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From the Editors

The devastating effects of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic have poignantly laid bare, once again, the limits of our capacity to act together and cooperate, even in the face of imminent threats to human survival on this planet. Unsurprisingly, deeply ingrained market mechanisms have ensured, both institutionally and ideologically, that international competition rather than solidarity determined the rhythm and mode of the fight against the global pandemic. Beyond and besides the very necessary measures to prevent contagion, the current crisis further accelerated the proliferation of borders, walls, and checkpoints (physical and otherwise) that have been more effective at segregating humans than Read more

“I Lived without Seeing These Art Works”: (Albanian) Socialist Realism and/against Contemporary Art

This article looks closely at the inclusion of Albanian Socialist Realism in one of renowned Swiss curator Harald Szeemann’s last exhibitions, Blood & Honey: The Future’s in the Balkans (Essl Museum, Vienna, 2003). In this exhibition, Szeemann installed a group of around 40 busts created during the socialist era in Albania, which he had seen installed at the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana. This installation of sculptures was part of an exhibition entitled Homo Socialisticus, curated by Gëzim Qëndro, and Szeemann deployed it as a generalized foil for “subversive” postsocialist contemporary art included in Blood & Honey. The Homo … Read more

Navigating Internationalism from Buenos Aires: The Centro de Arte y Comunicación

This article maps the complex socio-political terrain negotiated by the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC) during the early 1970s from Buenos Aires. It shows how the CAYC attempted to continue the internationalising aims which the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella had pursued in the 1960s, while also providing a space for the exhibition and development of Conceptualism that engaged with political conditions in Argentina and in other countries including Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Columbia, developing the framework of “systems art” in order to do so. The compromises necessitated by CAYC’s balancing act opened the organisation, and in particular its director … Read more

If You Want to Say Something—Speak in the Language of the Language: Ewa Partum’s Model of Conceptual Art

The artistic practice of the Polish-born Ewa Partum can be divided chronologically into Polish (1965–1982), West Berlin (1982–89) and transnational / global (from 1989) periods. This essay focuses on the specificity of the conceptual art developed by Partum and her self-historicization as a conceptual artist. At the same time, it regards the local and global historicization of conceptual art as fragmentary and contradicting processes. The study examines local genealogy of Partum’s conceptual strategies as part of a localized reflection on the geopolitics of knowledge; it considers a specific position of cultural production that is characteristic of Central and Eastern European … Read more

_rt movements

_rt Movement(s) is an artist research project intended as a text object that materially represents the complex, relational articulation of art and history with particular emphases on the contingent relationships made by movements of different kinds: geographical migration of artists, displacement of art objects, performances, institutions/festivals, and theories/theorists. _rt Movement(s) challenges the linear developmental approach of normative art history, and its nationalist, racialized, and ethnocentric assumptions. Instead, the project argues through diverse sources, including texts, images, graphs and other visualizations for the essentially translocal and transhistorical character of works of art.… Read more

Amy Sara Carroll’s ReMex: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era

Amy Sara Carroll’s ReMex: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era interprets Mexico City-based, feminist, and border, or Chicano, art in and around the 1990s. Its premise is that aesthetics and politics “form a loop” in order to express what the author calls “Greater Mexico.” With this term, Carroll proposes that “Mexico” is no longer a territory but rather an imaginary that transcends its geographic borders. In her view, the denationalization brought about by the liberalization of markets led to a multicultural utopia best expressed in border art and art concerned with race and gender issues. In her account, … Read more

Introduction to Jalal AL-E Ahmad’s “To Mohassess, For the Wall”

“To Mohassess, For the Wall” is an article written in 1964 by Jalal Al-e Ahmad, one of the most influential and charismatic Iranian intellectuals of the time. Three years before writing this article, Al-e Ahmad had published Weststruckness, discussing the Iranians’ cultural alienation caused by the dependence on the west. In “To Mohassess, For the Wall”, Al-e Ahmad shifts his analysis to Iranian painting, arguing that Iranian painters during the 1960s merely repeat Western cultural processes and strategies instead of constructing Iranian ones. The context for Al-e Ahmad’s argument is the Pahlavi regime’s radical program of rapid modernization, which in … Read more

To Mohassess, For the Wall

“To Mohassess, For the Wall” is an article written in 1964 by Jalal Al-e Ahmad, one of the most influential and charismatic Iranian intellectuals of the time. Three years before writing this article, Al-e Ahmad had published Weststruckness, discussing the Iranians’ cultural alienation caused by the dependence on the west. In “To Mohassess, For the Wall”, Al-e Ahmad shifts his analysis to Iranian painting, arguing that Iranian painters during the 1960s merely repeat Western cultural processes and strategies instead of constructing Iranian ones. The context for Al-e Ahmad’s argument is the Pahlavi regime’s radical program of rapid modernization, which in … Read more

Escape the Landscape

Landscape—as a genre, medium, or form of representation, as uncultivated or cultivated, formed or farmed, or seen or shaped land—is the product of many contradictions. In politico-economic terms, landscape has to do with the necessity of preserving humankind’s relation to its environment (and the semi-fantastic origin of what today we call “nature”) and with an urge (or ploy) to conceal certain injustices, such as the appropriation of land and of agricultural rural labor. In terms of power, governance, and governmentality, landscape has served many masters with seemingly opposite ideological agendas, including both colonialism (the expansion and control of land beyond Read more

Militant Landscape: Notes on Counter-Figuration from Early Modern Genre Formation to Contemporary Practices, or, Landscape after the Failure of Representation

In 1844, the year of Marx’s Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts, J.M.W. Turner presented Rain, Steam, and Speed: The Great Western Railway, the first landscape painting to both articulate the ontological shifts brought about by new modes of extraction and production, but also to suggest concomitant transformation in perception. In this way, it collapsed the dialectical relation between perceiving subject and external landscape, suggesting the reciprocal relationship of reification. In 2013, the contemporary artist and filmmaker Zachary Formwalt produced a piece entitled Projective Geometry in which he read from Chapter 25 of Marx’s Capital, the chapter on “So-called … Read more

Reframing Landscape

“Reframing Landscape” explores three distinct landscapes that have been decisively impacted by conquest and colonization, reframed by three artistic interventions: painting, photography, and sculpture. August Earle shows us the de-forested landscape of 19th century New Zealand, still guarded by a Maori totem; Miki Kratsman photographs a wall mural in occupied Palestine that erases the presence of indigeneous people; and Antony Gormley anticipates the clearing of Manhattan by a pandemic in whirlwind of metal. Real spaces and places are converted into landscapes of attention into what has been lost and what is to come.… Read more

Fury and the Landscape Film: Three Men Who Left Their Will on Concrete

In the 1960s, Japanese artists and filmmakers directed their fury against the sterile urban landscapes which surrounded them. The “Theory of Landscape,” developed by Matsuda Masao as well as many other filmmakers, artists, and writers, posited that our lived landscape is an expression of dominant political power. This article uses the lens of Landscape Theory to analyze three Japanese political avant-garde films from the late 1960s and early 1970s, all of which mark frustration and anger through a reworking of the mundane urban environment that surrounds them: Wakamatsu Koji’s Go, Go Second Time Virgin (1969), Oshima Nagisa’s The Man Who Read more

A Room with a landscape: Vedute from the Palace of the Privileged Company of Trieste and Rijeka

In the oldest Austro-Hungarian sugar refinement plant opened in mid 18thcentury in Rijeka, today Croatia, a series of “idealized” landscapes pained by unknown artisans include depictions of slaves. The so-called Vedute ideate are a rare depiction of the racialized slave labor in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that points to the invisible labor, which enabled industrial production of sugar and made visible the relation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, together with the peripheral port town of Rijeka, to the global flow of capital and the history of colonialism. By drawing on Catherine Baker’s recently published “Race in Yugoslavia” we look at how representation … Read more

Introduction to “City as Landscape” (1970) by Matsuda Masao (1933–2020)

This introduction to Masao Matsuda’s essay, “The City as Landscape,” provides an outline of the essay’s role in the emergence of a radical discourse of landscape, known as fūkei-ron in Japan. In addition to illuminating crucial aspects of the political and discursive context of Matsuda’s writings, the introduction orients contemporary readers to this essay’s contributions to an expansion of the global imaginaries and aesthetic genealogies of the radical left.

Landscape and Its Double: The Technological Sublime

The essay inquires about the historical condition of representation in our present while invoking the modern experience of the sublime and landscape as the medium of that experience. Can the sublime as the experience of the subject confronted with the very limits of representation be extended to our late capitalist conditions of mediatized representations? What constitutes “a landscape” as the site of the experience of the sublime in late capitalism? The essay addresses these questions through a renewed discussion of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility” (1936) by focusing on the discussion of the … Read more

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