Moments of History in Global Exhibitions

June 18 - 19, 2010

Co-convened by Rhea Anastas and Natasha Becker, this working session considered how the study of the history of exhibitions in emerging fields of art history can support difference, complexity, and contradiction in historical narratives. While the few, signal exhibitions (e.g. “The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994” and the Latin American art exhibition “Inverted Utopias” 2004) have proposed such a purpose for curatorial practice, they have not yet had widespread impact on exhibition-making at large.. Within the mainstream of academic art history, Western-centric perspectives have dominated scholarship on important exhibitions of modern art, as has an overwhelming focus on the few most prominent institutions of high culture. Within the larger professional field, innovative ideas and profound challenges to canonical academic art history have increasingly been posed by exhibitions over the past twenty years, and frequently with curators engaging scholars collaboratively in their work. Why haven’t these challenges been taken up by art history in sustained ways?

Participants included: Rhea Anastas, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Roski School of Fine Arts; Natasha Becker, Mellon Assistant Direcor, the Clark; Susan Cahan, Des Lee Endowed Professor of Contemporary Art, University of Missouri, St. Louis; Gaudencio Fidelis, Curator and former director, Rio Grande do Sul; John Peffer, Assistant Professor of Contemporary/Nonwestern Art History, Rampo College of New Jersey; Ulrike Müller, New York-based artist; Beatrice von Bismarck, Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at the Höchschule für Grafik und Buchkunst , Leipsig and Gloria Sutton, Art Historian and Curator at the University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Arts