Dhaka Art Summit
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MAHASSA

Modern Art Histories in and Across Africa, South and Southeast Asia

 
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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 were encouraged to apply and 21 scholars were selected from a competitive international applicant pool. The scholars and their research proposals can be found below.


PARTICIPANTS


 
Akshaya Tankha

Akshaya Tankha

 

Akshaya Tankha is a Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Art History, University of Toronto. Tankha’s research is on the relationship between Indigenous art, visual culture and politics in modern and contemporary South Asia. His current project explores the plural temporalities of modern artistic and exhibitionary forms in Nagaland, northeast India.

Proposal:
The colonial construction of indigeneity as an exception to the time of modernity has resulted in the marginalization of Indigenous aesthetic practices in modern histories of art in South Asia. My research addresses this gap through a study of art in contemporary Nagaland, an Indigenous and predominantly Christian state in India’s northeast that was home to an armed movement for a sovereign “Naga nation” from the mid to late 20th century. In the post-conflict political field, representations of “Naga culture” are mobilized as temporally static markers of cultural and political difference by the Indian state and regional groups. In contrast, my research foregrounds the complex relationship to time enacted by sculptures produced by art-school trained artists,“house museums” founded by Christian priests and photographic calendars and public monuments made by Naga nationalist sympathizers as examples of the temporal instability of the work of art itself. In doing so, it challenges their art historical marginalization and critiques the modernist narratives of art, nationalism and modernity that underlie it.

 
Amena Khanom Sharmin

Amena Khanom Sharmin

 

Amena Khanom Sharmin is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies. She received her Bachelor and Masters in Art History at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her scholarly interests focus predominantly on activist art, specifically, the role and the embodiment of activist artists in society.

Proposal:
I investigate Bangladeshi political allegory and satire in modern art and activism.  I focus on the ongoing conversation between 21st-century activist-arts and Satyajit Ray’s Indian Bengali language trilogy Goopy-Bagha, released in India between 1969 and 1992, a time of political turmoil in the adjacent new nation, Bangladesh. Due to both countries’ politically-informed censorship regulations, metaphors and symbols became necessary in the art of various media.  In my research, I explore encoded and metaphoric political messages Ray used visually, cinematically and textually to avoid censorship and communicate with the audience. Using a social-political lens, I examine how artists and activists appropriate the trilogy. My MA thesis analyzes Bangladeshi street art, slogans, and particularly the social media activist campaigns that appear in reaction to the parallel social-political phenomena of this region. This research is significant because these artworks offer insight on how a new generation engages with contemporary Bangladeshi politics. 

 
.Amie Soudien

.Amie Soudien

 

Amie Soudien is a curator, researcher, and art writer. Soudien completed her MA in New Arts Journalism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her interests include archival studies, popular media, gender and sexuality, and emerging artists from Africa and the diaspora. Soudien's current research concerns the use of art, performance and the performing arts in the commemoration of historical events in Cape Town.

Proposal:
I am currently engaged in research regarding personal histories of enslavement in Cape Town, through the entry point of a project begun as a fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), University of Cape Town, in 2016. In this project I traced the life of Ansla van Bengalen, one of the first enslaved people brought to Cape Town by the Dutch East India Company in the 1660s. As part of the ICA fellowship, I led a walking tour of the Cape Town city center, marking areas of importance in 17th century Cape Town as they coincided with sites which Ansla van Bengalen may have frequented. The tour's content was both historically grounded and speculative in nature. This research now functions as the groundwork for a discussion regarding revisited narratives,and the ways in which previously marginalized historical figures can be recentered through embodied practices such as walking, protest, performance or “Live Art.” 

 
Andrew Mulenga

Andrew Mulenga

 

Andrew Mulenga is an emerging art historian and a freelance arts and culture journalist whose focus is documenting the contemporary art scene of his home country Zambia. He currently lectures in art history at the Zambian Open University and publishes “Mulling over Art with Andrew Mulenga”, a weekly column in The Mast newspaper. He is pursuing a PhD in Art History at Rhodes University, South Africa.

Proposal:
My research considers Zambia’s considerably overlooked and underrepresented status in art historical scholarship; in terms of national art histories it has been obscured from analysis in a broader comparative framework. However, Zambia provides a remarkable case study for divergent trajectories in the field. From the outside, it is as if art history scholarship on it does not exist. This is owing partially to belated academic infrastructure, for example, at the Zambian Open University (ZAOU), the first in the country to provide art education at university level, has a program that is less than a decade old. Therefore, a huge epistemic gap persists with respect to knowledge on modern and contemporary Zambian art, its chronicling; theorization and outright documentation all which lend themselves to the vibrant postcolonial, decolonial,transnational and global discourse.

 
Anissa Rahadiningtyas

Anissa Rahadiningtyas

 

Anissa Rahadiningtyas’ primary research area is the history of modern and contemporary art in Indonesia. Her interests include postcolonial theory, ocean studies, comparative modernisms, and religious studies. She received an MA in Aesthetics and Art Sciences from the Faculty of Art and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), in Indonesia. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Visual Studies Department at Cornell University.

Proposal:
My project builds on efforts to look closely at how different conceptions of modernity and modernism have emerged and developed in areas outside the West. I focus on the role and relationship between visual art and Islam in producing and shaping notions of modernity in Indonesia. I investigate works of art and discourses on Islam and modern art from 1967 - early 2000s. I am interested in works of art produced by artists associated with a modern art training institution in Bandung where the influence of international modernism was directly transmitted to students by Dutch teachers. Works from this period demonstrate the heterogeneous configurations of Islam and competing religious values in modern and contemporary art in Indonesia. Through the works of these artists,the dominant discourse of modern art and Islamic art in Indonesia are constantly challenged and reworked through local adaptations of both modernism and Islam as well as through feminist critiques. 

 
Carlos Quijon, Jr.

Carlos Quijon, Jr.

 

Carlos Quijon, Jr. is an art historian, curator, and critic. His writings have appeared in Art Monthly (UK), Asia Art Archive's Ideas, and Trans Asia Photography Review, among others. In 2017, he was a research resident in MMCA Seoul and a fellow of the Transcuratorial Academy both in Berlin and Mumbai. He curated Courses of Action at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 2019. He is completing an MA in Art Theory and Criticism at the University of the Philippines.

Proposal:
My research considers exhibitions that dwell on modernity in Southeast Asia in the 1990s, a timeframe that might seem belated. I am interested in troubling the understanding of modernity as punctuality in a Euroamerican aesthetic timeline, instead thinking about modernism in a postcolonial milieu, which for historian Deepak Ananth elaborates a “predicament of latecoming.” These exhibitions are Asian Modernism: Diverse Developments (Japan Foundation Asia Center, 1995); Modernity and Beyond (Singapore Art Museum, 1996); and, The Birth of Modern Art in Southeast Asia (Fukuoka Art Museum 1997). I am interested in these exhibitions as nodes in prospecting a discourse of modern art in Southeast Asia in the 1990s by way of its regional interlocutors. The proposal appreciates the afterlife of the modern, and the tropes that these exhibitions nominate in relation to modernism and modernity (its “birth,” “diverse developments,” and what is “beyond” it), which simultaneously problematize and articulate this afterlife most compellingly.

 
Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol

Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol

 

Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol is a historian of modern and contemporary Asian art and 2018-19 Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. He has worked on programs and publications for the Tate, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, National Gallery Singapore, and Jim Thompson Art Center. Kenji is currently completing a PhD in History of Art at the University of Michigan, with a dissertation on postwar abstraction in Southeast Asia.

Proposal:
How to develop decolonial sociologies of art worlds alongside decolonial histories of modern art? That is, if scholars of modern art in the North Atlantic generally rely on a tripartite sociological model of the art world consisting of public museums, private galleries, and independent criticism/journalism, how do we construct frameworks to describe other configurations of the social field that underpin artistic production and reception? Alternative descriptions have recently emerged in the work of Marian Pastor Roces (on the guises of “royalty” in the Philippines, Iran, Chile, and Thailand), David Teh (on the combustible “ecology” of art festivals), and Anneka Lenssen (on zones of “fragile institutionality”). Through the MAHASSA program,I wish to take stock of these emergent methods for comparative and relational art historical inquiry across multiple medial scales and, in doing so, arrive at more robust methodological bases for the twinned analysis of social and aesthetic form.

 
Dana Liljegren

Dana Liljegren

 

Dana Liljegren is a PhD Candidate in Art History at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her specializations include West African art, global contemporary art, postcolonial theory, environmentalism, and film studies. She holds degrees in art history from Brown University, Columbia University, and Université Paris 1. Her dissertation examines the repurposing of trash in contemporary Senegalese art and the circulation of objects under conditions of postcolonialism. 

Proposal:
The use of repurposed materials can be found among many historic and emerging artists worldwide; however, it has a unique politicized history in Senegal going back to the 1970s. As an interdisciplinary approach to this practice, referred to as récupération, my research presents it as a strategy whose implications have shifted at key moments since its emergence. Previous approaches to récupération often regard it as a largely unchanging phenomenon, anchoring it in the prerequisite of poverty or reducing its complexity to tensions between African and European influences. In providing an account of this practice, my analysis draws on art historical methods as well as the fields of “garbology” and discard studies (interdisciplinary sub-fields focused on waste, recycling, and pollution in relation to social, political, and material histories).This dissertation on récupération in Senegal aspires to offer a model for interpreting similar contemporary artistic practices in Africa and around the world.

 
Deborah Philip

Deborah Philip

 

Deborah Philip is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York and a Trustee of the Sapumal Foundation, Sri Lanka. Selected public talks include: Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design, Jaffna (2016), and “Open Edit: Mobile Library,” Asia Art Archive and Raking Leaves, Colombo (2013).

Proposal:
My research focuses on Burgher identifications and imaginaries in colonial and post-colonial Sri Lanka, exploring two aspects of the ’43 Group (Sri Lanka’s first modernist art collective) which was partially made up of a vanguard of Burgher artists when the island was on the cusp of independence in 1948. Namely, how did Burgher artists position themselves as “modern”, “local” and “cosmopolitan” within a cultural-nationalist project that locates creole identifications as “out of place” in the colonial/postcolonial nation-state of Sri Lanka? Secondly, what then is the afterlife of modernity in Sri Lanka, and how does it reinforce or disrupt national narratives of history and heritage?

 
Dipti Sherchan

Dipti Sherchan

 

Dipti Sherchan is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She explores the intersections of ethnography and art history to critically examine cultural politics, histories, and encounters in South Asia and, in particular, Nepal.

Proposal:
The twentieth century modern nation-state of Nepal emerged at the crossroads of global modernity and postcoloniality however, it has always occupied a contested space of non-coloniality. I examine this particular milieu in which artistic production and consumption take place. My research investigates the emergence of institutions like art schools, museums, and gallery spaces as sites of local, regional, national and transnational encounters with tradition, modernity, nationalism, cosmopolitanism and other forms of artistic and political subjectivities. An integral part of my research inquiry is to question the “rupture” between what is “tradition” and “modern” by examining the continuities and contestations in the shifting regimes of aesthetic practices and arts patronage in Nepal. Additionally,I explore the inclusion/exclusion of “the body of an artist” in these institutional spaces and practices. I am interested in understanding how Nepali artists navigate, negotiate, and narrate their own experiences and aspirations within such intricate histories.

 
Greer Valley

Greer Valley

 

Greer Valley is a PhD candidate in Art Historical Studies at Michaelis School of Fine Art and a fellow at the Archive and Public Culture Initiative at the University of Cape Town (UCT). In 2018 she was a curatorial fellow at the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) also at the University of Cape Town. She is currently a director on the board of the Africa South Arts Initiative (ASAI). 

Proposal:
My research questions whether curatorial interventions can address and unsettle the legacies of colonial power and subjective authority embedded in museum practice. I consider the Rijksmuseum exhibition, Goede Hoop, South Africa and the Netherlands from 1600 (2017) to examine how Dutch exhibition curators represent the shared colonial history between these two countries. The study looks critically at the notion of a shared history, especially since it is important to consider from whose point of view this history is told.  To frame the argument of the dissertation, I make use of the notion of the exhibition as social intervention. One of the objectives of the project is to survey emergent curatorial methods and methodologies of exhibition-making that can potentially unsettle the colonial/colonized gaze in institutions that were specifically designed for this purpose to engage with broader questions of how one would start curating exhibitions differently to develop new forms of exhibiting and curating.

 
Kathleen Ditzig

Kathleen Ditzig

 

Kathleen Ditzig is a Singaporean researcher and curator. She has an MA from Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, and is pursuing her PhD at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Her work has been published by Artforum, Art Agenda, Southeast of Now among others. She co-founded offshoreart.co and most recently curated State of Motion: A Fear of Monsters for the Asian Film Archive in Singapore.

Proposal:
I intend to undertake research that traces the emergence and desire for “Southeast Asia” as a regionalism that was articulated through exhibition-making. It covers a historical period of the 1940s-1970s and is not limited to the geographic region of Southeast Asia. I'm interested in how Southeast Asia as regionalism was articulated in relation to other forms of solidarity and to endeavors that defined modern art as a break from empire. In tracing the early inclinations toward a collectivizing of Southeast Asia that grew out of the perceived shortcomings of other solidarities, I will examine how and why political projects and artistic projects were ascribed to Southeast Asia and how this evolved as part of a larger project of imaging a new post-imperial and de-colonialized modern world.

 
Marian Nur Goni

Marian Nur Goni

 

Marian Nur Goni is a historian whose work focuses on the trajectories of historical objects and photographs in and from East Africa, raising questions about how memories, histories and heritages are constructed, transmitted and written about. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris. She received a PhD in Art History from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris.

Proposal:
My research focuses on Joseph Murumbi (1911-1990), Kenya’s first Foreign Minister and second Vice-President, whose intense and dedicated work within transnational, liberation networks was instrumental in the years leading up to the independence of Kenya. From the 1950s on, Murumbi also became a collector of African art and a patron of artists, particularly, but not exclusively, from East Africa. He collected artefacts from all over Africa - advocating for the preservation of African heritage/art on site – a very diverse and rich collection that he conceived himself as a Pan-African one. His path and gestures will thus be critically explored in their cultural dimension, in close conjunction with his engagement in Pan-African networks and anti-imperialist movements in the UK and beyond (his connections with India will also be highlighted),particularly in the 1950s. These networks involved streams of solidarities whose memories need today to be rekindled

 
Melissa Carlson

Melissa Carlson

 

Melissa Carlson is a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. Her recent work has examined how the postcolonial censorship regime in Myanmar shaped the development of Burmese modern and contemporary art in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. She has a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Proposal:
Using Myanmar as a case study, my research triangulates questions of censorship, artistic practices, and national identity in the Indian Ocean – a region where borders, governments, and economies remain in flux amid rapidly changing political landscapes. My project examines the ongoing process of nation-building in Myanmar with a focus on the postcolonial history of censorship that shaped the visual arts alongside interruptions to cultural flows imposed by Burma’s retreat into isolationism in 1962. Isolationism interrupted artistic exchange between Burmese artists and the region let alone the world. Yet, as my preliminary research demonstrates, Burmese artists forged regional and global connections as global artistic movements permeated Burma’s borders in spite of political isolation. In my work,I aim to highlight the ways in which artists devised unique creative strategies of subversion, resistance, and subterfuge, both in the realm of form and representation and in terms of political participation and regional networks.

 
Muhammad Nafisur Rahman

Muhammad Nafisur Rahman

 

Muhammad Nafisur Rahman is currently a PhD student in Architecture at the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), University of Cincinnati, OH and Adjunct Faculty in the School of Design. Rahman holds MDes in Graphic Design from University of Illinois at Chicago and BArch from BRAC University, Bangladesh. Prior to pursuing PhD, he taught architecture in Bangladesh. Rahman worked as a Branded Environments Designer at Perkins and Will in Chicago.

Proposal:
Dhaka’s urban fabric is structured through a complex visual amalgamation of building facades, images, symbols, and letterforms. In Dhaka, research on urban issues is overruling delicate variables such as urban typography with its importance in wider design pedagogy, cultural identity, and urban discourse. There has been no systematic ethnographic study or taxonomy on these Bengali legible artefacts in the urban streetscape. Unique to Bangladesh is its language and its complexly saturated urban experience. Here, architecture becomes the façade of urban communication while establishing a “right to the city.” I carry out qualitative research on Bengali urban typography by studying the origin of Bengali language along with the socio-political evolution of traditional Bengali letterforms. Onsite commercial signage, wall graphics, posters,and urban experience allow for my research to be founded on impermanence, challenging western architectural education’s account of such urban strategies.

 
Nurur Rahman Khan

Nurur Rahman Khan

 

Nurur Rahman Khan is a practicing architect, architecture historian, and an academic. He is pursuing his PhD from Università Iuav di Venezia in Architecture History and Criticism. He has presented lectures in many significant universities such as Yale, Columbia, MIT, RISD, IUAV (Venice) and also the UIA and ARCASIA Conference.

Proposal:
Muzharul Islam’s works, his philosophy, his politics, had a deep connection with artists, writers and musicians of his time. Islam’s “artistic” yet “socio-political” approach to design had a distinctive perspective that allows us also to evaluate the arts of that period (1940-1980). When art is compartmentalized only with architecture, other fields such as music and craft remain side-lined. This myopia leads to a study that does not embrace all the arts. Islam’s association with artists and writers of that time was not only unique, but also led to the beginning of a Bengali Modern Movement specific to that era, a broader artistic modernity in association with socio-political modernity. It will thus be important to see his work also beyond architecture, and understand nation-building politics as a key idea of that time,and which was shared among other fields of the arts. This perspective will allow us to better map the history of arts in South Asia. 

 
Sabina Iqbal

Sabina Iqbal

 

Samina Iqbal is a practicing artist, art historian, and an academic. She received her BFA from the National College of Arts Lahore in 1997, and MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2003.  She received her PhD in art historical studies from the Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond in 2016. Her research interest is modern and contemporary art of South Asia.

Proposal:
Like any other non-western countries, modern art in Pakistan cannot be considered simply as a single movement that operated parallel to or in conformity with western modernist trends. My research focuses on an empirical study of the specific conditions that gave rise to modern art in Pakistan in its formative years and analyzes how a small group of artists called Lahore Art Circle engaged in a counter-movement outside the nationalist agendas of Pakistan after its independence in 1947. I am interested in expanding a comparative study of what modern art entailed for other neighboring countries of Pakistan and the MENASA region.  To examine the respective, purposefully open-ended, dialectical tensions between international, national, and local stylistic concerns of these regions - a parallel dialogue to the western canon,it is my effort to develop a parallel and critical dialogue of modern art in the context of regions outside the Europe and Americas.

 
Sanjoy Chakraborty

Sanjoy Chakraborty

 

Sanjoy Chakraborty is an assistant professor of Art History at the University of Dhaka and also works as a visual artist. He earned his master’s and bachelor degrees in Art History from Rabindra Bharati University, India and is currently working towards his PhD on Bangladeshi Folk art from Dept. of Drawing and Painting, University of Dhaka. His writings on Bangladeshi modern art, art education, and folk art have been published in various journals and magazines. His curatorial work in Bangladesh includes Vicinity (2009) in Chittagong and Kolpobikolpo (2017) in Dhaka, and he also co-edited the catalog of the 2015 Kornaphuli Folk Triennial. 

Proposal:
Folk art has left a sizeable and long-lasting impact on modern and contemporary art in Bangladesh. Zainul Abedin founded the first art college of Dhaka in 1948, of which one of the key focuses was an engagement with folk art, and later established Bangladesh’s Folk Art Museum. Qamrul Hassan was deeply involved with folk dance, and SM Sultan eventually settled in the rural area of Narail and founded the Baul society, becoming skilled himself in folk-music and folk dance. This lineage of modernist engagement with performing arts has led students of the art college to initiate art in large processional forms in a wide range of mediums, including an event called Mangal Shovajatra that began in the 1980s and its now an iconic part of Bangladeshi visual culture. This has in turn led a generation of art students towards exploring performance art in the 1990s. Rather than seeing performance art in Bangladesh as a development only from the late 1990s onwards, a more complex history needs to take into account this deep and multifaceted legacy that extends back to the mid twentieth century.

 
Taushif Kara

Taushif Kara

 

Taushif Kara is a PhD student in history at the University of Cambridge and an affiliate scholar of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. He has lectured on Muslim political thought at SOAS, University of London, and is currently a producer of Interventions, the intellectual history podcast.

Proposal:
My research explores the intellectual history of the Khoja diaspora across the Indian ocean world in the 20th century. A trading community from western India, the Khoja are a community whose borders were drawn up in colonial courtrooms and whose migration paths traversed the routes of empire. With an eye to moving beyond the text as the sole space of intellectual production, my research looks to architecture as a source for reading the modern history of the community. I am particularly interested in exploring the many connections between Muslim nationalism in the subcontinent and the racialized anti-colonial nationalisms of eastern Africa; the Khoja, as an Indian Muslim community in Africa, were notably excluded from both. I look at these connected histories through their respective aesthetic elaborations, namely architecture.I use the term elaboration because I prefer to treat aesthetics not as most historians do – that is, as primarily illustrative sources derivative of dominant intellectual paradigms – but as constitutive sources, capable of containing, generating, and resisting ideas.

 
"Uthumalebbe Iffath Neetha"

"Uthumalebbe Iffath Neetha"

 

Uthumalebbe Iffath Neetha is from Maruthamunai, Sri Lanka, and completed her BA in Art History at University of Jaffna. She is currently the lecturer of art history at Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies (SIVAS), Eastern University, Sri Lanka. Her research interests are in art history, and her work also seeks to integrate approaches and theory from fields like architectural history and cultural studies.

Proposal:
My work thus far explores the art history, heritage, and aesthetics of the Muslim communities of Eastern Sri Lanka, communities vastly understudied. One of my ongoing projects investigates a flag-making tradition, which appendages the Kalmunai Beach Mosque. This tradition, and the mosque and tomb-shrine that envelop it continue to bring devotional communities together across the Indian ocean. I experiment with various methods including ethnography, oral history, and art history to explore how practices of craft and devotion are integrated. Another project I am currently undertaking seeks to bring mosque architecture into the wider story of Sri Lankan artistic heritage. The architecture of several mosques in this region bring out histories of connection between trade routes, craft routes, devotional spaces, and colonial influences,which is especially important because it brings to light the rich diversity of visual expressions prevalent in the past.

 
Yujia Bian

Yujia Bian

 

Yujia Bian is a researcher in landscape, architecture, and art. Trained both in landscape architecture and architectural history and theory, her works interrogate the regulation and interpretation of nature that often involves design and exhibition-making. Her most recent work focuses on environment and nature expeditions in the Mekong Delta and the Himalayas during the late 19th century and early 20th century. She holds a MS in Critical, Conceptual, and Curatorial Practices in Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).

Proposal:
My recent work draws upon historical materials while incorporating theoretical texts on cultural techniques, modernity, and visuality. It looks at late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century British plant-collecting expeditions in the eastern Himalayas. Illustrations and photographs constituted a scientific medium for these expeditions. The project considers the intersection of imperialism and scientific objectivity by drawing on Chinese and British manuscripts and botanical archives. My current work continues the research on human understandings of nature and focuses on cultures of weather phenomena. One such project, supported by Design Trust HK, looks at Hong Kong’s relation to typhoons. Personal accounts as well as the scientific means for weather observation suggest that the city’s urban fabric has been continuously concretized.


FACULTY AND ORGANIZERS


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.

 
Iftikhar Dadi

Iftikhar Dadi

 

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 forRewind 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).

 
Amara Antilla

Amara Antilla

 

Dr. Chuong-Dai Vo is a Researcher at Asia Art Archive. Her research and curatorial interests include alternative genealogies of the modern and the contemporary in the relationship between "craft" and "art", the ephemeral, and alternative festivals and platforms. Her writing can be found in publications such as Afterall Journal, Seismography of Struggle (forthcoming from Institut national d’histoire de l’art), Southern Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned, 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. A recent Invited Researcher at Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, she is writing about L’Ecole des beaux-arts de l’Indochine and the development of multiple modernisms.

 
Chuong-Dai Vo

Chuong-Dai Vo

 

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.

 
Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt

 

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.

 
Elizabeth W Giorgis

Elizabeth W Giorgis

 

John Tain is Head of Research at Asia Art Archive, where he leads a team of researchers based in Hong Kong, New Delhi, and Shanghai, with projects spanning all of Asia. In addition to exhibitions at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa (2018) and Art Basel Hong Kong (2018, 2019), he co-organized a symposium on art periodicals that took place during the Sharjah Art Foundation's Focal Point art book fair (2018).  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 an editor of the Afterall Exhibition Histories series. He was previously a curator for modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

 
John Tain

John Tain

 

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. She is a 2019 Pernod Ricard Fellow at Villa Vassilieff & Bétonsalon, Centre for Art and Research, Paris.

 
Michelle Wong

Michelle Wong

 

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.

 
Ming Tiampo

Ming Tiampo

 

 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. 

 
Salah M. Hassan |

Salah M. Hassan |

 

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.

 
Sanjukta Sunderason

Sanjukta Sunderason

 

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.

 
Simon Soon

Simon Soon

 

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.

 
Sneha Ragavan

Sneha Ragavan