These artworks tell stories of national identity emerging from trade, tourism, and the exchange of material culture such as food and fashion.They offer clues to the subtle contradictions embedded in any stereotype of national culture, and trace the complex histories underlying simple icons of cultural identity.
One may associate a place on the map with a particular culture and recognize items of everyday life, such as potatoes or tweed trousers, as symbols of that culture and its history.The artists here employ associations of this kind as narrative devices in their work to represent foreign and local perspectives.In some cases they suggest the impossibility of pristine, "authentic" culture, even in something as simple as food or clothing. What is African, for example, about African-inspired fabrics produced in Europe for the African-identified market?
Concepts of "local" and "foreign" may be seen as fluid classifications, dependent on the perspective of the artist and the viewer alike.This exhibition presents works by artists from diverse backgrounds and regions, including Central and South America, Europe, Japan, Africa, and the United States, reflecting the Museum's concerted effort to broaden and deepen its holdings of contemporary art. Collectively, the works here describe a range of cross-cultural interactions, notions of travel, and the international nature of economics and politics.