Dhaka Art Summit
Banner_overview-02.jpg

Displays of Internationalism:

ASIA INTERFACING WITH THE WORLD THROUGH EXHIBITIONS, 1947-1989

 
 

CURATEd BY Amara Antilla

 
 

The history of exhibitions has served an important role in art historical and curatorial research. Yet, even as the history of display has generated renewed scholarly interest, a critical reading of the trans-national function of exhibitions, which feature some of the most important non-Western presentations prior to 1989, has yet to be realised. How did exhibition practices create contact points between artists and thinkers from around the world? How were these transcultural networks indicative of larger political, social, and economic interests? How might exhibition histories in Asia expand our thinking about post-war global art histories?

‘Displays of Internationalism’ invited curators and scholars to examine seminal international or regional exhibitions; revisit major biennials and their role as important zones of exchange for artists, thinkers and cultural workers; and engage in self-reflective dialogues to investigate blind spots and methodological problems facing the field.

 

PARTICIPANTS
Atreyee Gupta
Gridthiya Gaweewong
Iftikhar Dadi
Kristine Kouri
Ming Tiampo
Patrick D. Flores
Rina Igarashi
Ruxmini Choudhury
Saira Ansari

 

IMAGINING INTERNATIONALISM

 

Nancy Adajania:  ‘Between the High-Altitude View and The Detail: A Study of ‘Two Decades of American Painting’’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Adajania’s paper considers the political circumstances of the Cold War and the global cultural circulations that surrounded the 1960s travelling exhibition, Two Decades of American Painting, organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and supported by the Museum’s International Council.  A US soft-power initiative, the exhibition toured the world—with support from the US State Department—during a period when the Vietnam War was underway, China’s nuclear ambitions had become clear, and the US-USSR confrontation was being played out in various theatres.  Originally intended for presentation in Tokyo and New Delhi, its itinerary was expanded to include Melbourne and Sydney.

 Reflecting on the reception of Two Decades… in India (1967), Adajania explores how the exhibition challenged Indian artists and art critics to revisit and critically recast their debate, including many key contested themes: cultural identity and artistic autonomy; tradition and modernity; abstraction and counter-abstractionist strategies; the global turn; the creation of a universal canon; the establishment of a national ‘style;’ and canonical medium (modelled on Clement Greenberg’s ‘American-type painting’). Dwelling on the individual figures involved in the exhibition and its Indian reception, the paper engages with personal preoccupations and motivations, and the ground of their agency, as opposed to official scripts of cultural diplomacy or curatorial policy.

 

Patrick Flores:  ‘Roots, Basics, Beginnings: The Textual and Curatorial Work of Raymundo Albano’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Raymundo Albano was an artist and curator in Manila. His practice as a curator at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from 1970 to 1985 generated a level of density of both discourse and procedure. In his agenda, roots, basics, beginnings matter (taken from an eponymous exhibition in 1977), Albano constitutes the material through which the process or method takes place. Whatever may be inferred or alluded to, or implicated, emerges from lineage, rudiment, origin. Whether critique comes in to complicate, or relations intervene, the ‘intelligence’ of the material cannot be severed from the ‘integrity’ of the lifeworld from which it is generated and through which such lifeworld is reinvested.  Some would call this ‘context,’ others would say it is ‘impulse’ or ‘urge.’ Whatever it is that may be brought to our attentiveness, as that which excites what we broadly reference as art, it should, in the imagination of Albano, stir up a world ‘suddenly turning visible,’ a condition quite akin to Michel Foucault’s ‘sudden vicinity of things.’

 This paper introduces research on the relationship between Albano’s textual and curatorial work in the production of both situation and thinking. It dwells on the post-colonial mediation of the local and the international to complicate, or even exceed, the overdeterminations of the Western modern.

 

Gridthiya Gaweewong:  ‘Revising Thai Reflections on American Experiences, Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, 1986’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Organised by renowned art historian Dr. Piriya Krairiksh at the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art in Bangkok, Thai Reflections on American Experiences brought together the work of twenty-four artists executed before, during, and after their journeys to the United States. The exhibition, which was funded in part by the United States Information Service, sought to make a fair assessment of the impact that American experiences might have had on the development of Modern Art in Thailand. Although eight artists declined to participate, those who did included Damrong WongUpparat, Santi Isrowuthakul, Apinan Poshyananda, Kamol Phaosavasdi, and Chumpol Apisuk, using the exhibition as a platform to critically examine the hegemony of American art in the twilight of Cold War politics. In conjunction with the exhibition, a seminar was organised where issues of authenticity, appropriation and identity played out among local artists, art historians and critics. The debates continued in local media coverage, and through editorials written by various artists, provoked reaction in embodied discourses around national identity, representation and originality in 1980s.

 

Rina Igarashi:  ‘From The Dawn of The 1st Asian Art Show to the 3rd Asian Art Show at the Fukuoka Art Museum, 1979-89’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

A milestone in the exhibition history of Asian art in Japan, the first Asian Art Show (AAS) was organised as the inauguration exhibition of the Fukuoka Art Museum (FAM) in 1979. Subsequent editions of the AAS were held almost every five years until the fourth show in 1994. Based on AASs accumulation of research on Asian Art, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum opened in 1999. AASs played a pivotal role in connecting Fukuoka with Asian modern and contemporary art up to now. Initially, the American Contemporary Art Show was planned as the inauguration exhibition of FAM but was later cancelled and the new idea on AAS was created. Behind the background of realising AAS, there were two key persons with strong interests towards Asia: then mayor of Fukuoka city, Shinto Kazuma and then committee member of founding FAM, Koike Shinji.

 In her paper, Igarashi talks about how the first AAS was prepared in the 1970s, the practice and structure of the 1st - 3rd AASs, the connection between AAS and the policy of Fukuoka city, and how the practice of AASs in the 1980s demonstrates the shift of inter-Asia collaboration and the conflict of defining Asia-ness.

 

Imaging Internationalism Panel Discussion Moderated by Ming Tiampo
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

With Nancy Adajania, Patrick Flores, Gridthiya Gaweewong, and Rina Igarashi.

 

 

ASIA AND THE GLOBAL SOUTH

 

Atreyee Gupta: ‘Group 1890, Surrounded by Infinity’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

This paper focuses on the Group 1890, a short-lived artists’ collective established in 1962 by Jagdish Swaminathan, Jeram Patel, Rajesh Mehra, Ambadas Khobragade, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Himmat Shah, Nagji Patel, Reddappa Naidu, Jyoti Bhatt, Eric Bowen, and Raghav Kaneria. The group heralded its presence with just one exhibition, the resonance of which the Mexican poet Octavio Paz described as akin to being ‘surrounded by infinity.’ The use of the word infinity was not purely rhetorical—back in Mexico, Paz had already established an intimate association with non-modern philosophy, and the vibrancy of matter. In India, the artist Jagdish Swaminathan spoke of the numinous image while Jeram Patel affirmed the primal energy of material. The synergy between the Group 1890 artists and Paz, then the Mexican ambassador to India, was significant. However, even as a second exhibition was planned in Mexico, it was never realised, and the group unofficially disbanded around 1969.

 Given the transitory nature of the enterprise, the Group 1890 has thus far appeared as a mere footnote in South Asia’s art historiography. This paper proposes revisiting the group, not just to unravel the intertwined histories of India and Mexico, but also to draw out a different imagination of globality from the perspective of the Global South.

 

Ming Tiampo:  ‘Diasporic Cosmopolitanism, Making Worlds, Imagining Solidarity’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Histories of the Global South have a tendency to consider alternative histories that emerge out of South-South contacts and circumvent Western hegemonies. This paper argues that some of the most potent anti-colonial encounters that produced the notion of the Global South inevitably took place in the context of the colonial metropole. Using the history of the magazine Présence Africaine as a starting point to reimagine the metropolis as a site of ‘minor transnational encounter’ (Shih and Lionnet, 2005), this paper examines the role of Rasheed Araeen and the journal Third Text in worlding Asia and creating Afro-Asian solidarities, while retheorising the place of the metropolis in creating an imagined community of the Global South.

 

Kristine Khouri:  ‘Museums that Move: Itinerant Solidarity Exhibitions in the 1970s and the case of Japan's Apartheid Non, International Art Festival’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

The 1970s were marked by a number of exhibitions-cum-museum initiatives organised in support of political causes. Culture trains, touring exhibitions, and moving libraries were common practice around the world in mid-20th century, moving information, artworks, and objects around a country to disseminate knowledge and culture—most often by governments—to sites where people wouldn’t necessarily have access to them. In the 1970s and 1980s, these initiatives took a more explicit political turn, exhibiting and touring artworks donated in support of a political causes, creating sites of solidarity where the public engaged with art in a different frame. International collections were built and toured as precursors and in anticipation of future museums, for example, against apartheid in South Africa, in support of Allende's government in Chile, for the people of Nicaragua, and in support of the Palestinian struggle.

 These alternative museum-making practices were only possible due to the hard work of individuals around the world: artists, writers, gallery owners, governments, and community organisers, among others. This paper addresses a number of case studies from Palestine, Chile and Nicaragua, with a primary focus on the Art Against/Contre Apartheid collection, and its remarkable two-year long tour in Japan from 1988-1990—the longest and most complex tour.

 

Saira Ansari:  ‘Temporal Exchanges: East and West Pakistan Exhibition Programs, 1961-77’
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

From 1947 to 1971, Pakistani Modernist artist, patron and gallerist Zubeida Agha (1922-1997) ran the Rawalpindi Art Galleries:  Pakistan’s first art gallery since its founding in 1947. Agha worked closely with artists across West and East Pakistan (current day Bangladesh) curating numerous exhibitions in Pakistan and on international platforms. This paper introduces the history of the Rawalpindi Art Galleries, it’s engagement with artists from Bangladesh, and the shared artistic activities between Pakistan and Bangladesh, especially when they were one nation (1947-1971). Examining the role of the gallery through a selection of its exhibitions, printed catalogues and other collected ephemera, this paper seeks to articulate the role of the State in the art world during the early years of Pakistan—when the lines between public and private programming were still blurry—while shedding light on this often-overlooked moment of shared history.

 

Asia and the Global South Panel Discussion Moderated by Patrick Flores
Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

With Atreyee Gupta, Ming Tiampo, Kristine Khouri, and Saira Ansari.