An International Symposium
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4
February 2/3, 2013
In English | Simultaneous translation English/German
Salah M. Hassan
Joachim Bernauer, Jürgen Bock
- Akademie der Künste (Berlin)
- Maumaus School of Visual Arts (Lisbon)
- Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) Cornell University
Supported by: Allianz Cultural Foundation
The two day conference “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa” will revisit the intersection of modernity and decolonization.
Decolonization has led to the rise of a new international order, which in turn continues to challenge and expose the insufficiency of classic concepts and definitions of modernity, culture, art and politics. Focusing on the reconfiguration of these concepts within the notion of cosmopolitanism, the conference will consider the consequences of the historical, cultural, and artistic entanglement of Africa and Europe.
The conference will revisit mid-twentieth century debates through this prism of cosmopolitanism, invoking its potential as a notion that implies the possibilities of mutual co-existence and living with difference. Cosmopolitanism is conceived here to indicate the need for members of any community to imagine entities other than their own locales or national boundaries that will be more inclusive on a global scale.
Hence, cosmopolitanism is perceived as a metaphor for mobility, migrancy, and co-existence with difference, in opposition to parochialism, xenophobia, fixity, and limited notions of sovereignty. In that sense, the focus will be on the anti-hegemonic and anti-homogenizing
potential of cosmopolitanism, in opposition to power as it has been associated with western imperial tendencies, transnational capital, and its corollary neoliberal economic policies. Cosmopolitanism is also perceived as a pursuit of peace through the development of a strong sense of ethics and moral obligation toward other human beings everywhere.
An important focus of the conference will be the practice of artists who can no longer be classified and located either inside or outside the ‘West,’ or as occupying an in-between space. In that sense, the conference seeks to establish a platform for knowledge production to fill the glaring gaps in understanding the cultural and political dynamics of a world in motion, and to focus on unearthing the root causes and consequences of new migrations in Africa and Europe.
Finally, in re-conceptualizing cosmopolitanism, as articulated above, even the apparently adequate conceptual ideas of ‘European,’ ‘Western’ or ‘African’ art may no longer be helpful. Perhaps these terms need to be dismissed, in order to open up a space of debate. This conference will consider more adequate definitions of current art practices and their respective ways of envisaging and defining their relationship to distinct, but unevenly connected worlds.
Hans Belting was co-founder of the Karlsruhe University for Arts and Design (HfG) in Karlsruhe, Germany (1992) and professor of art history and media theory (until 2002). He previously held chairs in art history at the universities of Heidelberg and Munich. He was visiting professor at Harvard (1984), Columbia University (1989), and Northwestern University (2004). In 2003, he lectured at the Collège de France, Paris, and received an honorary degree from the Courtauld Institute, London. He served as director of the International Center for Cultural Science (IFK) in Vienna between 204-2007. He currently serves as advisor of the project GAM (Global Art and the Museum) at ZKM, Karlsruhe. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Medieval Academy of America, and the Academia Europea. He published numerous book in English, including The End of the History of Art? (1987), Max Beckmann: Modern Painting and Tradition (1989), The Image and its Public in the Middle Ages (1990), Likeness and Presence. A History of the Image Before the Era of Art (1994), The Germans and their Art: A Difficult Heritage (2000), The Invisible Masterpiece (2001), Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (2003), Art History after Modernism (2003), Thomas Struth: Museum Photographs (2006), Duchamp’s Perspective: Duchamp, Sugimoto, Jeff Wall (2009); The Global Art World: Audiences, Markets, Museums (co-edited with Andrea Buddensieg; 2009); Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science (2011); An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body (2011), The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds (co-editor, 2013).
Jürgen Bock works as a curator, publisher and art theorist. He is the director of the Maumaus Visual Arts School in Lisbon, Portugal, the program of the Maumaus residency program, and the exhibition space “Lumiar Cité”. His curatorships have included the Project Room at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon in 2000/2001 (Eleanor Antin, Harun Farocki, Renée Green, Allan Sekula, among others), the 2003 Maia Biennial, and the German participation in the 2005 Triennial of India in New Delhi (Andreas Siekmann). In 2007 Bock curated the Portuguese Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennial (Ângela Ferreira). In 2011, he co-organized of the international conference “Modernities in the Making” in Dakar. In 2012, he was the curator of “Allan Sekula. The Docker’s Museum” at La Criée, Rennes; the panel discussion “The Next Revolution will not be funded” at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin; and the exhibition “Heimo Zobernig” at the Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. His publications include the book From Work to Text - Dialogues on Practise and Criticism in Contemporary Art (2002) and the Portuguese version of the artist’s book TITANIC's wake by Allan Sekula (2003). In 2008 he produced Manthia Diawara's film Maison Tropicale.
Susan Buck-Morss is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Graduate Center, CUNY, New York. Until recently, Buck-Morss held the Jan Rock Zubrow '77 Professorship in Government, and is Professor of Political Philosophy and Social Theory in the Department of Government, Cornell University. Buck-Morss’s earlier research and teaching encompass a range of areas including continental theory, specifically German critical philosophy and the Frankfurt School. In addition, she works on Islamism, sovereignty, globalization, visual culture and social theory, legitimacy and faith, and the economies of political vision. Susan’s newest book is Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), which will appear in Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and German translations. Her other books include: Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left (Verso, 2003); Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (MIT Press, 2000); The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (MIT Press, 1989); and The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School (Free Press, 1977; 2nd ed., 2002).
Andrea Buddensieg is curator and project manager of the project GAM (Global Art and the Museum) at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Bonn. She worked at KPM Porzellan Manufaktur Berlin and was part of the project management team for the exhibition Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion, and Art in 2001/2002 at ZKM. From 2002 to 2006 she ran the Public Relations Department at ZKM. In 2011/2012 she curated together with Peter Weibel the exhibition The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 at ZKM. Her main research interests include twentieth-century design and contemporary art. She has lectured at several academies, and in 2008 she was guest scholar at CASVA, National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C. She has contributed to exhibition catalogues and is co-editor of several books including Contemporary Art and the Museum: A Global Perspective (2007), The Global Art World: Audiences, Markets, Museums (2009) Global Studies: Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture (2011) The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds (2013).
Elvira Dyangani Ose is Curator International Art, supported by Guaranty Trust Bank at Tate Modern, London. Prior to joining the Tate Modern, Dyangani Ose worked as curator at the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville. She served as guest curator for the Triennial SUD-Salon Urbain de Douala in Douala in 2010, and is currently the Artistic Director of the third edition of Rencontres Picha - Biennale de Lubumbashi 2012/2013. As curator, she has developed numerous interdisciplinary projects, focusing on the politics of representation, social and urban imaginaries, and the role of artists in history making. Her recent curatorial projects include major exhibitions such as Carrie Mae Weems: Social Studies (2010) and Nontsikelelo Veleko: Welcome to Paradise (2009), as well as interdisciplinary collective projects such as Attempt to Exhaust an African Place (2007-8), Africalls? (2007), and Olvida quién soy/ Erase me from who I am (2006). She was general curator of the Arte invisible program at ARCO Madrid, in 2009 and 2010. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, New York. She holds a Master’s degree in Theory and History of Architecture and a BA degree in History of Art.
Fatima El-Tayeb is Associate Professor in the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Literature, and Associate Director of Critical Gender Studies at the University of California in San Diego. Her scholarly interest includes African and Comparative Diaspora Studies, Queer Theory, Transnational Feminism, European Migrant and Minority Cultures, Muslim communities in the West, Queer of Color Critique, Visual Cultural Studies, and Media Theory. She has published two books: European Others. Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe. (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and Schwarze Deutsche. Der Diskurs um 'Rasse' und nationale Identität 1890 - 1933, (Frankfurt/New York: Campus, 2001), as well as several articles including, “The Forces of Creolization.' Colorblindness and Visible Minorities in the New Europe,” in The Creolization of Theory (2011), "The Birth of a European Public: Migration, Postnationality, and Race in the Uniting of Europe" in American Quarterly (2008), "Limited Horizons. Queer Identity in Fortress Europe" in Can the Subaltern Speak German? Migration and Postcolonial Criticism (2004), and “’If You Cannot Pronounce My Name, You Can Just Call Me Pride' Afro-German Activism, Gender, and Hip Hop" in Gender & History (2003)15/3(2003). El Tayeb also produced and directed a film entitled Alles wird gut/Everything will be fine, Germany, 1997 (with Angelina Maccarone).
Leonhard Emmerling studied art history, musicology, German literature and Byzantine art history. He finished his thesis on the art theory of Jean Dubuffet in 1996 and worked as a curator at the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, at the Krefelder Kunstmuseen and the Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, before he moved to Auckland in 2006, to take the position of the director of ST PAUL St gallery of the Auckland University of Technology. He authored books, amongst others on Renaissance and Gothic art in the Palatinate, Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat and several exhibition catalogues. He worked as a lecturer at Kunsthochschule Weissensee, Berlin, University Koblenz-Landau, School for Applied Arts, Mainz, Art Academy of Düsseldorf and Munich. Since 2010, Leonhard is head of the Visual Arts division at the Goethe Institute’s head office in Munich.
Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis served as Dean of the Skunder Boghossian College of Performing and Visual Arts and was Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies of Addis Ababa University. She is currently the Director of the Modern Art Museum and Gebre Kristos Desta Center and teaches art theory and criticism in the graduate school of the College of Performing and Visual Art. She is the author of several publications, most recently as guest editor of, “Charting Ethiopian Modernity and Modernism,” a special issue of Callaloo: Journal of African Diaspora Arts and letters, on Ethiopian art and literature. She is also the editor of the first catalogue of contemporary art published in Ethiopia, Gebre Kristos Desta: The Painter Poet (a joint project of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Institute of Ethiopian Studies). She served as curator of several exhibitions. More recently, she authored Revolutionary Motherland or Death: Students’ Work during the Derg Regime (1974-1991), published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title that focuses on the relationship between the socialist realist ideology of the Derg’s dictatorship and the imposed Soviet style art pedagogy as manifested in the curricula student art works of the Fine Art School in Addis Ababa University.
Salah M. Hassan is the Goldwin Smith Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), and Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University. He is also a curator and art critic. He is editor and founder of HYPERLINK "http://www.nkajournal.org" \t "_blank" Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and consulting editor for Atlantica and Journal of Curatorial Studies. He authored, edited and co-edited several books including Ibrahim El Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2012); Diaspora, Memory, Place (2008); Unpacking Europe (2001); Authentic/Ex-Centric (2001); Gendered Visions: The Art of Contemporary Africana Women Artists (1997); Art and Islamic Literacy among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria (1992); Darfur and the Crisis of Governance: A Critical Reader (2009), and guest edited a special issue of (SAQ) South Atlantic Quarterly on African Modernism (2010). He has contributed essays to journals, anthologies and exhibition catalogues of contemporary art. He has curated several international exhibitions including at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and the Dakar Biennale in 2004. He is the recipient of several fellowships, such as the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as major grants from the Ford, Rockefeller, Andy Warhol and Prince Claus Fund foundations.
Jeanette S. Jouili is a post-doctoral fellow at the Women’s Studies Program at Duke University. In 2011 – 2012, she was a Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University and previously held research positions at Amsterdam University and the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World in the Netherlands. She currently does research on the Islamic cultural and artistic scene in the UK. Jeanette has published in various journals including Feminist Review, Social Anthropology, and Muslim World. She is also completing a book manuscript tentatively titled “Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in France and Germany.” Her research and teaching interests include Islam in Europe, secularism, pluralism, popular culture, moral and aesthetic practices, and gender.
Achille Mbembe is a Research Professor in History and Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa), and a Visiting Professor in the Romance Studies Department and The Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. For ten years a contributing editor for the US-based journal Public Culture, he is also a Senior Researcher at the Witwatersrand Institute of Social and Economic Research (WISER). He is the author of numerous books in French. He is mostly known in the English-speaking world for his classic, On the Postcolony (2001). His latest book, Sortir de la grande nuit (Editions La Decouverte, Paris, 2010), will be published in 2013 by Columbia University Press.
Sandy Prita Meier is Assistant Professor of African art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on the visual culture of east African port cities. She has a book in preparation titled Architecture of the Elsewhere: Swahili Port Cities, Empire and Desire and has publications in African Arts, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Artforum, and Arab Studies Journal, as well as contributions to several exhibition catalogues and edited volumes.
Tejumola Olaniyan is Louise Durham Mead Professor of English and African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also Senior Fellow of the Institute for Research in the Humanities. He is founding Chair of the African Diaspora and the Atlantic World Research Circle (2003-2010), and currently co-directs the Music, Race, and Empire Research Circle. His research and teaching interests include African, African American, and postcolonial literatures and cultural studies. He has published widely in these areas, including African Diaspora and the Disciplines (2010, co-edited with James H. Sweet); African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (2007, co-edited with Ato Quayson); Arrest the Music!: Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics (2004, 2009; nominated for Best Research in World Music by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections in 2005); African Drama and Performance (2004, co-edited with John Conteh-Morgan); and Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African American and Caribbean Drama (1995). One of his current projects is a book, Political Cartooning in Africa, forthcoming from Indiana University Press, and an online encyclopedia of African political cartoonists.
Manuela Ribeiro Sanches is Assistant Professor with aggregation at the Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon. She edits Artafrica and is coordinating the project Dislocating Europe: Post-Colonial Perspectives in Literary, Anthropological, and Historical Studies at the University of Lisbon. She edited the book Portugal não é um país pequeno: Contar a Império na pós-colonialidade (Cotovia, 2006) Deslocalizar a ‘Europa’ Antropologia, arte, literatura e história na pós-colonialidade (Cotovia, 2005), and, with Carlos Branco Mendes and João Ferreira Duarte, Connecting Peoples. Disciplinary Identities and Transcultural / Transcultural and Disciplinary Identities (Colibri 2004).
Berni Searle is a world-renowned South African artist who works with photography, video, and film to produce lens-based installations that stage narratives connected to history, memory, and place. Often politically and socially engaged, her work also draws on the universal emotions associated with vulnerability, loss and beauty. She received her MAFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (1995). Solo exhibitions during 2011 included Shimmer at the Stevenson gallery, Cape Town and Interlaced which featured new commissioned work, opened at De Hallen in Bruges, Belgium and travelled to the Museum for Moderne Kunst Arnhem (MMKA) in the Netherlands and Frac Lorraine in Metz France. Recent group exhibitions include Figures and Fictions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, She Devil at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), The Dissolve, SITE Santa Fe, 8th International Biennial, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has participated in the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997) and the Venice Biennales of 2001 and 2005. She received the Minister of Culture Prize at the 2000 Dakar Biennale and the UNESCO/AICA Award at the 1998 Cairo Biennale. Berni Searle lives and works in Cape Town and is currently Associate Professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town.
Bahia Shehab is a Lebanese-Egyptian artist, designer and Islamic art historian. Bahia is a Creative Director with MI7-Cairo working on projects relevant to cultural heritage. She Associate Professor of Practice at the American University in Cairo and head of the Graphic Design program for the department of the Arts. She is also a Ph.D. candidate at Leiden University in Holland. Bahia's work has been on display at Traffic Gallery in Dubai-UAE, Beijing International Typography Exhibition in Beijing-China, Haus Der Kunts in Munich-Germany, Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary in Italy, and Bielefelder Kunstverein in Germany. Graduated from the American University in Beirut with a degree in Graphic Design in 1999, she worked as a Creative Director with several multinational advertising agencies in Beirut, Dubai and Cairo, developing international and regional advertising campaigns. Her book A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif was published in 2010 by Khatt Books in Amsterdam.
Peter Weibel is artist, curator and theorist. He is professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. From 1984 to 1989 he served as head of the digital arts laboratory at the Media Department of New York University in Buffalo, and in 1989 he founded the Institute of New Media at the Städelschule in Frankfurt-on-Main, which he directed until 1995. Between 1986 and 1995, he was in charge of the Ars Electronica in Linz, he commissioned the Austrian pavilions at the Venice Biennale from 1993 to 1999. From 1993 to 1998 he was chief curator at the Neue Galerie Graz, Austria, and since 1999 he is Chairman and CEO of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe. In 2008 he served as the Artistic Director of the Biennial of Sevilla (Biacs3) and the Artistic Director of the Fourth Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2011. Among the numerous awards he received are the "Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge-Preis fuer unkonventionelle Kunstvermittlung" of Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung, with the "Verdienstmedaille des Landes Baden-Wuerttemberg" and the "Europäische Kultur-Projektpreis" of the Europan Foundation for Culture. He has been appointed as full member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Munich and the Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste Düsseldorf. He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2009-2012).
Selene Wendt is an art historian, curator, and writer based in Oslo, Norway. She has been working as Director of The Stenersen Museum since 2004, and as Chief Curator at Henie Onstad Art Centre from 1997 - 2004. She has curated numerous international exhibitions, including Shirin Neshat Beyond Orientalism, Ghada Amer Reading Between the Threads, Liza Lou Leaves of Glass, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons Mil Maneras Para Decir Adios, Daniele Buetti Will Beauty Save the World, Abbas Kiarostami Shadows in the Snow, and Crispin Gurholt Live Photo in addition to thematic group exhibitions such as Art Through the Eye of the Needle, which addressed the breakdown of barriers between art and fashion, A Doll’s House, which included artists whose works are influenced by doll symbolism, Equatorial Rhythms, which featured visual artists whose works are influenced by music, and Beauty and Pleasure in South African Contemporary Art. She has written and edited numerous exhibition catalogues and books, including Marianne Heske +/o (Skira), Crispin Gurholt Live Photo II (Skira), When a Painting Moves…Something Must be Rotten! (Edizione Charta), and Fresh Paint (Edizione Charta). She has also written articles and essays for various international publications. Her most recent large-scale exhibition, The Storytellers: Narratives in International Contemporary Art, was curated in collaboration with Gerardo Mosquera. The exhibition features international artists whose work is directly inspired by literature, and is accompanied by a Skira publication and a special-edition book featuring the work of Eloisa Cartonera.
Siegfried Zielinski is Michel Foucault Chair at the European Graduate School EGS. He is also the Chair of Media Theory – with a focus on Archaeology and Variantology of Media – at the Institute for Time Based Media at the Berlin University of Arts. He is also the founding and former president and professor of Communication Theory and Audiovision at the Academy of Media Arts (Kunsthochschule für Medien), Cologne. He studied theatre, philology, philosophy, linguistics and political science and was media specialist in the 1980s at the Technical University of Berlin. Zielinski has been professor for Communication and Media Studies since 1993. He was professor from 1990-93 for audio-visual studies at the University of Salzburg, where he developed the teaching, production and research department Audiovisionen. Zielinski’s research focuses on history, theory and practice of audiovisual media with an emphasis on media archeology and a hermeneutics of electronic media. He has published numerous books and essays on the history, theory and practice of cinema, television and video, including Veit Harlan, Zur Geschichte des Videorecorders, Audiovisions, Cinema and Television as Entr'actes in History, and more recently, Deep Time of the Media - Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (with Gloria Custance, and Timothy Druckrey, 2006). Since 2005, he has been developing a five volume Variantology of the Media, and has thus far published three volumes (Vol. 1 edited with Silvia Wagnermaier, 2005; Vol. 2 with David Link, 2006; and Vol. 3ff with Ekchard Fuerlus, 2008).
When was Modern Art? The Museum of Modern Art and the Historiy of Modernism
It is my intention to reconstruct the creation of the discourse of Modernism in the art world and prove that the MoMA in New York was most instrumental for establishing the myth of Modernism, which at the same time, in the 1930s, was about to be abolished by the political situation in Europe. Thus, paradoxically, Europe received its own myth of modern art, back from a US institution, which was created for this purpose. It is important to acknowledge the fabrication of Modernism at a time when usually Western Modernism is seen as a given to be bypassed in the meanwhile by other modernities.
Hegel, Haiti and Universal History: A Response to the Critics
Universal History is a method, a practice of theorizing, not an ontological claim. The fact that the Haitian Revolution inspired Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave allows us to think the historical logic of freedom differently. The point is not just to provide a less Eurocentric narrative of the past, but rather to transform our own historical imagination. It argues that keeping cultures intact cannot be the sine qua non of political ethics. The abolition of slavery is a gift that the slaves of Saint-Domingue bequeathed, intentionally, to all of humanity. This model suggests a communist mode of inheriting the past that has the capacity to alter the structure of collective memory.
European Others. Whiteness and Racial Violence in Colorblind Europe
This talk aims at deconstructing the narrative of “raceblindness” at the center of Europe’s post-World War II self-image. I argue that this image not only defines how Europe envisions its place in the contemporary world, but also shapes narratives of Europe’s past, in particular of colonialism, which is largely perceived as having no lasting impact on the continent itself. This externalization of “race” from Europe also means that racialized (i.e. non-white/non-Christian) Europeans are positioned as not belonging, as permanently “just arriving” (as expressed in terms like “3rd generation migrant” commonly used across the continent).
I propose that the reappropriation of postcolonial and African diaspora discourse by European artists and activists of color successfully challenges these narratives of exclusion and that it is particulary important to recognize the political potential in this vernacular art and activism that originates in the very same urban communities that have become the prime target of the latest stage of Europe’s clash with its Others.
Re-thinking Ethiopian Modernism
The debates and parameters of the last two decades in African Modernism have given us a critical paradigm with which we can interrogate how the history and culture of Africa engaged the larger context of Modernism. Complex aesthetic, political and philosophical questions continue to dominate discussions of African Modernity and Modernism navigating the specific complexities of the legacy of colonialism. Certainly, the intervention of these debates has deployed African Modernism as a distinct category that took on the task of clarifying the complex and contradictory relationship of colonialism and Modernity. What is contentious are that those ideas which articulate the experiences of coloniality have also frequently overshadowed the significance of distinct and variegated narratives of the experiences of coloniality. The riches of interiority ultimately call for a new kind of intellectual enterprise to consider the immeasurable archives that have structured disparate experiences, intellectual trajectories as well as contrasting social and cultural practices. The agency of change is located within the post-colony’s critical insights and discursive space of class, gender and political structure, as well as the economic and psychological degradation infected by new and different forms of coloniality, which ultimately convey the complexities of knowledge positioned in the post-colony. It is within this framework of interiority that I also want to decode the social and political thought of Ethiopian Modernism.
Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Is ‘Afropolitan’ the Answer?
The field of contemporary African and African diaspora art and culture is currently riddled by two paradoxes: On the one hand, in Africa and its diaspora we are witnessing a burgeoning of creative energy and an increasing visibility of artists in the international arenas. Yet such energy and visibility has not been matched with a parallel regime of art criticism that lives up to their levels. On the other hand, we find a rising interest in exhibiting and collecting works by contemporary African and diaspora artists among western museums, private and public collections. However, such interest has been taking place within a xenophobic environment of anti-immigration legislations and closing of borders in the west. This paper addresses the need for an innovative framework to provide the critical unpacking of such paradoxes, and to offer a critical analysis of contemporary African and African diaspora artistic production. In doing so, the paper asserts the importance of movement, mobility, and transiency in addressing issues of contemporary African artistic and cultural production. The paper focuses on the use of the term “Afropolitan,” which has made its way into African artistic and literary criticism as a crossover from the fashion and popular culture arena. In thinking about the usefulness of “Afropolitanism”, the paper revisits the notion of “cosmopolitanism” in relationship to the entanglement of Africa and the West and its reconfiguration at the intersection of Modernity and postcoloniality.
Jeanette S. Jouili
Fashioning Cosmopolitan Citizens in Britain: Islam and Urban Culture After Multiculturalism
After the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7, multiculturalism in Europe has come increasingly under attack for not sufficiently addressing integration or social cohesion, implying that multiculturalism has implicitly enabled the growth of Islamic extremism within Western Europe. Several European intellectuals have voiced similar assessments. The different debates triggered by these critiques center notably on the question of the legitimate limits of cultural difference within liberal democratic societies and the call for the necessity of some shared values. In the academic cycles, this has lead to a recent (re-) flourishing of conceptualizations of cosmopolitanism. Among national governments, it has resulted in more assertive affirmations of the necessity to defend liberal values that migrant communities need to endorse. This presentation will look at the specific case of recent governmental techniques in the UK that seek to shape a new generation of young, cosmopolitan and moderate Muslims through culture and the arts.
In the rest of the world, the “postcolonial turn” in the social sciences and humanities took place nearly a quarter century ago. Since then, the method or style of critique associated with that movement has influenced myriad political, epistemological, institutional, and disciplinary debates in the United States, the United Kingdom, and regions across the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Indian subcontinent, and South Africa). From its inception, postcolonial studies has been interpreted in extremely diverse ways; over time, it has spawned robust waves of polemic and controversy, not to mention the many objections, each contradicting the previous, that continue today. It has also given rise to an abundance of profoundly rich and tremendously divergent intellectual, political, and aesthetic practices — so much so that one might earnestly ask where the unity of “postcolonial studies” lies. But despite this logic of segmentation, one can assert that, at its core, the object of postcolonial critique is best described in terms of the interlacing of histories and the concatenation of distinct worlds. Given that slavery and especially colonization (but also migrations, the ordering of sex and sexuality, and the circulation of forms, imaginaries, goods, ideas, and people) played such decisive roles in this process of human collision and entanglement, it is logical that postcolonial studies has made them the privileged objects of its inquiry.
Sandy Prita Meier
East African Cosmopolitanism as the Space Between
In established studies of African Modernity, the deployment of western image-making technologies such as photography is often narrated as the “localization” of a “global” form. But I suggest the very interpretative framework of Modernity cannot fully account for the ways coastal cultures of East Africa co-created ways of being that are today celebrated as an expression of a “local” modernity. I contend that the Swahili ideal of living in a “cosmopolis” was not formed in the crucible of European imperialism, global capitalism, or even decolonization. Rather, residents of East Africa’s principal Indian Ocean port cities have long constructed their world as a nexus of multiple ways of being, where objects and spaces of the “elsewhere” converge. In order to move beyond the “localization” model in the study of Modernity, I consider how the instant popularity of portrait photography in Zanzibar, Lamu and Mombasa in the late nineteenth century was in fact the reification of ancient mercantile cultures that privileged the ability to mirror and master fragments of the “foreign.” This paper therefore does not focus so much on how “global” forms were “localized,” but rather questions what happens when Swahili practices of appropriation meet the appropriative systems of the North Atlantic world.
Cosmopolitan Interest Rates: An Itinerary
A historical and critical inquiry into the intersections of cosmopolitanism in thinking and practice, and interests and rates of interest. An insistence on the necessity of this kind of task as precondition for any proposition or hope of cosmopolitanism as anything but conserving and entrenching of what already exists.
Manuela Ribeiro Sanches
Decolonizing Post-National Europe. Some Thoughts on Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism
The economic crisis which is traversing Europe and the way in which poverty predominantly located in the South is expanding into the peripheral zones of “the old continent,” introduces new challenges and conflicts that risk jeopardizing the European “cosmopolitan” project. New forms of ethnic absolutism and racism are emerging in the areas subject to structural adjustments and neoliberal policies, a situation that theories of hybridity and multiculturalism seem to be unable to deal with. Speaking from a Portuguese perspective, my paper proposes a rereading of two anti-colonial authors – Franz Fanon and Amílcar Cabral - to test the way in which their nationalist and pan-African utopias may help decolonize Europe and dislocate the ways in which it defines itself at the level of its nation-states as well as its Eurocentric cosmopolitan project. In other words, can the crisis contribute to a renewed understanding of Europe and its histories, namely its colonial pasts? What can one learn from anti-colonial thinking in postcolonial times?
On Cosmopolitanism, Xenophobia and Migration: An Artist's Journey
This presentation will look at various bodies of my work, traveling from Spain, to the The Canary Islands and South Africa that can be seen to be in dialogue with each other and in dialogue with the focus of this conference. These bodies of works address the complexities of what borders might signify in different contexts, but also acknowledges that wherever one might be located, the tendency and need for people to ceaselessly seek sites of refuge is shared.
Practicing Art in Revolutionary Times
The rise of the Egyptian revolution and the Arab citizen’s democratic uprising – known as the Arab Spring – has ushered a new path in all arenas of creativity and public life including the visual arts. Artists, like other sectors of society in Egypt, have played a significant role not only in political mobilization, but also in opening up new possibilities of artistic practices. Yet, two years into the Egyptian revolution, people are still being shot at, tear gassed, and brutally beaten on the streets. Despite the facade of a democratic election that brought the first post-revolution president, activists are still targeted; corruption is still rampant in most government institutions. In this brief presentation, I hope to reflect on my own artistic practice in the context of a changing society and in revolutionary times. I will offer a perspective on how my own work has been transformed by the revolution and new forms of public interventions and genres such as graffiti and collective work I resorted to in my own unfolding practice.
Africa in Oslo: Bringing Afropolitanism to the Polar Circle
Africa in Oslo was the title of the largest exhibition of African contemporary art ever presented in Norway, providing a natural starting point for a short presentation of some of the more significant exhibitions of African contemporary art that have taken place in Oslo. The curatorial approach to Africa in Oslo will be discussed in detail, while the politics, and inherent limitations and possibilities associated with contemporary African artistic and curatorial practice in Europe will also be addressed. I will investigate the significance of these exhibitions at the time they were presented, while also considering the subsequent success of many of the participating artists internationally. This will include an analysis of some of the similarities and differences between the African and African diaspora artists whose careers have skyrocketed internationally, with a focus on artists who exemplify the notion of cosmopolitanism as it relates to contemporary African art practice. Naturally, the topic of cosmopolitanism and the prospect of imagining an entity outside of ones own locale or national boundaries will be highlighted. As the artists and exhibitions included in this presentation illustrate, cosmopolitanism as a metaphor for mobility and migrancy, and the notion of co-existence and difference as unifying and defining factors, are perhaps the most essential aspects of the most interesting international contemporary art anywhere today, whether in Africa or Asia, Europe or Latin America.
»Means & Seas«
Hegel’s Philosophy of World History is a mental construction based on territory. Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, however, was developed with a view to the (oceanic) sea. The concept of the German philosopher is imperialistic in a more profound sense of the word. The Poetry philosopher from Martinique celebrates the heterogenic and the heresy; he abhors all universal. In Hegel’s concept, means of transport need wheels; Glissant evokes ships and boats and the capacity to navigate… By understanding territories and the sea as mediating instances, as media in the direct sense, I seek to discuss, on a media theory level, the question of quality of cultural values and relationships from a variantological perspective.
SATURDAY | FEBRUARY 2, 2013
Rethinking Cosmopolitanism and the Entanglement of Africa and Europe
Theoretical and Historical Implications
Johannes Odenthal - Welcoming Remarks
Joachim Bernauer - About the conference
Salah Hassan - Introductory Remarks
10:30Europe/Africa, and Universal History
Hegel, Haiti and Universal History: A Response to the Critics
»Means & Seas«
Tejumola Olaniyan, Manuela Ribeiro Sanches
12:30Artist Talk (I)
Practicing Art in Revolutionary Times
14:30Dislocating Africa and Europe
Decolonizing Post-National Europe: Some Thoughts on Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism
Manuela Ribeiro Sanches
Fatima El Tayeb, Jeanette S. Jouili
17:00Europe: From Modernism to Postcolonialism
When was Modern Art? The Museum of Modern Art and the History of Modernism
European Others: Whiteness and Racial Violence in Colorblind Europe
Fatima El Tayeb
Susan Buck-Morss, Achille Mbembe
SUNDAY | FEBRUARY 3, 2013
Africa in Europe | Europe in Africa
Cultural and Artistic Practices and the Politics of Representation
10:30Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Cultural and Artistic Practices
East African Cosmopolitanism as the Space Between
Sandy Prita Meier
Cosmopolitan Interest Rates: An Itinerary
Elisabeth Giorgis, Salah Hassan
12:30Artist Talk (II)
On Cosmopolitanism, Xenophobia and Migration: An Artist's Journey
14:30Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Visual and Performing Arts
Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Is ‘Afropolitan’ The Answer?
Fashioning cosmopolitan citizens in Britain: Islam and Urban culture after Multiculturalism
Jeanette S. Jouili
Leonhard Emmerling, Peter Weibel
17:00Curating Africa in Europe/Europe in Africa
Africa in Oslo: Bringing Afropolitanism to the Polar Circle
Re-thinking Ethiopian Modernism
Jürgen Bock, Elvira Dyangani Ose
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