"This is a self-portrait with one of my heroes, Dolly Parton. I love listening to her music while I paint—“9 to 5,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene”—and when I’m listening, it’s like Dolly is coming to life in my studio and performing just for me. I start thinking: “What if Dolly came to visit me here in Indulkana? What would she do? What would she say? And what would she be wearing?”

—Kaylene Whiskey

Shared vulnerability has united the world, yet the pandemic has also revealed and sharpened many divisions. Both direct and indirect effects have been unequally distributed among demographic groups, communities, and regions. After a second year of the pandemic, how do we begin to understand our reshaped lives and world? What perspectives might be offered by artists from different cultures and locations?

Global Positioning presents new artworks by an intergenerational group of 20 artists from 17 countries exhibited on 320 JCDecaux bus shelters throughout New York City, Chicago, and Boston. These creative voices span disparate regions across six continents including the Amazon rainforest in Colombia; the desert lands of the Indulkana Community in Central Australia; the West African port city of Accra, Ghana; and Yangon, Myanmar, where in 2021 the military brutally seized control. Embracing our global community, the exhibition aims to provide points of cultural reconnection with the world beyond our borders. 

Processing this turbulent period with a blend of thoughtfulness, hope, incisiveness, and wit, these newly commissioned works illustrate a common impulse to create, communicate, and imagine a future of possibility. Shared themes emerge across a number of the artists’ contributions. Environmental concerns highlight a sensitivity to the growing impact of the climate crisis. Several artists explore relationships between indigenous forms of knowledge and popular culture in a globalized world. Images that register conflict and anxiety are also imbued with fantasy, humor, and spirituality. Traversing boundaries of culture, language, history, and politics, the remarkable works created for Global Positioning ultimately reveal our shared humanity.  

Global Positioning is curated by Public Art Fund Artistic & Executive Director Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer, and Public Art Fund Associate Curator Katerina Stathopoulou.

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