Panels & Lectures
Conference Panels Organized & Refereed:
“A Reckoning With the Recent Future of Art Historical Knowledge Production”
College Art Association Annual Conference, 2019
Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Yasmeen Siddiqui, co-Chairs
From the call for papers:
This session of short position papers followed by a roundtable discussion challenges prevailing ideas about how art history as knowledge comes into being. For sure, a diverse array of practitioners is involved in generating the information that is used to build art historical methods and narratives. However, there has not been deep reflection on how the wide-ranging material produced by them coalesces into “knowledge” that is fed back into the classroom.
For this reason, we are bringing together five esteemed scholars working in institutions and independently in the fields of art history, critical craft studies, curatorial studies, studio art, and critical archival studies. We are committed to examining the often fraught interdependence of these fields in service to building a community of intellectually and scholarly responsible practitioners. To that end, we will encourage dynamic audience participation, too.
During the roundtable discussion, we will reckon with exponentially increasing bodies of knowledge in the form of scholarly monographs and refereed articles, exhibition catalogs/brochures and museum-produced scholarly anthologies, online journals, and blogs, and recorded podcasts/lectures and other ephemera. We focus not on the recent art historical past but the “recent future” of art history--a future yet to be written but tethered to the recent past. Moreover, this panel foregrounds the slowness (the production of the recent future) of art historical knowledge production as a virtue.
“Art History as Créolité/Creolizing Art History”
Association of Art Historians (UK) annual conference, 2017
Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Chair
From the call for papers:
As part of the three-day workshop titled “Créolité and Creolization,” which took place on St. Lucia as one of the platforms of Documenta 11 (2002), participants explored the genealogy of terms such as “creolization” and “Créolité” and their potential to describe phenomena beyond their historically and geographically specific origins (however slippery they are). Surprisingly, there has been little engagement with the potential of creolization as a way of doing or writing art histories differently since that time. This session aims to redress this lacuna.
Stuart Hall, one of the workshop participants, writes that what distinguishes creolization from hybridity or diaspora is that it refers to a process of cultural mixings that are a result of slavery, plantation culture, and colonialism. Yet Martinique-born poet and theoretician Édouard Glissant notes that creolization can refer to a broader set of sociocultural processes not only in the Caribbean but also “all the world” (Tout-monde). Drawing on Hall and Glissant, Irit Rogoff suggests that Créolité can more broadly reference the construction of a literary or artistic project out of creolizing processes.
What would it mean to reimagine art history as Créolité? That is, hegemonic Western art history has created in its wake an array of ‘other’ art histories connected to regions such as Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and South Asia to name a few. Of special interest in this session is not only considering such regional art histories as relational to each other, but also exploring how other constructions of identity—such as gender, sexuality, race, and class—are intertwined with them. Papers exploring contemporary and historical periods are both welcome; and those critically examining Glissant’s terms—such as “opacity” and “globality”—to bear on the session theme are especially encouraged.
College Art Association Annual Conference, 2016
Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Tina Takemoto, Co-chairs
From the call for papers:
This panel explores the pleasures and perils of employing exaggeration as an artistic strategy to combat stereotypes that cut across intersecting identifications of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, and disability. Indeed, Judith Butler’s parodic mimicry, José Esteban Muñoz’s disidentification, and Homi Bhabha’s colonial mimicry suggest the profound potential of parody to uncover the artifice of gendered, racial, and sexual identification. However, when do strategies of disidentification become a liability or risk reinforcing stereotypes that are under scrutiny? What is the long-term psychic impact of performing toxic representations and embodying one’s own racial and sexual abjection? When does queer failure lead to queer exhaustion?
This lunchtime queer caucus of art panel for CAA 2015 will bring together a range of contemporary artists as well as academics to begin to explore vital modes of unsettling deeply entrenched stereotypes as well as the emotional costs on the artists who use parody as mode of critique. In particular, this panel shifts its focus away from artistic intentionality and the creation of counterpublics toward an exploration of the affective relationship between the artwork, the performer, and the audience.
“Colour Me Queer”
Association of Art Historians (UK) annual conference, 2014
Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Natasha Bissonauth, Co-chairs
From the call for papers:
While art history as a discipline has adopted a queer postcolonial gaze to trouble the canon, most groundbreaking scholarships on art and visual culture from queer racialized perspectives have been accomplished outside its borders—albeit with some notable exceptions, such as work by Kobena Mercer and Amelia Jones. This session specifically aims to explore how art history might develop a vocabulary and methodology that speaks to better understand transnational, diasporic, indigenous, and decolonial bodies alongside their gendered and sexualized lived experiences. Colour Me Queer does not signify fixed/specific otherness but rather functions as a politics that interrogates epistemological limits of race, gender, and sexuality.
If art history has been largely resistant to exploring queer racialized visualities, what are the tools necessary to dismantle the conventions of knowledge production around art? How can a queer racialized gaze affect the relationship between visual analysis and knowledge production? Do newer forms of art such as performance, film, video, and installation (rather than older forms more burdened by Western art history like painting and sculpture) lend themselves more easily to queer racialized visualities?
Overall, this session considers the stakes involved in queer racialized methodologies in visual analysis as well as the opportunity to interrogate canonical formation. Papers will not only assess what a queer racialized lens affords art history but correspondingly, what visual analysis provides queer racialized lived experiences. What tropes and themes are incited when queer racialized visualities come to the fore? And finally, what might a queer racialized lens still occlude from critical analysis?
“Live Art and Performance in History and the Politics of Inclusion” (double session)
Performance Studies Internation Annual Conference, 2012
Alpesh Kantilal Patel & Amelia Jones, Co-chairs
From the call for papers:
Performance, it is claimed, is more authentic than other art forms. Performance, it is also claimed, is ephemeral, always already “over,” and leaves only traces to be studied and given meaning by historians; it can never be itself beyond the moment of its original articulation.
In her important recent book The Archive and the Repertoire, Diana Taylor has polemically worked through these claims in relation to the colonial situation in Latin America, arguing that in such an overdetermined historical moment when one group dominates another through oppressive forms of military action and cultural expression, the performative “repertoire” of ritual and spontaneous local action can cut through the oppressive rhetoric of the colonists’ impulse to archive.
Taylor and others such as José Muñoz and theorists/practitioners such as Guillermo Gómez- Peña and Coco Fusco have looked toward the properties of ritual and performance as differentiating particular modes of cultural resistance and as thus entailing different ways of writing—or rewriting—history.
This panel addresses the pressing issue of live art in history in relation to these claims and arguments about how and whether performance as a medium and performances as particular practices get addressed and included in histories of art, performance, and culture in general. The recent embrace of performance art by mainstream cultural institutions, art historians, critics, and collectors in the Euro-American art world lends some urgency to exploring how or if live art is radically altering the way in which (art) history is recorded or if it is simply being absorbed into preexisting, and problematically exclusionary, institutional archives.
Our double panel will include papers and presentations (see below) from a range of disciplinary positions, from performance studies to art history, to theory/practice approaches. Papers will address two of the subthemes of the relations and determinations track— “mapping performance research” and “points of the compass.”
“Queer Desi Flânerie: My Manchester, England, 2005 and 2015”
Association of Asian American Studies Annual Conference, 2015
This paper was based on a dissertation paper that has since been revised as a chapter in the book project Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories.
April 23 - 25, 2015
Contribution to “Contemporary Art, Embodied Mediations, and Queer Transnational Flâneurie” panel.
Chaired by Natasha Bissonauth
“This paper interweaves three modes of exploring the city of Manchester in England, where I lived from 2005 to 2008. First, I describe my urban walks in commercialized areas such as Canal Street, the epicenter of the Gay Village, and Curry Mile, so named for its many South Asian restaurants and shops. Secondly, I toggle between descriptions of personal experience and academic prose in the spirit of the scholarship of both self-identified Chicana-lesbian feminist Gloria Anzaldú and queer feminist art historian Amelia Jones. More specifically, I draw on queer and women’s studies scholar Dianne Chisholm’s suggestion that queer urban explorers are perhaps the contemporary legacy of Walter Benjamin’s flâneur and French philosopher Michel de Certeau’s “pedestrian speech acts.” I also consider 19th-century Viennese art historian Alois Rïegl’s theories of haptic images, as well as the applications of the latter of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and film studies scholar Laura Marks to theorize smooth space and haptic visuality. Thirdly, drawing on art historian Aby Warburg’s and Benjamin’s methods, I bring together a constellation of images from Manchester (personal and from the Internet) and from Miami, Florida (where I currently live) that I hope will add another dimension to understanding my Manchester.”
“Queer Zen: Cy Twombly, Abstraction, and Identity”
College Art Association Annual Conference, 2015
A revised and expanded version of this paper was published as the chapter titled, “Queer Zen: Unyoking Genealogy in Asian American Art History.” In Queering Contemporary Asian American Art, edited by Laura Kina and Jan Bernabe. University of Washington Press, Spring 2017. In press. [see DIII.1 Publications (blind, peer-reviewed)].
This chapter was then further expanded through a discussion of the artworks of Natvar Bhavsar in Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories.
New York, NY
February 11 - 14, 2015
This paper is part of a larger project extending research beyond the contemporary to works produced in the 1950s and 1960s, to works produced by artists genealogically linked to Asia (not just South Asia), and to works of artists identified as gay or lesbian (but not of Asian descent). This project continues pulling against the stabilizing effect of genealogy and social construction of identity in art history while not jettisoning either of them wholesale; focusing on abstraction has been pivotal in doing so. More specifically, focus is placed on both Zen Buddhism and queer as two core organizing and overlapping concepts to explore the abstract works of Cy Twombly, specifically his Ferragosto series from 1961.
“Queer Zen and the Networked Body: Abstraction, Assemblage and Identity in Artworks from the 1950s and 1960s”
Association of Asian American Studies Annual Conference, 2013
This paper was an expansion and revision of the paper titled “Queer Zen: Cy Twombly, Abstraction, and Identity,” delivered as part of the panel, “Abstraction and Difference,” co-chaired by David Getsy and Tirza True Latimer.
Whereas important scholarship is being done to reenvision works produced in the 1950s and 1960s of artists such as Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg through the lens of sexuality, there has not been an attempt to connect their work to the similarly pared-down aesthetic of work produced during the same period by artists of Asian descent, such as Seong Moy, Kenzo Okada, Natvar Bhavsar, and Ansei Uchima.
I contend that considering these otherwise strange bedfellows in tandem can enrich our understanding of the complexity of identity, visuality, and artistic meaning more broadly and reimagine movements such as abstract expressionism as deeply connected to a broad range of complex identity politics. In particular, I focus on both Zen Buddhism and queer as two core organizing and overlapping concepts to connect the abstract works of “queer” artists to that by the artists of Asian descent mentioned above.