International Initiatives and Regional Collaboration

November 2–3, 2011

This Clark-Mellon Workshop brought together participants from our initiatives in contemporary African Art (2005-2008) and in East-Central European art history (2008-2011), as well as scholars working in the Indian Ocean region (the subject of the Clark’s 2011-2014 initiative) to talk about similarities and differences in respective art historical endeavors as a means to imagine relevant art histories that are not bound to geography or national (and nationalist) paradigms. Topics under discussion included an examination of multiple and comparative modernities; working in a post-colonial, post-Soviet, post-apartheid world; the advantages and pitfalls of comparative art historical research; the relationship of trauma and reconciliation to art historical practice; the position of the researcher in the scholarly and curatorial arena; and the relationship of modern and contemporary art and artists to a global art world. This workshop was made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's grant with additional funding provided by the Getty Foundation as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative.


In order of discussion

Welcome and Introductions 
Michael Conforti, Michael Ann Holly, Aruna D’Souza, and Steven Nelson
The State of the Discipline
Convenors: Andres Kurg and Parul Dave-Mukherji

For many, it appears that there is in art history an inside/outside relationship, one that has shifted over the years and one that is contingent upon one's positions and locales. What is the state of the field in different places, and how do they inform one another? Also, might there be a strategic advantage to staking a position on the outside? If we think about an "exploded art history," a term that itself raises provocative questions, can we more readily form international and inter-regional connections, collaborations, and relationships? As important is the issue of audience. Do the different audiences art history addresses (or might address) hold out the possibility for a new, productive, and potentially critical focus?
Conveners:  Esra Akcan and Federico Freschi

This panel sought to assess the contributions and future of postcolonial theory, post-Soviet, and post-apartheid studies. In this vein, we should think about how the three arenas have intersected with and cross-pollinated, and how they can be applied in practice. What are the ideological implications of the term "post-?" Also, a bit of skepticism could be helpful as well. As one participant asked, “Is postcolonialism a passé discourse?” Did it fail us?
New Geographies? 
Convenors: Abdellah Karroum and Gao Shiming
While workshop participants are made up in large part of scholars who participated in the Clark/Mellon African and East/Central Europe Initiatives, there are those from other geographic areas as well. Important questions pertaining to geography, particularly in a globalized world emerge. Are the current geographic categories —“Africa,” “Eastern Europe,” “West Asia,” etc., — still meaningful? Are there other kinds of formations that would enhance and push art historical inquiry? What might be the implications for rethinking the world in these ways? How might one theorize geography (and with it, time)? What might be the role of art and art history (academic as well as curatorial practice) in doing such work?
Closing Discussion  
*For information on the Getty's Connecting Art Histories initiative, please click here

Participants included

Esra AkcanUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Federico FreschiWits School of Arts, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lolita JablonskieneNational Gallery of Art, Lithuania
Abdellah KarroumL’Appartement, Morocco
Andres KurgEstonian Academy of Arts, Estonia
Parul Dave MukherjiJawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Steven NelsonUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Otobong NkangaArtist, Belgium
Almira OusmanovaEuropean Humanities University, Lithuania
Shuddhabrata SenguptaRaqs Media Collective, Delhi, India
Gao ShimingChina Academy of Art; Sven Spieker, University of California, Santa Barbara

Guest Participants

Jill CasidUniversity of Wisconsin-Madision
Magda CarneciBucharest, Romania
Ivan GaskellHarvard University
Keith MoxeyBarnard College and Columbia University
Mary-Kate O’HareNewark Museum
Todd PorterfieldUniversité de Montréal, Canada