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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.

Participants included: Esra Akcan, University of Illinois at Chicago; Federico Freschi, Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg, South Africa; Lolita Jablonskiene, National Gallery of Art, Lithuania; Abdellah Karroum, L’Appartement, Morocco; Andres Kurg, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia; Parul Dave Mukherji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India; Steven Nelson, UCLA; Otobong Nkanga, artist, Belgium; Almira Ousmanova, European Humanities University, Lithuania; Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi, India; Gao Shiming, China Academy of Art; Sven Spieker, University of California, Santa Barbara

Guest Participants: Jill Casid, University of Wisconsin-Madision; Magda Carneci, Bucharest, Romania; Ivan Gaskell, Harvard University; Keith Moxey, Columbia University; Mary-Kate O’Hare, Newark Museum; Todd Porterfield, Université de Montréal, Canada


Welcome and Introductions - audio
Michael Conforti, Michael Ann Holly, Aruna D’Souza, and Steven Nelson

The State of the Discipline
Convenors: Andres Kurg and Parul Dave-Mukherji
Part 1 -  audio
Part 2 - audio

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

Part 1 - audio
Part 2 - audio

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?audio
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  - audio

*For information on the Getty's Connecting Art Histories initiative, please click here.