Issue Six


Outer Limits

Edward Colless

Within the milieu of contemporary art 'the outsider’ is a literal misnomer, a tag deserving of the sort of revision and decolonising that has been so thoroughly performed on ‘the primitive’. ++++++ It’s not hard to script such a sales pitch for this takeover of the outsider’s relatively uncultivated extraterritoriality. ++++++ Do we not already have a perfectly good term to account for the rich diversity of this kind of art without resorting to the offensive, derogatory, repressive or exclusionist anthropological and normative psychiatric indictment of so-called ‘outsider’ status? ++++++ Could that ideologically neutral but inclusive label, ready to be stamped on the outsider’s papers, simply be ‘contemporary art’? ++++++ Under judiciously cosmopolitan critical and responsible curatorial policies, the outsider would be a strategic and attractive émigré from the outlands or the border zones of culture, accommodated and assimilated into the contemporary art portfolio as productive stock, and a worthy citizen of the contemporary world. ++++++ Within this perspective there indeed will be no restricted ‘outsider’ status, no one unwelcome, alien, estranged, exiled or reclusive.

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