The University of the Arts London Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation is a forum for historical, theoretical and practice-based research in architecture, art, communication, craft and design. Find out more about TrAIN.
Find out more about research at the University of the Arts London.
Afterlives of Monuments
South Asia is famous for its monuments, past and present. This research project has been developed through a series of international conferences and seminars, culminating in the publication of a special issue on The Afterlives of Monuments in South Asian Studies, published by Taylor and Francis as volume 29 issue 1, spring 2013. It builds on an international conference (CSM, London, 2010) funded by the British Acad...
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The Birth of Cool
The Birth of Cool considers the individual and group stylepractices in different parts of the African as prisms of cultural and social commentary. Based on case studies of either complete looks or a single garment, with a daterange from the late 19th century to the 21st century, thebook considers expanded notions of place, heritage and auto/biography.
Find out more about The Birth of Cool
Translating and Writing Modern Design Histories in East Asia for the Global World
This project aims to develop a network of native design historians in East Asia (Japan, Korea, PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan) led by the core members Yuko Kikuchi (PI at CCW), Wessie Ling (COI at LCF) and Yunah Lee (University of Brighton). The central concern is the re-examination of East Asian design histories from their local perspectives...
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Russel Wright and Asia: Inter-Asia Modernities and Transnational Design History During the Cold War
Dr Yuko Kikuchi has been awarded the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for two years for her project work. She will investigate the influential American designer Russel Wright (1904-76) and his less well-known design projects in Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong) during the 1950s-60s at the time of the Cold War.
Find out more about Russel Wright and Asia: Inter-Asia Modernities and Transnational Design History During the Cold War
Research on the Art of Maud Sulter
Deborah Cherry has won a Grants for Arts award from Arts Council England for the research and development of an exhibition of the work of Maud Sulter.
Find out more about Research on the Art of Maud Sulter
UK-Japan lecture series ‘Tokyo Futures, 1868-2020’
From the middle of the nineteenth century, Japan, like the rest of the world, was shaken by the transformations that followed its encounter with industry and empire. The country entered a new era, named after the Meiji emperor, and embarked on an ambitious programme of modernization, centred on Tokyo, its new capital.
Find out more about UK-Japan lecture series ‘Tokyo Futures, 1868-2020’
Black Artists and Modernism (BAM)
Black Artists and Modernism (BAM), is a three-year research project led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in partnership with Middlesex University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). BAM will investigate the artworks of Black-British artists and the works’ relationship to modernism. The term ‘Black-British’ t...
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Professor Stephen Farthing – Plains Indian Drawing: A Sense of Place and Space chaired by Pratap Rughani
Please not this lecture is at London College of Communication, not Chelsea College of Arts.
Please click the link below for more information:
Warm congratulations to Professor Ethel Brooks, Tate/Train Visiting Fellow and UAL Fullbright Visiting Distinguished Chair, on being appointed to the prestigious United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Prof Brooks works with TrAIN’s Professor Jane Collins on the TrAIN Project Performing Romani Identities: Strategy and Critique.
For the full statement from the White House please read here:
All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor (‘Exquisite Cacphony’ video, 2015 in the Arsenale; ‘Exquisite Cacophony’ live performances in the Giardini)
S/N: Signal to Noise, Whitney Museum of Modern Art/The Kitchen, New York (‘Oh Adelaide’ video, 2010)
Liberties: 40 Years Since the Sex Discrimination Act, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London (The Devotional Wallpaper, since 2008)
Music for Museums: a season of events, films and audio interventions, Whitechapel Gallery, London (‘Oh Adelaide’ video, 2010)
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London with A Palazzo Gallery
Sonia Boyce, A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia (‘Oh Adelaide’ video, 2010, plus a series of drawings, 2002)
La Villa Arson, Nice residency from October 2015-January 2016. Residency exhibition opens 30 January 2016. A monograph, to be edited by Sophie Orlando will be published by Sternberg Press in 2016.
A successful Arts Council application means that the project will continue in the UK at the ICA London, Eastside Projects in Birmingham and Tyneside Cinema Gallery in Newcastle, culminating in an exhibition at MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen in 2017.
Public Talks and Conferences
Professor Boyce chaired an ‘in-conversation’ with Lynne Segal and Griselda Pollock for the ‘Radical Thinkers: the art, sex and politics of feminism’ event at Tate Modern in February 2015.
‘Rewind Sankofa: Dreaming Rivers’ film (1988), directed by Martina Attille, screening at Tate Britain co-ordinated by Zoe Whitely, took place on 2 November 2015. An ‘in-conversation’ took place after the screening between myself and Amna Malik.
Professor Boyce spoke at the ‘Community Arts? Learning from the Legacy of Artists’ Initiatives’ conference organised by the Liverpool Biennial, 1 November 2015
Professor Boyce will be speaking at ‘Now You Can Go: Rescue Missions – Women’s Art Recovered’, co-ordinated by Helena Reckitt, at the ICA London on Wednesday 9 December, as part of Now You Can Go, a programme considering feminist thinking, art and activism taking place across several London venues in December 2015.
‘The Ghost Begins by Coming Back. Revenants And Returns 29 In Maud Sulter’s Photomontages’ in Revival: Memories, Identities, Utopias, Edited by Ayla Lepine, Matt Lodder, and Rosalind McKever. Published by Courtauld Books online, © 2015, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. ISBN: 978-1-907485-04-6. The book and chapters are available for free download.
Professor Jane Collins and Professor Ethel Brooks of Rutgers University (TrAIN Associate) have just completed a chapter, Scenography Matters: Performing Romani Identities: Strategy and Critique, for the forthcoming Bloomsbury publication: Expanding Scenography. Professor Collins and Professor Brooks employ scenography as a critical frame-work and practice to analyse the visual, spatial and material politics of site based performance amongst Romani Communities in Europe and the UK drawing on the findings of their recently funded AHRC research network.
After a successful launch at the Prague Quadrennial this new international journal edited by Professor Collins and Professor Arnold Aronson of Columbia University will be publishing issues 3 and 4 online in November/ December with the hard copy to follow in January.
Professor Paul Goodwin recently curated two exhibitions as part of his Ghosts curatorial research project that explores the relationship of technology and subjectivity in an age of migration through the lens of contemporary art practice: ‘Ghosts’ at Hangar Centre for Art and Research in Lisbon Portugal (22 Oct – 27 Nov, 2015) featured artists Alia Syed, Chila Kumari Burman, Keith Piper, John Akomfrah, Leo Asemota, The Otolith Group, Lawrence Abu Hamden, Larry Achiampong & David Blandy and Roshini Kempadoo, (http://www.hangar.com.pt/ghosts/?lang=en) ; while Keith Piper (Robot Bodies 2003-2015) & Roshini Kempadoo (About Face, 2015) were exhibited at the Lethaby Gallery at Central St Martins from 27 Nov – 11 Dec with accompanying artist masterclasses for UAL students and staff (http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/whats-on-at-csm/lethaby-gallery/upcoming-ghosts-keith-piper—roshini-kempadoo/).
Professor Goodwin delivered a workshop for Masters students on Migrating Modernities at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais (University of Art & Design, Valais) in Sierre, Switzerland in October and chaired the Curating in Transnational Contexts in London Panel at the Artist and Empire Conference: New Dynamics at Tate Britain, 26 November 2015. This conference accompanied Artist & Empire exhibition at Tate Britain.
Dr Lucy Steeds recently contributed an essay to Art Critique Taiwan (published by Tainan National University of the Arts): ‘Contemporary Art, Curating and Exhibition Histories’, ACT, October 2015 (special issue on ‘Curatorship’, ed. Lu Pei-Yi and Chiang Po-Shin)
Dr Steeds has just started a year-long research post in Digital Exhibition Histories, with a focus on ’The Other Story’ (The Hayward Gallery and touring, 1989–90). Funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, this project is being developed through Afterall at Central Saint Martins. Dr Steeds will discuss the initial phase of research at ‘The Work Between Us: Black British Artists and Exhibition Histories’ at The Bluecoat in Liverpool, 20 January 2016.
Professor Carol Tulloch co-curated the exhibition Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism with Mark Sealy MBE, Director of Autograph ABP, which opened on 2nd October at Autograph, Rivington Place, London. The exhibition closes 5th December.
Professor Carol Tulloch has been working on the display ‘The Flat Cloth Cap’ as part of Cabinet Stories project organised by Alison Moloney of LCF. The Cabinet Stories will tour to Holloway Prison, Barnardos and Chrisp Street Market from January 2016.
Professor Carol Tulloch has co-edited the book Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism with Mark Sealy MBE, Director of Autograph ABP, which was launched on 1st October 2016. The book includes an essay by Professor Paul Gilroy and an interview by the psychoanalyst Adam Philips of the photograph Syd Shelton.
Carol Tulloch’s monograph the Birth of Cool Style Narratives of the African Diaspora, which will be published by Bloomsbury, went to press on 5th November. The book will be published in early March 2016.
Routledge have accepted the book proposal The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life After Bourdieu which is to be co-edited by Malcolm Quinn, Dave Beech, Michael Lehnert, Carol Tulloch and Stephen Wilson. Carol will edit the section ‘Taste, the Home and Everyday Life’ which includes the TrAIN member Sonia Boyce.
Professor Carol Tulloch has been invited to be part of the University of Miami/Small Axe project The Jamaican 1960s which will be the subject of a special issue of the Journal Small Axe. She presented the paper ‘Worried Over You’: Identities, Style Narratives and Jamaican Album Sleeves at The Jamaican 1960s: A Symposium, at the University of Miami 29-30 November 2015.
Professor Carol Tulloch was invited to contribute to the Curating Conversations: Professional Development Programme organised by the Inspire Legacy Team and Autograph ABP, on London 12 October. She talked about her curatorial practice, with a focus on the exhibitions A Riot of our Own and Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism (2008-2015).
Carol Tulloch was a panellist on ‘Culture Has the Power!’: Counterculture as a Constructive Force in the UK and Finland’, 13 November, at Autograph, Rivington Place, organised by The Finish Institute in London. The institute was inspired to have this event with speakers from Britain and Finland due to an article in The Observer about the book Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism.
Dr Yuko Kikuchi, in her capacity as Terra Foundation Senior Fellow (2015-16), presented a paper ‘Cold War transnational design: Russel Wright and “Asian Modern”’ for ‘Shifting Terrain: Mapping a Transnational American Art History’, a key bi-annual symposium, organised by the Terra Foundation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum Washington DC, on 16-17 October. This series is framed within the main theme “On American Art in a Global Context”, and this year’s symposium focuses on the direction of new scholarship that deals with the transnational aspects of this particular disciplinary field.
The recurring question and challenges presented focused on what is ‘American Art’ and who has ownership where the question of ‘race’ and associated tensions lie at the core. Yuko’s paper also addressed this issue through the discussion of racialization of modern design in the transnational space of transactions created by Cold War in Asia. In the Graduate Students’ short presentation session, Lucy Steeds’ M Res student Ellie Armon Azoulay from CSM also presented a paper on Edith Gregor Halpert and her Downtown Gallery in New York, exploring transnational art connections at the emergence of modern art in the USA.
The webcast of this symposium is available on http://www.americanart.si.edu/research/symposia/2015/terra/
A brief update about this terms Reading Group with Dr Michael Asbury.
The Contemporary Art and Latin America Reading Group has been running this term with ten PhD students and visiting academics. The themes this year relate to the historiography of contemporary art.
Reading Group – Historiographies of the Contemporary
Contemporary Art as Post-Conceptual Art?
The title of this reading group, ‘historiographies of the contemporary’, arises from two statements by the philosopher of art Peter Osborne. These statements seem however to contradict each other: the first argues that the term contemporary should be understood as a ‘coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities (Anywhere or Nowehere at All, Verso, 2013), the second that contemporary art is post-conceptual (Conceptual Art, Phaidon, 2002). For Osborne the term contemporary is inadequate as a periodising conception of the time of art history.’ If the conjunction in the contemporary pertains to the fact of living together in time, in the present, its disjunctive nature arises from the realization that within this shared ‘now’ are distinct subjectivities informed by different trajectories through time, in other words, genealogies.
The liberating potential that such a proposition offers in terms of the validation of different temporalities, seems therefore to be contradicted or at the very least retracted by Osborne’s claim that ‘contemporary art is post-conceptual art’. In other words, Osborne seems to identify an important malaise within legitimising discourses on contemporary art – proposing discrepant yet equally valid genealogies for art now – yet he appears to fall victim of this malaise himself – through the emphasis on the overwhelming significance of the legacy of conceptual art within contemporary art.
Intrinsic to his argument therefore is not only the very praxis, but also the specific historical disjunction of conceptual art. It is specific for it relates to its very own genealogy – the rupture with abstract expressionism and the disjunctive invocation of the early work of Marcel Duchamp. It is this relation that conceptual art has with the hegemonic narrative of modern art that appears to annul the possibility of understanding contemporary art as both the post-conceptual and the ‘coming together of different but equally ‘present’ temporalities.
This year the reading group will investigate the development of discourses on conceptual art in order to re-think the current discourse on the movement as a means of problematising current debates on the nature of contemporary art.
3/11 Henry Flynt – Conceptual Art 1963
10/11 Kynaston McShine – Introduction to Primary Structures 1966
17/11 Sol LeWitt – Sentenses on conceptual art (1969) and Paragraphs on conceptual art (1967)
24/11 Lucy Lippard and John Chandler – Dematerialisation of Art 1968
1/12 Brazilian Embassy round-table debate on concrete poetry (if you want to attend please confirm asap and I’ll do a group rsvp)
8/12 Joseth Kosuth – Art After Philosophy 1969
15/12 Harald Szeemann – When Attitudes become Form 1969
12/01 Germano Celant – Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Land Art 1970
19/01 Kynaston McShine – Information (+ please choose two artists statements to discuss) 1970
26/01 Ursula Meyer – Conceptual Art 1972
2/02 Gregory Battcock – Idea Art 1973
09/02 Global Conceptualisms – Eastern Europe + China section 1999
16/02 Global Conceptualisms – Latin America section 1999
23/02 Rosalind Krauss – Post Media Condition 1999
1/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (up to Lineages of Negation) 2002
8/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (Lineages of Negation and Instruction, Performance, Documentation) 2002
15/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (Processes, System Series + Word + Sign) 2002
22/03 Peter Osborne – Conceptualism (appropriation, Intervention, Everyday + Politics and Ideology) 2002
By Dr Michael Asbury
Upon his arrival in London where Arrjan came to spend some time within the context of an artist residency at Chelsea College of Arts and the research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN), I introduced him to the curator Paul Goodwin, who has recently been appointed TrAIN’s new director. Having explained to Paul that Arrjan had been interested in the themes of slavery, its ships, their routes, and the iconography of the triangular trade, the curator suggested that the artist should visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.I was somewhat surprised therefore upon visiting Arrjan recently in Rio that the most prominent icon that dominates his recent paintings was the image of the Cutty Sark, a ship that stands, recently restored, in a dry dock marking the centre of that London neighbourhood. The ship however was never directly involved with the slave trade itself, having been constructed in 1869 for the purpose of importing tea from the far east.
I posed this question to Arrjan who proceeded to speak about his desire not so much to represent that particular historical period but to compose anachronistic imagery that invoked the traces, the scars, that is to say, the persistence of the legacy of slavery to this day. The Cutty Sark thus stood within his canvases as a general vessel but also as an icon of globalised trade, one that brings the past into confrontation with the present. The choice in this sense seems very pertinent indeed, both in terms of the history of the ship but also as far as the etymology of the ship’s name is concerned.
The Cutty Sark was in its time at the cutting edge of technology being the fastest ship but also the last of its type, the clipper, having been built at the moment in which steam boats were gradually replacing sail ships. Another example of a clipper, built at the same time and place as the Cutty Sark, still survives in Adelaide in Australia, one upside down in relation to the other so to speak, both holding the circumference of the globe on its extreme points. In fact, a third ship remains in ruins off the shores of Chile, its skeleton marks a triangle in relation to the other two and so metaphorically invokes the expansion of the trade routes from the slave trade to tea and eventually the export of prisoners to the far away lands of Australia, while (according to conventional cartography) placing the British example at its pinnacle.
In this sense, it is also interesting to note that the art college where Arrjan was housed during his stay in London, together with Tate Britain across the road, occupy the site in which Milbank Prison once stood, from where the prisoners were carried from the shores of the river Thames to the penal colony on the other side of the globe.
The origins of the name Cutty Sark are equally interesting in terms of the themes that Arrjan is developing in these paintings. The name, like the ship that was constructed on the Clyde, has Scottish origins. It is taken from, Tam O’ Shanter, a long narrative poem by Robert Burns, a poet that has become almost synonymous with Scottish nationalism. While the ship is a composite structure with its steel frame and wooden hull, the poem is a hybrid of Scotts dialect and English. The name Cutty Sark translates from Scotts to English as ‘short skirt’ and in the poem stands as the nickname for a witch, Nannie, who chases the main character Tam O’ Shanter, a drunk who as he rides his horse home after a night of alcoholic excess at a public house, witnesses a devilish scene of witches dancing around a church ablaze.
If we think of the relationship, the very problematic relationship, between the declaration of the republic and the abolition of slavery in Brazil, which took place in consecutive years (1888 and 1889), Burns himself stands as an interesting parallel, being as he is the Scottish national poet who during his lifetime worked as an accountant within the context of the slave trade in Jamaica. He is thus generally credited to have composed the lyrics to the proto-abolitionist poem a slave’s lament of 1792: ‘It was in Sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthrall / For the lands of Virginia-ginia-O / Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more / And alas, I am weary, weary O.
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