In Search of a Global Ministry of Higher Education? Situating the Pedagogy of Global Art Histories in South Africa


"SItuating Global Art" Conference
InterArt Research Programme
Literaturwerkstatt Berlin
Knaackstr. 97, Berlin, Germany
12-14 February 2015

About the Conference

Situating Global Art interrogates the relations between an increasing globalization of the art discourse and the situatedness of its practices.Since the early 1990s, the term “global art” has been established to call attention to poly-centered, plural, and transnational art worlds under postcolonial conditions. Yet, the process of globalizing art may also be criticized for producing its own hegemonic and exclusive effects. The conference therefore brings into focus recent practices of art, curating, historiography and criticism that are connected to the global art discourse while at the same time attempting to queer or resist new hegemonic narratives.

Scrutinizing the dynamics that unfold between the institutionalization of “global art” and situated practices, Situating Global Art asks how contemporary local, traditional, indigenous, or tribal forms of artistic critique contribute to reconfigure notions of both the global and the local, thus challenging homogenizing conceptions of art in the age of globalization.

My Abstract

Would one travel around the world in 48 hours, from Art Dubai, to the São Paulo Biennial, to the trendy gallery in Hong Kong? At first it seems as if art has gone global (Belting 2009). The heterogeneous field of art historiography in a global perspective has been characterized as "urgently useful, for as long as it doesn't settle down into a set of disciplinary orthodoxies able to be reproduced within the universities" (Harris 2013). While programme/s in world art studies, with its "cross-disciplinary approach to global art systems" (Venbrux / Rosi 2003) were inaugurated in the 1990s, the global turn in contemporary art has very recently generated a growing emergence of related study courses. In this regard, it has been asked whether the "implementation in study courses [is] symptomatic of a (self-)surmounting of the Global North" (Leeb et al. 2013).

Whether in the global north or the global south, global art histories tend to contain locational trajectories, even more so, given that the field of art history has frequently been embedded in national culture and politics (Elkins 2006, Preziosi 1989). After all, there is no Global Ministry of Higher Education. My study addresses the paradox of developing studies with a global perspective in the light of local entanglements of higher education. In particular, I address what it means to situate the pedagogy of global art histories in South Africa. I discuss how higher education in South Africa has been shaped by the "tradition of selective borrowing" of foreign policies, with regard to national education departments but also in terms of education activists (Kallaway 2002). In this context, I discuss how "most departments of fine arts at South African universities adopted the European traditions of the discipline" (Nettleton 2006).

Specifically, I acknowledge South African art historians' recent call for a "process of meaningful transformation" (Makhubu / Simbao 2013), marking two decades after the end of Apartheid, in order to take "both the changes and continuities in educational borrowing and research" (Chisholm 2002) into account. Could the institutionalization of global art histories leave the dichotomy of either local or either global behind – in order to imply both critical locality and critical globalism?

Conference Programme

Thursday, February 12, 2015

10:00 - 10:30 Introduction
Sarah Dornhof

10:30 - 12:30 Panel I - Queering Artistic Practice
- Isabel Seliger (Berlin): The Art of Globalization/The Globalization of Art: Creating Transnational, Interethnic, and Cross-Gender Identities in the 3D Work of Miao Xiaochun
- Ronit Milano (Beer-Sheva): Globalization, Colonialism and Takashi Murakami
- Birgit Hopfener (Berlin): Qiu Zhijie's Concept of Total Art: A Case Study of Transculturally Situating Discourses of Integrated Art Practice

14:00 - 15:00 Panel II - Engaging with Institutions
- Voon Pow Bartlett (London): 'Harmonious Society' and 'There is nothing new under the Sun'
- Felix Vogel (Fribourg): Global Art since the 1960s seen from Bahia

15:15 - 16:45
- Jelle Bouwhuis (Amsterdam): How Far How Near. Or: Where to Locate Global Art within a Modern Art Museum
- Jean Borgatti (Benin/Boston): Why Global? Why Now? African Art at the Fitchburg Art Museum

18:00 Keynote
Abdellah Karroum (Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha): Generation 00: The Artist as Citizen

Friday, February 13, 2015

9:30 - 11:00 Panel III - Urban Interventions
- Gürsoy Dogtas (Munich): The 13th Istanbul Biennale and the Squatters' Movement of Gezi Park in an Ideological Competition for the Practice of Radical Democracy
- Birgit Mersmann (Bremen): Lacing Places: Situative Practices and Sociopolitical Strategies in Korean Urban Art Projects

11:30 - 13:00 Panel IV - Media as Translation
- Antigoni Memou (London): Global Photography: Notes on the 'Documentary Turn' in Contemporary Art
- Katja Glaser (Siegen): The 'Place to be' for Street Art Nowadays no longer is the Street, it's the Internet

14:30 - 15:30 Panel V - Ethics of Art Mediation
- Toni Hildebrandt (Bern): Situating the Withdrawal of Tradition: Jalal Toufic's rejection of Pasolini's Southern Answer
- Claudia Marion Stemberger (Montréal): In Search of a Global Ministry of Higher Education? Situating the Pedagogy of Global Art Histories in South Africa

15:45 - 17:15
- Insa Verbeck (Kassel): Improving, Representing, and Imagining - Documenta's changing Relations to the World
- Barbara Lutz (Hildesheim): Curating Transculturality: documenta 12 and the 'Migration of Form'

18:00 Keynote:
Annette Bhagwati (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin): On Centers, Nodes and Trajectories: Changing Topologies in Transcultural Curating

Saturday, February 14, 2015

10:00 - 12:00 Panel VI - Politics of Labelling
- Mateusz Kapustka (Zurich): East feeds West: The Curse of Different Temporalities
- Janna-Mirl Redmann (Geneve): Boycotting the Global - 52 Weeks of Artist Protest
- David Frohnapfel (Berlin): Disobedient Museality: Atiz Rezistans and the Politics of Artistic Poverty Tourism in Port-au-Prince

13:30 - 14:30 Panel VII - Contesting Narratives
- Orianna Cacchione (San Diego): To Wash a Book and to Burn the Beard – Conceptualizing Art History as a Readymade in Huang Yong Ping's Artworks
- George Flaherty (Austin): Destroying Art of the Americas Amid a Global Turn

14:45 - 16:15
- Andrew Weiner (New York): The Scrim, the Pistol, and the Lectern: Dis-situating the Global Contemporary
- Jacob Birken (Karlsruhe): When Transfers become Entanglements: Contradictory Sites of Artistic production & Reception in a Globalized World

Concept and Organisation

Sarah Dornhof (Freie Universität Berlin)
Birgit Hopfener (Freie Universität Berlin)
Barbara Lutz (University of Hildesheim)
Nanne Buurman (Freie Universität Berlin)


© — Claudia Marion Stemberger 2019