The 22 contributors to the symposium came from, or represented, different parts of the African diaspora, including Kwala-Zulu Natal (South Africa) Dakar and Saint Louis du Sénégal (Senegal) Bamako (Mali), Bahia (Brazil), Belgium, Britain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Germany, Jamaica, Trinidad, Switzerland and the United States. They were theorists, curators, stylists, fashion designers, historians, established academics, fashion industry specialists and Ph.D candidates.
In a detailed report of the symposium, Christopher Breward (V&A) noted that the contributors demonstrated eloquently both the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, and the recovery of agency. He congratulated Carol Tulloch and all those involved for having ‘pulled the subject out of the shadows within dress history to emerge as a vibrant established field in its own right’.
Traditions, modernity and authenticity were thrown into question throughout, particularly in terms of studies on various parts of Africa. Papers provided complex alternatives to a closed history and closed sense of African dress and textiles. Speakers drew attention to the coexistence of traditional dress and different forms of modernity (Anitra Nettleton, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg); noted a need for more detailed histories of diasporic forms (John Picton, SOAS); and outlined the way people move in and out from the centre to the periphery, and back again, a more reflexive understanding of diasporic movement (Leslie Rabine, University of California at Davis).
Papers on the issue of place and performance encouraged the need to think across boundaries and disciplines, and revealed an interest in models of identity constructed by the archive, emphasizing its importance in this field of study, as well as its fragility. This focus continued within papers on the role of museums and galleries, which addressed the representation of African diaspora dress in archives and exhibition culture. Nicola Stylianou (TrAIN) discussed the lack of objects in the V&A in relation to the museum’s imperial history – an instance ‘where the museum acts as a block rather than a conduit for the flow of diasporic articles’; the Couture Communes workshop project (Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart, 2006) was cited as a model that enabled critical thinking about African diaspora dress and production.
Styling, photography, fashion installations and textile design were discussed as new directions for thinking about the different forms of contemporary expression of dress and the black self. Christopher Breward (V&A) discussed the notion of doubling, a continual negotiation that is part of the diasporic experience and one that is particularly marked through dress. This emphasis was continued through Van Dyk Lewis’ (Cornell, New York) discussion of the trauma of black fashion.
Summing up the symposium, Breward noted that the use of terms such as ‘blockage, reversal, looping back and knotting have been about stopping flows’. This then is a reminder that ‘the movement of people, the movement of objects, and the movement of ideas are not always so fluid, and not always so unimpeded’. To this end, all the papers demonstrated ‘the benefits of both grounded, focused studies and theoretically informed reflexiveness’ and showed ‘how work in this field needs to be inventive in its sources and show courage in its consideration of the politics of power and identity’. He petitioned that future work think about comparative aspects – how far can the experiences and artifacts of one diaspora be conflated or contrasted with those of another? How do the they fit in with a much broader histories of migration and exchange?
Tuesday 13 November, 2007
As part of our first collaboration with Gasworks International Residency Programme, TrAIN is delighted to welcome Erika Arzt (Austria) and Juan Linares (Spain) as resident artists. Between 3rd October 2007 and 19th December 2007, they will develop a new project in London, contributing to, and benefiting from, both Gasworks studios and the research culture at TrAIN and the University of the Arts London.
Through project based work, Erika Arzt and Juan Linares work collaboratively and responsively, exploring the inclusion of communities in the development of their projects, which in turn take the form of temporal spaces and site specific works. The artists work to consult local interests and concerns in the development of their projects, offering up authorship and direct decision making to dialogue and communication.
The artists will discuss the development of their work at the TrAIN Open Lecture on 4th December 2007. Please consult the diary on this site for more details.
Tuesday 18 September, 2007
TrAIN Director Professor Toshio Watanabe has secured AHRC funding for UAL to host a major three year research project.
Commencing in September 2007, ‘Forgotten Japonisme’ will explore a previously neglected period in the study of Western attitudes towards Japanese art: from the 1920s to the 1950s. There is a tacit understanding that a taste for Japanese art was impossible during the Second World War. The project aims to provide evidence that this was not the case, and will investigate both negative and positive attitudes towards Japanese art from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The research team will include a further three core members of the Research Centre: Dr Yuko Kikuchi, Rebecca Salter and Dr Julian Stair. They will be joined by two external experts, from Japan and the USA, and a newly appointed AHRC Research Fellow and Research Student. During the course of the project, three themed workshops and a conference will allow additional external experts to contribute.
Tuesday 18 September, 2007
Deborah Cherry and Sutapa Biswas of TrAIN are convening a panel entitled Monuments and Memorials for LOCATION: the Museum, the Academy and the Studio the 34th Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, to be held at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, and Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, 2-4 April 2008.
Monuments and memorials are characteristic features of colonial and postcolonial cities, and they have long been located in urban as well as rural contexts. Often produced in the artist’s studio, widely studied in the academy, monuments and memorials frequently exist outside the purview of the museum. They come into being at precise locations, perhaps marking the unique site of a traumatic event or the longer historical moment of epistemic violence.
This session will ask what prompts the installation, re/location and destruction of monuments and memorials. What relation do they have to current artistic practice? How have their meanings been contested, as for example during decolonisation or profound political change?
We welcome papers from artists and from art historians and we aim to bring together differing approaches in research, drawing on the perspectives of the studio, the academy and the museum. Our focus will be on the trans-national, the inter-cultural and the post-colonial, on the contemporary as much as the historical, on practice alongside critical theory and art history, and on monuments and memorials in global settings outside the UK.
The closing date for Paper Proposals for this panel is 16 November 2007.
Please visit the AAH website for details.
Monday 06 August, 2007
With the support of Tate Modern, Camberwell College of Arts, Chelsea College of Art & Design and the Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford, this symposium forms part of our ongoing collaboration with EBA-PPGAV, the centre for post-graduate research at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It coincides with the landmark Tate Modern exhibition Hélio Oiticica The Body of Colour and marks the launch of the TrAIN/EBA-PPGAV collaborative publication, Transnational Correspondence.
Speakers include: Moacir dos Anjos, independent curator based in Brazil; Michael Asbury, TrAIN; Oriana Baddeley, TrAIN; Guilherme Bueno, EBA-PPGAV, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Fernando Cocchiarali, Director, MAM-RJ – Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro; Gloria Ferreira, EBA-PPGAV; Deborah Cherry, TrAIN; Milton Machado, EBA-PPGAV; Toshio Watanabe, TrAIN; Paulo Venancio Filho, EBA-PPGAV; Isobel Whitelegg, Department of Art History &Theory, University of Essex; and Carlos Zilio, EBA-PPGAV.
Friday 03 August, 2007
TrAIN is collaborating with Gasworks International Residency Programme to offer a fully funded three month residency and research placement for an artist not based in the UK.
The selected artist should be in a strong position to make an enthusiastic, discursive and speculative engagement with both an academic and studio environment.
The closing date for applications is Monday 30th July 2007. Results will be announced in mid-August, and the residency will take place October to December 2007.
Friday 01 June, 2007