ARTM Online Content

From The Editors

Several of the texts and projects in this new issue of ARTMargins underscore the role of photography and performance in rendering visible our “ways of seeing” and what they occlude: forms of imagining and inhabiting urban space that are suppressed by official discourse, clandestine archives that simultaneously register and obfuscate the humanitarian crimes of the last Brazilian dictatorship, and deaths forgotten or naturalized as part of the AIDS epidemic, among others. The insistence of that which is alternately invisible and reified—illegible and overcoded— runs like a thread through this issue, raising questions about the nature and stakes of the interpretations Read more

Memory Zero

The repression of memory as a result of trauma from war and social divisions is often an experience that obscures or intensifies personal histories. This is especially true between generations. The Memory Zero project is an attempt to bridge this gap through drawn impressions from intergenerational family stories collaged with image and text searches to locate their approximate times and places. Together this creates, hopefully, a fuller historical and affective context. For this, I drew from family stories and histories in England and Poland before and after World War l. In this way the personal and historical approximations merge into … Read more

Barbad Golshiri’s Acts of Alterity

In his transdisciplinary practice, artist, writer, and translator Barbad Golshiri interprets from his viewpoint located in Iran the iconic pieces of the European art history, including paintings by Jan van Eyck, Jacques-Louis David, and Kazimir Malevich. Inserting his own artistically inscribed body into the material milieus of these artists, Golshiri activates the present via transfer of the past onto the future, in an attempt to differentiate the script of history. Deleuzian approach of repetition as a means of differencing instigates this interrogation of Golshiri’s Malevich cycle, comprising Quod (2010), which references Malevich’s Black Square (1915); Cura; the Rise and Read more

Art of the Counter-Archive: Rosângela Rennó’s Books and the Secret Files of the Dictatorship

This article examines Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó’s books 2005–510117385–5 and A01 [COD.19.1.1.43] – A27 [S | COD.23], which engage with photographs stolen from public collections in Rio de Janeiro. Both books triggered a conversation about institutional precarity and its effects on national memory and cultural heritage—one that took place a few years before the 2018 fire at Rio de Janeiro’s Museu Nacional, which destroyed much of its invaluable archive of twenty million items and was understood as a national tragedy. It discusses Rennó’s books in light of 1960s and 1970s Latin American Conceptualisms, arguing that they propose new ways … Read more

Yugoslavia with Strings Attached: Boris Kralj’s My Belgrade (2011) and Dubravka Ugrešić and Davor Konjikušić’s There’s Nothing Here (2020)

This article examines the contemporary photographic representations of Yugoslav modernist architecture and its ruins that serve as a counterpoint to the 2019 MoMA exhibition, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, a project that brought socialist architectural modernism to international visibility. In particular, I focus on Boris Kralj’s photo-diary My Belgrade (2011) and Dubravka Ugrešić and Davor Konjikušić’s photo-essay There’s Nothing Here! (2020) to explore the ruins of Yugoslav socialist modernity not only as an object of aesthetic fascination, but also as an emotionally and politically charged site of collective nostalgia and politicized mourning in the postsocialist now. … Read more

Chronological Dyslexia: Remembering/Representing/Performing Aids

Exploring two major books on the visual and performance histories of the ongoing and historical AIDS crisis in the US and beyond—Brian Getnick’s edited volume Final Transmission and Avram Finkelstein’s firsthand account, After Silence—this review asks how we have come to contemplate and understand the intensities, losses, and absences of the AIDS catastrophe. Drawing on theories on death, dying, and the cultural expressions around them, the review puts pressure on the particular offerings of these two very different books, ultimately pulling out passionate moments of vulnerability and self-reflexivity in each book as the most effective and powerful ruminations on … Read more

The Abstract and the Concrete in Modern Art

This introductory study analyzes two key texts from the short-lived Argentine collective, the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (Association of Concrete Art-Invention, or AACI). Published in 1946 in the same issue of the group’s official organ, they collectively theorize the “co-planar,” the AACI’s key contribution to the history of abstract and concrete painting. While Maldonado’s text offers a historical reconstruction of the genealogy of the co-planar as the culmination of modernist investigations of the plane and the problem of composition, Hlito’s text outlines the understanding of Marxist materialism and dialectics that underpinned this particular take on the task of modernism.

ARTMargins, … Read more

Grounding the Global: Pathways to Elucidating Tensions in Chinese Contemporary Art

This article reviews two recent books on Chinese contemporary art, Sasha Welland’s Experimental Beijing (2018) and Jenny Lin’s Above Sea (2019), concerned with the sociopolitical contexts of the 1990s–2000s’ globalizing Beijing and Shanghai respectively. By examining the two authors’ respective methodologies—Welland’s ethnographical field research and Lin’s urban cultural research—, this article interprets how these two books shed light on the role of tensions in the intersectional global-local spaces of Chinese contemporary art. It argues that this field of art history necessitates the employment of non-art historical methodologies, as shown by the two books, in order to locate and make visible … Read more

Roundtable on John Clark’s The Asian Modern

The book, The Asian Modern, by John Clark (with an Introduction by the Manila-based critic and curator, Patrick Flores) seeks to construct a “cross-Asian” account through a detailed historical and empirical focus on 30 artists spanning Southeast, East, and South Asia, as well as Australia. At the core of the book is the premise that the given place, “Asia,” is the locus for a critique of the normative account of modernism tethered to another locale, identified by Clark as “Euramerica.” These focused geographic arenas provide the basis for novel itineraries, dynamic dispersals, and alternative sightlines that reject the conventional … Read more

Introduction to Tomás Maldonado’s “The Abstract and the Concrete in Modern Art” and Alfredo Hlito’s “Notes toward a Materialist Aesthetics”

This introductory study analyzes two key texts from the short-lived Argentine collective, the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (Association of Concrete Art-Invention, or AACI). Published in 1946 in the same issue of the group’s official organ, they collectively theorize the “co-planar,” the AACI’s key contribution to the history of abstract and concrete painting. While Maldonado’s text offers a historical reconstruction of the genealogy of the co-planar as the culmination of modernist investigations of the plane and the problem of composition, Hlito’s text outlines the understanding of Marxist materialism and dialectics that underpinned this particular take on the task of modernism.

ARTMargins, … Read more

Notes Toward a Materialist Aesthetics

This introductory study analyzes two key texts from the short-lived Argentine collective, the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (Association of Concrete Art-Invention, or AACI). Published in 1946 in the same issue of the group’s official organ, they collectively theorize the “co-planar,” the AACI’s key contribution to the history of abstract and concrete painting. While Maldonado’s text offers a historical reconstruction of the genealogy of the co-planar as the culmination of modernist investigations of the plane and the problem of composition, Hlito’s text outlines the understanding of Marxist materialism and dialectics that underpinned this particular take on the task of modernism.

ARTMargins, … Read more

An image of the book cover, which features a statue of Abraham Lincoln with a person in red curled up in the statue's lap asleep.

Monumental Cares: Sites of History and Contemporary Art

Mechtild Widrich, Monumental Cares: Sites of History and Contemporary Art (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2023), 256 pp.

The presence and absence of monuments, their authenticity and role in public discourse is the main topic of Mechtild Widrich’s new book, Monumental Cares. We live at a time when this issue has gained more than academic importance, as monuments are central to the politics of caring—caring for community, history, and justice. Being familiar with Widrich’s previous work, I have already utilized it in a critical situation.  About a year ago, I participated in a public debate at Vancouver’s Urbanarium,Read more

The Canary Archive installation view comprising a large metal cage with TV monitors. The floor is covered with newspaper pages.

The Canary Archives by Chto Delat: Testimony of the Russian ‘Des-Astre’

In March 2022, shortly after Russia had attacked Ukraine, the Chto Delat (What is to be done?) collective produced an artwork entitled Canary Archives in response to the shock of the military escalation.(Chto Delat, “Canary Archives 2022,” http://chtodelat.org/category/b7-art-projects/installations/canary-archives-2022-2/ Accessed January 31, 2023) While work on the project – comprising a four-channel video installation and a newspaper issue – had commenced earlier, the invasion was the catalyst for its statement. The filming and written elements were revised substantially as a consequence of the outbreak of war. Today, more than one year later, the relevance of the work has become … Read more

Recrafting Futures: Feminist Practices of Material Engagement

Arts, Crafts, Affects: Documenting HerStories and Worldbuilding, public seminar at Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, November 25-26, 2022

There are many ways to present an artwork to the public and sometimes, as in the case of research-driven practices, an exhibition is a limited that can often present only the brief, final effect of the many processes and collaborations that go into creating the work. Art—however research-based, relational, dematerialized, participatory, or ephemeral it might be—usually functions within institutional frameworks that require it to be “shown” in order to be shared. In contrast, practices associated with craft relate to a different tradition … Read more

exhibition view

Thinking Pictures: Conceptual Art from Moscow and the Baltics

Although fewer than two decades have passed since its opening, the Kumu Art Museum, located in Estonia’s capital city Tallinn, is widely acknowledged for its critical exhibitions that often highlight the nation’s traumatic past. Earlier this year, the museum showed Thinking Pictures: Conceptual Art from Moscow and the Baltics, curated by Anu Allas (professor at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture of the Estonian Academy of Arts), Liisa Kaljula (curator at the Kumu Art Museum), and Jane A. Sharp (curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum and professor in the Department of Art History at Rutgers University, New Jersey, … Read more

Exhibition view, blue

Investigating Intimacy: Adina Pintilie’s project for the Romanian Pavilion

At the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale, Romania is represented by the artist and filmmaker Adina Pintilie with the project You Are Another Me­A Cathedral of the Body. Curated by Cosmin Costinaș and Viktor Neumann, the project consists of a multi-channel video installation at the Romanian Pavilion, and a virtual-reality extension hosted by the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research.

Through the representation of intimacy and sexuality, the artist confronts and overcomes the concept of the normative, standardized, and performative body, while investigating its relationship with current conversations on gender … Read more

Małgorzata Mirga-Tas: Re-enchanting the World, Polish Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale

The Polish Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice this year featured the vibrant textile installation Re-enchanting the World by Polish-Romani artist Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. The project was curated by Wojciech Szymański and Joanna Warsza and selected by a jury within a competition managed by the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. The Polish contribution to this year’s biennale is unique and the first of its kind, being the first-ever national pavilion represented by a Romani artist. Although there have been several editions of the Roma Pavilion in Venice since 2007 – events and exhibitions dedicated to … Read more

Roundtable on Art and Solidarity

The following roundtable was convened online on November 18, 2022, in conjunction with ARTMargins Online’s current special issue on Art and Solidarity. AMO’s editorial collective invited a panel of East European artists, theorists, and curators (Suzana Milevska, Olga Kopenkina, Dmitry Vilensky, Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic) who all have consistently engaged with the dilemmas of defining and practicing artistic solidarity. We asked participants to examine the forms and interpretations of solidarity they find the most effective, why expressions of international solidarity often fail, and what lessons the legacy of socialist internationalism may have for us today.

The online conversation moderated … Read more

“Situated Solidarity”: A New Curatorial Model for the European Nomadic Biennial?

The fourteenth edition of the nomadic European biennial Manifesta took place in Prishtina, Kosovo, from July 22 to October 30, 2022. The biennial included 25 exhibition venues in an urban parcours throughout the city, ranging from (dilapidated) historic monuments and institutions to public squares, abandoned buildings, and unused or unexpected urban spaces. Four of these venues have been declared “major pillars,” namely the Grand Hotel Prishtina, The Center for Narrative Practices (a former library), an abandoned brick factory on the outskirts of the city, and the so-called Green Corridor, an unused train track that has been transformed into a walking … Read more

An artist is painting a black and white mural on the wall

Live Solidarity — Art Workers and Feminist Artistic Organizing in the Post-Yugoslav Region

Equating all types of work and workers in his writing, Edvard Kardelj, one of the main ideators of the Yugoslav workers’ self-management system, set the scene for the understanding of the role of artists in Yugoslav society.(Edvard Kardelj, Pravci razvoja političkog sistema socijalističkog samoupravljanja (Beograd: Komunist, 1978), p. 25.) The idea of class solidarity and the equal value of work—regardless of it being intellectual or physical—was embraced, and many initiatives followed this idea, such as the art program at the Ironworks complex in Sisak, in present-day Croatia, where workers assisted artists, and collaborated with them in the creation … Read more

Blue and red distorted forms with black text that reads attention air raid sirens in Berlin

“I Refuse to Accept This State of Affairs”: An Interview with the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine

While Russia aggressively wages a major war in Ukraine, how can contemporary art help launch an antiwar movement worldwide? At a time when art workers in the post-Soviet region are more ethnically divided than ever, the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine demonstrates a unique ability to unite around a platform for promoting antiwar and anti-colonial messages. Initially intended as an alternative Belarusian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, this digital platform quickly evolved to include and showcase antiwar artwork from a broad spectrum of countries including Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, … Read more

Special Issue: Art and Solidarity

Introduction to the Special Issue 

The articles and interviews contained in this ARTMargins Online Special Issue address a wide range of approaches to artistic solidarity, some motivated explicitly by historical precedents and others by specific conditions of the present. They explore artistic projects, online platforms, curatorial approaches, and activist stances, presenting a diverse array of perspectives on what it can mean to stand with each other, even when we are apart—sharing common strategies and common visions, in search of a common future.

The special issue brings together voices from throughout the artworld to explore the ways artists, cultural workers, and Read more

Sold For Parts: Selma Selman’s Activist Practice

                                                                       “I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing.”

                                                                        –Tania Bruguera

 

In 2018, Selma Selman, an artist of Romani origin who grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina (henceforth referred to as Bosnia), set out to buy her freedom from her family. Recording her project on film, she negotiated a fair price to make up for the dowry her parents would forgo in not marrying her off. She proceeded to sell her hair, her clothes, and her artworks before officially making the exchange of $11,166 for her independence. Selman’s aim was, in … Read more

Broken Narrative: The Politics of Contemporary Art in Albania

Armando Lulaj and Marco Mazzi, Broken Narrative: The Politics of Contemporary Art in Albania (Earth, Milky Way: Punctum Books, 2022), 364 pp. 

Broken Narrative is a book from the margins peddling central, bringing recent Albanian history into conversation with central ideological currents of our times. This symbolic exchange between local and global stories unfolds through a dialogue between Italian-educated Albanian artist Armando Lulaj and Italian photographer and multi-media artist Marco Mazzi, presenting a microcosm of a long overdue Albanian-Italian conversation. Encapsulating some of Albania’s most persistent dreams and nightmares, Italy emerges as a simulacrum of sorts, an actual and imaginary … Read more

More Phemes

A reading of Hurufism, a Sufi movement based on the science and mysticism of letters, the authors consider a range of affective, performative becomings in this unlikely Persian and Anatolian movement. Hurufism sees multiples of 14 and 28 (from the Perso-Arabic alphabet) in the corresponding hairs of the human face. Accordingly, Slavs and Tatars consider the implications for gender variation and fluidity in these otherwise overburdened graphemes.

ARTMargins, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp. 89-104.

doi:10.1162/artm_a_00328

https://direct.mit.edu/artm/article/11/3/89/114609/More-Phemes

Out of the Outback, into the Art World: Dotting in Australian Aboriginal Art and the Navigation of Globalization

In recent decades, the popularity of Australian Aboriginal dot painting overseas has exploded, with works by some of Australia’s leading artists selling for millions of dollars at auction, as well as featuring in major international exhibitions like the Venice Biennale and documenta. While this carries with it the risk of Aboriginal art and culture becoming diluted or commodified, this essay explores the origins and use of the ‘dotting’ typical of much Australian Aboriginal art of the Western and Central Deserts of Australia, as well as Aboriginal dot painting’s circulation internationally, to consider how Aboriginal art’s entry into the global art … Read more

Homegrown Heroes: Peasant Masculinity and Nation-Building in Modern Egyptian Art

On January 18, 1938 the Fuad I Agricultural Museum in Cairo opened its palatial doors to the local public and featured four untitled portraits (1934–1937) of peasant men sporting distinctive costumes and handicrafts. The artist behind these prominent paintings was an Egyptian named Aly Kamel al-Deeb (1909–1997), whose early career combined commissions at official museums and participation in anti-establishment artist groups in Egypt. What could explain al-Deeb’s transition from creating art in opposition to national museums, to painting for such institutions? This essay analyzes al-Deeb’s four paintings, which I call Homegrown Heroes, and argues that they began shifting the … Read more

Degraded Objects, Harrowed Bodies: Roman Stańczak and Shock Therapy in Poland, 1990–96

Roman Stańczak’s artistic practice can be seen as a symptomatic expression of the multi-layered processes of degradation as experienced in some Polish regions with the advent of capitalism and the country’s entry into the global market at the turn of the 1990s. The neoliberal reforms in Poland brought about dramatic social consequences, leading to an exponential increase in income inequality, unemployment rate and the share of population living below the minimum subsistence level. On the rise throughout the 1990s and reaching its peak in the 2000s, the degradation suffered by some social groups and communities was both material and psychological, … Read more

Sadism to Solidarity: Notes on Art, Philosophy, and the Algerian War

This essay considers a range of artistic and intellectual responses to the Algerian War of Independence that foregrounded the problem of extreme violence. It homes in on the suggestive nexus between anti-colonial solidarities in the metropole and the obsessive concern of artistic, literary, and philosophical avant-gardes with the thought of the Marquis de Sade. It explores how the returns to and of Sade that punctuated the French intellectual scene over the twentieth century could serve as a prism through which to politicize, represent and challenge the manifestations of extreme state and para-state violence in a colonial setting.

ARTMargins, Volume … Read more

Introduction: Art’s Histories Without Art History

The introductory text situates the therapeutic practices of Gina Ferreira and Lula Wanderley in relation to the work of Brazilian modernist artist Lygia Clark. Ferreira is a social psychologist who uses the arts—for instance, photography and film—for the socialization and treatment of psychiatric patients. Wanderley is an artist who brings creativity into the realm of psychiatric care. Both have significantly expanded the sites and amplified the applications of Clark’s Estruturação do self (Structuration of the self) therapy sessions by working in public psychiatric hospitals and clinics in Rio de Janeiro and with marginalized populations. In “Lend Me Your Eyes,” Gina … Read more