24 April 2017 -
Earlier this year in February, the Design History Society (DHS) held its inaugural panel as affiliate at the College Art Association (CAA) conference in New York. Co-chaired by DHS Trustee Dr Harriet Atkinson (University of Brighton), Journal of Design History editorial board member Dr Sarah Lichtman (Parsons The New School), and Dr Verity Clarkson (University of Brighton), the panel was entitled 'Beyond Boundaries: Art and Design Exhibitions as Transnational Exchange from 1945'. The session explored art and design exhibitions as sites of transnational exchange after 1945, reflecting on approaches to studying exhibitions in art and design history. It also considered the wider networks, interconnections and exchanges that are engendered by and through exhibitions, including how they become the focus for diplomatic exchange and addressing areas of social or political contestation.
The first paper, given by Chelsea Haines (City University of New York) and titled 'Modern Art, National Politics: Israel at the Venice Biennale, 1948–1952' took the early history of Israeli exhibitions in Venice as a starting point to explore the complex and fraught dynamics between nationalism and a rapidly expanding international art world in the years after World War II. The second paper, given by Juliana Kei (Royal College of Art) and Daniel Cooper (Columbia University) entitled '76 Nations and One Administrative Zone: Hong Kong at Osaka '70' explored the themes, architectural designs, and displays in Hong Kong's pavilion at the Osaka Expo, offering a critical analysis of the machinations central to the development of the bureaucracy of design.
The final paper, 'From FESMAN '66 to FESTAC '77 and Beyond: African-American Exhibitions on a Pan-African Stage', given by Dr Lindsay J. Twa, (Augustana University), explored the First World Festival of Black and African Culture (FESMAN) 1966, hosted in Dakar, Senegal, and The Second World Black and African Festival (FESTAC) 1977, held in Nigeria, seminal moments for the presentation of contemporary African-American visual art on a global stage. The papers were followed by an interesting discussion with a highly-informed audience – with questions from, among others, Professor David Raizman, Professor Elizabeth Guffey, and Dr Wendy Wong.
The wider CAA conference programme, meanwhile, represented a very rich mix of subjects and periods across art history, as well as a good representation from design history, material and visual culture studies. We look forward to continuing these conversations at the next CAA conference, which will take place in Los Angeles from 21-24 February 2018, details for which can be found via the following link.
Dr Harriet Atkinson
University of Brighton