The Dhaka Art Summit, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) at Cornell University , and Asia Art Archive, with support from the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, launch a new research project entitled Connecting Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia. The project brings together a team of leading international faculty and emerging scholars to investigate parallel and intersecting developments in the cultural histories of modern South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
Shaped by shared institutional and intellectual developments that are closely related, these regions are marked by similar experiences during the twentieth century. These include the rise of modern art practices associated with the withdrawal of colonialism and the consolidation of nationalism, the founding of institutions such as the art school and the museum, and increasing exchange with international metropolitan centers via travel and the movement of ideas through publications and exhibitions. Viewing this in terms of statist and national art histories obscures their analysis in a comparative framework. By contrast, this program emphasizes a connected and contextualized approach to better understand both common developments as well as divergent trajectories.
The curriculum will cover both core concepts and emerging perspectives from postcolonial, decolonial, transnational, transcultural and global discourses, with seminar topics that range from art and social difference, creolization, exhibition histories, post-colonial nationalisms, media and popular culture, multiple modernisms, pedagogy, and transnational networks, among others. Participants will be actively engaged in the sessions as experts in their own respective disciplines. By presenting two papers during the course of the program, early career scholars will be encouraged to pursue their research informed by the theoretical and art historical contexts of this project.
By integrating presentations by participants with core faculty lectures, the program is envisioned as a reciprocal process of learning exchange. Presentations may also take place at universities in Hong Kong and Bangladesh, as well as at the Dhaka Art Summit. Field trips such as collection, museum, and modernist architecture visits and guest lectures will be organized during both the Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions. With the goal of optimizing the impact of in-person workshops, virtual meetings will be held in advance of and following the respective Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions.
Emerging scholars from and with connections to Africa, South Asia, and/or Southeast Asia currently enrolled in a graduate program in Art History, Architectural History, or Cultural Studies, or who have finished their graduate training in these fields during the last three years are encouraged to apply.
Travel and accommodation expenses will be fully covered. Participants must commit to attending both the Hong Kong and Dhaka sessions for the full duration: Hong Kong from August 11-22, 2019; and Dhaka from February 5-16, 2020; with additional distance-learning sessions to be held digitally during 2019 and the first half of 2020.
To apply, please submit a single PDF document with:
1. Your name, email address, institutional affiliation, and postal address.
2. A statement (500-700 words), outlining the nature of your current work, its involvement with the modern art history of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and what you believe you could gain through your participation in this program.
3. A two-page CV, including a selection of your most relevant publications or research projects.
4. Two letters of recommendation.
Please email the documents specified above as a single document to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 28 February, 2019. Please list your name (last name, first name) in the subject line of the email. File name of the attachment should be LASTNAME-FIRSTNAME.PDF (your last name and first name respectively).
APPLICATION CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE.
Preference will be given to applicants based in East Africa, North Africa, South Asia, or Southeast Asia.
Selection of the participants will be made based on the recommendations of the project team, comprised of Project Leader Dr. Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell University); Guest Faculty: Dr. Elizabeth Giorgis (Addis Ababa University), Dr. Salah Hassan (Cornell University), Dr. Simon Soon (University of Malaya), Dr. Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Leiden), Dr. Ming Tiampo (Carleton University); Organizers Amara Antilla (Solomon R Guggenheim Museum) and Diana Campbell Betancourt (Dhaka Art Summit); and the Asia Art Archive team led by John Tain (Head of Research AAA) with researchers Dr. Sneha Ragavan, Dr. Chuong-Dai Vo, and Michelle Wong
We aim to notify applicants of the outcomes by mid-March, 2019. Dhaka Art Summit will facilitate visas to Bangladesh for accepted applicants.
Dr. Iftikhar Dadi is associate professor in Cornell University’s Department of History of Art, co-director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities, and director the South Asia Program. He teaches and researches modern and contemporary art from a global and transnational perspective, with emphasis on questions of methodology and intellectual history. His writings have focused on modernism and contemporary practice of Asia, the Middle East and their diasporas. Another research interest examines the film, media, and popular cultures of South Asia, seeking to understand how emergent publics forge new avenues for civic participation. Publications include Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (2010). Other publications include the edited monograph Anwar Jalal Shemza (2015), the co-edited catalog Lines of Control (2012), and the co-edited reader Unpacking Europe (2001). His essays have appeared in numerous journals, edited volumes, and online platforms. Dadi currently serves on the editorial and advisory boards of Archives of Asian Art and Bio-Scope: South Asian Screen Studies, and was member of the editorial board of Art Journal (2007-11). He is advisor to the Hong Kong based research organization Asia Art Archive.
Amara Antilla has been a Guggenheim curator since 2010. She has assisted on the museum’s retrospectives of Lee Ufan (2011), V. S. Gaitonde (2014), and Monir Farmanfarmaian (2015), and on the Berlin program of the BMW Guggenheim Lab (2011–13). She also belongs to the curatorial team responsible for acquisitions and exhibitions focusing on contemporary art from South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Antilla has coordinated performances at the museum with OPAVIVARA!, Amalia Pica, Public Movement, and Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, and works with the Guggenheim’s Latin American Circle, which supports programming and acquisitions related to modern and contemporary art from Latin America. Independently, she has organized programs in partnership with Clark House Initiative, Mumbai; FD13, SAint Paul/New York; Northern Spark, Minneapolis; and N. K. Projekt, Berlin. Antilla was awarded an Asian Cultural Council grant for art history (2015–16) and served as curatorial adviser for Rewind at the Dhaka Art Summit (2016). She studied art history at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is currently pursuing graduate work in art history at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a Princeton educated American curator who has been working in and building art institutions in South and Southeast Asia since 2010, primarily in India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. Since 2013, she has served as the Founding Artistic Director of Dhaka-based Samdani Art Foundation, Bangladesh and Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit, leading the critically acclaimed 2014, 2016, and 2018 editions. Campbell has developed the Dhaka Art Summit into a leading research and exhibitions platform for art from South Asia, bringing together artists, architects, curators, and writers from across South Asia through a largely commission based model where new work and exhibitions are born in Bangladesh, and has realized significant projects with artists such as Raqib Shaw (co-curated with Maria Balshaw), Tino Seghal, Lynda Benglis, Raqs Media Collective, Shahzia Sikander, Shilpa Gupta, Haroon Mirza, and many others through this unique platform. In addition to her exhibitions making practice, Campbell is responsible for developing the Samdani Art Foundation collection and drives its international collaborations ahead of opening the foundation’s permanent home, Srihatta, the Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park, opening in Sylhet in late 2019.
Dr. Elizabeth W Giorgis is Associate Professor of Theory and Criticism at the College of Performing and Visual Art at Addis Ababa University. She previously served as Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Art at Addis Ababa University. She is the editor and author of several publications, including serving as guest editor for Perspectives on Ethiopian Modernity and Modernism, a special issue in North East African Studies (Michigan State University), co-editor of Charting Ethiopian Modernity and Modernism, a special issue on Ethiopian art and literature in Callaloo, Journal of the African Diaspora (Johns Hopkins University Press) and Gebre Kristos Desta: The Painter Poet. She has curated several exhibitions including Time Sensitive Activity, an exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s work (2015). Giorgis received her PhD in History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University and previously studied Museum Studies at New York University. Her book project on Ethiopian modern art history, Modernist Art in Ethiopia is forthcoming in 2019 from Ohio University Press. As an expert in African modern art, Giorgis addresses our project’s intellectual scope across those regions.
Dr. Salah M. Hassan is the Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in Africana Studies and Research Center, and Department of History of Art, and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University. Hassan is an editor and founder of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University Press). He currently serves as member of the editorial advisory board of Atlantica and Journal of Curatorial Studies. He authored, edited and co-edited several books including Darfur and the Crisis of Governance: A Critical Reader (2009), and Diaspora, Memory, Place (2008); Unpacking Europe (2001); and Authentic/Ex-Centric (2001). He guest edited a special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, entitled African Modernism (2010). His book Ibrahim El Salahi: A Visionary Modernist, published in 2012 in conjunction with the retrospective of the Sudanese artist, Ibrahim El Salahi, which was exhibited at The Tate Modern in London this past summer (July-October, 2013) after premiering in the Sharjah Art Museum (in March 2013) in Sharjah, UAE. He is the recipient of several grants and fellowships, such as the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Sharjah Art Foundation, Ford, Rockefeller, Andy Warhol and Prince Claus Fund foundations.
Dr. Simon Soon is a senior lecturer at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. His research focus includes 19th and 20th-century art and visual culture in Southeast Asia. Other research interests include global flows in art, architecture, and visual cultures of Asia (early modern, colonial, modern/contemporary), Latin-America and Southeast Asian cultural networks and comparative frameworks, and abstraction and modernism in Asia and Africa. His doctoral dissertation investigated the spatio-visual practices of postwar left-leaning art movements in Singapore/Malaya, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines from the 1950s-70s. Prior to undertaking academic research, he worked as a curator in the field of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. Soon is co-founder and a member of the editorial collective of SOUTHEAST OF NOW: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, a new peer-review journal published by NUS Press. He is also a team member of Malaysia Design Archive, an archival, research and education platform on visual cultures of the 20th century. Soon’s expertise in Southeast Asian, archives, and in comparative methodologies addresses our project’s Southeast Asian frameworks.
Dr. Sanjukta Sunderason is tenured Assistant Professor at University of Leiden. Her research expands on her interest in the aesthetics of decolonization, by looking at post-partition visual art across India, West and East Pakistan during the 1950s-1960s, alongside simultaneous transnational formations of Third World cultural solidarities. At present, she is working on several book projects. The first is a completed manuscript that studies left-wing aesthetics in India under the shadow of the long decolonization, spanning the 1920s through the 1960s. Another project ongoing since 2013 is under a broader project Aesthetics of Decolonization funded by the European Commission Marie Curie Grant (2013-2017) and the Research Grant of the Asian Modernities and Traditions profile of Leiden University (2015-2018). The research, spanning sources, archives and private collections across South Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East, hopes to contribute to new intellectual histories of the Global South through the materiality and scopes of the aesthetic. A native speaker of Bengali and an expert on the modern art in Bengal and South Asia, she will relevantly address our project’s context in Dhaka and Bengal.
Dr. Ming Tiampo is Professor of Art History and Director of the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature Art and Culture at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is a scholar of transnational vanguardism. Books include Gutai: Decentering Modernism (2011) and in 2013, she was co-curator of the AICA award-winning Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In addition, Tiampo has published on globalization and art, multiculturalism in Canada, and the connections between Inuit and Japanese prints. She is currently working on two books: Decentering Globalism is an interdisciplinary and methodological analysis of World Art Studies. Paris from the Outside In: Art and Decolonization considers Paris as a site of intersection to investigate the historical conditions of global modernism. Her interests and expertise in global modernism and decolonization are deeply relevant to this project.
John Tain is Head of Research at the Asia Art Archives, where he leads a team of researchers based in Hong Kong, Delhi, and Shanghai, with projects spanning all of Asia. Previously, he was a curator for modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute, where he worked on projects related to artists Ed Ruscha, Allan Sekula, Faith Wilding, Tetsumi Kudo, and others. His writings on Rirkrit Tiravanija, Wu Tsang, Charles Gaines and Kara Walker, among others have appeared in Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, Flash Art, Art Review Asia, and in various exhibition catalogues, and he is a series editor for Afterall Exhibition Histories. His exhibition, co-curated with Jasmine Alinder, Someday, Chicago, on the Japanese-American photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto, opens September at the DePaul Art Museum as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s initiative, Art Design Chicago.
Michelle Wong is an AAA researcher based in Hong Kong. She leads the Ha Bik Chuen archive project, which is cataloguing and researching the papers of a Hong Kong based artist who also documented over 1,500 exhibitions in Hong Kong and elsewhere from the 1960s till the end of the twentieth century, providing precious rare archival material for the development of art history in Hong Kong and the region more broadly. Wong developed some of her research for the Ambitious Alignments project (2015), which was supported by a grant from the Getty Foundation.
Dr. Chuong-Dai Vo is a Researcher at Asia Art Archive, specializing in modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia. Her research and curatorial interests include the development of modernisms across the region, and the art historical and contemporary connections between Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Her writing can be found in publications such as Afterall Journal, Revues culturelles (forthcoming from Institut national d’histoire de l’art), the exhibition catalogue Southern Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned (forthcoming), Taipei Fine Arts Museum’s Modern Quarterly, the anthology Film in Contemporary Southeast Asia, and Journal of Vietnamese Studies. She is a former Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, she has received fellowships and grants from Asian Cultural Council, Fulbright Program, University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, and the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities. In summer 2019, she will be a Visiting Scholar at Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris. She will research the archive of Victor Tardieu, the first director (1925-37) of L’Ecole des beaux-arts de l’Indochine.
Dr. Sneha Ragavan has been an AAA researcher based in New Delhi since 2012, and as such is responsible for AAA research activities in South Asia. Ragavan collected parts of the Baroda Archive for AAA, led the “Bibliography of Modern and Contemporary Art Writing of South Asia” project, which compiled over 10,000 texts in thirteen languages from South Asia over the course of the twentieth century, and is currently developing the Nilima Sheikh archive project.