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Universes in Universe

Universes in Universe

(Berlin, Germany)

Started in 1997 by German art historian Gerhard Haupt and Argentinean artist Pat Binder, the Web site Universes in Universe provides access to extensive documentation on art from Africa, the Asia/Pacific region and Latin America. This unique project has several aspects. The multilingual (German, Spanish, English) site is a hub, a transversal point of exchange that lets members of artistic communities in the regions concerned communicate with each other directly, while at the same time increasing awareness by Western audiences.

It's this community, this network, that makes Universes in Universe so rich in information and allows it to achieve the project's main goals, which, in addition to providing information from the above-mentioned regions, are to:

- develop new communication structures for artists, using the Internet;
- supply tools that encourage increased knowledge of cultural diversity;
- create a forum for understanding transcultural phenomena;
- use the Internet as a cultural site and a medium for transcultural artistic projects.

Among the five main sections of Universes in Universe, there's a special section dedicated to Documenta X, which has elicited much interest since 1997 and has rapidly put Universes in Universe in the public eye. This section offers a detailed examination of the non-Western artists participating in Documenta X, and has raised the question of why so few were selected for the event by the director, Catherine David. There's an interview on this question with Okwui Enwezor, then director of the Johannesburg Biennale, who has subsequently been named director of the next Documenta, in 2002.

Universes in Universe has four other sections:

- IntArtData contains hundreds of links to selected resources, along with comments. Organized geographically, IntArtData's links lead to journals, museums, galleries, artists, curators and critics, Internet-based cultural projects and other sites. There are also links to outside resources, and to internal resources such as interviews with exhibition curators or critics, making good use of the interwoven structure of Universes in Universe to let users jump easily between sections. This section, in short, is a sort of specialized gateway, allowing people to access selected resources.

- Caravan provides detailed documentation on a multitude of international artistic events in the regions explored by Universes in Universe. Among them are the second Johannesburg Biennale (South Africa, 1997), the first Mercosul Biennale (Brazil, 1997), the second Kwangju Biennale (South Korea, 1997) and the 6th Havana Biennale (Cuba, 1997). Caravan's documentation on this last event is impressive, drawn from Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder's notes and photographs.

- Forum acts as a site of discussion and reflection on the critical issues and problems affecting intercultural exchanges and relations. This section is still under construction but already offers one path inspired by an international symposium Gerhard Haupt organized in 1995 The Marco Polo Syndrome: Problems of intercultural communication in art theory and curatorial practice. The section also links to the Web site of a discussion forum organized and moderated by Gerhard Haupt: Cultural Exchange via Internet: Opportunities and Strategies.

- Art Action offers information on a variety of useful resources such as international funding agencies, calls for project proposals, and calls for participation in events, festivals and competitions. Here as well are artist sites and cultural journals such as Art Nexus or Columna de Arena, which are housed by Universes in Universe.

Support from the Daniel Langlois Foundation was used to update and preserve the site, and to develop content for it.

Alain Depocas © 2000 FDL