CONFERENCE: Reimagining Modernism, Mapping the Contemporary: Critical Perspectives on Transnationality in Art

On 11/09/2013 by Site Default

Monday, 23 September 2013 to Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Location: Jock Colville Hall, Churchill College, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DS

Programme and registration online via the links at the top right hand side of this page
Conference fee: 
£40 (full); £20 (student) – includes one lunch, tea/coffee and drinks reception
 Tuesday 17 September 2013


Luke Skrebowski  (History of Art/Churchill College)

Devika Singh  (Centre of South Asian Studies)


A major, two-day international conference reconceptualising modernist artistic practices from a transnational, interdisciplinary perspective.

The conference takes as its point of departure the consolidation of a new historiography of artistic modernism written at a global level and characterized by a weakening or even outright rejection of the demarcations that traditionally served to separate Western artistic practice from ‘the rest’. Influential recent studies and exhibitions have argued for the categories of cosmopolitan, rather than national, modernisms; global rather than Anglo-American conceptualism; a diasporic rather than continental Afro-modernism. These developments go beyond a tokenistic inclusion of artistic practices from formerly economically peripheral and semi-peripheral nations into the mainstream canon; they do not simply expand the group of nations understood to be ‘core’ to the development of modernism in line with changing geopolitical realities and the waning of Western hegemony. Rather, they challenge the imagined community of the nation or region as the basic unit of artistic territorialisation, focusing instead on diverse, networked artistic communities that are understood to cohere at a transnational and/or transregional level, often with particular global cities as their enabling nodes.

As postmodernism has taken its place in history so we are obliged to rearticulate the notion of the ‘contemporary’ once again. This conference explores the ways in which doing so requires us to revisit the putative supersession of modernism, examining what types of relations may be found between modernist and contemporary transnational artistic practices Does the development of a transnational history of artistic modernism reflect the ascendancy of a genuinely postcolonial disciplinary moment, one that surrenders the idea of Western exceptionalism? Is there a risk that we are witnessing a reorientation of scholarly priorities in step with the type of selective ‘denationalization’ pursued by global capital, one that preserves deep, if no longer uniform, structural inequities between the global North and South, West and East, while continuing to rely on the power of particular nation states as its guarantor? In the name of what present, then, is the past to be reimagined?

The conference develops a critical perspective on the proliferating discourses of the transnational, considering how they have reshaped the study of modern and contemporary art and the links that are articulated between them. It focuses on scholarship which foregrounds the methodological implications, as well as the historical unfolding, of transnational developments in and between artistic and curatorial practice.


Kate Bush (Barbican), TJ Demos (UCL), Elvira Dyangani Ose (Tate Modern), Hiroko Ikegami (Kobe), Shanay Jhaveri (RCA), Shruti Kapila (Cambridge), Vasif Kortun (SALT, Istanbul), Christian Kravagna (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna), Kobena Mercer (Yale),
Partha Mitter (Sussex), Maureen Murphy (La Sorbonne), Zahia Rahmani (INHA, Paris), Julian Stallabrass (Courtauld Institute of Art), Stephanie Schwartz (UCL) and Terry Smith (Pittsburgh)

More info here

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