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The CAA Committee on Diversity Practices highlights exhibitions, events, and activities that support the development of global perspectives on art and visual culture and deepen our appreciation of political and cultural heterogeneity as educational and professional values. Current highlights are listed below; browse past highlights through links at the bottom of this page.

March/April 2015

Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades
Long Island City, New York
January 31, 2015–August 31, 2015

“For his first solo exhibition at a major American museum, Wael Shawky presents his epic video trilogy that recounts the history of The Crusades from an Arab perspective. Inspired by The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Lebanese historian Amin Maalouf, Shawky’s videos chart the numerous European campaigns to the Holy Land, starting from the early Crusades from 1096–1099 A.D. that are depicted in CABARET CRUSADES: THE HORROR SHOW FILES (2010) and the First and Second Crusades from 1099–1145 A.D. in CABARET CRUSADES: THE PATH TO CAIRO (2012). The MoMA PS1 exhibition will feature both works and debut the third and final video from the series, CABARET CRUSADES: THE SECRETS of KARBALA.

Based on accounts from primary sources, Shawky complicates the traditional civilization clash narrative by describing scenes that refute common notions of the era. Shawky highlights both the secular motivations of the European fighters and the competition and violence among Arab leaders. Using 200-year-old marionettes from a collection in Italy for the first installment, and custom-made ceramic figures for the second, Shawky says the puppets help create a “surreal and mythical atmosphere that blends drama and cynicism, telling a story of remote events that could hardly be more topical today. The puppets’ strings clearly refer to the idea of control. The work also implies a criticism of the way history has been written and manipulated.” (

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After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997
Queens Museum
Queens, New York
March 8, 2015–June 28, 2015

After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997 presents a comparative study of art created in the wake of two defining moments in Indian history. The first, Indian independence in 1947 was notable for the emergence of the Progressives Artists Group. The second was 1997, which marked 50 years of India’s independence, a period that coincided with economic liberalization, political instability, the growth of a religious right wing, as well as a newly globalizing art market and international biennial circuit, in which Indian artists had begun to participate. The year 1997 also prompted a host of several important international exhibitions of Indian art around the world including the first Indian exhibitions in the United States: Out of India, at the Queens Museum and Traditions/Tensions at The Asia Society 1996–1997. Telling Tales: 5 Women artists from India, held at the Victoria Gallery, Bath, UK was followed by Private Mythology: Contemporary Art from India, curated by The Japan Foundation in Tokyo, 1998.

After Midnight will be the first exhibition large-scale examination of Indian art in the United States prominently featuring the Modern masters, core members of the Progressives including M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F. N. Souza, and their extended circle of friends such as Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, V. S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee.

The contemporary section of the show brings to the fore pertinent issues that have taken place from 1997 to the present. These include a critique of globalization-at-large, affected by the changing economy that forever altered the nation. Not only did this prompt economic growth in India that created opportunities for growth and progress, but at the same time it brought several setbacks such as the exploitation of labor and rural migration to name a few. The contemporary artists in the exhibition are CAMP, Nikhil Chopra, Desire Machine Collective, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Tushar Joag, Jitish Kallat, Tallur L. N., Prajakta Potnis, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Raqs Media Collective, Sharmila Samant, Mithu Sen, Dayanita Singh and Asim Waqif.

After Midnight, while a large-scale survey show itself, adopts a critical position against blockbuster exhibitions of Indian art that have undertaken tokenist representation of India, or have attempted to illustrate the nation through its art. Instead of capitulating to the market forces and the need of the West to “present” and “frame” Indian cultural practices, the intent of the exhibition is to dismantle the stereotypical nationalist presentations of India. The exhibition attempts to produce and present art practices, dialogues, and questions emerging from an Indian context to be embraced within the larger global framework of modernity. After Midnight resists being mapped or firmly placed with the boundaries of the nation. Instead, it looks to draw on a new critical body of knowledge that has arisen from a new globalism, in which everything seems to be in the process of being redefined, including individual freedom and rights and the idea of India itself. Most importantly the exhibition disbands positions that are no longer useful, to allow for an expanded, inclusive dialogue of art and culture to emerge. The exhibition includes work in a variety of media and consists of both existing works and new commissions.” (

More information:

Jesse Howard: Thy Kingdom Come
Contemporary Art Museum St Louis.
St. Louis, Missouri
January 16, 2015–April 11, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come is the first comprehensive museum survey of the work of Jesse Clyde Howard, a self-taught artist, evangelist, and keen advocate of “free thought and free speech” who lived and worked in Fulton, Missouri, from the 1940s through the early ’80s.  Presenting more than 100 of Howard’s hand-painted signs comprising religious exhortations, political denunciations, and autobiographical details, the exhibition documents the profusion of creative energy reflected in the artist’s dogmatic faith in the First Amendment—rights that were, according to Howard, under threat from the dissemination of communism and progressivism.

In 1903, at the age of eighteen, Howard left home to pursue a variety of temporary occupations on the West Coast. These years of migrant labor exposed him to a system of vernacular signage that would later instruct his principal period of artistic production. In 1944 Howard and his wife, Maude Linton, moved with their five children to “Sorehead Hill,” a twenty-acre compound north of Fulton. Here he began crafting model airplanes, dog carts, and other curiosities before devoting himself to creating signs expounding personal dogmas and cultural perceptions. By the time of his death in 1983, Howard had constructed a landscape of sculptural and textual works surrounding his home and workshops.

Howard’s initial artistic projects of the 1940s were met with condemnation by Fulton, leading some in the community to steal and deface his works, which resulted in subsequent allegations in Howard’s later signage. For Howard, the biblical citations of “the confusion of language” and “the earth divided” found throughout his text are not simply cosmic consequences of human transgression but intimate biographical details that reflect his community’s misunderstanding and rejection. Howard projects the inequities present in Biblical literature onto his neighbors to legitimize the prophetic nature of his “signs and wonders,” and in the process reveals the problematic relationship between self-advertisement and recourse to scriptural authority.” (

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Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds
High Museum of Art
Atlanta, Georgia
February 14, 2015–May 24, 2015

“The High Museum of Art presents a retrospective of work by Wifredo Lam, a preeminent artist of Latin American origin and one of the Surrealist movement’s most influential figures, from Feb. 14 through May 24, 2015. Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds features more than 40 paintings and a selection of drawings, prints and ephemera by the internationally renowned, Cuban-born artist. Many of Lam’s masterworks—drawn from public and private collections across Europe, Latin America and the U.S.—are presented together for the first time in the exhibition, which offers a rare overview and reexamination of the artist’s career.

Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Words sheds light on Lam’s seminal periods of artistic development, tracing the global path of his career from its academic roots in Madrid to Lam’s pivotal stay in pre-war Paris and his return to Cuba in the early 1940s. The works reveal the many important influences on Lam’s career, from the European literary and artistic avant-garde to African art.

Born in Cuba to a Chinese father and a mother of African and Spanish descent, Lam (1902-82) gave expression to his multiracial and cultural ancestry while engaging with the major political, literary and artistic circles whose work came to define modernism in the 20th century. In 1938, Lam moved to Paris, where he absorbed the tenets of European modernism, became an important artist of the 1940s Surrealist group, and was introduced to such influential figures as Pablo Picasso and André Breton.

The impact of Lam’s interactions with artists, poets and philosophers on his work is a central theme of Imagining New Worlds, which examines the influence of such pioneering figures as Picasso, Breton, Federico García Lorca, Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Márquez and Aimé Césaire.

The exhibition will also consider how the Négritude movement shaped Lam’s work. Lam discovered the literary and ideological movement during his time in Haiti through his relationship with Césaire, the Francophone writer from Martinique whose book of poetry “The Native Land” was published in Spanish translation (“Retorno al pais natal”) in 1943 with illustrations by Lam. Césaire was one of the founders of the movement, which focuses on a black identity that rejects French colonialism.

Returning to Havana in 1941, Lam arrived at his signature hybrid style of painting: a blend of surrealism, magic realism, modernism and postmodernism characterized by a cross-cultural fusion of influences including Afro-Cuban symbolism and imagery related to the Santería religion practiced in the Caribbean.” (

More information:

Lee Bul
National Museum of Contemporary Art
Seoul, Korea
September 30, 2014–March 1, 2015

“In the 1980s, Lee received a very traditional education in sculpture at Hongik University in Korea. From her earliest works, however, she has actively rebelled against the conventional academic art that tends to dominate the Korean art field. She officially launched her professional career in the late 1980s with a series of provocative performances, installations, and sculptures that scathingly criticized the social and political power structure of patriarchal culture. She hung upside down from a rope while naked, to the accompaniment of a pop song. The work was a powerful visualization of the pain of abortion as well as a public confession about her own experience. The same year, in her outdoor performance, she wore the makeup of a shaman and a soft costume of a monster with giant tentacles, and then ran through the fields of Jangheung. In another performance, she wore a similar monster outfit when she wandered Gimpo Airport in Korea, Narita Airport in Japan and the streets of downtown Tokyo for twelve days in costume, eliciting various responses from pedestrians. These performances represented her resistance to a number of binary oppositions: human vs. monster, reason vs. feeling, man vs. woman, logic vs. illogic. Furthermore, they were parodies of femininity, which has been identified with the seditious object of exclusion. As such, she raised compelling questions about existing values and conventions.

Lee’s Mon grand récit series, first shown in 2005, continued to explore the oppressive relationship between the human and society and the gloomy future of science and technology. At the same time, Lee harkened back to some of the central issues of early twentieth-century architecture, with its pursuit of utopia through design. For On Every New Shadow, Lee’s 2007 exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, she made to unfold massive installation works, as if reconstituting these themes as landscapes unto themselves. The Mon grand récit series reflects Lee’s views on Jean-François Lyotard, who posited that the so-called “grand narrative,” or metanarrative, was impossible in the age of post-modernism. Recognizing the impossibility of grand narrative, Lee presented various “small narratives” that were fragmented and imperfect, and which continuously floated around with no resolution. Her works were designed to make viewers contemplate the traces of corruption disclosed in history, the failure of modernist idealism, and the specters of modernism that continue to haunt the daily life and consciousness of individuals.” (

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Filed under: CDP Highlights