Transnational Histories and Non-aligned Networks

How do art history and museum practice deal with international networks that decenter, complicate, or even bypass Western-centric geopolitical discourses of art history? This theme considers the relationship of historical precedents—such as the Non-Aligned Movement, Third Worldism, pan-Africanism, pan-Arabism, and related discourses of the Global South—to artistic production and circulation. While conventional markers of time, like 1945, 1968, and 1989, hold prominence in artistic and world history, new dates became of key interest to our research. 1955, the year of the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung, is an important moment to consider in relation to artistic trajectories, just as 1961, the year of the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Belgrade, is another preeminent historical example of an alternate nexus of connections of relevance to art of the period.

This theme departs from a 2016–17 C-MAP research focus on non-aligned networks, which was conceived as the Museum prepared for an extensive re-presentation of the permanent collection with the opening of new gallery space in 2019. Activities outside the Museum also provided fodder for our discussions. For example, Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-65, an exhibition on view at Haus der Kunst in Munich from October 2016 to March 2017, illustrated possible avenues for complicating hegemonic histories of modern art. Across groups, C-MAP participants read broadly, invited speakers to the museum, and hosted internal workshops and seminars. Since then, the Theme was expanded to include other transgeographic and translocal connectivities, including connections that route through Western cosmopolitan centers, in turn revealing histories that are commonly left out of its dominant, westerncentric narratives. 

Below is a list of texts that we found particularly applicable to the initial phase of our research.

  • Article: Kodwo Eshun and Ros Gray (editors). The Militant Image: A Ciné-Geography. London: Goldsmiths Research Online, 2011. Available here:
  • Article: Geeta Kapur. Recursive Narrative: ways of producing art history. A transcript of a lecture held at Haus der Kunst on October 14, 2016. Available here:
  • Book: Okwui Enwezor, Katy Siegel, Ulrich Wilmes (editors). Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965. Exhibition catalog. New York: Prestel, 2017.
  • Book: Armin Medosch. New Tendencies: Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution (1961-1978). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2016.
  • Book: Sabrina Moura (editor). PANORAMAS DO SUL: LEITURAS Perspectivas Para Outras Geografias Do Pensamento (Southern Panoramas: Readings Perspectives for Other Geographies of Thought). São Paulo: 19th Festival of Contemporary Art SESC_Videobrasil, Edições SESC, 2015.
  • Book: Chika Okeke-Agulu. Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2015.
  • Book: Vijay Prashad. The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World. New York: The New Press, 2007.
  • Book: Georg Schöllhammer and Ruben Arevshatyan. Sweet Sixties: Specters and Spirits of a Parallel Avant-Garde. New York: Sternberg Press, 2013.
  • Book: Forthcoming from The Museum of Modern Art, late 2017: Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents.
  • Conference: The Arts of Bandung Humanism. Hosted by the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, California from April 18-19, 2015.
  • Conference: Cold Atlantic: Cultural War, Dissident Artistic Practices, Networks and Contact Zones at the Time of the Iron Curtain. Hosted by the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Spain from September 5 – 7, 2016.
  • Exhibition: Koyo Kuoh and Rasha Salti. Saving Bruce Lee: African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy. On view at Garage Museum June 12–August 23, 2015.
  • Exhibition: Red Africa. On view at Calvert Foundation February 4-April 3, 2016.
  • Exhibition: The Kids Want Communism. On view at various venues February 25, 2016–January 21, 2017 (tranzit, Prague, The Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv, Free/Slow University Warsaw, State of Concept, Athens, * Skuc gallery, Ljubljana, and MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam).

Memories of Chagga Country: Sam Ntiro

By way of Men Taking Banana Beer to Bride by Night (1956), a painting featured in our “One Work, Many Voices” series, which focuses on individual artworks chosen from MoMA’s collection, art historian Gabriella Nugent highlights the role of memory in Ntiro’s practice. She argues that these memories are a product of distance and thus complicate the frameworks of art history.

El Lento Desvanecimiento: Huellas, Conversaciones y Políticas de la Localización

La serie de seminarios C-MAP de este año, Transversal Orientations, estuvo compuesta por cuatro mesas que tuvieron lugar en Zoom en junio de 2021. Con este texto, Dra. Riánsares Lozano de la Pola responde a las presentaciones y a la conversación posterior que tuvieron lugar en la cuarta y última mesa de la serie de seminarios con Jeannine Tang, Jaanus Samma, e Irmgard Emmelhainz. 

Culture as a Weapon of Struggle: The Art of the Medu Poster You Have Struck a Rock (1981)

How do you historicize the events of the dehistoricized? From its inception in 1948, the apartheid regime implemented a system of institutionalized racial segregation against the nonwhite citizens of South Africa. In recent years, a counter narrative has emerged of a group of artists and activists who viewed “culture as a weapon of struggle” against the oppressive policies of the apartheid regime.

Transversal Orientations

Hinged on the transversal as a means to engage with and envision new networks and ways of thinking about modern and contemporary art, the 2021 C-MAP seminar series offered an exploration and interrogation of the intertwining of multiple coeval life-worlds through concepts of “extending across.” Included here are abstracts and recordings of the four panels held on Zoom on June 2, 3, 9, and 10.