In conceiving of the exhibition "Cultural Exchange" for the semi-public space Sorry We're Closed in Brussels I must confess that Belgium as both a notion and a nation had been in the back of my mind for some time. However, as an artist, American culture has always been my medium and it did not seem possible for me to pretend to a Belgian throne convincingly. The artistic globalism of the early 90's (and as it continues on today) is based on a classical idea of nomadism as it was developed by Gauguin but in a more politically correct form. The contemporary global nomadic artist utilizes the materials and techniques of the locale in which he or she temporarily resides in an attempt to avoid portraying the culture as the exotic other.
Dave Hickey rightly typifies the contemporary nomadic artist as a biennial-hopping bricoleur well adapted to an artistic climate that privileges "site-specific, regional artworks theoretically informed by a critical rhetoric that insists upon the primacy of the local, the imperatives of group identity, and the ineluctable logic of historical necessity." Nomadism as it exists today is predictaed on an economic power base that far exceeds that of most land-owners. As a contemporary life-style, it has little or nothing in common with its egalitarian roots. And so for the Belgian Cultural Exchange, I chose not to abandon the site-specific installation but rather to acknowledge it's elitist underpinnings and attempt to defy its current politically correct and self-satisfied condition.
By taking on the role of the "Ugly American" (which I am) and displaying only the limited and popular aspects of the area, I hope to envision a new global nomadism based on the experience of the contemporary tourist, whose limited income coincides with cheap plane tickets and superficial knowledge of his destination. Justin Lieberman" I, too, wondered if I couldn't sell something and succeed in life. For quite a while I had been good for nothing. The idea of inventing something insincere finally crossed my mind. At the end of three months I showed what I had produced to Phillipe Toussaint, the owner of Galerie Saint-Laurent.
"It is art," he said, "and I shall willingly exhibit all of it." He was wrong, of course, they were merely things." Marcel Broodthaers