Predoctoral seminar Cold Atlantic, 8-9 September 2016


International predoctoral seminar: Cold Atlantic. Cultural War, Dissident Artistic Practices, Networks and Contact Zones at the Time of the Iron Curtain.
University of Barcelona, 8-9 September 2016


The University of Barcelona, Saint Louis University (Madrid) and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid organize a predoctoral seminar/workshop at the University of Barcelona (8-9 September). This academic event has been planned to coincide with the international conference at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid (5-7 September) and is aimed at doctoral students working on topics related to the conference and its four thematic axes. Both seminar and conference have been generously funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Based on the current research of the selected participants, the seminar-workshop will serve as a platform to discuss the transatlantic exchanges between North America, Europe, Africa and Latin America during the cultural Cold War. Relying on the previous conference in Madrid, through collective work supervised by international specialists, other hubs of artistic exchange and influence will be contemplated, aiming to de-center the (still predominant) Paris-New York axis, still present among Cold War studies and their cultural avatars. The seminar will thus foster discussions that give greater visibility to cultural expressions produced in the margins of the official structures of power.
Such dialogues and interactions will be examined in the Cold War context, departing from the destabilization of the status quo, with the Bandung conference in 1955 and the Hungarian revolution in 1956. Through this, we aim to emphasize forms of mediation, dissidence and resistance that offered alternative responses to the ideological and aesthetic schism that dominated social, political, artistic and curatorial practices after WWII.

The seminar will be structured around the four thematic axes of the conference, giving particular emphasis to methodological and theoretical questions. With this it hopes to create a space for intellectual exchange where doctoral students will share their work related with the topics of the Cold Atlantic Conference and discuss their ideas with other students and international experts.

Seminar report


Download the program


Thursday 8 September

Sala Ramón y Cajal, Historical building, Universitat de Barcelona
11.30-12.00 > Opening and welcome
12.00-13.00 > Keynote lecture: Mark Nash (Nanyang Technological University/Birkbeck University of London), Things Fall Apart.
13.00-13.30 > Debate
13.30-15.30 > Lunch break

Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona
15.30-18.30 > Parallel sessions. Session 1 and Session 2 (see details below)
19.30-20.30 > Roundtable and plenary discussion (Room 308, Faculty of Geography and History), chaired by Fabiola Martínez (University of Saint Louis, Madrid), María Íñigo Clavo (Universidade de São Paulo), Olga Fernández (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Serge Guilbaut (British Columbia University).

Friday 9 September

Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona
9.30-13.00 > Parallel sessions. Session 3 and Session 4 (see details below)
13.00-14.00 > Roundtable and plenary discussion (Room 308, Faculty of Geography and History), chaired by Paula Barreiro López (Universitat de Barcelona), Olga Fernández López (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Jonathan Harris (Birmingham City University) and Mark Nash (Nanyang Technological University/Birkbeck University of London).

14.00-17.00 > Lunch break.

Auditorium of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA)
19.00-20.00 > Keynote lecture: Serge Guilbaut (British Columbia University), Out of Fashion: Foreign Women Artists in Paris in the 1950s (introduced by Anna Maria Guasch, Universitat de Barcelona)
20.00-20.45 > Final debate and remarks.

Session 1Session 2Session 3Session 4

Competing hegemonies

Thursday 8 September, Room 205, Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de  Barcelona 

The Cold War, with its primary opposition between two superpowers (the USA and the USSR), provided the bilateral framework for the aspirations of governments and oppositional elites to be “modern”. Negotiations between different notions of modernity and the terms and conditions of the local contexts resulted in a wide range of often contradictory aesthetic discourses and artistic practices. Claims for autonomy, sovereignty and progress coincided with a need to be recognized as members of the new geopolitical order. This priority axis of Cold Atlantic aims to discuss, from a pluralistic angle, the exchanges, negotiations and confrontations that the battle for cultural hegemony entailed, giving rise to the emergence of various geopolitical powers in the increasingly globalizing arena of the Cold War.

Chaired by Fabiola Martínez Rodríguez (University of Saint Louis, Madrid)

15.30-16.00 > Lola Lorant (Université Rennes 2), New Realists’ Mild Dissidence / Response: Mary Ikoniadou.
16.00-16.30 > Mary Ikoniadou (Manchester School of Art), Re-claiming Greece from within the GDR. Nikos Manousis and the visual economy of Pyrsos illustrated magazine in the GDR, 1961-1968 / Response: Lola Lorant.
16.30-17.00 > Elvis Fuentes (Rutgers University), Cuban Art and Soviet Visual Culture (1959-1991) / Response: Alba Martín.


17.30-18.00 > Alba Martín (European University Institute), Contesting Lusotropicalism: The audio-visual construction of FRELIMO’s “Liberated areas” in the case study of the documentary “A Luta Continua” (Robert Van Lierop, 1972) / Response: Elvis Fuentes.
18.00-18.30 > Response and comments by Serge Guilbaut (British Columbia University) and discussion.

Resistance, dissidence and utopia(s)

Thursday 8 September, Room 206, Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona 

In a world where imperialist and neo-colonial politics were imposed on both sides of the iron curtain, artistic practices provided ways to resists, subvert and combat them. This priority axis of Cold Atlantic aims to study vanguard and experimental artistic practices analyzing their aesthetic, political and social bases (and contexts), and their role as models for resistance against the normative culture(s) of the Cold War. Thus we seek to highlight the role of artistic production and cultural agents, operating in both, hegemonic and subaltern centers, as subversive tools in countercultural movements within the transatlantic axis, and to show their potential for imagining alternative forms of society.

Chaired by Olga Fernández López (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

15.30-16.00 > Charlotte Matter (University of Zurich), Inflatable Art and Alternative Futures in the Space Age / Response: Isabel Story.
16.00-16.30 > Isabel Story (University of Nottingham), Soviet Influence on Cuban Cultural Institutions / Response: Erin Reitz.
16.30-17.00 > Erin Reitz (Northwestern University), From Oakland to Outer Space: The Political Geographies of the Black Panthers, 1966–1982 / Response: Aime Iglesias Lukin


17.30-18.00 > Aime Iglesias Lukin (Rutgers University), Home Away from Home: Latin American Conceptual Artists in New York c. 1970s / Response: Francisca Castillo.
18.00-18.30 > Francisca Castillo (Universidad de La Plata), The creative development of video art in Chile, during the time of the dictatorship / Response: Charlotte Matter.
18.30-19.00 > Response and comments by María Íñigo Clavo (Universidade de São Paulo).

Networks and ‘contact zones’ for a non-aligned geopolitical order

Friday 9 September, Room 205, Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona 

From the 1955 conference of Bandung, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) offered an alternative to the bipolar division of the world imposed by the two superpowers. The choice to look for another configuration of the world did not just create a league of peripheral nation-states but inspired as well cultural and artistic formations. This priority axis of Cold Atlantic aims to encourage transnational studies seeking to expose the networks of collaboration and contact zones developed by artists, critics, curators or institutions in dialogue with or inspired by the NAM. Thus, we hope to reveal the way in which these alternative constellations contributed to the development of a transatlantic (and transcontinental) culture and to show in how far those entanglements helped to subvert the bipolar geographies of the Cold War.

Chaired by Juan Albarrán (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

9.30-10.00 > Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol (University of Michigan), The Mediation of Belief: Fernando Zóbel in the 1950s / Response: Branka Vujanovic.
10.00-10.30 > Wiktor Komorowski (Courtauld Institute), The role of periodic exhibitions of artistic prints in building cultural networks within and across Eastern European societies during the Cold War / Response: Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol.
10.30-11.00 > Branka Vujanovic (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona), Graphic production of the figures of resistance across the Cold War’s “outer zones” (Cuba, Spain, Yugoslavia) / Response: Wiktor Komorowski.


11.30-12.00 > Karla Lebhaft (University of Zadar), The International Art Movement New Tendencies in the Context of the ‘Cultural Logic’ of the Yugoslav Self-Managed Socialism / Response: Juliane Debeusscher.
12.00-12.30 > Juliane Debeusscher (Universitat de Barcelona), Creating spaces of appearance: Central European non-official culture through the lens of transnational networks and practices of communication across the Iron Curtain, 1970-1989 / Response: Karla Lebhaft.
12.30-13.00 > Response and comments by Mark Nash (Nanyang Technological University/Birkbeck University of London).

Global order: Cold War and beyond

Friday 9 September, Room 206, Faculty of Geography and History, Universitat de Barcelona 

In 1967 the French philosopher Guy Debord understood the bipolar division of the world between capitalism and communism as an interdependent and global system of a total spectacle. He quickly felt that the complex geopolitical entanglements that the political, economic and cultural spheres entailed, accelerating with the radical development of market -communication- and media networks, were evolving into a single totality; the latter, in fact, becoming greatly responsible for shaping today’s globalized world. This priority axis of Cold Atlantic considers the entanglements and dialogues between artistic and cultural spheres during the Cold War, and their persistence in the contemporary world. It seeks to show in how far transatlantic configurations, in the transition from modernity to post-modernity, inform today’s global order.

Chair: Paula Barreiro López (Universitat de Barcelona)

9.30-10.00 > Cara Jordan (City University of New York, Graduate Center), Joseph Beuys: Social Sculpture as an Alternative to Cold War Ideologies / Response: Pablo Santa Olalla.
10.00-10.30 > Pablo Santa Olalla (Universitat de Barcelona), Transatlantic Conceptualisms: Spain, Latin America and the Displacement to the United States, 1972-1989 / Response: Paloma Checa-Gisneros.
10.30-11.00 > Diana Cuéllar Ledesma (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Class, Ethnicity and Gender Issues: Latin American Indigenista Cinema from 1960’s to 21st Century / Response: Antonella Medici.


11.30-12.00 > Paloma Checa-Gismero (University of California San Diego), Staging socialism. Socially engaged art at la 12 Bienal de La Habana in 2015 / Response: Diana Cuéllar.
12.00-12.30 > Antonella Medici (Universitat de Barcelona), Memories of Trauma. Art, torture and dictatorship in Uruguay (1985-2015) / Response: Cara Jordan.
12.30-13.00 > Response and comments by Jonathan Harris (Birmingham City University).

This academic event is offered as an activity associated to the international congress Cold Atlantic. Cultural War, Dissident Artistic Practices, Networks and Contact Zones at the Time of the Iron Curtain, which is taking place at Museo Reina Sofía from the 5th to the 7th of September.

Organized by: Universitat de Barcelona, Saint Louis University (Madrid), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Museo Reina Sofía.

Within the framework of the research project: Modernidad(es) Descentralizada(s): arte, política y contracultura en el eje transatlántico durante la Guerra Fría (HAR2014-53834-P).

With the generous support of:
Terra Foundation for American Art, Facultat de Geografia i História and Vicerectorat de Relacions Institucionals i Cultura de la Universitat de Barcelona.


         Vicerectorat UB

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