The Arts Research Center’s 2018–2019 program will have a special focus on the critical potential of arts from the Global South. The events organized around this question are the result of collaboration between the Arts Research Center’s Interim Director Natalia Brizuela, Anneka Lenssen (History of Art), Leigh Raiford (African American Studies), and Poulomi Saha (English).

A generous grant from the UCHRI will partially support the monthly visits by artists and critics and the March conference on Arts of Critique. The year’s investigations on Arts of Critique will take off with a workshop in Mexico City (September 6–8), organized through the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP) with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Arts of Critique seeks to prompt the question of the relationship between art and criticism from the standpoint of social and political exigencies of our times, and to do so by thinking with contemporary artists and activists practicing in the global margins and zones of acute transition often called the “Global South” — from Africa, Latin America, South East Asia, and the Middle East, to U.S. Latino, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities. We will explore art as an embodied critical engagement with the geopolitics of injustice, destructive violences of displacement, environmental crisis, contemporary forms of dissent, protest and rearticulations of democracy.

Arts of Critique is interested in the extent to which contemporary art and art criticism wield a transformative capacity to actively condition or mobilize collective imaginaries and struggles contesting domination. The “contemporary” here refers widely, to art that, in its futurity and afterlives and its engagement with global socio-political transformations, may be taken and signified as contemporary.

The questions Arts of Critique will address and thematize include:

  • How do different genres of art alert us to the intimate publics that are formed and deformed in times of loss and crisis?
  • How do feminist, queer, postcolonial/decolonial, postnational perspectives and interventions call attention to, and reclaim, the political implications of art as critique beyond Eurocentric ramifications of critical discourse?
  • What kinds of (un)belongings and displacement, figured through tropes of gendered, sexualized, ethnicized and racialized vulnerability, could allow us to think (with) the limits and the resistant potential of art?

Please visit for event times and dates. Confirmed speakers include Susan Meiselas, SA Smythe, Aruna D’Souza, Diamela Eltit, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta from the Raqs Media Collective.