The decentered internationalism claimed by the Havana, Dakar, or Gwangju biennales, that the Venice biennale is now trying to echo by awarding Angola’s pavilion the 2013 Golden Lion, invites us to depart from an exclusively North Atlantic art history. Historicizing and measuring the circulation of art on the former margins is now a decisive task if we want to evidence, nuance, or contest the “provincialization” of Europe and North America in recent art history. Artl@s’ 2015 conference aims to gather an international group of researchers to collectively investigate what we call “South-South” axes.
To speak in terms of fixed entities such as “North” and “South” risks reproducing a dualism that was never fully expunged throughout decolonization and the long postcolonial era. It is to assume that for many, the world is split into a binary: into privileged, or advanced, and oppressed, or “developing,” halves. In art history, even methodologies such as cultural transfer or connected history have not fully succeeded in decentering scholarship from North Atlantic and its unilateral ties to the world. Thus, our conference is interested in regions that have been marginalized by academic priorities, probably more so than by actual artistic circulations. Furthermore, this condition of being non-hegemonical, or marginal could indeed extend to sites or subjects that appear central. That is, the “Global South” may identify an elastic periphery. In that sense, South-South interactions may cover a broad spectrum of expectations, strategies and power plays that we hope to put in perspective.
The presentations shed light on the place and role of artistic circulations between regions that have frequently been treated as localities rather than spaces of circulation. This includes the cities and countries of the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia, the South Pacific, Africa, and Latin America. Case studies of circulations, intersections or communications between artists, movements or institutions allow us to challenge the geographical configuration of global art, at different but often interlaced scales, from individual trajectories to institutional networks to pan-regional communities and political affiliations.
Our international and transdisciplinary gathering aims to confront the heterogeneous logics of the movements involved, to retrace the diverse historical geographies of the circuits and networks they activate, and, ultimately, to uncover common patterns and hierarchies—a significant, as-of-yet unrealized challenge. Other contributions explore the extent to which some South-South formations actually initiate in the North, or whether certain intellectual productions that find legitimacy in the South can be traced to the North. We also ask if South-South axes are necessarily political, particularly in a contemporary art world that threatens to recast the periphery as a commodity.
T.J. Demos, Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Anthony Gardner, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Oxford, UK
Andrea Giunta, Professor of Art History at Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, and University of Austin, Texas, USA
Dominique Malaquais, Senior researcher at the Centre d’Etudes des Mondes Africains, CNRS, Paris
Zahia Rahmani, Director of the Art et Mondialisation program, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris
Sven Spieker, Professor of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Associate Professor for Contemporary Art, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, Director of Artl@s
Olivier Marcel, Artl@s postdoc, ENS/IHMC
Daniel Quiles, Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Catherine Dossin, Associate Professor at Purdue University, Vice Director of Artl@s