From Fellow Manuela Ciotti: I chose ‘form’ because it goes to the very heart of the workings of the global art world — I see art institutions such as ‘biennale’, ‘museum’, ‘gallery’, ‘auction house’, and ‘art fair’ among others as global cultural forms.

These forms have been circulating, multiplying, and have been appropriated endlessly around the world — especially over the past two decades — and especially outside the regions where these institutions have historically been situated (Europe and the US).


Discussion Questions

1) Think of the appropriation of a pair of different cultural forms (i.e. an art institution and a beauty pageant competition) and trace the consequences of this process: what are the differences and similarities? Which cultural form’s appropriation causes resistance and which one is welcomed?

2) How does place inflect the appropriation of a cultural form?

3) How important are social media in the circulation and appropriation of a given cultural form?

Supplemental Readings

Adams, L.L. (2008). Globalization, universalism, and cultural form. Comparative Studies in Society and History 50(3), 614-640

Appadurai, A. (2010). How histories make geographies: Circulation and context in a global perspective. Transcultural Studies 1, 4-13

Belting H. et al. (eds.) 2013.The global contemporary and the rise of new art worlds. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Belting, H. et al. (2012). Global studies. Mapping contemporary art and culture. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Ciotti, M. (2014). Art institutions as global forms in India and beyond: Cultural production, temporality and place in H. Kahn (Ed.) Framing the global. Entry points for research. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 51-66.

Dimitrakaki A. (2012). Art, globalisation and the exhibition form. Third Text 26(3), 305-319.

Filipovic E., Van Hal M., Øvstebø S. (Eds.) (2010). The Biennal reader. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Hoad, N. (2004). World piece: What the Miss World pageant can teach about globalization. Cultural Critique 58, 56-81

Jackson, P. (2009). Capitalism and global queering. National markets, parallels among sexual cultures, and multiple queer modernities. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 15(3), 357-95

Thornton S. (2009). Seven days in the art world. London, UK: Granta Publications

Can be taught with these Framing the Global chapters

1) Materiality

2) The Particular

3) Location

4) Frames

The chapter on materiality is very important to define the theoretical underpinnings of what we mean by ‘materiality’ which is very helpful when one teaches the art world as a site of globalization. ‘The particular’ provides the analytical framework to understand the role of the work of the particular (artistic production, local appropriation of a cultural form) and its relation with ‘global’. ‘Location’ problematizes the ways in which ‘places’ are made global through cultural production – thus shedding light on a critical dimension in the life of cultural forms. Finally, ‘Frames’ helps the teacher to introduce the question of non-western positionings and conceptual taxonomies and their representational and other outcomes.


Third Text

Biennial Foundation

College Art Association

News Sources

Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents

The Art Newspaper

Art Forum


1) Compare the Facebook page of different art world institutions: where does the emphasis lie, which audiences are targeted, what are the aspects (venue, contents, artists) remarked upon?

2) Use the Google Art Project to look for research data on the working of global forms. For example, look at the museum exhibitions included in there: what does this repository tell us about how museums function across the worlds?

3) Map the art worlds in two different countries and compare which art institutions/cultural forms are part of these (preferably compare the global north with the global south).