Starting in September 2018, CAA will begin a new internship program in its New York office for undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates. Specifically, the program is designed for those who wish to gain experience and develop skills in the following areas:
- Events and Conference Programming
- Publications and Digital Publications
- Marketing & Communications
- Membership Development
Each intern will be assigned a discrete, clearly defined project (or projects) to be completed during the internship period.
The number of hours will depend on the preference of the CAA department, but will generally expected to work 20-30 hours per week in CAA’s New York office sometime between the hours of 9:00AM to 6:00PM, Monday to Friday. All internships require a commitment of eight consecutive weeks. Interns are expected to be commit three days per week.
- Candidates must have successfully completed their junior year at an undergraduate college in any field of study.
- Candidates must have secure housing in the New York area which will allow them to complete the entire internship period.
- Candidates should have had some office experience and should be generally familiar with Microsoft Office, especially Word and Excel. Familiarity with Microsoft Office 365 preferable.
- Fall 2018 – 8 weeks (September 15 through December 15)
- Spring 2019 – 8 weeks (January 15 through May 15)
- Summer 2019 – 8 weeks (June 1 through August 15)
There will be two interns per session.
Each intern will receive a stipend of $500 per month paid bimonthly along with CAA’s regular payroll. Interns will be viewed as independent contractors and no deductions will be made, however a 1099 will be issued and interns are expected to pay all taxes as required under law.
CAA will make every effort to assist successful candidates to obtain college credit, if applicable. Please coordinate with your institution’s administrator for semester credit. CAA can provide letters of confirmation and/or complete necessary forms.
Please submit a cover letter indicating your departmental interests (please rank two preferred departments), and CV to Daniel Tsai, CAA Programs and Publications Administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also list two professional references and the means to contact them via telephone or email. No phone calls please.
Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.
Events and Conference Programming Internship Tasks:
Assists with Annual Conference Special Events/Special Projects
- pre-conference workshops
- Key Conversation Panels
- events for students and emerging professionals
- Museum visits and tours
Assists with the research and facilitation of the Network Hall programming.
Assists with the research and development and implementation of workshops and programs throughout the year.
Publications and Digital Publications Internship Tasks:
- Assisting with checking layouts and copyediting
- Proofreading the reviews admin site to ensure uniformity of titles, format
- Checking all the links on Art Journal Open site to make sure they work
Marketing & Communications Internship Tasks:
- Editing and proofreading
- Visual design and layout assistance
- Social media
- Assembling press files
- Website review and content review
- Assembling press hits files
- Assembling digital metrics files
- General communications and strategy research
Membership Development Internship Tasks:
- Database cleanup
- Assist with membership growth strategy
- Renewal address file clean up
- Membership card file address clean up, folding cards, post office delivery
- Updating IP addresses indiv/org claims for missing issues
- Returned publications for indiv/orgs
- Adding/updating primary contacts for organizations
- Possible outreach to lapsed organizational members
The CAA is an equal opportunity employer and considers all candidates for employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, or political affiliation.
Amid Debate Over MOCA’s Future, Director Philippe Vergne Will Depart
The museum and director decided “by mutual agreement” not to renew Vergne’s contract when it expires in March 2019. (artnet News)
Return Persian Antiquity to Iran, New York District Attorney Says
The ancient limestone relief was seized from a London antiquities dealer last October. (The Art Newspaper)
Design Thinking Is a Boondoggle
“We shouldn’t pretend that we can boil education — indeed, all of human life — into a five-point diagram for selling stuff.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)
7,600 Edvard Munch Drawings Now Available to Discover Online
The Munch Museum in Oslo digitized not only its own holdings of Munch’s works on paper, but also those from other museums and private collections. (Hyperallergic)
How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art
Expert tips from arts professionals, educators, and museum workers. (Artsy)
Lost, Stolen, Blown Up and Fed To Pigs: The Greatest Missing Masterpieces
A gallery of lost works for optimistic treasure hunters. (The Guardian)
In 2018, the CAA-Getty International Program featured two main events: a preconference colloquium on February 20 on international issues in art history at which all twenty scholars participated, and an alumni conference session on February 23 that featured five CAA-Getty alumni and an American-based scholar’s response. Included below is the program for the February 20 colloquium, followed by the abstracts and respondent’s remarks for the February 23 alumni conference session.
Global Conversations 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
The Getty Center
8:30 AM Coffee, welcome, and introductions
9:15 AM Postcolonial and Eurocentric Legacies
Chair: Peju Layiwola, Artist and Professor of Art History, Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Beyond the Readymade: The Use of Found Objects in Contemporary South African Art
Alison Kearney, Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa
Resistance to Western Paradigms in East European and Latin American art from the late 1960s to 1989
Katarzyna Cytlak, Postdoctoral Researcher, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Emergence of Taiwan’s Modern Visual Art and the Formation of Identity
Hsin-tien Liao, Dean of College of the Humanities, National Taiwan University of the Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
10:15 AM Global Trends in Museum Research and Exhibitions
Chair: Ildiko Feher, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary
Digital Media Exhibition Curating in a University: the Case of the University of Port Harcourt Museum
John Agberia, Professor, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Thinking Cross-culturally: Asian Art in a Visual Dialogue,
Markéta Hánová, Director of the Collection of Asian Art, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic
Gender Issues in Museums: Possibility, Provocation, Necessity?
Natalia Keller, Researcher of the Collection, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile
11:15 AM Interdisciplinary and Transnational Methodologies
Chair: Nomusa Makhubu, Senior Lecturer of Art History, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Mirrors and the Invention of Perspective
Felipe Chaimovich, Chief Curator and Professor, Museo de Arte Moderna de São Paulo and Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, Brazil
Experiments and Innovative Strategies in Croatian Photography during the 1960s and 1970s
Sandra Krizic-Roban, Senior Research Advisor, Institute of Art History, Zagreb, Croatia
Understanding African Art: an Interdisciplinary Exercise
Romuald Tchibozo, Senior Lecturer, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
12:15 PM Lunch
2:00 PM Cultural Identity, Politics, and the Powers of Art
Chair: Parul Pandya Dhar, Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, Department of History, University of Delhi, India
Tracing the Cultural Ideology of the Indus Valley People
Sarah Umer, PhD Coordinator/Assistant Professor, Lahore College for Women, Pakistan
Datok Fatimah in Chinese Body: The Homely and Unhomely Presence of a Klang House Temple
Simon Soon, Senior Lecturer, Visual Art Department, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Reenergized by the Maidan: A Conjunction of Art and Politics
Natalia Moussienko, Leading Research Fellow, Modern Art Research Institute, National Academy of Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine
3:00 PM Considering an International Art History Curriculum
Chair: Cezar Bartholomeu, Artist and Professor of Art History, School of Fine Arts, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Terminology and Methodology in Teaching Asian Art to Russian Art History Students
Anna Guseva, Associate Professor, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia
A Chinese Perspective on Cross-cultural Transmissions of Art History
Chen Liu, Associate Professor, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Translation and Change: Teaching Art History in Thailand
Thanavi Chotpradit, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
4:00 PM Open discussion
Moderator: Steven Nelson, Professor of African and African American Art and Director of the UCLA Center for African Studies
5:00-6:30 PM Cocktail Reception
The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field.
This week, Eileen MacAvery Kane and Herman Botes discuss ethics and graphic design.
Eileen MacAvery Kane is a full-time instructor in the Art Dept. at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY as well as the author of Ethics: A Graphic Designer’s Field Guide and blog ethicsingraphicdesign.org.
Herman Botes serves as Head of the Department of Visual Communication at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, South Africa. He has a forthcoming co-authored book Educating Citizen Designers in South Africa, due out in 2018.
posted by CAA — May 24, 2018
As of this month, Jim Hopfensperger, professor of art at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art, is CAA’s new president for the 2018-2022 term. As a professor and artist with a wealth of experience, we thought it would be a great opportunity to ask Jim his thoughts on CAA and the field at-large. CAA media and content manager Joelle Te Paske spoke with him earlier this month.
JTP: Hi Jim! Thanks so much for speaking with me. How are you?
JH: Very well, Joelle. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit!
JTP: To get us oriented, where did you grow up?
JH: My spouse, Jane, and I were raised in the upper Midwest. While career choices took us to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, we returned “home” to Michigan eighteen years ago to be nearer aging family members.
JTP: And what did you study?
JH: I was educated as a craftsperson, working primarily in non-ferrous metals such as silver, gold, and copper. During a sabbatical leave from my faculty position at Penn State University in the early 1990s, I was presented the opportunity to work in a furniture studio in Massachusetts. Within a few weeks I was totally hooked, gifting my metal working tools to a younger artist and moving forward as a furniture maker.
JTP: What drew you to the work you do now?
JH: I am drawn to how creating art/design objects—one-at-a-time and by hand—reinforces and reaffirms what it means to be a human being. Thinking with my hands, my eyes, and my mind to conceive well-designed and useful articles makes me feel whole. Perhaps I am a kinesthetic thinker/learner? It also seems possible that, for better and for worse, my sense of self is simply anchored in making things. The non-existent term “neuroceutical therapy” comes to mind!
JTP: What is exciting to you as the incoming CAA president?
JH: The forces of change are in motion all around us. It is a truly exhilarating time to be in the business of living!
As for CAA, a raft of research suggests that healthy organizations prosper when focusing efforts along two key pathways: 1) identifying and strengthening essential core competencies and 2) systematically exploring future capacities. This means sustaining CAA’s outstanding programs and services while simultaneously identifying the organization’s next purposes. Full attention to both matters seems essential if we are to extend a highly distinguished history of advocacy for artists, art historians, scholars, curators, critics, designers, collectors, and educators. I am grateful for this opportunity and excited about the work ahead.
JTP: What work has been done over the past few years that you would like to build on? What would you like to see happening at CAA in the next year? How about in the next ten?
JH: Clearly, CAA remains an eminent learned society. At the same time it is increasingly fulfilling its potential as a professional association that serves members across educational, curatorial, scholarly, and creative pursuits. In the short term I am confident CAA will remain a strong association and identify more ways to support members in their professional lives.
Over the next few years a pivot toward some key constituencies might make strategic sense. Those include 1) the burgeoning ranks of contingent employees upon whom educational and cultural institutions have become increasingly reliant; 2) the large number of design and new/emerging media practitioners graduating from art and design programs; and 3) the community of international scholars, artists, and designers steadily advancing global perspectives. I look forward to working with CAA members, staff, board, and other stakeholders to map a future wherein these colleagues will be well served.
JTP: What has been a memorable professional moment for you at a CAA Annual Conference?
JH: I am deeply invested in the fellowship aspects of CAA. My fondest memory involves mentoring in the Professional Development Workshops at the Annual Conference in 2000. One my mentees was, as I, trained as a metalsmith. We worked closely after that conference to identify strategies for achieving his professional goals, and he eventually accepted a splendid academic position. In return for my service, and for each of the past eighteen years uninterrupted, he has gifted to me a handcrafted metal ornament to hang on our family holiday tree. Simply precious! (And if you are reading this Professor James Thurman, a wholehearted “Thank You!” is long overdue.)
JTP: What would you say is the number one challenge facing higher education?
JH: Excellent question. My two cents: Adapting to the startling, inevitable pace of cultural and technological change is an operational necessity. Yet, communicating the value of an educated populace appears to be our most immediate and pressing challenge. Making the case for the causal relationship between educational opportunities and the ascendance of an increasingly ethical, moral, and empathetic society is job one. In the absence of such a mission statement, it is not difficult to imagine financial or economic ‘values’ easily filling the void.
The logical outcome might then resemble Oscar Wilde’s timeless quip about a cynic being ‘a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.’
JTP: Do you have a favorite artwork?
JH: I have a keen interest in all forms of applied design—dynamic and surprising buildings, objects, communications, products, and processes. However, and for reasons I am not fully able to explain, my favorite artwork is Monet’s Four Trees in the Met’s collection. This quiet little companion and I visit perhaps once every 12 to 24 months. Invariably, I leave our encounters refreshed and restored.
JTP: What about a favorite book?
JH: Much of my reading over the past decade can be described as a search for serviceable maps of the human mind, followed by rubbernecking at accidents caused by irrational behaviors. Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is a fine example of the former, the type of mind mapping I find highly addictive. Kahneman’s lenses for understanding our extraordinary capabilities, while simultaneously identifying those pesky faults and deep biases that accompany human thought and action, help structure my own thinking. In a related way writings on decision-making in everyday life are equally intriguing and useful. Charles Duhiggs’s The Power of Habit, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, Keith Payne’s The Broken Ladder successfully illustrate complexities and contradictions when/where supposedly rational thoughts and human actions intersect, often to hilarious and/or tragic effect—endlessly fascinating stuff!
Jim Hopfensperger is a professor of art at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art where he teaches foundation art. Jim’s art works have been shown nationally and internationally in over 100 exhibitions at venues including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Auckland Memorial Museum, Lever House, University of Iowa Museum of Art, University of Oregon Museum of Art, State Museum of Pennsylvania, North Carolina Museum of History, and National Ornamental Metals Museum.
Jim’s past appointments include serving as Senior Associate Dean in the College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University, Chair of the Department of Art & Art History at Michigan State University, and Head of the Studio Art Program at The Pennsylvania State University. He has also taught at the Massachusetts College of Art, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Skidmore College, University of Michigan, and North Carolina State University.
Jim is Past President of the National Council of Arts Administrators, and is an accreditation visitor for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. He earned a MFA from University of Michigan, a MA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a BA from Michigan State University.
A New Rembrandt? A Dutch Art Dealer Says He’s Found One
Portrait of a Young Gentleman would be the first wholly unknown Rembrandt painting to be attributed in 44 years. (New York Times)
Opinion: Let’s End Commencement
Clemon University professor Jonathan Beecher Field shares his view on why the mass commencement ceremony is a ritual that should be replaced. (Inside Higher Ed)
How Do You Conserve Time-Based Media? Museums Invest in Research to Keep Up with New Technologies
Time-based media art conservation is seeing a surge in interest in funding and formalization. (The Art Newspaper)
The Vatican in Venice (And a Cardinal Who Walks on the Wild Side)
The Catholic Church’s debut pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale will consist of 10 full-scale chapels built on an island in the Venice lagoon. (The Guardian)
Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi to Curate Prospect.5 in New Orleans
The city’s contemporary arts triennial is slated to open in the fall of 2020. (Artforum)
Is It Even Possible to Comprehend a Work of Art Without Seeing a Woman Next to It (for Scale)?
Ben Davis & Julia Halperin examine an enduring and strange stock photo phenomenon. (artnet News)
A senior scholar recently received a notice asking her to renew her CAA membership. She nicely wrote back to our membership department and suggested that perhaps CAA could offer a complimentary lifetime membership to those who had been long-time members. It was a good idea.
We brought her suggestion to the Board of Directors and they unanimously agreed. Beginning immediately, all CAA members who have been members of the organization for more than 40 years (not consecutively) shall receive a lifetime membership in CAA.
Members should have a current active membership to receive this benefit. Qualified members, please contact membership services Member Services or call 212-691-1051, ext. 1. to upgrade your membership.
Remember, this is your organization and your suggestions and feedback are how we make it stronger together.
Discussant Remarks for CAA-Getty Alumni Session, CAA Annual Conference, February 23, 2018
Saloni Mathur, University of California, Los Angeles
Firstly, it is important—and indeed powerful—that the participants on this panel, titled Border Crossings: The Migration of Art, People, and Ideas, have themselves journeyed from afar and crossed many borders to convene this “Global Conversation” today. Supported by the CAA-Getty International Program, which is now in its 7th year, and which has as its goal to build international participation in CAA in order to diversify and enrich membership in our scholarly community, today’s panelists and chairs are art historians who teach, work and write in South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Hungary and India. Together, they represent four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and South America), and a wide range of art historical interests across a broad time span. In other words, this is no arm-chair exercise about an abstract topic—migration—but a kind of intellectual practice grounded in a dialectic between a shared approach to history, on the one hand, and a situated understanding of the present, on the other.
A number of questions arise at the outset related to the overarching theme of migration and border-crossing: What kind of analytic or optic does it provide? Is it a methodology in the disciplinary sense, or is it more of a perspective or thematic focus—one that clearly rejects stasis in favor of fluidity, mobility, and the connectedness of the world? In this session, we have seen the rubric of migration illuminate seemingly incommensurable topics: the migration of an individual artist from Japan to Brazil in the twentieth century (Cezar); the border crossings made possible by new communication technologies and their role in enhancing the discourses of art in Nigeria (Peju); the transmission of objects and aesthetic ideas within South and Southeast Asia in the premodern world (Parul); and the crises caused by distinctly anti-migration forces in contemporary Europe, in particular the role that the visual arts can have in response (Ildikó). This raises an opening meta-question: is this too many things? That is to say, does it make sense to think of the migration of people, art, objects, and ideas together as a coherent inquiry? Does the optic get stretched too thinly, and thus compromised as an analytical tool? Allow me to turn to each paper in a little more detail to ground my own optimistic response.
Cezar’s paper turned to the figure of the artist, and highlighted the relation between migration and artistic subjectivity in the example of photographer, Haruo Ohara, who was born in Japan in 1909 and migrated to Brazil in 1927, where he would live and work until the end of the century (until his death in 1999). Significantly, as Cezar points out, this was not a solo or lone experience of transplantation, but part of Brazilian state policy to “import” Japanese workers to replace the workforce that served on farms and plantations after the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888. Locating Ohara’s journey within the migration policies of the Brazilian state and its shift to a “melting pot” ideology in the early 20th century, Cezar pointed to the complex dialectic between Ohara’s photographs of “nature”—farm-life and the Brazilian countryside—and the more “pragmatic” scenes of family life that dominate his second phase of work during the 1960s, often read as a record of his adaptation and assimilation. Cezar suggested that this assimilation was entangled in the complexities of Brazil’s unique racial fabric, but I am also struck by the strong outsider quality of Ohara’s rural (ie: non-metropolitan) photographic practice. And this leads to a question for Cezar: how does the rural-urban tension further complicate the story of Ohara’s modernist-migratory aesthetic, if we understand our narratives of the latter as often belonging to the cosmopolitan mixing of artists in the metropole? (Even Raymond Williams’ far-reaching account of the city-country relation seems to me to harbour this bias.)
Peju offered a case-study from Nigeria, namely, the platform of the CCA, Lagos, the influential art center founded by curator, Bisi Silva, in 2007, intended to raise the critical engagement with contemporary art in Africa, especially new media and experimental forms. The way that the CCA has employed communication technology – namely, internet, social media, and web-based platforms – has been especially transformative, she argued, in a developing or postcolonial society because it has nurtured connection, visibility, discussion and debate and galvanized a productive discourse about art. At this point, I think we may all recognize in Peju’s account the validity and centrality of what I might call – for lack of a better term – globalization’s electronic frontier. By this, I mean the radical potential of new technologies for the migration of knowledge, and for connecting human beings across time and space, and by extension, for galvanizing the discourses of art. But, by definition this terrain is a moving target, an entirely unprecedented and experimental horizon whose uses and abuses are also well known (think Facebook & its role in influencing elections, or the relentless commercialization of these platforms). In relation to art, the internet and social media can foster engagement in all the ways that Peju has shown; on the down side, it can also produce a thin-ness of quality, a lack of depth of writing, and perpetually distracted forms of reception fostered by the instant “like” formats of Facebook and Twitter. A question then that arises from Peju’s own critical assessment of the Lagos situation: how should we continue to think (to paraphrase her subtitle) about “fostering art linkages in the information age”? Especially for CCA, after a decade of success, what are the ways to continue to move the discourses of art (by embracing technology, but perhaps also not?) in ever-more generative ways?
Parul used the theme of migration to activate our historical imagination, and to take, as she stated, “a temporal leap backwards” to examine the linkages and networks across the Indian Ocean in the pre-modern period of South Asian art history. Highlighting two particular modes of transmission — “itinerant concepts” and “voyaging objects” – Parul showed how architecture and monuments (ie: built forms fixed in time and space, and therefore the most recalcitrant from a migration perspective) can be read through iconography to reveal stories of migration in the pre-modern world. Moreover, the built environment was also represented (in terracotta objects, illustrated manuscripts, miniature models, and so on) and carried by pilgrims and traders in their journeys, offered up as gifts or souvenirs. And these, in the case of the Mahabodhi temple, appeared to inspire similar buildings in other parts of pre-modern Asia, namely, in contemporary China, Burma, Thailand, Nepal & Tibet. What results, Parul argues, is “a rich visual archive of intra-Asian travel.” In following such chains of transmission, how should we also avoid re-inscribing the original vs. copy dilemma, and the hierarchical value structure these designations have so long entailed? I am reminded here of Cezar’s objections to those interpretations of Ohara’s photographs that embarked on a search for their Japanese roots. In other words, journeys also imply origins or roots, and we should be cautious about privileging the former without essentializing or fixing the latter.
Finally, shifting to Ildikó’s report: it comes from the front lines of a fraught battle over migration today, namely, from land-locked Hungary, located on the journey from Syria and the Middle East to Western Europe, and whose right-wing government has famously assumed a hostile, anti-migrant policy that is under close scrutiny by Human Rights Watch. Citing TJ Demos’ work that focusses on the intersections between art, activism and contemporary politics, Ildikó points to the responsibility that we – as professors, art historians and students of culture – have to research, document and engage with the damaging effects upon human lives for those (unlike ourselves) who are denied the entrance and mobility necessary for all acts of migration. Here, the rubric of migration and mobility must be conceived through the dialectics and crises caused by detention and immobility. Ildiko’s concerns, drawn as they are from the situation in Europe, should not be lost upon those of us who work in North America today, where border walls, mass deportations, and so-called “Muslim bans” have also become official government policy, and where xenophobic fear and anti-immigrant hatred has found expression in historically unprecedented ways. Ildikó’s question is worth repeating and putting to all of us yet again: what is, and can be, the role of art in such a situation, and how can and should art history respond to the hostile, real-life wave of anti-migrant sentiment that we see today all over the world?
In other words, as borders themselves become strengthened and fortified, inciting fierce protectionism and xenophobic nationalism, it becomes all the more clear how important a migration perspective is for humanistic understanding. For borders and boundaries are continually re-made and un-made, and are therefore mutable and subject to change. Artists, curators, teachers can intervene through imaginative acts to counter the terrible hold that far-right discourses have gained on the psyche; we can interrogate how certain views become normalized and acceptable, and refuse the acts of violence and militarism that border politics unleash. To the extent that all of the papers today have highlighted border-crossing interventions that support alternate ways of seeing, they can be viewed as already having journeyed across a threshold of some sort.
2018 Global Conversations
Border Crossings: The Migration of Art, People, and Ideas
Sponsored by the CAA-Getty International Program and CAA’s International Committee
Featuring five alumni of the CAA-Getty International Program
Panelist: Parul Pandya Dhar
Affiliation: University of Delhi, India
Paper Title: The Mediation of the Object: Iconographies of Travel Across the Indian Ocean
As 21st-century members of a global community accustomed to instant worldwide networks, it takes a certain degree of ‘historical imagination’ to comprehend the nature of interaction systems that had linked pre-modern societies and cultures. My paper explores the theme of ‘art and migration’ across early Indian Ocean linkages, specifically the movement of artistic ideas, objects, and people between India and Southeast Asia during the sixth to tenth centuries CE. These long-distance material and human migrations transpired on account of a variety of reasons such as pilgrimage, trade, war, diplomatic embassies, and more. Narratives of such travels and translocations, and of their subsequent localization in the different zones of contact, offer rewarding opportunities for investigating cross-cultural histories of art. Towards this objective, I will take up select case studies to explore the mobility of art-objects and their relationships to the journeys of people along the maritime silk route(s).
At a methodological level, I will examine the important role played by portable objects such as tiny terracottas, bronzes, illustrated manuscripts and miniature architectural models in the formulation of newer art vocabularies in distant lands, and the inextricable ways in which such material movements are tied to human endeavor and impulse for travel. My paper will highlight the specific circumstances for such translocations and translations and their bearing on particular art forms. In doing so, the paper foregrounds key methodological concerns to help understand the role of human journeys and migrant objects in shaping connected histories of early South and Southeast Asian art.