ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Room of Histories

„Change the System!“ – Rasheed Araeen‘s Third Text Journal


Cover Scans of Third Text Journal. Rasheed Araeen's »The Reading Room, 1979–2011« introduces exhibition visitors to the

art magazine.

For those who may have asked themselves why The Global Contemporary has dedicated an entire reading space to the Third Text Journal, here is a brief history of the magazine and a few selected reasons as to why it plays a central role for the definition of a global contemporary art. 

"The myth of the internationalism in art must be exploded", declared Pakistani-British artist, Rasheed Araeen, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, in 1978. In 1987, convinced that the exclusion of non-white artists from the 'White Cube' of western art establishments was demonstrative of an inherent racism, and that 'mute objet d’ art' would not, of themselves, be capable of altering this, Araeen founded the Third Text Journal as a political forum for a truly international theory of art and criticism. His aim was to change the system as opposed to merely scratch around on the surface of its mechanisms of representation: he was accompanied by the international elite of post-colonial authors of the likes of Edward Said, Manthia Diawara and Gayatri C Spivak. Initially, the magazine, considered as successor to the journal Black Poenix (1978-79), directed critique at the institutions of the British art system from the perspective of non-western artists resident in Great Britain. It questioned the marketing of multiculturalism and ethnicity, and when, during the 1990s, worldwide migratory movements evoked nationalist sentiments, Third Text turned its thematic focus to the limits of post-colonial criticism.

Post-Soviet Russia, Turkish contemporary art and cinema in Muslim countries are just a few of the themes of which the Third Text has been treating since the close of the 1990s. The journal is presently edited by art historian, Richard Appignanesi, British film theorist, Richard Dyer, and artist Zoë Peterson. The journal’s subtitle, Third World Perspectives on Contemporary Art, has been withdrawn. With respect to the journal’s original orientation, Araeen recently commented: "It was perhaps a mistake our trying to represent what was no longer definable in geographical terms.". What remains is the critique of art history and art practices from a global perspective along with the resolve to present those artists and regions precluded from mainstream discourses, or else discriminated due to their origins, gender religion or culture.

Additional information on Rasheed Araeen may be found on his artist page. A portrait of Areeen written by Andrea Buddensieg has been published in Contemporary Art and the Museum. A Global Perspective (Hatje Cantz, 2007), which may also be read here online.


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