Global Politics of Difference

The consumerist slogan celebrating difference seeks to convince us that global capitalism and the world market do not necessarily lead to the homogenization of cultures. Indeed, as Hardt and Negri claim: “marketing itself is a practice based on differences, and the more differences that are given, the more marketing strategies can develop.”11 They state that “many of the concepts dear to postmodernists and postcolonialists find a perfect correspondence in the current ideology of corporate capital and the world market” (p. 2631). The world market is thus based on circulation, mobility, diversity, and hybridity. These are concepts that art criticism often applies to contemporary visual and stage artworks.

This hypothesis seems to be borne out in globalized theater. From an economic perspective, globalized theater enjoys moving around the world, never needing to reconsider its organization and its mise en scene. As a consequence of this, from the aesthetic point of view, the stage work or dramatic work offers a certain fluidity; it has neither a center nor a consistency, nor indeed a fixed identity; it is readable, but in a random way, thus dodging any definitive interpretation. One can perform Oh Tak-sok’s The Tempest for one night only in an isolated Hungarian village, or on a beach in Korea, and although the impression given will no doubt be different in each case, the staging will continue to function with different audiences and interpretations. Diversity is almost written into very open, or indeed indecisive, interpretation, serving the story as told, simply adapted to fit a Korean context, whether in a strange and exotic way for the Hungarian and international audience, or in a falsely familiar way for Korean holidaymakers chancing upon it at Pohang beach in Korea, believing they are hearing a tale from their popular culture, conforming with their imagination or, more likely, with what they know of it from historical TV films. If the references and the materials are not too muddled, or lost as they are mixed into hybrid objects, the spectator will even have the impression of enjoying a homogeneous work, attuned to cultural difference. Certainly, there are successive references to shamanism, to Buddhism, to Confucius, to pansori singing, but this is more a series of visual allusions than evidence of a new, hybrid, kind of production.

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