tradition, which had long valorised Italian artistic production, shaped an alternative and far more positive view. For the immigrants, moving across borders to resettle in a foreign culture offered opportunities. The story of Agostina Segatori’s passage and the representations of her and other Italian models produced by Parisian artists illuminates both the perception of ‘Italianicity’ in the French imagination and immigrants’ negotiation of the transnational experience.
Creations of diasporic aesthetics and migratory imagery in Chinese Australian Art
The inclusion of Chinese contemporary art in the exhibition, collection, and market circles of the global contemporary art world, was brought about by both the global response to the rise of China as an economic and cultural superpower and the increased migration of Chinese mainland artists since the 1980s, which elicited a diasporisation of the Chinese art scene. This particular constellation makes it necessary to rethink global contemporary Chinese art from the transnational perspective of migration and diaspora studies. By focusing on two Chinese overseas artists – Ah Xian and Fan Dong Wang, who share the experience of emigrating from mainland China to Australia in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989 – this chapter analyses the production of diasporic Chineseness in Chinese Australian art with regard to the globalisation of contemporary Chinese art. Drawing on the concept of the ‘migrant image’, it discusses conditions for and elements of diasporic aesthetics and migratory imagery in the cross-cultural work of Chinese overseas art. This case-study analysis explores the impact of migration and the diasporic experience on the creation of art, in particular on the role of transculturation between Chinese and Western art traditions and the significance of image ambiguation for aesthetic transmigration.
Art and migration: revisioning the borders of community is a collective response to current and historic constructs of migration as disruptive of national heritage. This interplay of academic essays and art professionals’ interviews investigates how the visual arts – especially by or about migrants – create points of encounter between individuals, places, and objects. Migration has increasingly taken centre stage in contemporary art, as artists claim migration as a paradigm of artistic creation. The myriad trajectories of transnational artworks and artists’ careers outlined in the volume are reflected in the density and dynamism of fairs and biennales, itinerant museum exhibitions and shifting art centres. It analyses the vested political interests of migration terminology such as the synonymous use of ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ or the politically constructed use of ‘diaspora’. Political and cultural narratives frame globalisation as a recent shift that reverses centuries of cultural homogeneity. Art historians and migration scholars are engaged in revisioning these narratives, with terms and methodologies shared by both fields. Both disciplines are elaborating an histoire croisée of the circulation of art that denounces the structural power of constructed borders and cultural gatekeeping, and this volume reappraises the historic formation of national identities and aesthetics heritage as constructed under transnational visual influences. This resonates with migrant artists’ own demands for self-determination in a display space that too often favours canonicity over hybridity. Centring migration – often silenced by normative archives or by nationalist attribution practices – is part of the workload of revisioning art history and decolonising museums.
Curator at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, Dieter Roelstraete reflects on the notions of bordering and borderlessness. He highlights the ineffectiveness of politically constructed borders, sometimes even set in incongruous places. This is perfectly illustrated by Olaf Holzapfel’s installation Trassen, exhibited at the 2017 Documenta 14 in Kassel, co-curated by Roelstraete. He also reflects on the importance of the medium and materials used in artworks as powerful semantic tools. The question of citizenship and national belonging is evoked and challenged by the ultra-mobility of the art world, a phenomenon which is far from new. Roelstraete thus underlines the natural interplay between art and migration. Finally, the intervention of the artistic world in political debates is mentioned, a prickly issue according to Roelstraete.
Aesthetic and intercultural learning and the (re)construction of identity
This chapter examines how Japanese-style gardens can provide places for learning about aesthetics and transculturalism, and for maintaining constructs of cultural identity. It argues that gardens offer sites where visitors can enjoy aesthetically rich somatic experiences while learning about intercultural histories. As lieux de mémoire, sites of memory, gardens can sustain traces of the past that continue to condition appreciations of the present. This project has developed through a triangulation between two initial research interests, in aesthetic learning, and in learning in cultural institutions, and in the poignant contexts of immigration, alienation, and dispossession of Nikkei Japanese American communities during the twentieth century. The study enhances appreciations of how aesthetic experiences in garden settings can offer insights into the conventions and practices of other cultures, and mediate the sensory, socio-cultural, ethical, and cognitive fabric through which communities crystallise some sense of identity. In exploring the narratives of Japanese and Japanese American citizens in Oregon, this research clarifies how gardens can inform processes of re-conceptualising notions of identity and belonging. It finds, in the spatio-temporal experiences of movements and transitions, borders and passages, of these Japanese-style gardens, metaphors for migrations and intercultural encounters, and media informing the reconstruction and repositioning of cultural identities.
Art curator of the World Bank art collection Marina Galvani describes the back stage of curating artistic exhibitions focusing on political issues. She reflects on the structural and institutional constraints on World Bank art programmes, but also how realpolitik and worldwide political events affect the logistics of international art institutions, with artworks necessitating authorisations to be exhibited and artists sometimes being unable to attend exhibitions for political and administrative reasons. Museums and galleries often depend on the support of national and international authorities and are affected by global conflicts. Galvani also explains how the World Bank supports and protects artists worldwide, with a focus on vulnerable artists. Curating Uprooted: The Resilience of Refugees, Displaced People and Host Communities made her realise that artworks travel much more easily than the artists themselves.