Category: Print Content

“Legacies of Internationalism”: Conference Report and Roundtable

With the expansion of free trade and financial deregulation since the 1970s–globalization–the work global has increasingly replaced international to describe phenomena taking place on a planetary scale: global warming, global war on terror, global modernism. The work international, on the other had, has a longer history tied in particular to the concept of the nation-state. The conference Art, Institutions, and Internationalism, organized in March 2017 at the Graduate Center (CUNY) and the Museum of Modern Art, highlighted how the logic of institutional coalition building between nations in the postwar period — internationalism — rather than smooth cosmopolitan … Read more

Painting

Envisioning the Third World: Modern Art and Diplomacy in Maoist China

In the mid-1950s, China conducted robust cultural exchange with the Third World in tandem with a parallel political program to influence non-aligned nations in contestation to the Soviet Union and Western powers. This article examines this underrecognized facet of Maoist-era art through the international engagements of two Xi’an artists, Shi Lu (1919–1982) and Zhao Wangyun (1907–1977), who traveled to India and Egypt as cultural attaché of the Chinese state. By tracing the travels of the two artists in light of their artistic and theoretical formulations, this article argues that contact with decolonizing spheres of the Third World inspired Chinese artists

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Arnold Bode, photomural by the entrance of Museum Fridericianum, documenta 1, 1955. © documenta archiv, Kassel. Image courtesy of documenta archiv. Photograph by Günther Becker.

Modernism and World Art, 1950–72

Focusing on a series of exhibitions of modern art from the 1950s to the early 1970s, this article traces the frictions between two related, yet separate endeavors during the first postwar decades: on the one hand, the historicizing of modernism as a specifically European story; and on the other, the constitution of an all-encompassing concept of “World Art” that would integrate all periods and cultures into a single narrative. The strategies devised by exhibition organizers, analyzed here, sought to maintain the distance between World Art and modernism, and thus deferred the possibility of a more geographically expansive view of twentieth-century … Read more

On Curating Postwar

On March 8, 2017, curator and art historian Katy Siegel delivered a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, about the exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 she curated with Okwui Enwezor and Ulrich Wilmes at Haus der Kunst, Munich from October 2016 to March 2017. Postwar, and its accompanying publications, explored how artists responded to the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, a radically transforming world in the aftermath of World War II, and—amidst Cold War divides—decolonization movements, the struggle for civil rights, and the invention of new communication technologies. Ambitious in scope, generous in … Read more

Video screenshot

Southward and Otherwise

This project comes out of a conversation between Mohaiemen and rPajović on the relative absence of Non-Aligned Movement co-founder, and former President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, from the three-channel film Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017, dir: Mohaiemen) Through a series of conversations between Vijay Prashad, Samia Zennadi, Atef Berredjem, Amirul Islam, and Zonayed Saki, the shadow play of Pajović’s text re-integrates the Yugoslav bloc into Two Meetings and a Funeral. While Pajović’s text concludes with a hopeful view of the potential of the Non-Aligned Movement, Mohaiemen’s images and superimposed quote from Tito express an ironic doubling back. Indira … Read more

Oil on board abstract painting

Re-Worlding Postwar

The exhibition, Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 (2016-17), presented nearly 350 works by 218 artists from sixty-five countries, providing an ambitious and expansive account of mid-century modernism. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, Katy Siegel, and Ulrich Wilmes at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Postwar proposed a vision of artistic production in the post-World War II period that foregrounded experiences of war, decolonization, transnational movement, and changing technology. This review situates the show within a history of global exhibitions, articulating the stakes of the project for curatorial practice and pedagogy. It also evaluates its organization and display in … Read more

Magazine Cover

Introduction to José Oiticica Filho’s “Setting the Record Straighter”

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 … Read more

Vlado Jakolić, Photograph from Izložba žena i muškaraca [Exhibition of Women and Men], June 26, 1969, Galerija Studentskog centra, Zagreb. Image courtesy of Arhiv za likovnke umjetnosti HAZU, Zagreb, Inv. no.: SC-46/F1.

“Made in Yugoslavia”: Struggles with Self-Management in the New Art Practice, 1965–71

In September 1978, Zagreb’s Gallery of Contemporary Art staged the first survey exhibition of conceptual and performance art in Yugoslavia: The New Art Practice, 1966–78. Forty years on, the phenomenon continues to attract a substantial amount of scholarly and curatorial attention, largely because of its globally-renowned affiliates, such as Marina Abramović, Sanja Iveković and Mladen Stilinović, among others. But academic work has been hesitant to address the deeper political, economic and institutional factors that underpinned the New Art’s emergence and secured its prolific development. This article proposes that the New Art both came out of, and responded to, a complex … Read more

Janis Paul ̧uks. Relay-Race, early 1950s. Oil on canvas, 97 x 187 cm. Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga. Image courtesy of the Latvian National Museum of Art.

Instructive, Dramatic, and Corrective Collectivity: Socialist Realism in the Mirror of Collegial Debates. A Case Study of Documents of the Artists’ Union of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1944–55

Based on the study of protocols of the Latvian Artists’ Union and the Organizational Committee of the Artists’ Union of the USSR, the article surveys three stages of the introduction of Socialist Realism in Latvia and different forms and functions of the enforced collegial collectivity facilitating this process. The article examines the transformation of artistic life in Latvia during the period of Stalinism, which not only meant stylistic transition towards Socialist Realism but also involved the imposition of a range of practices of collective supervision of artistic production and censorship, including collective debates, collective advice, collective learning and collective critique. … Read more

Titre de Travail, FRAC Grand Large–Hautsde-France, Dunkerque, 2018 (exhibition views, photos: Aurélien Mole).* *Image file titled FRAC

Labor Power Plant

In those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, labour power is tradable as a commodity and, as such, not a natural good or human capacity, but rather a socially mediated and constituted relation. The project “Labour Power Plant” operates on the fictitious assumption that the everyday, all-pervasive, seemingly natural and therefore invisible micro-politics present in society do in fact not exist. In other words, that society is by itself unable to provide for the human capital on which it depends. Instead, the production of abstract workers is outsourced into a dedicated “labour power plant” – an institution … Read more

Yugoslavia as World History: The Political Economy of Self-Managed Art

Branislav Jakovljević’s study on performance and self-management in Yugoslavia and Armin Medosch’s research on New Tendencies and post-Fordism share a number of analytical frameworks that the review argues partake in a broader shift towards political economy as a key framework for art historical inquiry. This shift elicits what could once again be called a world-historical perspective: both of these books anchor their narratives in post-war Yugoslavia but only in order to show that the telling of the story of Yugoslav art requires the telling of the story of the world, a story that is not simply an instance of global … Read more

Introduction to “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw

The introductory text presents “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” a document translated into English from Polish and published here. The original document was first published in Czereja, a magazine created by the students of Kowalnia, a studio for diploma art students run by Grzegorz Kowalski in the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. “Common Space” compiles the students’ accounts of a performative group activity entitled Pierożek drewniany, zimnym mięsem nadziewany (translated as Wooden Dumpling, Filled with Cold Meat) from the 1992–93 academic year. The … Read more

Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993

The introductory text presents “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” a document translated into English from Polish and published here. The original document was first published in Czereja, a magazine created by the students of Kowalnia, a studio for diploma art students run by Grzegorz Kowalski in the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. “Common Space” compiles the students’ accounts of a performative group activity entitled Pierożek drewniany, zimnym mięsem nadziewany (translated as Wooden Dumpling, Filled with Cold Meat) from the 1992–93 academic year. The … Read more

The Equal and the Different

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s text, “The Equal and the Different,” was written circa 1975 at the request of the Brazilian artist Carlos Vergara, who had recently completed a series of photographs devoted the Rio de Janeiro-based carnival group, Cacique de Ramos. Viveiros de Castro, then an anthropology student at the Museu Nacional, locates in Cacique de Ramos a unique model of individual-group dynamics, one based neither on social hierarchy nor conformity, but mimesis and ecstatic deindividualization: a “passion of the same,” as he writes, that emerges from deep within Western society.

Homeland’s Agenda: Electoral Autocracy (The Venezuelan Case, 2016)

Homeland’s Agenda: Electoral Autocracy (The Venezuelan Case, 2016), a video-collage transcript, creates a general equivalence of media—public government broadcasting, propaganda, diverse Internet corporate news channels, pop music lyrics, video testimonials of disparate polish—so that each successive clip does not dominate the others. The result is a distillation of content lead by form and supported by a transcript translation that reveals a complex situation that is otherwise unreachable for audiences not initiated into the Venezuelan geopolitical context. The sourced material spans the period from 2011 to 2016, bearing witness to the emergence of a national humanitarian crisis and ensuing civil protests … Read more

Neoliberalism in Mexican Cultural Theory

This essay reviews two theoretical books on neoliberalism written by Mexican cultural critics: Capitalismo gore (Gore Capitalism), by Sayak Valencia, published originally in Spanish in 2010 and translated into English in 2018, and La tiranía del sentido común ( The Tyranny of Common Sense) by Irmgard Emmelhainz, published in Spanish in 2016 and yet to be translated into English. These works are pioneering in their discussion of the correlation between neoliberalism, subjectivity, and culture in Mexico, and they have become widely influential in broader discussions of art, visual culture, literature, and cultural production. They add to the work of economic … Read more

The Documentary Films of José Gómez Sicre and the Pan American Union Visual Arts Department

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Visual Arts Department of the Pan American Union, headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., produced nearly fifty 16mm documentary short films on topics ranging from contemporary art to heritage sites and OAS member countries. This article focuses on a cluster of three titles about Peru directed by curator and critic José Gómez Sicre between approximately 1964 and 1968. Produced with funding from an international affiliate of Esso Standard Oil, the films were shot on location and demonstrate careful attention to the contexts of art production within an emerging cultural … Read more

International Indeterminacy: George Maciunas and the Mail

The term “network” has often been used to characterize Fluxus’s internationalism and to identify its membership. This has led a number of scholars to argue that Fluxus anticipated forms of artistic exchange now associated with Internet-based art. More recently, it has cast Fluxus as a precedent for applying a network model to other transcontinental avant-gardes, particularly in curatorial practice. Yet in the rush to relate Fluxus to contemporary discourses on global connectivity, insufficient attention has been paid to the specific apparatuses that facilitated its cohesion. This article stages an intervention into Fluxus studies (and by extension Conceptual art, mail art, … Read more

“Passion of the Same”: Cacique de Ramos and the Multidão

This article analyzes a series of photographs taken by the Brazilian artist Carlos Vergara between 1972 and 1975 that picture the Rio de Janiero-based carnival bloco Cacique de Ramos, whose characteristic black-and-white costumes fantastically approximate indigenous Amerindian attire. Taken at the height of the military dictatorship, when the pressure to conform to a singular nationalist identity was extreme, the photographs probe the potentialities and desire for group identification within a structure of horizontal rather than hierarchical affiliation. The essay argues that the photographs offer of speculative paradigm of intersubjective identification: a mapping of difference from deep within what the Brazilian … Read more

Introduction to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s “The Equal and the Different”

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s text, “The Equal and the Different,” was written circa 1975 at the request of the Brazilian artist Carlos Vergara, who had recently completed a series of photographs devoted the Rio de Janeiro-based carnival group, Cacique de Ramos. Viveiros de Castro, then an anthropology student at the Museu Nacional, locates in Cacique de Ramos a unique model of individual-group dynamics, one based neither on social hierarchy nor conformity, but mimesis and ecstatic deindividualization: a “passion of the same,” as he writes, that emerges from deep within Western society.

Fold, Hexagonal

Fold, Hexagonal presents the impossibility of entering into the language of others and suggests the ways in which such an exclusion can open up a space of imagination around words. This space of imagination includes the visual and bodily experiences of language as well as the physical space that writing occupies. The “Hexagonal” of the title alludes to the infinite hexagonal rooms featured in Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Library of Babel” and also evokes an open-ended linguistic space. The project features hexagonal forms staged on folded, lined paper, reflected and fragmented by multiple mirrors that alter their directions … Read more

The Senses Pointing Toward a New Transformation

Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Towards a New Transformation” was written between June 18 and June 25, 1969, in London and submitted to the British art magazine Studio International, but never appeared in print. The essay negotiates art after objecthood and contextualises Oiticica’s project to effect a definitive radicalization of anti-art, one that the artist held to be necessary in light of the impasse reached by the longstanding conflict between formalist art and its various neo-avant-garde negations (both within the Brazilian and the international neo-avant-gardes). For Oiticica, after both Neoconcretism and Minimalism, it was now the process of art making … Read more

Introduction to Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Toward a New Transformation” (1969)

Hélio Oiticica’s “The Senses Pointing Towards a New Transformation” was written between June 18 and June 25, 1969, in London and submitted to the British art magazine Studio International, but never appeared in print. The essay negotiates art after objecthood and contextualises Oiticica’s project to effect a definitive radicalization of anti-art, one that the artist held to be necessary in light of the impasse reached by the longstanding conflict between formalist art and its various neo-avant-garde negations (both within the Brazilian and the international neo-avant-gardes). For Oiticica, after both Neoconcretism and Minimalism, it was now the process of art making … Read more

The Howling Wilderness of the Maladaptive Struggle in Belgrade in New York

Between 1974 and 1975, Zoran Popović, a conceptual artist from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and his wife Jasna Tijardović, an art historian, spent a year in New York. During that time they engaged closely with the New York Art and Language group. This friendship and collaboration resulted in a rare instance of East-West exchange in Conceptual art: Popović and Tijardović published both co-authored and individual articles in the US journal The Fox, and members of Art and Language (Mel Ramsden, Michael Corris, and Jill Breakstone) gave a seminar in Belgrade’s Student Cultural Center in the fall of 1975. One of the most … Read more

Durable Remains: Indigenous Materialisms in Duane Linklater: From Our Hands

This review essay addresses the complex significance of materiality in From Our Hands, a recent site-specific installation at New York City’s 80WSE Gallery produced by Duane Linklater, an Omaskêko Cree artist from Northern Ontario. Situating Linklater’s practice as an instance of indigenous institutional critique––an approach that re-functions postconceptual artistic strategies in accordance with the distinct aesthetic, political, and ontological concerns of colonized native populations––the essay examines the ways in which such work might disable longstanding assumptions at a moment when indigenous contemporary art is receiving increased attention. In addition to materiality, the text focuses on a group of qualities with … Read more

Ideas of Reality: Antonio Dias between Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Milan

Despite the fact that the growing reception of Antonio Dias (b. 1944) in the English-speaking world is happening under the sign of global art history, the trajectory of the Brazilian artist in the 1960s and 1970s actually suggests both a counter-genealogy and a counter-geography of the global. This essay explores this situation by recontextualizing Dias’s emergence vis-à-vis the critical debate on realism and underdevelopment that marked the Rio de Janeiro avant-gardist scene of the mid- to late-1960s and involved writers such as Ferreira Gullar, Hélio Oiticica, Mário Pedrosa, Pierre Restany, and Frederico Morais. It subsequently argues that such critical terms … Read more

Pop as Translation Strategy: Makishi Tsutomu’s Political Pop in Okinawa

This essay makes the first sustained study of the Okinawan artist Makishi Tsutomu (1941–2015) who used American Pop Art vocabularies to describe the complex realities of US-occupied Okinawa. Focusing on his 1972 installation Commemorating the Reversion to the Great Empire of Japan, the essay examines the critical ambivalence of Makishi’s Political Pop as a translation strategy. Despite his critique of both American and Japanese imperialism, Makishi was aware that Okinawa was inseparably entangled in it, especially in the context of the Vietnam War, which brought violence, but also economic benefits, to Okinawa. Despite his use of the American Pop idiom … Read more

The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics

The introductory essay places “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics” (1920), a piece of early criticism written by the Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida during the first year he lived in Mexico City, within the contexts of the cosmopolitan milieu of post-Revolutionary Mexico and the artist’s own trajectory. It suggests that the text both demonstrates intellectuals’ interest in questions of form and national art and Mérida’s desire to provide a critical framework for his own paintings of indigenous Guatemalan and Mexican women. In “The True Meaning of the Work of Saturnino Herrán: The False Critics,” … Read more

The Two-Fold Global Turn

This essay is a review of art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu’s Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015). The book offers a chronicle of artistic theories, practices, and institutions during Nigeria’s independence years (1957–67) amid the historical frames of Third World liberation, African decolonization, and Cold War realpolitik. The essay explores in particular how Postcolonial Modernism revisits and explores the thematic of “national culture”—the concept presented by Frantz Fanon in 1959, with long-lasting impact on theories of postcolonial arts—in the (decentralized) Nigerian art world, with a focus on the synthetic studio practices of members of the … Read more