On the Subject of Elephants. Navigating across the ‘post-elephant’ condition

Event: Public Talk within the International Seminar on Periodization

Location: NEC conference hall

07 May 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

Bojana PEJIĆ, independent art historian, art critic and curator based in Berlin, Guest lecturer at the Bauhaus University in Weimar

The talk is a satirical illustrated guide which is going to delve into our contemporary moment, which cultural theorists habitually define as post-political, post-ideological, and post-utopian condition. As art historians, we willy-nilly wrestle with those canonical terms each of which is phrased with the prefix ‘after’: postmodern, postcolonial, post-socialist, post-Soviet, and even post-feminist. In our age of ‘unfolding geographies’, we, post-socialists and post-colonials, are trying to demonstrate that the meanings of these terms are not universal, but rather contextual and site-specific. For example, in post-Soviet Latvia or Estonia, ‘post-colonialism’ acquired a specific meaning which radically differs from the meaning of ‘post-colonialism’ as understood in Algerian, Mexican or Indian art histories. When we are ‘doing art history’ (DaCosta Kaufmann) focusing on ‘our’ national art productions, what are we supposed to do? We may try to deconstruct the Western ‘universalizing machine’ (the Center, the Canon) and we may opt for a contextual methodology, practicing the ‘horizontal model’ of art history, as proposed by Piotr Piotrowski.  Yet, when we are doing ‘our’ art history, knowing that it is written in ‘minor languages’ and located in peripheral geographies, are we reproducing national stereotypes embedded in the national canons, or rather deconstructing them? How are we to do art history in the post-canon age all the way knowing the ‘globalization of art history’ appears to be a new canon?

Event supported by the Getty Foundation as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative.