M HKA, Van Abbemuseum and deBuren (the Dutch-Flemish house for culture and debate) are co-convenors of the two-day conference “Considering Monoculture".
This two-day interdisciplinary programme will consider current and historical manifestations of monoculture as well as its implications for art, culture and its institutions. The societal understanding of monoculture can be defined as the homogeneous expression of the culture of a single social or ethnic group. In recent years, the combination of anti-globalisation sentiment, conflict, terror, mass-migration and the perceived counter-hegemony of identity politics, has created the conditions for new forms of identitarianism to emerge. Across Europe and much of the globe, a drive for national monoculture, in which societies are understood through adhering to homogenous racial, cultural, ideological or religious parameters, has entered the mainstream. For the cultural field, often considered as having a secular, elitist and socially-liberal basis, it is no longer enough simply to denounce the creep towards monoculture as an abhorrent form of neo-fascism. At the same time, how could the recent turn towards indigenous practices within contemporary art discourse, as well as the framings of art via race, ethnicity or other distinctions of identity or marginality, whether implicit or explicit, be seen as contributing towards new forms of essentialism?
It feels timely to consider carefully different manifestations and implications of monoculture, keeping an open mind on its motivations and potential as well as its dangers. Following an open call for participants, this programme has been developed to explore the concept from multiple perspectives, looking to the fields of art, philosophy, linguistics and politics. Across two days, it will incorporate an interdisciplinary constellation of presentations and ideas, seeking to engage participants and audience alike in discussions on the concept of monoculture.