Category Archives: Posts

Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation

Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women
Bangkok International Film Festival on Ending Violence against Women and Girls 26-29 November 2015, SF World Cinema, Central World Bangkok | © UN Women

Especially in recent years, migrations have reclaimed headlines. This applies to migrant movements from Eastern to Western Europe, from the Middle East to Southern Europe and from Asian hinterlands to global metropolises. Without changing the physical geography subtending ever volatile global flows, these movements problematize cultural hierarchies, question modes of place-bound belonging, and destabilize cultural sensibilities.

The primary, even epistemologically privileged, avenue of in-depth encounter with these processes remains literature as a specifically modern genre of dealing with conflicts and contradictions that the global moment of modernity has introduced around the world from its dawn in the 16th century. As late capitalism is apparently succeeded by late modernity, the problems of translation, the geographical territorializations of culture and the renegotiations of territorial distinctions in social, cultural and economic terms, migration  can be reclaimed as a global phenomenon.

Yet, reflection on it needs to be shared transversally, rather than restricted to discursive communities balkanized into separate disciplines. One can see this taking place via calls for papers dealing with the migration-related translations of dislocated cultural experience, the jumbling of contrasting cultural narratives and translocal inscriptions of diasporic, migrant literatures in their host cultures and languages. Similarly, open access to related scholarship can be expected to stimulate germane discussions across area study boundaries.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Cross-Border Migrations as Inter-Cultural Movements of Translation," in Society, Media, Art, March 30, 2017,

Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art

Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | ©  Blaine O'Neill
Cai Guo-Qiang Exhibition, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China, May 4-July 25, 2010 | © Blaine O’Neill

It is difficult to thunk of a better sign of Shanghai’s becoming a mainstream global location for ambitious art shows than a recent retrospective of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a late Cuba-born American artist, at the Rockbund Art Museum, located in the historical center of this metropolis. While globalization is increasingly beleaguered internationally, Shanghai, once named Paris of the East, has gradually developed into a global cultural capital, based on a growing cluster of cultural institutions that are keen to exhibit local and foreign artistic talents.

Rather than being an exaggeration, this assessment reflects a long-term trend of Shanghai serving as a magnet for local and more broadly Asian collectors, such as Yiqian Liu and Budi Tek, not only to stage exhibitions based on the works they fetch from art auctions, but also leave a lasting imprint on this city in the shape of spectacular museum spaces. The Long Museum, recently celebrated as an edifice and a collection that matches New York’s Neue Gallerie and Venice’s Palazzo Grassi, announces the ambition this metropolitan center has to rival both past and present capital capitals.

This is attested to, by the year-long Shanghai Project dedicated to architecture, that the Hymalayas Museum hosts. Rather than being purely theoretical or artistic in nature, this biennial-like project, curated among others by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, opens a discussion about urban sustainability, community engagement and art biennials’ purpose. Seen more broadly, this burgeoning of Shanghai’s cultural and artistic scene reflects the shift of the global power to East Asia. In terms of the art world, this especially applies to China that this year eclipsed the United States as the leading location of art auction activity.

While the global art  establishment is still adjusting to this momentous shift, Shanghai’s hot spots, such as the West Bund district, already attract flocks of top-of-the-line galleries, curators and artists.


Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Shanghai as the Global Capital of Contemporary Art," in Society, Media, Art, November 22, 2016,

Singapore as a Rising Cultural Capital of the Asian-Pacific Region

In a recent feature article at The Financial Times, Georgina Adam traces the transformation of Singapore from a marshy island at the margin of world’s affairs into one of the richest countries around the globe. However, this transformation into an economic powerhouse has become accompanied with a growing cultural stature only since the late 1990s, when a rather lackluster local artistic scene numbering a few museums and galleries embarked upon a development course that has made Singapore into a global arts hub this city-state has presently become.

Nowadays, Singapore hosts two art fairs, several gallery clusters, such as the Gillman barracks area, and an art biennial inaugurated in 2006. These initiatives are joined by art courses at local universities, privately-sponsored cultural platforms, and a dense schedule of public art-related events. No wonder that Singapore has become a site where international artistic contacts are forged, such as Platform funded by the Lohia Foundation. Add to this a growing roster of art prizes with glitzy ceremonies, international shows, and  media attention and it becomes evident that the buzz around Singapore as an up-and-coming art hub of the East, South-East and Far East Asia is firmly rooted in an increasingly attractive local cultural scene. With a growing government backing for local museums and a brad new national art gallery to open its doors in the coming months,  it is easy to see why Singapore has become a natural spot for other spectacular cultural initiatives, such as Singapore-Chinese Cultural Center, that are slated to set up their shop in the near future.

This indicates an upwards cultural development dynamics of Singapore as not only regional but also an increasingly global art hub, where local and international collectors, curators and artists mingle. With its comprehensive investment into cultural infrastructure, development planning, and event circuits, Singapore seems to be reconnected to its age-old history as a cultural cross-roads between East and West, China and India, and South and North.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Singapore as a Rising Cultural Capital of the Asian-Pacific Region," in Society, Media, Art, March 15, 2015,

Reflections on Macau as a Global Capital of Cultural Consumption

At first sight, Macau is a marginal location at the margins of major flows of ideas. commodities, and capital. However,  as a gaming hotspot, its visibility as a site of consumption that goes beyond the satisfaction of utilitarian needs into the realm of luxury, such as needs that are primarily culturally conditioned is on the rise. Basically, the rapid growth of Macau’s economy and gaming sector parallels the steep rise of the Asian cities in the global rankings of urban economies.

The meaning of this shift of the economic activity from a rather exclusive concentration in the developed Western countries toward a more dispersed geography of interconnections is not immediately apparent since its nature has more to do with philosophical concepts that are amenable to grasping conjunctions of continuities and discontinuties, than to describing clear-cut ruptures.

If in previous decades one was inclined to learn from Las Vegas, according to the eponymous book by Roberto Venturi. than in the present period one may be invited to learn from Macau about what cities of the future might be like. If the discourse on postmodernism can be interpreted as an American reading of the modern legacy of the Western Europe, than Macau as a spatial symbol of the Asian reading of the European modernity can be understood in terms of indicative signs for the direction that the intellectual, artistic and intellectual discourse in Asia will take.

One could surmise that similar to Paris in the nineteenth century Asian cities currently are developing into spaces for flanerie as a leisurely walking activity along the newly built spaces for consumption, spectation, and contemplation. As opposed to the museumification of European cities, Asian urban centers seem to be intent to produce more dynamic mixes of urban development, cultural districts, and exhibition spaces.

In this respect, it could be possible to see similarities and differences between the path of development that Paris went along and the ,ore recent process of Asian global cities becoming complex agglomerations of urban projects, international interconnections and spectacular architecture, such casino developments at Macau’s Cotai strip.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Reflections on Macau as a Global Capital of Cultural Consumption," in Society, Media, Art, April 21, 2014,