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Walking the line – Art of border zones in times of crisis

Speaker Abstracts:

(scroll down to the next section for the abstracts of the summer school participants)

Iftikhar Dadi

Artistic Responses to Partitions: The Lines of Control Project

This paper will examine contemporary artists’ responses to displacements of the present era, and how these coerced circulations have engendered new artistic imaginaries. It outlines how the exhibition-led inquiry, Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space (2012 and 2013) has investigated remainders of partitions, exclusions of the modern nation-state, continued impact of colonization, physical and psychic violence of displacement, dilemmas of identity and belonging, and questions of commemoration.

Eckhart Gillen

The Walls of Utopia and the Fall of the Wall in Berlin

My lecture "The Walls of Utopia and the Fall of the Wall in Berlin" is discussing how the artists did react towards the East German model of a socialist utopia before the Wall, during the Wall as a "cattle fence around an unwilling heard of people" (Durs Grünbein) and after the Fall of the Wall. We learn how the artists in East Germany tried to assert their autonomy. With the beginning of the Cold War after 1948, the authorities on both sides of the demarcation line used art as a tool to influence public opinion. But West Berlin artists called themselves "Zone 5", for example, in order to demonstrate that they refuse to identify with any of the cultural concepts offered by the four zones of the allied occupying forces. 

Raminder Kaur Khalon

The Censor Chakar and the Nirbhaya Effect in Creative Outlets

In this paper I enquire into the circuitous trails of the trauma, shock and agitations surrounding violence against women in India and the tensions and struggle between what gets revealed and what gets hidden. I address the masculinist ‘mindset’ that feminist activists have sought to expose and challenge particularly as it applies to what has come to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ referring to the brutal gang rape of a student on a moving bus in Delhi 2012. I consider how this atrocity has been mediated through various creative outlets as part of the ‘Nirbhaya effect’, some of which have met with the ‘mindset in re-action’ – that is, to ban, shut up and not show. But as with the giddying effects of the chakar, the ‘backfires’ have also led to counter-boomerang blasts in an energised and contested field that defies resolution in the immediate term, even though it leads to a slow but certain shift in future conditions of possibility. What is this mindset about? How does the battlefield play itself out? How is the terrain represented in artistic forms such as comic books, paintings, films and creative performance? How are identities transformed and reinforced in the travail between on the one hand, the era of the internet which suggest the openness of borders, and on the other hand, discursive and reactionary forces that reinforce the anchoring of mindsets through the chauvinistic wings of the right-wing saffron brigade?


Astrid S. Klein

Crossing Boundaries of Doubt

Coinciding with my solo exhibition DISPARAÎTRE DANS LA NATURE - to decamp, to desert, to evaporate - das Weite suchen, verduften at the Heidelberger Kunstverein, I will discuss my project, a multilingual online platform where authors from the Global South and Global North foster a space of agency through collaborative exchange. The project arose through artistic research conducted in Germany and former colony Cameroon in 2013–14, which is now being continued transnationally. The artists probe their relations with one another through music, texts, poems, and images, creating an artistic space where the question of communality is negotiated. Live events accompany the project, such as interventions, performances, concerts, and conversations, that tie into narrative digital space by way of direct physical encounters.

Franziska Koch

Noh Suntag: Tracing lines of the Korean partition

The South-Korean artist Noh Suntag (노 순택, born 1971 in Seoul) uses black and white photographs to trace lines of the Korean partition. His lens focuses on often violent public protest and the state’s authoritarian response; it also directs our attention to the more subtle ways in which the division of the country has contributed to a permanent “state of emergency” ‒ a term also used as title for Noh’s first solo-exhibition in Stuttgart 2008 ‒ that pervades many levels of Korean society. The paper will analyze how his photographs raise critical awareness of hidden wounds and traumatic experiences, while at the same time exploring the medium’s specific potential to trace, to document, and to propagate specific moments in an indexical way. Taking the two series “Forgetting Machines” (망각기계2012) and “In search of the lost thermos bottles” (잃어버린 보온병을 찾아서2011) as examples, the paper will explore how the photographer works to deconstruct official (media) narratives and images related with violent events ensuing from the partition in order to nurture collective memory with alternative images and more open, nuanced readings.

Patricia Spyer

Reel Accidents: Screening the Ummah under Siege in Wartime Maluku

This paper focuses on the Muslim Video Compact Disks (VCDs) that circulated in Ambon during the religiously inflected war that wracked this Indonesian provincial capital in the early 2000s. Characterized by an aesthetics of seriality and repetition, scenes of urban warfare and rampant destruction serve as a backdrop for close-ups of the vulnerable Muslim body rent asunder by Christian aggression. Unfolding as repeated rupture across the VCDs’ frames, such films visualize the ummah as a body in parts rather than a coherent unity. Of particular concern is the VCDs’ mode of interpellation, the temporality that violently interrupts any narrative framing, and the relation between post-narrative appeal and public-making. While ethnographically focused on Indonesia, the argument has implications for understanding the appeal of Muslim genres of mediated spectacular violence elsewhere and, more broadly, the increasing mutual constitution of the digital and daily life.

Chitra Venkataramani

Plans, Visions, and Participatory Publics

My paper examines the ways in which architects, activists, planners, and citizens’ groups in Mumbai began forming loose “creative” collectives in order to claim a right to the city and participate in the planning process by deploying specific visual practices. In 2011, the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai began revising the city’s “Development Plan” (DP), a set of drawings and projections that regulate land use and growth. A civic movement grew around the revision of the plan, calling upon the Municipal Corporation to make way for “public participation” in the making of the city’s future. This political movement was fueled by a critical engagement with the visual language of cartography. Not only did the collectives place a great emphasis on accessing and circulating existing maps, plans, and surveys produced by the government, there was also a great investment in reworking these plans as visual representations of “alternate” visions.

In the context of this public movement, my paper takes up two critical lines of inquiry: In the first, I show how this creative activism comes out of particular histories of design practice and its shifting relation to urban planning practice in India. Secondly, I examine the cultures of seeing, sharing, and circulating associated with cartographic images in order to explore the link between visual practices and urban activism.

Friederike Wappler

Repetition and the return of the real. Traces of trauma in artistic practices in visual arts.

Primarily discussed only in psychiatric and psychoanalytical context, the trauma-discourse enables today to examine specific artistic practices, which deal with memory and the re-turn of trauma. My contribution focuses artistic practices in the visual arts since the 1960s.

Artists like Gerhard Richter or Andy Warhol make use of medial copies; Santiago Sierra work with delegated performers and the re-enactment of former events or incidents, Christian Boltanski’s photos and installations thematize uncanny returns of the past and artists like Cindy Sherman deal with phenomena of abject art. Thinking about these different approaches to the trauma in contemporary art, it will be possible to conceptualize distinct ways of repetition and the return of the real in visual arts.

Participant Abstracts:

(this section continues to be updated frequently)

Sian Aggett

Post Quake Nepal and Art's Response to Rupture (working title)

My doctoral research explores the use of socially engaged arts as a tool to engage biomedical research with local communities. As part of this I had been conducting ethnographic research and supporting a Kathmandu based participatory arts project, entitled ‘Sacred Water’ since October 2014. The project aimed to bridge the local community knowledge and experiences with that of researchers around the themes of water, enteric disease and the intersection of gender, class and caste on these themes. I had not planned for arts in crisis to be a focus however the earthquakes of April and May 2015 saw a shift both for ‘Sacred Water’ and the wider arts community of Nepal. Priorities turned towards immediate needs, demonstrating solidarity, fostering community and collaboration. I hope to return to Nepal in early 2016 to revisit my research and conduct a further participatory arts project to bring together medical researchers with community members to explore water borne disease.  Yet there were notable shifts in the prominence and breed of art to be seen in Kathmandu. I would like to explore this new context and this shift in the wider arts scene. Key questions I have are: How are individual artists responding in their own work? What is the distinction between therapeutic arts and art therapy and how is this being navigated in this setting? Is this a redirection for the Nepali arts scene and what long-term changes might we see?

Julie Alary Lavallée

Making the Partition of Indian Subcontinent Visible

The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent, which took place in 1947, has been largely covered and analyzed in history books but remains a taboo subject. Whether it is related to shame or volatile refugee conditions, the personal aspects and the memories related to the Partition represent a delicate and unspoken topic. This research project, which is the starting point of an art exhibition on migration, addresses the work of two young south Asian diaspora artists, established in Canada, who have contributed to making visible personal and traumatic memories linked to Partition. Aanchal Malhotra (1990 Delhi) with Remnant of a Separation (2015) and Sharlene Bamboat (1984 Karachi) with And Memory (2009 - ) assert individual sensibility as the core of their art project and challenge official discourses on Partition. Due to the analysis of these art projects within the disciplines of trans-national and transcultural studies, this research demonstrates how—through various acts of information and aesthetic choices—both artists have created alternative ways of articulating the history of Partition.

Heba Amin

Visualizing Migration: Technology, Territory and the Mobility of the Body (working title)

This paper investigates the impact of media technology on territory and mobility. It suggests that technology has further blurred the lines between our representations of space and space itself. While the relationship between consciousness and technology has disrupted the mythos of our urban environments, it ultimately brought about a new basis for the collective social life. Our new technologies allow for enhanced perceptions where map and territory cannot be so neatly separated.

When Albrecht Dürer utilized the grid to transform invisible bodies into subjects, he ultimately constructed a technological mapping tool that enforced a system of power over both subject and space with himself at the center. Dürer created a hierarchy that puts into question the sovereignty of the body, placing the artist in a position of control over not just perspective or narrative, but literally over the freedom of the body itself. This paper addresses the works of artists utilizing or addressing technological tools and new media to confront new territorial configurations and, in turn, their influence on the mobility of the migrant body.

Nurul Azlan

SEDITIOUS? Art as Protest in the Post-Colonial Public Realm 

The racial riots of May 13th, 1969 is a landmark event in the history of post-colonial Malaysia. The devastation it caused had changed the course of the nation, and saddled Malaysians with the ever-present bogeyman to be dragged out whenever racial tensions resurface. After the riots, Ibrahim Hussein, a renowned Malaysian painter, blackened a Malaysian flag and added a red line and a white orb underneath it to represent the darkness of the times. This tradition of making art to criticise the socio-political condition of the country has been continued until the present, despite the ever-looming threat of the Sedition Act 1948, a colonial legacy. Not only limited to the realm of established practitioners, art has also been a medium adopted by activists to convey their message to the public. In this essay, I would like to examine three different mediums of art; two prints by Vincent Leong of the backsides of the National Monument and of Malaysian dignitaries, Fahmi Reza’s film about Hartal, a civil disobedience form of protest undertaken ten years before independence, and a graffiti depicting Malayan heroes by the collective Abstrax. I am interested in how these works deal with the notion of national psyche, and which memories are put forth to be symbolised, and which are forgotten since they were not perceived to serve the narrative of nation-building.

Finally, this essay will serve as a platform to explore a trajectory of my research that focus on protest as a form of city-making via the spatial practices which engage with the static architecture. How do the spatial aspects of the city, such as urban form and infrastructure, affect strategic decisions in terms of production of image? Since protest is a performance of public claim-making, can we analyse it as a play, with the streets and squares as the stage? How do these images that are broadcasted repeatedly in the alternative and social media, initially to amplify the concerns of the social movements, are also reconstituting the imagery of the city?

Marie Back

The collateral event ‘My East is Your West’ at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Analysis of the curatorial and artistic response to borderzones

On the one side, the exhibition is a reaction to the absence of official Indian and Pakistan pavilions at the Venice Biennale. On the other side it is putting the traditional national taxonomy inherent to this format into question. Initiated by the Delhi-based non-profit The Gujral Foundation and co-curated by Natasha Ginwala it represents the work of the Pakistani artist Rashid Rana and of the Indian artist Shilpa Gupta. Highly anticipated by the media, “My East is Your West” surprises with the displayed artworks, which do not explicitly refer to the Indo-Pakistan border issues. Shilpa Gupta's work from the series “Untitled” (2014-15) results from her artistic research on the Indo-Bangladesh border, while Rashid Ranas series “Transpositions” (2013-15) deals with the crossing of borders and the dichotomy of East and West in a wider sense. The exhibition display has been divided into two visually and atmospherically strictly separated solo-exhibitions, in which the artistic research is displayed under the banner of an interrelated series. However, the display settings and the interaction of the artworks with the visitor binds the narrative of the exhibition. Constantly, the visitor is forced to cross and to react to border zones.

Dilpreet Bhullar

In-Between Spaces: Resettling Reminiscences of 1947 Partition of Indian subcontinent

Working on the notions of memory and loss, my paper is focused around the 1947 Partition of Indian subcontinent into India and East and West Pakistan. The paper discusses two art representations narrating the historical trauma of partition: 1. Margaret Bourke-White’s Photographic Essay The Great Migration: Five Million Indians Flee for Their Lives, published in Life magazine (1948); 2. The video-installation Five Rivers: A Portrait of Partition (2013), a documentary in cyclorama by the diasporic artist Sheba Remy Kharbanda, a third generation vis-à-vis partition.

The semiotic analysis of Bourke-White’s Photographic Essay attempts to counter the legitimate truth anchored by political assertion. Secondly, the video-installation, a personal account of 1947 Partition by Remy’s father set against the aesthetics of photo-montage and literary verses, is staged inside a shamiyana (tent-house). Drawing on non-linear memory, the concern of the paper is not restricted to the survivors’ testimony but the intricacy of diasporic consciousness extends the narrative to the ownership of rebuilding past.

The study shall explore how the artists under consideration contribute to plural identity of a decentered subject. The discussions shall open the space to complicate the idea that the transcultural network adds impetus to draw the artistic site as a play of knowledge production and dissemination.

Bùi Kim Đĩnh

Art of border zones of Vietnam

Although Vietnam has opened to the world, under the one-party regime, art and culture are still strictly censored and controlled. Subjects and art forms which are considered as causing “negative effects” are still taboo. This research project focuses on periphery arts by Lê Huy Hoàng with his constructive memoir of a modern history in the installation The Wall (2012), in which violence appeared as a partition among human beings; by Nguyễn Xuân Huy (2015), who is the second generation after the unification in Vietnam and suffers from a hidden trauma of being physical handicapped by orange-agent in the past and mental handicapped under the communist regime in the present; and by Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai (2014), who worked with the stateless community in border areas between Vietnam and Cambodia on the need of being recognized as a civil right in her project Day by Day.

Subjects and aesthetics of those artworks are not welcome not only by the government but also by the public in Vietnam. The project shall carry out positions of artists, who have transcultural identities and dedicate them to their arts in different contexts. Furthermore, it shall also explore how these artists have challenged official discourses on aesthetics and politics as well as developed their strategies to negotiate their spaces in the society.

Danijel Benjamin Ćubelić

Generation in Waiting - The new generation of saudi artists between national and global expectations

The kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has become home to one of the Middle East's pioneering art movements. Founded in 2003, the Edge of Arabia initiative connects more than 30 young artists from Saudi-Arabia and showcases their work in a series of much-publicized exhibitions from Jeddah to Istanbul and London.

By positioning themselves as a voice of Saudi-Arabia’s „Generation in Waiting“ and seeking an active role in the conversation on the kingdoms social challenges, the groups artists are carving out a new emancipatory space for artists in saudi society. A process which is embedded in an area of conflict: Western publics question if art production in a context of censorship and blasphemy laws is possible at all, expecting them to be scorching critics of their home countries cultural and religious practices and reproducing the narrative of the persecuted emancipatory non-western artist seeking refuge in the „liberated“ West. Saudi state-led agents on the other side demand international cultural ambassadors rebranding the image of Saudi-Arabia in an edgy but not too critical way and defend its social values.

Taking their 2012 Jeddah exhibition „We need to talk“ as a starting point, the paper wants to explore how Edge of Arabia artists position themselves between these expectations as caretakers of saudi society in a global art world and being its critic and negotiate an emancipatory space to open up discussions on pressing social issues without alienating its society and seen as betrying its culture.

Caitlin Dalton

Printing Art History in Postwar Berlin: The Art Journal bildende kunst and the Politics of Reconstruction, 1947-1949

In the years following World War II, two professors at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Berlin, Oskar Nerlinger and Karl Hofer, founded and co-edited a German magazine exploring art history and criticism, bildende kunst (1947-1949). Its two year print-run coincided with the years leading up to the founding of the divided East and West German states. My paper examines the magazine’s complex perspectives on how to best rebuild the nation’s cultural activity after an era of Nazi rule and censorship. In an editorial published in April 1948, Nerlinger implored readers to be actively part of the nation’s collective struggle to reconstruct the visual arts: “You must struggle with us if we ever want to understand ourselves!” According to the magazine’s illustrated plea, artists, writers, critics, and state-appointed officials needed to work together to reshape cultural production. It seemed the very future of Germany’s identity was at stake. His impassioned plea—and indeed, his entire pedagogical approach—promoted public involvement as an ethical imperative at a time when political and ideological borders were shifting.

Martijn de Rooij

Rituals of transgression in contemporary art practices of Kolkata

The interplay between transgressions in art and contestations of political borders is difficult to untangle; we could loosely say that artists create new spaces with their art to envision alternatives and open up a space in the political realm, which goes beyond an analysis of art that is recognized and labeled as ‘political’. During the workshop I would like address this relation in the context of contemporary art practices in Kolkata.

Working with a broad range of media Kolkata’s avant-garde artists of today are venturing onto the streets, into old colonial houses, universities, and a range of other places. Throughout these spatial changes and formal innovations there are multiple references to  ‘folklore’ and ‘the village’. This seems to be continuation of the 20th century romanticist and  orientalist modern art movements in India through different means.  Reacting against British representational realism artists from late nineteenth and early twentieth century Bengal found new art forms that coincided with the emergence of a wave of nationalist self-awareness. Looking for an ‘Indian-ness’ in art that relied not only on content but also on ‘spirit’ or ‘emotion’ artists endeavored to open up a space for imagining an Independent India. ‘The village’ became one of the main venture points for imagining this ‘Indian-ness’.

Nowadays, ‘the village’ seems to have lost its significance as a symbolic carrier for nationalist self-awareness, yet an engagement with ‘the village’ in contemporary art practices revolving around memories of migration and critiques of the city and modernity has remained strong. Alongside this persistent interest in ‘the village’ artists engage with rough (natural) materials, ‘filthy’ substances such as blood and mud, and grotesque forms and parody. However, these material practices do not fall neatly in the slot of yet another nostalgic romanticism. Through the work of Lévi-Strauss, Mary Douglas, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, among others, I will try to analyze a range of transgressive material practices (matter out of place) as inversions of the cultural and political status quo.

Natalie Diffloth

Christoph Büchel's 'The Mosque': Contesting the boundaries of art, religion and 'the global' at the 2015 Venice Biennale (working title)

For this year’s Venice Biennale, curator Okwui Enwezor has proposed the exhibition as a new and transformative space of encounter — one where themes of upheaval, disruption and renewal are intended as a salient focus. Openly, he has inquired how “the current disquiet of our time [can] be properly grasped, made comprehensible, examined, and articulated”. What acts, he asks, “will be produced… to give shape to an exhibition which refuses confinement within the boundaries of conventional display models?” It is an open question with a presumably open answer. But such objectives also can invite a testing of intentions and limits. In this regard, one piece particularly has sparked controversy: Iceland’s official contribution to the 2015 Biennale, “The Mosque: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice” — a participatory installation coordinated by artist Christoph Büchel in collaboration with the Muslim communities of Venice and Iceland. Here, and through the array of debates surrounding the piece, vital questions take shape: how are notions of art, religion and ‘the global’ variously being (re)conceived? How are their boundaries alternately becoming contested or redrawn? Conflicting authorities are today, as we speak, asserting discordant ideas on this score — a fact which draws our attention to the border creation process itself, as well as to its dynamically changing, historically-rooted character.

Saima Haq

Seminal Spaces: Decoding Visual Escapes of Cinema Intersecting Conflict

This project would work to understand events of violence and socio-political malaise embedded in society through the lens of films produced in last two decades. Three key films will draw upon the intersections or rather substantiate conversations that would allow my research to focus on how violence can be re-read in cinema depicting South Asian society and its global leverage on social order, aesthetics of compliance or deviation at large. The films chosen for this project are: Firaaq (2009 Directed by Nandita Das), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012 Directed by Mira Nair) and Children of War (2014 Directed by Mrityunjay Devrat). These films will help in accessing artistic inquiry that works with 'Auteur' perspectives. It will enhance our understanding to assess further unreadable gaps in story line, against anti-foundational or hegemonic episodes of past events that has influenced cinema and film making today. While looking at thematic stutters which works to understand dystopic societies where genocides and wars have created a space to study seminal spaces represented through modalities of cinema on screen. This will further allow us to see historical moments and articulation of certain performances which brings on surface social trauma, repeatability of events, and negotiation of language and meta-textuality in the overlapping of  events and memory.       

Chiara Iorino

Rebuilding L’Aquila after the earthquake:  the role of the arts between a new vision for the future and the memory of the city  

The recovery phase after natural disasters is a fascinating moment within the history of any city. Despite being a traumatic event, the sudden fracture created by the earthquake is often filled with artistic experimentations. By transforming the urban space into a performative space and by relying on artists’ capacity to inspire critical observation and to reply to people’s needs for creative activities, symbolism and imagination, art can mediate between the existing public and individual images of the city and its redefinition.

The city of L’Aquila was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 2009, when the historic centre, cleared of debris and stabilized, was turned into a “red zone”, vacant and closed to public access. The research will analyse two projects born out of the disaster: I Cantieri dell’Immaginario and Off Site Art/Artbridge per L’Aquila by considering what kind of vision of the future is imagined and whether these projects can have a role in shaping the experience of the city in post-disaster environments.

Elena V. Kuznik

Writing and materiality in the work of Alighiero Boetti. Crossing and drawing of new borders in his “scriptural embroideries”

Since 1971 Alighiero Boetti engaged with Islamic culture in Afghanistan, with local artistic traditions as well as socio-cultural and geo-political issues in relation to the Western world. Together with Afghan partners he established the so-called "One Hotel" in Kabul. It also served as a place from which he could commission Afghan seamstresses in the vicinity to realize his concepts of embroidered world maps and squared pictures that contain Western writing and Eastern calligraphy. For almost one decade, up to about two years before the Russian invasion in 1979, Boetti worked with his network of Afghan assistants and artisans in Kabul and continued to do so in Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar in the late 1980s.

The main question of my research is how Boetti visualizes cultural borders, but also crosses and merges Western and Eastern visual culture. Among other approaches, I will answer the question by focussing on the art historical analysis and contextualization of Boetti’s series of large squared embroideries that include text in Italian and calligraphy in Farsi.

Anna Messner

Trauma and Memory in the Context of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Works of Sigalit Landau and Emily Jacir

In my paper I would like to focus on the artistic approach and visualisation of individual and collective trauma and memory in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by the example of the artworks „The Country“, 2002, of the Israeli artist Sigalit Landau and of „Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages which were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948”, 2001, of the Palestinian artist Emily Jacir. Whilst Sigalit Landau deals with concepts as body, identity, terror, devastation as well as the construction and deconstruction of national myths and utopias as Zionisms and individual and collective Israeli memory and trauma as the Second Intifada, Emily Jacir deals with topics as displacement, deterritorialisation as well as cross-border and cross-cultural national identity and the nomadic condition of the Palestinian people as a consequence of Al-Nakba, one of the most important components of Palestinian collective trauma and memory.

In my study I would like to investigate and discuss the perception and visualisation of the conflicting parties and conflicting narratives as well as the perception and visualisation of the artists own disposition both in the artworks and in the conflict zone. Another aspect I would like to emphasize and discuss is the connection and interference of various layers of material, history, narratives and theoretical concepts that link time and space, history and present, trauma and memory with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone.

Oh Jooyoung

Bodies as Battlefield: Private Tragedy and Public Drama of Japanese Military Comfort Women in Korea

The topic I would like to develop at the summer school is about Korean women known as "Japanese Military Comfort Women". These women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The first testimony given in public by one of these women was in 1991. Since then, a lawsuit has been filed against Japan for damages and other compensations, and the Korean government requested the Japanese government to conduct investigations. Comfort women started a demonstration, which is performed every Wednesday in Seoul, allowing the public to become familiar with the suffering of these women. Many artists and NGOs supported and still support them.

Through the works of three comic artists, I would like to analyze the contribution of artists to the visualization and construction of the narration of the drama of these women.

Ninette Rothmüller

Mapping Relationalities - Imperceptible Borders, Memories and Identity

My artistic and academic work investigates ‘imperceptible’ borders as they apply to certain (minority) populations or in disaster regions and relate to memory and identity. I propose to undertake an intertextual engagement with artistic and theoretical investigations, including my recent art-work, ‘Home’, which walks on culturally-loaded terrain engaging with the acquisition of land in the US during the 17th century. ‘Home’ puts historical events into a relationship with both newer voices and legal frameworks that are guiding acts of reclaiming tribal property and re-framing borders, such as ‘The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act’, as well as my own experiences of forced mobility across borders. This work will be cross-read with my installation ‘il y a’, which was part of a multi-layered community engagement project called ‘Mapping Sites’ (US 2011) and focused on the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan. Working with my hair on Japanese Silk Gauze, I embroidered seismographic mappings and evacuation maps from this event on transparent clothes designed to fit me and which expose my body as the breathing background on which the maps can be read. ‘il y a’ investigates the sudden establishment of life-changing borders and related visual surveillance practices that displace people and their daily practices of ‘place making’. I ask how art established outside of such borders, as the only place to be, can reference the ‘lost place’ within the border. All art-work will be cross-read applying Spivak’s question concerning thepossibility of the Subaltern to speak/be heard.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

Writing About Art Without Borders: Storytelling, Medium and Colour as Transformative Tools

As editor of the bimonthly independent contemporary art magazine Pipeline, founded in Hong Kong, I elaborate contents based on a single theme per issue prompted by an idea-event filtered in an Asian context, and reach for international participations. As an art writer and an artistic person, I have been establishing those intuitively and by associative links, travelling the region, conversing and observing various approaches and impressions, many in Southeast Asia, and noting asymmetric bridges and universal connections.

Going forward, I would like to draw from my editorial experience informed by a non-euro-centric transcultural approach to contemporary art, to elaborate new directions for future work and potential academic research. Here, I want to look at the ways artists in the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan (departing from the works by Poklong Anading, FX Harsono, and Chen Ching-Yuan) build original artistic voices via storytelling. They draw from various degrees of bricolage, are medium versatile, and manipulate colours and local symbols. Ultimately, these artists address both their particular affiliations to groups that are for the most part excluded from international affairs, traumatised, marginalised or trivialised, and their ambitions to be recognised as artists globally and considered as valid conceptual producers.

Eve Schiefer

Between Spaces: Spatial Practices and Migrating Images in Peripheral Landscapes in Transition.

I want to explore the critical spatial practices of contemporary transnational visual artists, in particular filmmakers. They often traverse contested borders and thereby create new cultural and cinematographic scapes that challenge us to think about identity, nation and film beyond fixed conceptions. These artists explore the marginal and peripheral places in and beyond Europe, liminal geographies that are often centers of change. They intervene into the existing physical cartography, resetting questions of identities. They open up a third space, a position in- between that shows up new perspectives, voices and forms - an interstitial space, that allows the rewriting of alternative narratives and meanings.

Barbara Seyerl

The representation of Asian artists in the West - A case study on performance artists Pushpamala N. and Shadafarin Ghadirian

The focus of my thesis lies on the two female performance artists Pushpamala N. And Shadafarin Ghadirian. Though being based in two different countries – Pushpamala working in India and Ghadirian in Iran – their work shows similarities and speaks a common language. As female artists they are restricted in certain areas but have taken advantage of their situation and employed it as a source of inspiration. Both artists refer to the past to reflect on the present and to critique the situation of women in their country. In her work Pushpamala N. takes on the role of the protagonist, taking on various guises and dressing up in costumes ranging from movie heroine to nun, as is the case in “The Ethnographic Series Native Women of South India: Manners & Customs” from 2000–2004, made together with British photographer Clare Arni. Her work has therefore repeatedly been compared to that of American performance artist Cindy Sherman, who started working on selfportraits in the 70s. Even Ghadirian, who has never set foot in front of the camera lens, has been associated with the American artist. I would like to challenge this association, questioning whether their work is comparable and taking a closer look at each artist to spotlight similarities and dissimilarities. Employing this comparison as a starting point, I will focus on the reception of Eastern Art in the West. What are the characteristics of Eastern Art shown in the West? My research in this area is based on two articles by Monika Juneja and Cathrine Bublatzky in the publication by Hans Belting “Global Studies – Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture”.

Pathmini Ukwattage

Liminal Learning – The School of Architecture and Planning in Ahmedabad, India

Part of the high enthusiasm concerning progress and regeneration following Indian independence in 1947 was the founding of one of the first architectural and planning schools, established in postcolonial era. The School of Architecture and Planning (today named CEPT) which is located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and built by the Indian architect B. V. Doshi in 1966 offers an example where both concepts of openness, centre-and-periphery-relationships, and the blurring and dissolution of borders are translated into the language of architecture.

Grasping the ideas and premises circulating around this object brought me to reflect on the accessibility and embeddedness of territories, land and functional areas within the city structure. As an art historian my particular approach to the notion of the border would be from an aesthetic point of view, that is engaging with the phenomenology and materiality of both the built and natural environment that influences, directs, and manipulates behavior which again structures the social reality. In this sense the Indian metropolis brings up variegated versions of (dis-)connections between differing social, cultural or religious spheres. Against this backdrop the focus of my project is to examine the architectural setting of the School of Architecture in terms of transgression of borders to purely functional as well as social ends.

Katharina Upmeyer

Lee Miller’s Surrealist Photographs: Trauma, Black Humour and Memory in World War II

My paper deals with Lee Miller’s war photography with focus on her pictures published in the photograph book Grim Glory – Pictures of Britain under Fire during the Blitz war in London in 1941. I will mainly investigate questions how Lee Miller depicted the traumatic events and developed an own aesthetic approach to handle them for recipients by using humour and irony – either inherent within the photographic scenes themselves (she took many photographs of metamorphosed objects in the very beginning of her career as war photographer) or through subheadings of her pictures. Also, I will discuss how her pictures challenge the borders of the medium photography by depicting motives that are in a state between life and death, reality and dream, perception and imagination, past and present, reason and insanity etc. as well as shift the border what is worth to see (in terms of Susan Sontags “ethics of seeing”) and is art. Moreover, I will demonstrate in what extent she uses the method of framing to visualize trauma and how traumatic images serve war propaganda.

Yang Jing

The proposed research adopts a comparative perspective to investigate the crucial role of activist art in contemporary political movements in three of China’s borderlands: Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang. It examines 1) how activist art become a subversive power in social movements, what kinds of disrupters and conjunctions they bring about in everyday politics, what strategies and techniques it employs to realize its goals in political arena, and how the creative expression and its transformative capability operates in body-/city-/region-/global scales; 2) how activist art functions as the media and platform for the borderlands to break away the status quo and open up potentialities against the central power’s hegemonic control, how activist art in one region draws support from and sheds light on that practiced elsewhere in and beyond China, what kinds of tools and strategies it utilize to build rapport and collaboration across the boarders. The study is inter-disciplinary by nature, because the creative practice and artworks discussed here not only challenge the art system and social order, but they also aim to change the political condition by means of art in people’s real life. Methodologically, the research data will be collected through ethnographic fieldwork in three sites, in-depth interviews with artists and art institutions, and then analyzed documented in text and video

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