Productive failure: Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories
ALPESH KANTILAL PATEL
This title sets out to write new transnational South Asian art histories - to make visible histories of artworks that remain marginalised within the discipline of art history. However, this is done through a deliberate 'productive failure' - specifically, by not upholding the strictly genealogical approach that is regularly assumed for South Asian art histories. For instance, one chapter explores the abstract work of Cy Twombly and Natvar Bhavsar. The author also examines 'whiteness', the invisible ground upon which racialized art histories often pivot, as a fraught yet productive site for writing art history. This book also provides original commentary on how queer theory can deconstruct and provide new approaches for writing art history. Overall, this title provides methods for generating art history that acknowledge the complex web of factors within which art history is produced and the different forms of knowledge-production we might count as art history.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2021
Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies (working title)
Alpesh Kantilal Patel
Since the mid-2000s, scholars have written a plethora of transnational, global, and world art histories that have systematically begun to reimagine art history beyond Euro-America. Since roughly the same period, art historians have addressed the heteronormativity of art histories by incorporating lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, and intersex (LGBT*QI) subjectivities. However, there has not been any appreciable overlap between these two important developments in the discipline. Indeed, my own first book, Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories (Manchester University Press, 2018), incorporated LGBT*QI perspectives into transnational South Asian art histories, but still focused primarily on the US and the UK. An LGBT*QI transnational art history not focused exclusively on Western European and American contexts has yet to materialize. This monograph provisionally entitled “Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies” addresses the gap in the extant literature. I will draw on Martinican-born poet and theoretician Édouard Glissant’s (1997) compelling writings on creolization to theorize my approach to this book project. “Transregional Entanglements” aims to offer an alternative to the way in which global art histories and LGBT*QI art histories are being conceptualized. This book also acts as an antidote to the resurgence of toxic (and often white, male, and heteronormative) nationalism around the world.
Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Storytellers of Art’s Histories (working title)
co-Editors: Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Yasmeen Siddiqui
We invoke “art history” in the title given its ongoing usage in pedagogy but at the same time in its broadest sense. Since at least the 1980s, there has been a deluge of art historical knowledge in the art world being produced in academia and in the curatorial and education departments of museums and non-profit spaces. However, there has been little synthesis of the wide-ranging material being produced--perhaps because of an aversion to creating canons. This anthology focuses on how the discipline of art history can no longer be confined to the rarified world of academia. It brings together first-person narratives not only of art historians but also curators, artists, educators, and archivists--who are based in various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia. The book argues that all of these kinds of practitioners already impact the construction of art’s histories but there has been no serious reflection to date on how their work comes together productively to write and teach art history. Of special interest is animating the sometimes-vexed relationship between the fairly new field of curatorial studies and the much older field of art history.
Storytellers of Art’s Histories is distinguished by its effort to transparently perform the mechanics of storytelling as animated in art history. Our commitment to an inter-generational, non-hierarchical approach among the five knowledge-producers (art historian, curator, artist, educator and archivist) that organize the book aims to upend the field’s caste system and open the field up for exploration by a broader base of future practitioners than is usually understood and accepted as possible among undergraduate students looking for fruitful areas of study and work.