Category: Print Content

Devětsil and Dada: A Poetics of Play in the Interwar Czech Avant-Garde

In 1920, the Czech avant-group Devětsil, led by Karel Teige, put forth a leftist program that embraced a multimedial and transnational approach to art and poetry. This vision was articulated through the group’s homegrown -ism, “Poetism,” which incorporated principles of Constructivism and Dada. While Poetism’s affinities with the former is well-documented, this article introduces more fully Devětsil’s engagement with Dada, in print and through performance and dance. It also positions such manifestations not merely as a reflection of Dada tendencies occurring elsewhere, but also as a useful category for thinking in new ways about some of Devětsil’s own artistic production … Read more

The Role of Artists’ Collectives in Producing State Socialist Art in 1950s Romania the Bottom-Up, Pragmatic Professionalization of State Commissions

This article analyzes the collective basis of the establishment of the Socialist Realist model of production for the fine arts in Romania in the early 1950s. It discusses the unstudied case of the “artists’ collectives” (of production) together with other collective forms, such as the collective studios and the guiding commissions. This is an archive-based study of cultural institutionalism of socialist regimes, based on the analysis of under-explored archival sources such as those of the Romanian Artists’ Union (UAP) or the Artistic Fund (FP). Focusing on two specific case studies, those of the artists’ collectives “Progressive art” and “Th. Aman”, … Read more

Bricolage Within the Imperial Divide: Introduction to Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi’s Jugaad

Jugaad continues Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi’s extended artistic investigation of informality in the Global South, which arguably constitutes the majority experience of this vast region. Development became a central problematic for Africa and Asia in the wake of political decolonization of the mid twentieth century, encompassing the ambition for formal planning of large-scale infrastructure and state intervention in human development. But this project was always incomplete and resonated in complex ways with the tenacious growth of informal living and working arrangements whose legacies can be traced back to the colonial era. Informality is amplified in contemporary globalization that is often … Read more

Jugaad

Jugaad continues Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi’s extended artistic investigation of informality in the Global South, which arguably constitutes the majority experience of this vast region. Development became a central problematic for Africa and Asia in the wake of political decolonization of the mid twentieth century, encompassing the ambition for formal planning of large-scale infrastructure and state intervention in human development. But this project was always incomplete and resonated in complex ways with the tenacious growth of informal living and working arrangements whose legacies can be traced back to the colonial era. Informality is amplified in contemporary globalization that is often … Read more

A Book Review in the Form of a Polemic Chad Elias’s Posthumous Images: Contemporary Art and Memory Politics in Post-Civil War Lebanon and the Old New World Order

Chad Elias’ 2018 book Posthumous Images: Contemporary Art and Memory Politics in Post-Civil War Lebanon attempts to deal with the question of post-civil war representation, image-making and contemporary art from the perspective of memory studies in Lebanon. Dealing with a particular group of artists working since the 1990’s in installation, video, film, and performance, the book attempts to create a relation between their artistic propositions and narratives on the one hand, and the post-war reckoning with the missing and disappeared, the history of former Leftist combatants, neglected space programs, reconstruction and urban space, on the other. The book has a … Read more

Introduction to Alioune Diop’s “Art and Peace” (1966)

In 1966, the multi-media celebration of African and diasporic art known as the Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres attracted an international audience to the recently independent nation of Senegal. As performances and exhibitions took place throughout Dakar, politicians, artists, and intellectuals considered what roles art and culture could play in healing a world torn by colonialism, the World Wars, and increasing tensions between the Eastern and Western blocs. In “Art and Peace,” Alioune Diop, the president of the Festival’s organizing committee, enlists the arts as vital tools in the ambitious project of world peace. For contemporary readers, his words … Read more

Art and Peace (1966)

In “Art and Peace,” Alioune Diop, the president of the Festival’s organizing committee, enlists the arts as vital tools in the ambitious project of world peace. For contemporary readers, his words foreshadow present-day debates concerning the effects of globalization on the arts and reveal understudied links uniting the mid-century cosmopolitanist visions of negritude, Catholicism, and UNESCO.

An Introduction to Nicos Hadjinicolaou’s “Art Centers and Peripheral Art” (1982)

Change in the history of art has many causes, but one often overlooked by art historical institutions is the complex, unequal set of relationships that subsist between art centers and peripheries. These take many forms, from powerful penetration of peripheral art by the subjects, styles and modes of the relevant center, through accommodation to this penetration to various degrees and kinds of resistance to it. Mapping these relationships should be a major task for art historians, especially those committed to tracing the reception of works of art and the dissemination of ideas about art. This lecture, delivered by Nicos Hadjinicolaou … Read more

Art Centers and Peripheral Art [A Lecture at the University of Hamburg, October 15, 1982]

Change in the history of art has many causes, but one often overlooked by art historical institutions is the complex, unequal set of relationships that subsist between art centers and peripheries. These take many forms, from powerful penetration of peripheral art by the subjects, styles and modes of the relevant center, through accommodation to this penetration to various degrees and kinds of resistance to it. Mapping these relationships should be a major task for art historians, especially those committed to tracing the reception of works of art and the dissemination of ideas about art. This lecture, delivered by Nicos Hadjinicolaou

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Marta Minujín’s Destructive Intervention

On June 6, 1963, after living in Paris for several months, Argentine artist Marta Minujín performed her first happening, The Destruction, at the Impasse Ronsin, the now legendary abode of many modern and neo-avant-garde artists. This article examines how The Destruction responded to the mediatization of Nouveau Réalisme’s performances, especially Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tirs, by entering a Duchampian discourse through its destabilization of authorship, originality, and authenticity—concepts central to Modernism and the anchoring of art’s market value. In addition, The Destruction used Brechtian strategies and routinized actions to undercut the ritualism, immediacy, and collaboration fundamental to the emancipatory promise

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Icons of Hell 7 Dictators, 700 Portraits, 7 Pages

Without an encounter with the unknown, creativity is impossible. In this encounter, there is no possibility for understanding anything, neither in terms of culture nor psychology. This is no dead end. Quite on the contrary: by finding your way out of the dead end, you can attain total freedom. Encounters with the unknown are extremely rare. The unknown is something you need to search out, overcoming the stereotypes of your thinking, the attitudes of your life and the dummies of your emotions. Our (creative) paths need to strike up against the unknown, no matter how thoroughly we build them and

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Agitated Together Again: The Laboratoire Agit’art at Dak’art’s 13th Biennale

One of the most remarkable exhibitions in the 13th Dak’art Biennale, “The Bell of the Ants,” was not part of the official program, but rather an independent show mounted by the long-time Dakar-based collective “Laboratoire Agit’Art.” This essay offers a historically-grounded analysis of the relationship between the exhibition and the biennial at large, exploring tensions between the global and local aspirations and modern and contemporary formulations it embodies.

ARTMargins, Volume 9, Issue 2, Page 98-111, June 2020.

On Impossibility: Finding Vietnam in a Jordanian-Soviet Film Archive

In 2014, an abandoned collection of over 900 16mm and 35mm film canisters was uncovered in a storage locker in Amman, Jordan. Initial findings show that the films were likely exported from Russia to Jordan between the late 1960s and early 1990s as part of a Soviet cultural exchange program, and among them are are a number of propaganda films made to highlight relations between Vietnam, Russia, and concurrent political struggles in the Arab Middle East. Work on the archive continues despite recent restrictions on researcher access levied by state custodians. This essay positions the entire archive as an aggregate … Read more

Curating as (Expanded) Art History in Southeast Asia: Recent Independent Projects in Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang, and Phnom Penh

A small yet influential strain of independent contemporary curatorial practice has emerged in Southeast Asia, which is performing (expanded) art historical functions. This mode of independent curating now constitutes an important base for exciting new research—making use of diverse archives as well as other methodologies—to study the often little-known histories of the region’s modern arts, including its architecture, cinema, and photography. That such research is taking place in the context of independent contemporary curatorial practice is significant because it locates modern art history largely outside of large and state-funded institutions, including museums and universities, thus enabling the development and proliferation … Read more

Line drawing

Forging a Public Sphere: José Leonilson in the Folha de São Paulo

Between 1991 and 1993, the artist José Leonilson contributed a weekly illustration to Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s highest circulation daily newspaper. This article argues that these drawings inserted a minoritarian voice into the public sphere in a way that contested its normative operations by emphasizing the micropolitical and the intimate, often through allegory. Some of the illustrations address AIDS, to which Leonilson succumbed two weeks after the last was published, and this article situates his work in relation to the intertwining discourses around sexuality, public health and media in Brazil at the time. What emerges is a conception of … Read more

Photograph of back of woman with long hair

Art as Resistance in Postwar Lebanon

This article attempts to read a number of contemporary Lebanese artists by using the Foucauldian-Deleuzian concept of regimes of visibility. The article shows how a specific aesthetical problematic pertaining to Post-War Lebanon unfolds in the electronic and digital regimes of visibility. Last, the article contrast the Lebanese artists with other artists operating in Europe and the U.S and propose other artistic strategies when dealing with the same regimes of visibility.

After Moscow Conceptualism: Reflections on the Center and Periphery and Cultural Belatedness

Conceptual art is not only subject to a striking unevenness and a range of diverse forms across national territories during its emergence, but each national-cultural context in which it emerges is also exposed to the general belatedness of conceptual art’s relationship to its own avant-garde past. Each national-cultural formation was working with, and through, very different cultural and historical materials on the basis of very different kinds of awareness of the avant-garde past and the recent conceptual present. This article addresses this unevenness and belatedness by looking at the case of Moscow conceptualism in the 1970s and 1980s. In a … Read more

Art and Our Surrounds: Emergent and Residual Languages

This essay undertakes a review of recent books by T.J. Demos (Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (2016) and Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today (2017)) and Jens Andermann (Tierras en trance: Arte y naturaleza después del paisaje (Lands Entranced: Art and Nature after Landscape, 2018)). Demos and Andermann participate in the paradigm shift taking place under the name of eco-criticism, forging connections between the debates around environmental crisis and the fields in which they have written and published previously – art criticism and visual culture and Latin American literary and cultural studies, respectively. Both … Read more

Overlapping landscape photes

The Material Conditions of Representation

Seethrough Mountain interrupts this journal through a physical shift in paper, texture and scale, and thereby proposes a pause or possible site of hesitation where the reader can consider the qualitative and material aspect of what they hold in their hands. The two works, a drawing and a constructed photograph, each creating the illusion of transparency, orient the reader’s attention to the material support of the images, and institute a shock, so that the reader might see through the representations to their material conditions. Seethrough Mountain draws attention to the nature of varying forms of information, and proposes that both … Read more

Introduction to “A Conversation between Chinese Artists and Mexican Painter David Alfaro Siqueiros”

In October 1956, the Mexican muralist David Siqueiros traveled Beijing and engaged in two dialogues with artists from the Chinese Artists’ Association. His visit came at an inflection point in China’s foreign and cultural policy. As Sino-Soviet relations deteriorated, China used cultural diplomacy to cultivate relationships with unaligned countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. China’s cultural policy mirrored this shift by relaxing its adherence to Soviet-style Socialist Realism and promoting new stylistic practices, including a revival of ink painting techniques. This policy shift re-animated a debate among Chinese artists over the best mode of representation for socialist art, with … Read more

A Conversation between Chinese Artists and Mexican Painter David Alfaro Siqueiros

In October 1956, the Mexican muralist David Siqueiros traveled Beijing and engaged in two dialogues with artists from the Chinese Artists’ Association. His visit came at an inflection point in China’s foreign and cultural policy. As Sino-Soviet relations deteriorated, China used cultural diplomacy to cultivate relationships with unaligned countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. China’s cultural policy mirrored this shift by relaxing its adherence to Soviet-style Socialist Realism and promoting new stylistic practices, including a revival of ink painting techniques. This policy shift re-animated a debate among Chinese artists over the best mode of representation for socialist art, with … Read more

Whitewash as Affective Platform: Art and Politics of Surface in the Work of Yto Barrada and Hassan Darsi

Whitewash when read through affect is a site of fleeting documentation, a temporary archive of becoming, an ephemeral glimpse into what might become, different. By reading slowly and carefully the work of contemporary artists Yto Barrada and Hassan Darsi, this article hopes to show how their attention to whitewash in urban Morocco is about registering and producing a moment of as-yet-unrealized possibility and potential ontological transformation. From the creation of potemkin worlds for passing dignitaries to the presentation of a worker’s body slowly whitewashing a decaying building in a neoliberal authoritarian city, Barrada and Darsi document whitewash as the space
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Contingency Plans: Art Collectives, Shared Pseudonyms, and Theories of Collectivity

This review considers Jacopo Galimberti’s Individuals Against Individualism: Art Collectives in Western Europe (1956–1969), 2017, and Marco Deseriis’s Improper Names: Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous, 2017 and the theories of collectivity that inform them (multitude, inoperative community, and transindividuality). While Galimberti looks at how collaborative practices model new strategies for collective action, and Deseriis examines forms that allow multiple actions and ideologies to flow through them, they authors share a desire to move beyond representation to model, enact, and realize real change in the world. Taken together, these two books afford us the opportunity to evaluate the critique … Read more

Encounters—Ongoing

The series of drawings, Encounters – ongoing stems from chance meetings on leisurely road trips around the mountains of Lebanon. The drawings act as markers of my conversations with landowners, farmers, and people directly working in the fields. The formal particularities of drawing, and specifically the use of ink washes, allows for an approach that is both intuitive and intentional. This approach reproduces the spontaneity of these accidental or brief exchanges with people who have a vested interest in Lebanese land. Each conversation is represented by a simple tree branch, or a fragment of a (flowering) plant, belonging to the … Read more

Introduction to Arman Grigoryan’s “What is Hamasteghtsakan Art” (1993) and “What is Hamasteghtsakan Art” (1996)

The document presents two separate articles with the same title –“What is Hamasteghtsakan Art” – by artist Arman Grigoryan and art critic Nazareth Karoyan, published in Armenia in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Translated from Armenian and introduced by Angela Harutyunyan both articles have been formative for the development of contemporary art in Armenia. While presenting diverging views on the meaning of hamasteghtsakan (translated as collectively created), the concept was circulated as a definition for a broad range of post-medium artistic practices in late Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia. These practices formed an oppositional discourse to both Socialist Realism and Armenian National … Read more

What is Hamasteghtsakan Art

The document presents two separate articles with the same title –“What is Hamasteghtsakan Art” – by artist Arman Grigoryan and art critic Nazareth Karoyan, published in Armenia in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Translated from Armenian and introduced by Angela Harutyunyan both articles have been formative for the development of contemporary art in Armenia. While presenting diverging views on the meaning of hamasteghtsakan (translated as collectively created), the concept was circulated as a definition for a broad range of post-medium artistic practices in late Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia. These practices formed an oppositional discourse to both Socialist Realism and Armenian National

Read more

Thresholds of the Visible. Activist Video, Militancy, and Prefigurative Politics

The formation of a Peoples’ Assembly and occupation of the city of Oaxaca (Mexico) in 2006 has been widely considered a rebirth of the Commune and was also one of the first widely video-recorded uprisings of the 21st century. As media practice, activist videos approximate an identity of creative art/work and socio-political change but also warrant consideration of their formal aspects. How do stylistic choices help or hinder reflecting on the not-quite-here-yet of prefigurative politics? In contrast with video art, graffiti, and performance protest, activist videos overwhelmingly adhere to evidentiary forms. Carefully edited, they invite viewers to view crowdsourced … Read more

Regioning Differences: Translation and Critical Cartography

The remapping of  cartographies of knowledge, the reorientation of genealogies of comparison, the zoning of what might be through of as “the great unthought” (associated by N. Katherine Hayles with “the cognitive nonconciousness”), all have been fully underway for quite some time in critical and curatorial practice. Literary theory has also been much taken up by the cartographic turn.

Setting The Record Straighter: Part II

This text introduces article “Setting the Record Straighter” (1951) by Brazilian photographer and artist José Oiticica Filho (1906–1964). The core of Oiticica Filho’s article is a discussion of the significance of photo-club exhibitions, based on the example of an ongoing rivalry between the members of São Paulo-based photo club Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB) and Rio de Janeiro-based club Sociedade Fluminense de Fotografia. Oiticica Filho, as a member of the São Paulo-based club who resided in Rio, emerged as a mediator between the two groups—an impartial scientist who sought a solution in data, not in the clashes between egos. The

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Art, Institutions, and Internationalism, 1945–73

This guest-edited issue of ARTMargins evaluates the relationship between art, artists, and international institutions in the postwar period. Concentrating on the emergence of new forms of internationalism in response to decolonization and the diplomatic impasses of the Cold War in the decades following World War II, the issue confronts the problem of the nation-state within the emerging scholarly field known as “global modernism.” We propose that the term global modernism, while a productive shorthand for scholarship that expands modernism’s geographies, may also be anachronistic and misleading. The word global itself began to gain currency only after the 1960s, and particularly … Read more