TrAIN Open Lecture by Monica Juneja: Modernity’s invention of Art - the travails of a migrant concept

Open Lecture


Young woman painting her eyes, detail from temple frieze, Parshvanath temple, Khajuraho, ca. 970 AD. Credits photograph go to: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Paris.

This event is open to staff, students and the public.

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Violent conflagrations over images that have regularly erupted across the globe remind us of the power of pictures to act, to move and to hurt. They point to the often slippery distinction between a “work of art” and a “religious image”, urging us to examine the terms in which the notion of “art” as a globally migrant taxonomic category and a component of cultural identity in different regions of the world was constituted.

This talk takes as its starting point a heated public controversy triggered by the portrayals of Hindu goddesses and an anthropomorphic map of India as an unclothed female by the Indian modernist painter M.F. Husain.

It will reflect on a history of multi-textured relationships with images that have produced structures of intimacy between the viewer and the religious image, which then accounts for the power of certain images to hurt.

Censorship, controversy and conflagrations surrounding images – be it cartoons of the Prophet, or the work of Ai Wei-wei or the paintings of M.F. Husain – though each a product of specific local and regional constellations – have all erupted as a result of a new divide across the globe that separates those who share an access to authoritative knowledge about the values of “art” and those who do not.

Monica Juneja holds the Chair of Global Art History at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, University of Heidelberg. She has been Professor at the University of Delhi and held visiting professorial positions at the Universities of Hannover, Vienna, the Emory University, Atlanta and Zurich.

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    TrAIN Open Series

    The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibition, publication, and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings.

    Taking place at fortnightly intervals on Wednesday evenings during the academic term, the series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across the University of the Arts London.
    Find out more about TrAIN Open Series