Since the global turn in the early 2000s concepts of transnationalism abound in the field of art history, in addition to radically changing the discipline’s topography. Increasingly the fixed national frameworks that once characterized art historical scholarship are eclipsed by seemingly fluid interregional flows, diasporic cultural matrices, mobility and globalized interactions. This 2-day workshop explores the current state of transnationalism in the field, with an interest in understanding new methodologies in transnational research within art history and directions for future scholarship. It considers various modalities and theorizations of transnationalism including, but not limited to trans-spaces of imagination (transpacific and transatlantic connections), forms of worlding and minor transnationalisms. Some of the workshop’s animating questions are: what new spatialities can be drawn under transnational frames? How have the flux of mobility combined with new technologies since the late 1960s shaped global, nomadic artistic subjectivities? In what ways are these subjectivities still circumscribed by their national origins? In what ways do concepts of deterritorialization and dislocation serve as a model to describe artistic processes unhinged from geographical, territorial, national or regional importance?
This workshop, part of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and organized in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, proposes to share and discuss work on art from and in relation to the Global South, highlighting the history and operation of transnationalism as it relates to these geographies, while also taking into account possible axes of solidarity and relational fields of production.
This event is organized in the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie funded project “Decentralising Conceptual Art's Internationalism: Latin American Artists in Western Europe, 1968-1979” at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam.
Convenors: Elize Mazadiego (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of Amsterdam) and Daniel R. Quiles (Associate Professor of Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
To register for the workshop please contact: email@example.com
Tuesday 22 June 2021
16:00-16:15: Welcome and Introduction by Daniel Quiles (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
16:15-16:30: Researching Performance Art in a Transnational Context
Eva Bentcheva (Heidelberg University)
16:30-16:45: Queer Chinese Feminist Archipelago: Shanghai, Miami, and San Francisco
Alpesh Kantilal Patel (Temple University)
17:00-17:15: New alignments of Conceptualism’s networks: In-Out Centre and Transnational Spaces of Art
Elize Mazadiego (University of Amsterdam)
17:15-17:30: Migration and Art: 1:1
María Clara Bernal (Universidad de los Andes)
17:30-18:00: Discussion and Questions, moderated by Delinda Collier (School of the Art Institute Chicago)
Wednesday 23 June 2021
16:00-16:15: Welcome and Introduction by Elize Mazadiego (University of Amsterdam)
16:15-16:30: Marked Gaze: Edin Vélez, 1977-1984
Daniel Quiles (School of the Art Institute Chicago)
16:30-16:45: Drawing Lines: Visual Rhetoric of Freedom in Lotus, Afro-Asian Writings
Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam)
17:00-17:15: From Living in Your Head to Participating: The Misadventures of Conceptualism between Nationalism, Transnationalism, and Revolutions in the Andes
Dorota Biczel (Independent art historian/curator)
17:15-18:00: Discussion and Questions, moderated by Eve Kalyva (University of Amsterdam/University of Kent)
Researching Performance Art in a Transnational Context (Eva Bentcheva, Heidelberg University)
With an emphasis on mobility, exchanges and interaction, performance art has often been situated beyond the borders of national art histories. Yet, despite its seemingly 'transnational' nature, performance art practices often draw upon nationally-rooted notions of community, site, history, participation and presence. This presentation reflects upon two research projects which I have developed; my doctoral research on performance art histories through the lens of British South Asian diasporic identities in Britain since the 1960s, and my ongoing postdoctoral research on the post-World War II histories of 'performativity' in contemporary art of Southeast Asia. It compares and contrasts the methodologies used in these two research projects. In doing so, it hones in on several ensuing questions: where do the 'transnational' elements of performance art reside - in the works themselves or the biographies of the artists? To what ends have the notions of mobility, migration and exchange been privileged in the study of performance art? What are some of the idiosyncratic ways in which artists consciously deploy performance to position themselves across international and national aesthetics, as well as socio-political practices?
Queer Chinese Feminist Archipelago: Shanghai, Miami, and San Francisco (Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Temple University)
Martinican-born poet and theoretician Édouard Glissant suggests that a shift to “archipelagic thinking” can allow one to see the world metaphorically as a collection of islands connected to each other. Foregrounding the body and affect, I will consider the exhibition WOMEN我們, organized by Abby Chen, that traveled from Shanghai (2011) to San Francisco (2012) and Miami (2013) through what I refer to as “archipelagic feeling.” WOMEN我們 explored queer Chinese feminism, and in a nod to cities in which the venues were located, the curators expanded the checklist at each leg of the tour. In this way, the curators aimed not to essentialize or center queer Chinese feminism but productively connect it to (for example) Latinx subjectivities and Asian-American feminist concerns. In so doing, I suggest this exhibition offers a new framework for thinking about the transnational through both queerness and creolization.
New alignments of Conceptualism’s networks: In-Out Centre and Transnational Spaces of Art (Elize Mazadiego, University of Amsterdam)
The 2009 exhibition In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art, 1960-1976 curated by Christopher Cherix at MoMA, New York positioned Amsterdam as a “critical nexus for artistic exchange” during the 1960s and early 1970s. The show mapped a network that linked Amsterdam and Europe to the US, with the gallery Art & Project as a major node in conceptualism’s international matrix. In this paper I turn attention to the emergence of In-Out Centre in 1972 as a significant space in the constitution and realignment of conceptualism’s transnational geography. I focus on three of the founder members Michel Cardena, Ulises Carrión and Raul Marroquin, artists from Latin America who permanently relocated to Amsterdam in the 1960s, to explore their interconnections, network practices and modes of integration. Their migration and subsequent involvement in In-Out Centre shows the need for a broader transnational account of conceptualism that accounts for entanglements beyond the US-Europe paradigm. I argue their activities arguably expanded conceptualism beyond its initial formation – formally and geographically – and that In-Out Centre was purposefully a space for transnational encounters.
Art and migration 1:1 (María Clara Bernal, Universidad de los Andes)
Displacement and migration have been pivotal in the way our world is configured today. If it is true that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) produces statistics every year about these phenomena and its impact on economics and politics, it is only rarely that the cultural impact of these population movements is measured. The dislocation that displacement brings along implies to be located in a place that needs to be reinvented through language and narrative. The challenge of this reinvention has been embraced by some projects on contemporary art in which the monstrosity of not belonging is transformed in the habitable through the creative drive. This research departs from some case studies that put into question the presuppositions about art and artists launching them into activism like No borders backpack by the international collective Embassy for the displaced or Mi casa, mi cuerpo by Colombian artist Oscar Moreno where the material conditions of everyday life are used as they are, turning the relationship between art and life to a 1:1 scale. The cases mentioned are used to reflect not only about the production of art in the context of migration but also the challenges that this production pose to the discipline of art history.
Marked Gaze: Edin Vélez, 1977-1984 (Daniel R. Quiles, School of the Art Institute Chicago)
Despite being "the first Puerto Rican video artist"—a label he disdained—Edin Vélez is relatively unknown today. This lecture examines several of his early works in context, in particular Meta-Mayan II, 1981. Shot in the Guatemala Highlands as the country's civil war was escalating at the dawn of the Reagan era, Meta-Mayan II is a disturbing artistic
response to a mounting genocide and the indigenous communities in its crosshairs. Vélez eschews fellow artists Juan Downey and Bill Viola's idealization of indigenous people and traditions, instead filming his Mayan subjects confrontationally, without permission—restaging the surveillance they were already under by the state. Rather than a nationless artist nomad, Vélez marked himself a (colonized) citizen of the country funding and training
Guatemala's death squads. His next project was Oblique Strategist Too, 1983-84, a profile of musician Brian Eno. Landscape is central to both videos; in the former as the contested territory of colonialism past and present, in the latter as a figure of the artist’s freedom (and privilege). Manifesting as an invasive, unavoidable gaze, Vélez was himself negotiating these drastically different avenues of representation and critique.
Drawing Lines: Visual Rhetoric of Freedom in Lotus, Afro-Asian Writings (Sanjukta Sunderason, University of Amsterdam)
Twentieth-century decolonization, in its multi-sited, multi-polar formations, carried a double movement around (post-colonial) freedoms: the retreat of colonial empires and simultaneous forgings of new post-colonial political futures. At the intersections of such retreat and progress, grew new cultural imaginaries and artistic forms that captured both the horizons and the contradictory energies of such freedoms. In this work-in-progress presentation, I will concentrate on one such site and genre: Lotus, the tri-lingual mouthpiece journal of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, started in 1967, and published from Cairo and the German Democratic Republic. Attempting to forge conversations across a newly morphing ‘Third World’, Lotus not only grappled with tensions of plural languages, affiliations, and visualizations, but carried emotive and intellectual negotiations around the idea and limits of freedom across Asian and African contexts and peoples. Instead of assuming ‘solidarity’ as a mode of Third World identifications, I will explore how illustrations in Lotus drew lines between thought and image, writings and drawings, as well as histories and imaginations, generating thereby, new visual rhetorics of freedom. Illustrations in a primarily textual periodical like Lotus, I argue, allow for new dialectical readings of both visual art and political agendas, as well as of modernism and freedom.
From “Living in Your Head” to Participating: The Misadventures of Conceptualism between Nationalism, Transnationalism, and Revolutions in the Andes (Dorota Biczel, Independent art historian/curator)
In 1971, upon the invitation of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru, Swiss-Peruvian artist Francisco Mariotti organized the festival CONTACTA, “a manifestation of total art,” in lieu of a traditional solo exhibition. Mariotti conceived of “total art” as the antithesis of traditional art objects--that is, one-of-a-kind, institutionalized fossils of the fetishized individual expression. For Mariotti, “total art” was synonymous with Conceptual art, which the artist explained echoing Harald Szeemann’s influential exhibition Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form (1969): “Typed pages, sequences of photographs, representations of the acts [carried out in] public or a mathematical premise.” While Mariotti’s definition (cutting-edge in Latin American context) resonates with the familiar Anglo-US-American formulations of (canonical) Conceptual art, the artist saw this phenomenon more broadly: his total art would incorporate other disciplines that previously had been conceived of as durational and immaterial such as music, dance, poetry, theater, and even yoga and cooking. Ultimately, Mariotti’s aim was to “to get closer to the public and make it the participant of the creative act.” The experiment was so successful that the following year the so-called Revolutionary Government of the Peruvian Military Forces (in power since 1968) enlisted the artist to repeat the event on an even larger scale in a popular public park in Lima during the four-day weekend of the Peruvian Independence festivities. Further on, CONTACTA2 (1972) would serve as a model for populist nation-wide festivals organized under the aegis of the government’s official arm of social mobilization, SINAMOS (The National System of Social Mobilization). By the beginning of the next decade, the very term “conceptual art” and its Szeemann-esque formulation were nearly forgotten in Peru, practically obliterating from the critical record other conceptualist experiments of the decade such as those of Teresa Burga. This work-in-progress presentation aims at pointing out the divergences of “conceptual art” and “participation,” and at highlighting the problems in studying top-to-bottom-stimulated “participation.”