South-South Axes of Global Art from the Nineteenth Century to Today
Artl@s Conference, Paris, École Normale Supérieure, June 17-19, 2015
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’ upcoming conference aims to gather an international group of researchers to collectively investigate what we call “South-South” axes since the nineteenth century.
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 June 2015 Artl@s Conference welcomes presentation proposals that can 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 may include 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 may 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.
We call for studies that examine the formation and the impediments of South-South circulations. We will not merely address the contemporary moment, in which the term “Global South” has gained its relevance and usage, but also South-South formations from the very beginnings of decolonization to the present day. 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 might 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 want to ask if South-South axes are necessarily political, particularly in a contemporary art world that threatens to recast the periphery as a commodity.
This conference is sponsored by ARTL@S, an international research group based at École Normale Supérieure, Paris, that is devoted to a cartographic and transnational history of art (artlas.huma-num.fr). It will take place between Wednesday, June 17 and Friday, June 19, 2015, at the École normale supérieure, Paris, 45 rue d’Ulm.
- Scientific committee
T.J. Demos, Reader in the Department of Art History, University College London
Anthony Gardner, Associate Professor at the University of Oxford
Andrea Giunta, Professor at the University of Austin, Texas, USA
Dominique Malaquais, Senior researcher at the Centre d’Etudes des Mondes Africains, CNRS
Zahia Rahmani, Director of the program Art et Mondialisation, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris
Sven Spieker, Art Margins, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Organizing committee
Catherine Dossin, Assistant Professor at Purdue University, Vice Director of Artl@s
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Associate Professor for Contemporary Art, ENS, Director of Artl@s
Olivier Marcel, Artl@s postdoc, ENS/IHMC
Daniel Quiles, Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago