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Research Network for Transcultural Practices in the Arts and Humanities

Activities organized by RNTP

April 2018

Transnational and Transcultural Studies Symposium

6-8 April, 2018, Carleton University, Ottawa

The symposium, hosted by the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis and ICSLAC (CU, Ottawa) investigates different discourses, terminologies, and research projects being pursued by scholars in transnational and transcultural studies from universities in Canada, England, Germany, and the United States.

To see the program please click here.

October 2017

How to cut and share the global pie – transcultural approaches to collaboration, participation and activism in art, 28 October, 13.00 - 14.30
ASAP/9 - Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, University of California Berkeley, Oakland Marriott City Center, Oakland, 26-28 October 2017

Our seminar (re-)visits current approaches to artistic collaboration, participation and activism that adopt a transcultural/transnational perspective concerning their chosen themes, strategies, institutional contexts, histories and particular constellations of artistic collaboration. 

A transcultural critique that addresses the latest ‘global turn’ in art from epistemological and power-related perspectives agrees that Gerardo Mosquera’s claim to “cut the global pie not only with a variety of knives, but also with a variety of hands, and then share it accordingly” (Mosquera 2003) still poses a pressing problem. While the global technological, economic, and political connectivity dramatically increased since the late 1990s and also fueled (cross-)disciplinary debates on how to make art history global (e.a. Juneja 2011, 2013; Belting et al. 2013; Casid et al. 2014), the optimistic attempt to call the prevalence of Euro-American canons in art history to a close did not go uncontested (e.a. Ogbechie 2005; Simbao 2015; Gardner and Green 2013); particularly because the advocates of this stance are largely situated within Northern narratives and knowledge regimes of art and are “seldomly moving beyond the terms of their own art world” (Simbao 2015).

In this context and given the international growth of nationalist (right-wing) identity politics, artists, curators and scholars in different parts of the world critically engage with reductive, binary discourses of identity/alterity, when producing, studying and mediating the arts of the present. They propose(d) alternative modes of practicing art and art history in transnational or transcultural ways, i.e. exploring culturally, historically and discursively entangled perspectives. Their case studies serve to demonstrate the complex field of epistemological and socio-political tensions, in which the three interrelated key concepts - collaboration, participation and activism – are located.

The seminar includes eight presentations spanning different regions, disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Each participant will respond to at least one aspects of the following questions, when examining individual artists or collectives who explore critical ways of how to “share the pie globally”: 

  • How do artists make/raise alternative voices, narratives and practices of transcultural realities and how are they framing their practices to acknowledge and emphasize transcultural/transnational conditions of collaboration, participation and activism?
  • Is art always already conditioned by processes of cultural exchange, transfer, and translation? 
  • Is the idea of one global pie a fiction and who claims stakes in its cutting and sharing? 
  • What multiple and entangled concepts and histories of “collaboration”, “participation”, and “activism” (in-)form artistic practices in this field?
  • What are suitable methodologies with which to address the conundrum of global art (history)? What can scholars learn from collaborative, participatory and activist artistic practices in order to grasp the complexity of art in the global context and to overcome limiting conventions of a single author-centered research perspective?

Belting, Hans et al. (eds.) 2013. The global contemporary and the rise of new art worlds, Cambridge. 

Casid, Jill H. and D’Souza Aruna (eds.) 2014. Art history in the wake of the global turn, Williamstown.

Gardner, Anthony and Green, Charles 2013. Biennials of the South on the edges of the global. Third Text 27(4): 442-455. 

Juneja, Monica 2011. Global Art History and the ‚Burden of Representation‘. in Global Studies: Mapping the Contemporary, e. by Hans Belting et al., Ostfildern-Ruit: 274–297.

-- 2013. Interview by Christian Kravagna about the Concept of “transculturality.” In Mapping Transcultural Modernism, ed. by Christian Kravagna, New York.

Mosquera, Gerardo 2003. From in Creolite and creolization: Documenta 11_Platform3, ed. by Okwui Ewezor et al., Ostfildern-Ruit: 145-148.

Ogbechie, Sylvester 2005. Ordering the universe: Documenta 11 and the apotheosis of the occidental gaze. Art Journal 64(1):80-89.

Simbao, Ruth 2015. What "global art" and current (re)turns fail to see: A modest counter-narrative of "not-another-biennial". Image and Text 25: 216-286.

For more information please click here

June 2017

WORKSHOP in line with documenta 14

De-essentializing Difference − Acknowledging Transculturality
Art (History) Education and the Public Sphere in a GlobalizedWorld 

Kunsthochschule Kassel (9 June 2017, 2:30-6:30 pm, room “Interim”)

In line with documenta 14’s attempt to re-think and transform public spheres in face of the current crisis of democracy, the workshop explores how art and art history education respond to this challenge from multiple cultural, historical, discursive and socio-political perspectives. It seeks to examine specific realms and practices of publicness with respect to the power structures of more or less entangled art worlds by addressing transcultural processes of subjectivation and community building. To counter essentialisms and politicize difference, we would like to critically discuss the potentials and pitfalls of both national/ist educational agendas as well as neoliberal dismantling of public institutions. We are particularly interested in socially engaged examples of art education, art history education and education through art (as practiced in academies, museums, exhibitions, schools, universities and other non-institutional initiatives) that take into account the inherent transculturality of the arts and humanities. These include, but are not limited to case studies on how policies, rhetoric regarding immigration, race, gender and representation, and increasing economic inequalities reverberate through art and art history education.

To see the program please click here.

May 2016

"Seeing through history"
Workshop Series with Claire Farago (University of Colorado Boulder) at Heidelberg University (Part I, May 18, 2016) and at Free University Berlin (Part II, May 24, 2016)

The two-part workshop “Seeing through history” re-considers art historical practice at an epistemological level, which presents an indispensable condition for the conceptualization and practice of art history in a transcultural perspective.

Since epistemological frameworks are constituted through particular histories and engender specific forms of knowledge related with objects, agents, artistic practices and aesthetic concepts, they command particular research questions that might not be relevant or transferable when addressing art related phenomena in different regional and cultural contexts and when taking into account diverging affiliated institutional structures. 

The workshop series hence addresses the need of transcultural art historiography to account for multiple epistemological frameworks and their related histories. It poses the (self-) critical question how these frameworks have been constructed and re-constructed in cultural processes of exchange and negotiation and seeks to overcome dominant and essentializing categories of art historical writing as an institutionalized practice rooted in 19th century Europe. Consequently, the workshop series invites to also reflect on the ethical dimensions of writing art history. How can the individual researcher as well as powerful institutions of art history – the art history department, the museum, the art academy, the art market, to name but a few and culturally specific instances – productively and consciously relate to, critically reflect, and even partially change the situatedness in specific socio-political settings that (in-) form institutional authority and affiliated research horizons.

An activity of the RNTP-Research Network for Transcultural Practices in the Arts and Humanities in collaboration with the Chair for Global Art History of Heidelberg University and the DFG-Research Unit FOR 1703 Transcultural Negotiations in the Ambits of Art. Comparative Perspectives on Historical Contexts and Current Constellations, organized by Birgit Hopfener (FU Berlin) and Franziska Koch (Heidelberg University).

Download program and abstracts.

November 2015


"Present’s disjunctive unity. Constructing and deconstructing histories of contemporary cultural and aesthetic practices" International Conference at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (November 26-28, 2015)

What concepts of “the contemporary” are there around the world? What are their historical contexts? What cultural, aesthetic and artistic theories and practices did they generate?

The concept of “the contemporary” in art and culture has its own history; paradoxically, contemporaneity in itself is historical. It is also determined by the many cultural and regional contexts in which ideas of the present and contemporaneity are negotiated. Hence, there are varying histories of the contemporary, each informed by specific socio-political conditions and geo-political power structures. Historical turning points such as the end of the Second World War in 1945 or the end of the Cold War in 1989 prompted certain narratives of contemporaneity and shaped specific historiographical modes through which people in different places reflect on meanings and patterns of the past in relation to the present and tell stories in different ways.

The conference combines socio-political, historical and other theoretical perspectives, seeking appropriate categories for these different historiographical genealogies.