Letter of endorsement to the Japan branch of aica

                    32 rue Yves Toudic – 75010 Paris – FRANCE

The International Office

 Paris, 14 October 2019


Letter of endorsement to the Japan branch of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) concerning its statement on the closure of After “Freedom of Expression” at Aichi Triennale 2019. 


Subject:          - Closure of After “Freedom of Expression” at Aichi Triennale 2019 

                        - Protesting the decision of Agency of Cultural Affairs on September 26, to stop financial support (Yen 78,000,000) to

Aichi Triennale 2019


Att.:                 - Mr. Koichi Ogiuda, Miniater, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan

                        - Mr. Ryohei Miyata, Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, Agency of Cultural Affairs, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and

Technology, Government of Japan, Government of Japan


cc.                   Index on Censorship


The international Association of Art Critics (AICA) is a global organisation, established in 1948 by UNESCO, comprising art critics who are actively engaged in improving International cooperation in the fields of artistic creativity, mediation and endeavour. 


On August 7 AICA Japan issued a statement, signed by its president Fumio Nanjo,  on the closure of the exhibition 'After “Freedom of Expression” ?'.

AICA Japan's statement expresses grave concern about the situation, firmly stating that “the suppression of expressive activities by violence and threats is unacceptable.” It continues, “Although it is the role of local authorities, including the police, to protect citizens’ activities from violent acts, giving in to violent demands for the closure of the exhibition on the grounds of protecting citizens from that violence is problematic.”


We furthermore protest the decision of the Agency of Cultural Affairs on September 26, to stop financial support (Yen 78,000,000) to Aichi Triennale 2019.


AICA International underlines emphatically the conclusion of the letter: "AICA Japan observes the developments at the Aichi Triennale 2019 with great concern. We hope that proper social conditions can be created in Japan in which all the works originally displayed at the opening of this international contemporary art exhibition could be freely shown again."


AICA International hereby endorses the protest of AICA Japan. Though we recognize the Triennale has reopened on October 8th, we deplore the fact that it was shut down for so long.



Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves

President AICA International


Robert-Jan Muller

Chair, AICA Committee of Censorship and Freedom of Expression


Winners of the 2019 AICA Incentive Award for Young Critics

The Jury of the AICA Incentive Award for a young critic is pleased to announce the winners of its 2019 edition.

The AICA Incentive Award 2019 goes to

  • Wenting TAO, with her text "How the Curatorial Stereotyping of Chinese Art Essentializes the Work of Zheng Guogu".

Mrs Tao will be joining us in Berlin to present her text during the award ceremony on October 5th at Berlinische Galerie.

In addition to the winning prize, the Jury decided for two special mentions.

  • A Special Mention goes to Jaka Lombar, for his text "Reactivating the Archive Must Entail Tearing Down the Palimpsest of Populism"

  • The second Special Mention goes to Qianfan Gu, for her text "Whose China?"

AICA-International Office

Nathalie Rousselle quitte ses fonctions au sein du bureau AICA International à compter du 12 juillet 2019. 

Il y a plusieurs mois, elle nous avait fait connaître sa décision de s'ouvrir de nouvelles perspectives professionnelles. J'ai malheureusement peu travaillé avec elle mais suffisamment pour mesurer la qualité de son travail, son engagement, sa rigueur et son souci de l'intérêt général ; de même, ses qualités d'écoute et sa disponibilité. 

Après plus de trois années passées à l'AICA, elle s'engage désormais sur de nouvelles voies et nous lui souhaitons le meilleur.

Sonia Recasens la remplace à compter du 17 juillet. 

Sonia Recasens est critique d'art affiliée à AICA France et conduit à ce titre une importante activité de critique (lauréate du Prix spécial du jury AICA France 2019) et de direction de publication. Par ailleurs, elle a développé une forte pratique dans le domaine de la coordination, la production et la médiation de projets culturels. Cette double expérience et ses qualités humaines seront précieuses pour AICA International.

Nous lui souhaitons la bienvenue.

Marc Partouche, Secrétaire Général de l'AICA International


Nathalie Rousselle leaves her position in the AICA International Office on July 12th, 2019.

Several months ago, she had let us know her decision to open up new professional prospectives. Unfortunately, I didn't work with her much but enough to measure the quality of her work, her commitment, her rigor and her concern for the general interest; similarly, her listening skills and her availability.

After more than three years at AICA, she is now embarking on new paths and we wish her all the best.

Sonia Recasens replaces her on July 17.

Sonia Recasens is an art critic affiliated with AICA France and leads in this capacity an important critical activity (winner of the Special Jury Prize AICA France 2019) and publishing management. In addition, she has developed a strong practice in the field of coordination, production and mediation of cultural projects. This dual experience and her human qualities will be valuable to AICA International.

We welcome her.

Marc Partouche, General-Secretary of AICA-International


Nathalie Rousselle deja su puesto en la oficina de AICA International a partir del 12 de julio de 2019.

Hace algunos meses ella anunció su decisión de buscar nuevas perspectivas profesionales. Desafortunadamente, he trabajado poco con ella pero lo suficiente para medir la calidad de su trabajo, su compromiso, su rigor y su preocupación por el interés general; Asimismo, sus habilidades de escucha y su disponibilidad.

Después de más de tres años en AICA, ahora ha adquirido otros compromisos y le deseamos lo mejor.

Sonia Recasens la reemplazará a partir del 17 de julio.

Sonia Recasens es una crítica de arte afiliada a AICA Francia con una importante trayectoria (galardonada con el Premio Especial del jurado AICA Francia 2019). Además, ha desarrollado una práctica sólida en el campo de la coordinación, producción y mediación de proyectos culturales. Esta doble experiencia y sus cualidades humanas serán muy valiosas para AICA International.

Le damos la bienvenida.

Marc Partouche, Secretario General de AICA Internacional

AICA Congress in Germany - REGISTRATION

Welcome to the 52nd International AICA Congress, a project by AICA Germany in Cooperation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

The Congress will take place from October 1st – 7th October 2019 in Cologne and Berlin.

The Highlight in Cologne will be granting the Prize for Distinguished Art Criticism to a well-known art critic in Germany at Museum Ludwig in Cologne. The first two days in Cologne are dedicated to the administrative tasks of AICA International. If you want to join the congress in Cologne and are not involved with commissions as well as the administration council, you will be able to register for visits at prominent regional galleries and institutions. (only if there are at least 8 participants) Guests are welcome.

On Thursday morning, (Oct. 3rd) we will take the rapid train ICE at 8.44 a. m., which arrives at 1.05 p. m. at Berlin main station. Please book your reservation asap, as there are no other good connections in order to arrive in Berlin in time for the beginning of the congress at 3.30 p.m.

The opening ceremony of the congress itself will take place on October 3rd at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. On the 4th and 5th the congress will be hosted by the Berlinische Galerie.The Congress theme Art Criticism in times of Populism and Nationalism addresses some virulent issues concerning the role of art criticism from different points of views.

Populism shapes the contemporary media landscape and the field of art as well as cultural criticism. There are many discussions about the removal of controversial works of art and the influence of the #MeToo debate in the art. Ethical evaluation criteria are implemented, where women artists* consciously make provocative or seemingly naïve cultural appropriations with their works and actions. But where and how far do limitations of artistic freedom of expression go? What does the clash between the ethical and aesthetic say about our understanding of politically "responsible" art and „responsible“ art-critical approaches?

Our congress is dedicated to the possibilities of critical commitment for art as a socially embedded yet aesthetically free form of expression.

It is based on a diversity of points of views and provides moderated discussions after each presentation or after two controversial lectures. We want scientists, artists, authors, journalists to have their say and actively involve the audience. Not only the lectures, but also the resulting discussions will be recorded in the congress files.

Our programme currently envisages asking first about nuances in the conceptual understanding of populism in culture and politics, discussing populist lines of argument in the context of post-colonialism and investigating the effects of populism and nationalism in art-critical practice on the basis of case studies - both nationally and internationally. The thematic complex of censorship will also be introduced to the congress in reports by colleagues from various countries. The last day will be devoted to methods and formats of art criticism that may be considered as experiment in a special way by addressing or involving their audience. It will also deal with the role of (digital) distribution and the instrumentalization of art criticism in connection with the opening and closing of democratic public spaces.

From the 39 applicants who answered the call for papers, our international jury has selected 11 participants. We are looking forward to having long discussions with them and speakers invited and hope that you will get involved in these debates.


Pre-Congress 1 /2 October, Cologne

TUESDAY, 01 Oct., Cologne

09.00 – 01.00 p. m. Meetings of AICA Committees at Stiftung Horbach
01.00 – 02.00 p. m. Lunch Break

02.00 – 05.00 p. m. Meetings of AICA Committees at Stiftung Horbach
Excursion to Düsseldorf with visits to K20, K21 and Kai 10 for members not involved committees

05.30 – 06.00 p. m. Reception at the town hall, Hansasaal
07.00 – 10.30 p. m. Evening event with award ceremony:
“Prize for Distinguished Art Criticism” at Museum Ludwig
Lecture Performance by Jürgen Stollhans „elf 100%“, audiovisual installation piece Diewke Boersma & Vanja Smiljanić: „I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly“
reception in the Foyer

WEDNESDAY, 02 Oct., Cologne

09.00 – 12.00 a. m. Board meeting at Stiftung Horbach
12.00 – 02.00 p. m. Lunch Break
Visits Galleries in the Belgian Quarter, Temporary Gallery, Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne for members not involved in the administration council

02.00 – 06.00 p. m. General assembly at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne

06.30 – 08.30 p. m. Evening reception and Prelude to the Congress at the auditorium of the
Academy of Media Arts, Cologne
Hans Ulrich Reck (Director Academy of Media Arts, Cologne)
08.30 – 10.00 p.m. Reception

Congress 03 - 05 October, Berlin

THURSDAY, 3. Oct., Transfer from Cologne to Berlin

08.44 – 13.09 h Transfer from Köln main station to Berlin Hbf with ICE 555

Afternoon Congress Opening, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
03.30 – 04.45 p. m. Welcome
Udo Kittelmann/Dr. Gabriele Knapstein
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General UNESCO (tbc), patron of the congress
Lisbeth Rebollo, President AICA International
Danièle Perrier, President AICA Germany

Jacques Leenhardt: On the History of the German AICA

05.00 – 06.15 p. m. Session 1
Nuances of Populism: Political and Cultural Dimensions
Oliver Marchart
Ana Teixeira Pinto

06.30 – 07.50 p. m. Session 2
The Humboldt Forum and its “Cultural Heritage”
Jörg Häntzschel
Thomas E. Schmidt
Arlette-Louise Ndakoze

08.00 p. m. Shuttle to Palais Populaire: Exhibition and reception

FRIDAY, 04 Oct., Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

10.00–11.30 a. m. Session 3
Institutions of Critique – Critique of Institutions
Harry Lehmann: Art criticism in times of political polarization
Leena-Maija Rossi: Between benevolent naiveté and populism:
Art institutions in the age of neo-liberalism
Mischa Kuball & Gregor Lersch: Populism vs Democracy and Social Media. And other Disasters.

12.00–1.00 p. m. Session 4
Art Criticism and Gender
Miguel Rivas Venegas: “Yihadismo de Género”: Anti-Feminist Lexical Arsenals of Spanish National-Populism
Belinda Grace Gardner: RE/WRITING HISTORY. Art Criticism as a Vehicle of Change in the Era of #MeToo

02.30 – 03.30 p. m. Session 5
The Public and the Popular
Paul O’Kane: The Carnival of Popularity – wresting the popular from populism
Franck Hermann Ekra: Sur les ailes de la Liberté. Parcours
transafricains, les nouveaux visages de la contestation.
03.50 – 04.50 p. m. Session 6
Art Criticism in Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland)
Maja & Reuben Fowkes: Democracy in on the Defensive: East European
Art Criticism in the Era of Illiberal Globalisation
Malgorzata Stepnik: Vox populi – politicians as art critics.

05.10 – 06.40 p m. Roundtable on Censorship: Focusing Africa & Afro-Latin America

SATURDAY, 05 Oct., Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

10.00 – 11.30 a. m. Session 7
Art Criticism and/as/against Discrimination
Sabeth Buchmann
François Jullien (tbc)
Julia Pelta Feldman & Antje Stahl

11.50 – 01.15 p. m. Session 8
Art Criticism and/as/against Judgement
Thomas Edlinger
Florian Arnold
Rez@Kultur (Ulrich Heid/Claudia Roßkopf)

02.45 – 04.15 p. m. Session 9
Arts and Politics Between Avant-Garde and Propaganda
Marek Wasilewski: From self-defence to counterattack, how the populists in Poland reclaimed the language of contemporary art
Sarah Wilson: CROWDS AND POWER: Two Polish artists in London
Julia Voß (tbc)

04.30 – 05.00 p. m. Awards Ceremony “Incentive Prize”

05.00 – 06.15 p. m. Boris Groys (tbc)

06.15 p. m. Thanks, presentation of next Congress and Closing

07.00 – 10.00 p. m. Closing Ceremony

Sessions chaired by:
Elke Buhr, Jörg Heiser, Liam Kelly, Alexander Koch, Cathrin Lorch, Kolja Reichert (tbc)

Post-Congress 06 / 07 October, Berlin

SUNDAY, 06 Oct., Berlin


09.00 a. m. breakfast visits in Potsdamerstraße 77–87: Gallery Judin, Blain Southern, Esther Schipper
11.00 a. m. Martin Gropius Bau
12.30 p. m. Lunch Break

03.00 p. m. KOW Galerie, meeting the artist Hiwa K
04.30 p. m. visit of choice: Boros Collection or Konrad Fischer Galerie

07.00 p.m. Kewenig Galerie - visit and reception

MONDAY, 07 Oct., Berlin

9.00 a. m. Studio visit with Heba Y. Amin, Kreuzberg
11.30 a. m. N.B.K. (Neuer Berliner Kunstverein) reception by Marius Babias, Director, and meeting with artist Candice Breitz
1.00 pm Salon Frieder Burda and Galerie Michael Fuchs
01.30 p. m. Lunch at Clärchens Ballhaus

03.00 p. m. visit Sprüth Magers
05.00 p. m. SAVVY Contemporary- The Laboratory of Form-Ideas

07.30 p. m. Julia Stoschek Collection

(this programme may be subject to changes)


Registration fee for the congress
Before July 27th: members 80 €, guests 100 €
After July 3rd: members 100 €, guests 120 €
Students 35 €
The AICA International Secretariat (3 persons), AICA International Office (1 person), Chairs of AICA International Committees (10 persons), speakers and special guests are exempted.

Participation to the post-programme Berlin October 6th and 7th 2019:
All attendants (AICA members, their guests and invited persons) pay the fee of 70 € and hotels accommodation. Those 70 € will be used for meals and transports.

Registration deadline: 31st August 2019.
Thereafter registration will be possible at the congress by cash.

For the transfer from Cologne to Berlin, we offer the possibility to book your reservation with us at the price of 70 €. Owner of a Deutsche Bahncard should by their trip individually.
We encourage you to book as early as possible, as the 3rd of October is a National Holyday and the prices for trains and rooms may raise soon.

in Cologne

Coellner Hof, Hansaring 100, 50670 Cologne 80 € per night

in Berlin
Our Congress Hotel in Berlin is the famous Ellington Hotel, close to the Ku’damm, where Duke Ellington used to play. It is a four star hotel which concedes a special rate to participants of the AICA Congress.
Ellington Hotel BERLIN, Nürnberger Strasse 50-55 | 10789 Berlin
Price 118 Single / 148 Double Breakfast included
Please note that hotel rooms are reserved for us only until July 11th. After this date, registration will be open to public and the prices may raise.

Other recommendations:
Motel One Berlin-Upper West, Kantstr. 163-165 · 10623 Berlin (close to Ellington Hotel)
Actual price (17th June 2019) 90,50 € / per night incl. Bio-breakfast (11,50 €)

IBIS Budget Berlin Alexanderplatz, Mollstraße 30 · 10249 Berlin
Actual price (17th June 2019) 59,00 € / per night plus 7,50 € for breakfast

Important addresses in Cologne
Kunsträume der Michael Horbach Stiftung, Womrser Str. 23, 50677 Köln
Hansasaal im Historischen Rathaus, Rathausplatz 2, 50667 Köln
Museum Ludwig, Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Köln
Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln, Peter-Welter-Platz 2, 50676 Köln

Congress adresses in Berlin:
Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin
Berlinische Galerie, Alte Jakobstraße 124, 10969 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Palais Populaire, Unter den Linden 5, 10117 Berlin


AICA members meeting in Venice May 9th, 9am

Alfredo Cramerotti (UK, international vice-president) is co-curating with Elsa Barbieri the exhibition IDEAL-TYPES [Chapter 2], opening on May 7th at 5pm at Marignana Arte, and including artists Athanasios Argianas, Maurizio Donzelli, Nancy Genn, Artur Lescher, James Lewis, Alice Pedroletti, Antonio Scaccabarozzi and Verónica Vázquez.

If you'll happen to be in Venice, you are cordially invited to join us at the opening on May 7th.

Moreover, a special guided tour of the exhibition for AICA members only is planned on May 9th at 9am.

Inspired by Max Weber’s theory, whereby for studying a social action without reducing its particularities to a collection of individual events we must start from the perception that the individual has of the real world, IDEAL-TYPES [Chapter 2] is an ongoing exhibition project designed as a speculative tool which makes possible to measure reality: the ideal-type (Idealtypus).

The eight international artists are invited to formulate an artistic language that visually translates the thought relationships when trying to set out a concept; they do so through the dialogue between their respective art works, and with gallery spaces.

A methodological paradigm that is never traceable empirically in its conceptual purity, the ideal-type is intended as a utopia that shares characteristics with real objects, even if it does not correspond to any specific example. With it, the materiality of existence must be compared in order to illustrate the significant elements of its empirical content.

It is thus a matter of adopting something imaginary or intangible to better understand the concrete. The concept does not copy real life but underlines its most intrinsic connections. Without any expectation of objectivity, the artists build a kind of seductive, meticulous and inconsistent verisimilitude to verify empirically. By isolating a particular phenomenon from the complex of interactions, and catching uniform elements in the repetition of the same, each one proceeds in structuring the ideal-type that operates as a unilateral and rational measuring device of reality.

The artworks on display question the viewers by encouraging them to develop always new readings on the being within a visual and spatial conversation.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual Italian-English catalogue.

IDEAL-TYPES [Chapter 2]

Curated by Alfredo Cramerotti and Elsa Barbieri

Marignana Arte Venice, from 7 May to 7 September 2019

Opening: Tuesday, 7 May, 5:00 - 10:00 pm

Special openings: from Wednesday 8 to Sunday 12 May, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

Opening hours: Tuesday - Wednesday, 2:00 - 6:30 pm; Thursday - Saturday, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm / 2:00 - 6:30pm; Sunday and Monday closed or by appointment

Dorsoduro 141, Rio Terà dei Catecumeni

Vaporetto stops: Salute - Line 1, Spirito Santo - Lines 5.1 / 5.2

Image: Alice Pedroletti, Study for a Sculpture, 2016 (courtesy of the artist)

Notre-Dame de Paris

AICA International expresses its deepest feelings for the fire that hit Notre-Dame de Paris, a cultural heritage of humanity, a historical reference for all the citizens of the world.

Our hearts are filled with sorrow and mourning.

Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves, President

The AICA Prize for Distinguished Contribution to the Visual Arts in Taiwan and the 6th AICA Incentive Award for Young Art Critics, Taipei, Taiwan 2018

The Awards Committee of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) awarded prizes in two categories at the 51st International AICA Congress in Taiwan on 18 November 2018. The ceremony was organised and directed by Sophie Allgårdh, Chair of the Awards Committee and marked the closure of the AICA Congress in Taiwan 2018.

Download this communication here.


Proposed by AICA Taiwan, the Taiwanese professor and curator Huang Hai-ming (b. 1950) received the Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Visual Arts in Taiwan. Huang Hai-ming has since the 1980s greatly contributed to shaping artistic and curatorial practices, especially in the field of art in the public domain including outdoor spaces which are recurrent topics in his critical writing and curatorship. He has served as a curator at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and worked as an independent exhibition manager sought by institutions and art initiatives in Taiwan. On receiving the diploma from AICA International President, Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves, Huang Hai-ming expressed his gratitude and spoke of the significance of an international organisation’s recognition of critical curatorship in Taiwan.

The aim of the Distinguished Prize is to honour a senior critic from the country hosting the annual AICA Congress and to introduce that critic to a wider network. Published work should be of international stature and may be translated into English and anthologised for publication in the AICA series Art Critics of the World. This year AICA International chose to rephrase the prize to “Distinguished Contribution to the Visual Arts in Taiwan”. Previous recipients of the AICA Award for Distinguished Contribution to Art Criticism are Ticio Escobar (Paraguay, 2011), Annemarie Monteuil (Switzerland, 2012), Tomáš Štrauss (Slovakia, 2013), Lee Yil (South Korea, 2014), Sarah Wilson (United Kingdom, 2015), Adelaida de Juan (Cuba, 2016) and Georges Didi-Huberman (France, 2017).


The winner of the 6th AICA Incentive Award for Young Art Critics is Felix Ho Yuen Chan (b. 1994 in Hong Kong), who graduated from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Studies in 2017 with a focus on avant-garde art in China and Japan and the social history of photography. Living and working in New York, he is currently a curatorial assistant at The Walther Collection, where he is assisting Brian Wallis in organising a series of exhibitions investigating vernacular photography.
The AICA Awards Jury praises Chan’s winning submission A Theater—In Absence as a “well-researched evaluation of artworks and their institutional and social contexts, with a fair and reflective judgment as a whole. His essay demonstrates art criticism at its best – identifying the uneven powers that art and artists may be immersed in and contextualising art and artists in the complexities of institutional, social, cultural, political, and economic realities.”

Download article here.


The Awards Committee also congratulates the two recipients of an Honorable Mention: Alana Victoria Hunt (b. 1984 in Australia) for her paper A mere drop in the sea of what is, and Enkaryon Ang (family name: Mu-Cheng Hung, b. 1981 in Taiwan) for his essay Return to the Psychogenic Theatre: A discussion about Chen Che-wei’s `Yang-Shen-Yuan’.
Alana Hunt lives in Miriwoong country in the remote north-west of Australia. She makes art, writes, and works with a variety of media across public, gallery and online spaces. The jury praises her work as “documenting the compelling reality in Kashmir in terms of representation in daily life as well as in evoking artistic justice, by boldly pushing the limits of artistic discourse which tend to stay within existing orthodoxies.”
Enkaryon Ang studied Chemistry and Life Sciences and is now a PhD candidate in chemical biology and biophysics. He has published two poetry collections Rorschach Inkblot (2009) and Hedgehog (2014). The jury praises his essay From bio-politics to Psychoanalysis for “a wide and deep analysis of the modernity of Taiwan.”

After receipt of his diploma from the Awards Chair, Sophie Allgårdh, Felix Ho Yuen Chan gave a presentation of his winning essay which offers new perspectives on Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other –a complex work by the Chinese duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Moderator Damian Smith, curator of Words for the Art, Melbourne, Australia, conducted a Q&A. Juror, Yang Yeung, curator and founding member and artistic director of Soundpocket in Hong Kong, shared insights of the democratic working process of the jury, selected by AICA Taiwan and composed of seven critics and academics from the Asian Pacific region. Prizewinner Felix Ho Yuen Chan receives expenses paid travel to Taipei to follow the Congress. Previous AICA Award winners of the Incentive Prize are Franck Hermann Ekra (Ivory Coast), Alessandra Simões Paiva (Brazil), Sebastian Baden (Germany), Lee Sun Young (South Korea), and Victor Wang (Canada/UK).

The purpose of the Incentive Prize is to recognise and support emerging voices in contemporary art criticism. Young art critics, maximum 40 years old, were invited from around the world to submit a text discussing contemporary art produced in the Asia Pacific region. There were 18 entries from nine countries and a multitude of backgrounds. AICA thanks all participants and the jury for its exemplary work.

The Awards Jury 2018

Ching-Wen CHANG
PhD, Assistant Professor, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

Chien-Mei LIU
Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Damian Smith 
Curator, Director of Words for Art, Melbourne, Australia

Mariko Takeuchi 
Curator, and Associate Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design

Jeannine TANG 
PhD, Curator, Art Critic, CCS Bard core faculty & Graduate Committee

Nhung WALSH 
Executive Director and Chief Curator of Indochina Arts Partnership

Curator, Founding Member & Artistic Director of Soundpocket

Sophie Allgårdh
Chair of Awards Committee

AICA Congress 2019 Theme and Call for Papers

52nd International AICA Congress Germany 2019
Art Criticism in Times of Populism and Nationalism
1–7 October 2019
Cologne – Berlin
A project by AICA Germany in cooperation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Download CALL FOR PAPERS in English, French, Spanish. Also listed below.
For the most up to date news on this Congress, please consult: https://aica-international.squarespace.com/upcoming-congress

Congress Theme
Due to globalisation, migration and ecological problems, critical voices and politicised statements get more and more popular in this world. The increase of nationalism and the rejection of alien cultures, guided by fear and uncertainty due to real threats like civil wars and terrorist attacks, are part of this. Artists pay more and more attention to phenomena like these, the politically motivated focus of investigation thereby poses a particular challenge for art criticism. The curatorial practice of major events and exhibitions like the Manifesta, the biennials and the Documenta show us the reactions of artists.

What effects do such developments have on art criticism and its traditional evaluation criteria? How can we adequately discuss questions concerning the aesthetics in political contexts or rather politics in aesthetics? And how does art criticism react on art positions differentiating from the political context?

Besides these problems, art criticism today faces the challenge of an art scene influenced by pop culture and commercialism more than ever before. Boundaries of art forms disappear, the interaction of artistic practice and activities alien to art has to be addressed increasingly.

Can art criticism still offer orientation? How does art criticism position itself between a “winner-takes-all” art market, institution critical exhibition formats and theoretical standards? This concerns its role and autonomy in and towards the media which seems to let the art critical discourse in the diversity of opinions fall into decay and which scarcely gives art critics any prospect of professional survival in the digital age.

It is questions and problems like these which we want to address at the congress. We hope to find answers on the future social role of art criticism, and in this context an appropriate approach towards pluralism and the social challenges in the field of art.


52nd International AICA Congress Germany 2019
Art Criticism in Times of Populism and Nationalism
1–7 October 2019
Cologne – Berlin
A project by AICA Germany in cooperation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Call for Papers

Populist tendencies, regardless of their colour, characterise the contemporary media landscape and the field of art and cultural criticism. Discussions about the removal of controversial works of art or the infiltration of the "Me Too" debate into the art discourse take their place in reporting. Ethical evaluation criteria are brought into the field, where male and female artists consciously make provocative or seemingly naive cultural appropriations through their works and actions. But where and how does the border to the curtailment of artistic freedom of expression run? What does the course of disputes between ethical and aesthetic fronts say about our understanding of politically "responsible" art and art-critical approaches that seem "appropriate" to this art.

The 52nd International AICA Congress is dedicated to the possibilities of critical engagement with art as a socially embedded yet aesthetically free form of expression. If simplification no longer serves to convey complex contexts and turns into the simplifying rhetoric of those who address their audience with the aim of defending their own claims to power, popularity becomes populism. How can art criticism help to shape spaces of seriously divided public spheres and thus assume a central role in social processes? How can it accept the challenge of dealing sensitively with political questions and self-confidently intervening where political correctness threatens to restrict the freedom of art and art criticism?

In order to be heard and to position art as an expression of society rather than as a luxury good and financial investment, the intervention of critique in cultural-political debates about "populist" decisions by influential actors seems unavoidable – with a view to international developments as well as to one's "own front door". What other power does art criticism have in dealing with neo-nationalism, racism and discrimination? What path does it take in the debate about colonialism and the associated calls for reparation? How can it position itself in the field of tension between identity politics and criticism of identity politics?

We observe that populism has become part of our daily business not only in politics, but also in artistic practice. It can be the subject of artistic criticism, but it can also be used as a strategy that promises to attract attention to a position by one-sidedly inclining towards a certain political alignment or by deliberately choosing polarising forms of representation. But how can art criticism find formats to react to such art?

How criticism can remain independent when a large part of the precariously working freelancers are dependent on every job seems like a mystery. The economic necessity of constantly finding paying clients may be a possible reason why many critics are increasingly writing about popular or even populist themes and exhibitions. The contributions are intended to differentiate which manifestations of populism become relevant for art criticism, how exhibiting institutions or critics present themselves in a "populist" manner, and what role the uncritical adaptation to an assumed majority taste plays in the cultural sphere.

The concern of the Congress is to enter into conversation about art, its conditions and possible consequences, thinking and speaking openly to oneself and others without having to submit to censorship or attention-economic necessities – a Congress, which dedicates itself to this thematic field through democratic-theoretical, art-scientific, journalistic and artistic approaches.

The following topics can be addressed:

  • the concept and history of populism, particularly in the cultural field

  • art criticism as a reaction to populist tendencies in (cultural) politics

  • interaction and conflicts between ethical and aesthetic approaches in art and art criticism

  • the tension between freedom of expression and political correctness

  • censorship, iconoclasm and terror as strategies of cultural populism

  • effects of populism, Neo-Nationalism and censorship in art critical practice challenge of critique through populism as a topic and style of artistic practice

Art critics, creative artists and scholars are invited to submit proposals for a 20-minute contribution and, if possible, to assign them to one of the listed topics.

Please send your abstract (max. 2000 characters) in English and optionally also in German, French or Spanish with a short biography (and a statement on the Congress topic in one sentence, approx. 600 characters in total) including a portrait photo and corresponding copyright information to Marja-Terttu Kivirinta (mtkivirinta@mac.com) by 7 April 2019.

The Notification about acceptance of contributions can be expected at the beginning of May 2019. If the proposal is accepted, the abstracts and biographies with photos will be used online and in print as part of the publicity work of the Congress. The speakers will be accommodated during the Congress days.

La Critique d’art au temps du populisme et des nationalismes

52e Congrès international d’AICA International en Allemagne 2019
1 au 7 octobre 2019
Cologne – Berlin
Un projet d’AICA Allemagne en coopération avec la Fondation Fédérale pour la Culture

Appel à communications

Les tendances populistes, de quelque couleur politique qu’elles soient, déterminent le paysage contemporain des médias dans les domaines de la critique d’art et de la culture. Les polémiques concernant le retrait d’œuvres d’art controversées et l’intervention du débat « me too » dans le champ artistique se sont imposées dans les bulletins d’information. Les critères d’évaluation ethnique tentent de s’imposer, là où les artistes s’approprient dans leurs œuvres des valeurs culturelles, ingénument ou avec l’intention de provoquer. Mais où et comment tracer les limites de la liberté artistique ? Que disent toutes ces polémiques entre adeptes de l’ethnicité et de l’esthétique sur notre compréhension d’un art « responsable » et d’une approche de la critique d’art qui puisse paraître politiquement « adéquate » ?

Le 52e Congrès International de l’AICA s’interrogera sur la possibilité d’une approche critique de l’art qui l’insère dans le contexte social tout en le laissant néanmoins libre dans la réalisation esthétique. Le caractère « populaire » se transforme en populisme lorsque la simplification cesse de servir la communication de relations complexes et tombe dans la rhétorique réductrice de ceux qui s’adressent à leur public dans le but de défendre leurs propres ambitions de pouvoir. Comment la critique d’art peut-elle participer à l’élaboration d’un espace public diversifié pour une société profondément divisée et ainsi s’assurer un rôle central dans la construction de la société ? Comment peut-elle relever le défi d’aborder avec sensibilité les débats politiques et d’intervenir avec autonomie et confiance lorsque le « politiquement correct » menace de restreindre la liberté artistique et celle de la critique d’art.

L’intervention de la critique d’art dans les débats politico-culturels concernant le « populisme » d’acteurs influents est inévitable afin de se faire entendre et de positionner l’art en tant qu’expression de la société plutôt que comme produit de luxe et bien d’investissement – et ceci en regard de l’évolution de la situation sur le plan international et « devant sa porte ». Quelle influence la critique d’art peut-elle avoir dans les débats sur le néo-nationalisme, le racisme et la discrimination ? Que propose-t-elle dans les débats sur le colonialisme et les appels à la restitution d’œuvres patrimoniales et aux réparations liées à l’histoire coloniale ? Comment s’affirme-t-elle dans le champ de contraintes entre une politique identitaire et la critique de celle-ci ?

Nous observons qu’il n’y a pas qu’en politique que le populisme fait partie du quotidien. Il s’infiltre aussi au sein de la pratique artistique – comme objet de critique artistique, mais aussi comme stratégie. Comment la critique d’art peut-elle trouver des formats qui permettent non seulement un jugement de valeur sur ces formes artistiques, mais encore de focaliser l’attention sur la relation entre l‘art et le contexte politique ?

Comment la critique d’art peut-elle être autonome, alors qu’une grande partie des indépendants vivent dans des conditions précaires et sont obligés d’accepter n’importe quelle commande, c’est un mystère. La nécessité économique de trouver constamment de nouveaux commanditaires pourrait bien être la cause expliquant pourquoi de plus en plus de critiques d’art écrivent sur des thèmes et expositions populaires, voire populistes. Les diverses contributions chercheront à distinguer quelles manifestations populistes sont pertinents pour la critique d’art, pourquoi des lieux d’exposition et certains critiques se présentent de façon « populiste », et quel rôle l’adaptation peu critique à un goût supposé majoritaire joue dans la sphère culturelle.

L’intention du Congrès d’entrer en conversation sur l’art, sa contextualisation et les suites qui en découlent, tout en restant ouvert de pensée et de parole envers soi-même et les autres, sans égards à la censure et à des nécessités d’ordre économique – c’est le sens de ce Congrès dédié aux aspects théoriques de la démocratie, de l’histoire de l’art, des approches journalistiques et artistiques.

Les thèmes suivants seront abordés :

  • populisme – notion et historique, en particulier dans le contexte de la critique d’art)

  • réactions de la critique d’art face aux tendances populistes en politique (culturelle)

  • interaction et conflits entre une approche éthique et esthétique de l‘art et de la critique d’art

  • prise de position entre la liberté d’expression et le politiquement correct

  • censure, iconoclasme et terreur face aux stratégies d’une culture populiste

  • effets du populisme, du néo-nationalisme et de la censure sur la critique d’art

  • le populisme comme thème et style de la pratique artistique, défit pour la critique d’art.

Les critiques d’art, artistes et intellectuels, scientifiques et académiciens sont invités à présenter leur proposition pour une contribution de 20 minutes et si possible de la placer dans l’un des thèmes proposés.

Nous vous prions d’envoyer un résumé de 2.000 caractères (maximum) en anglais – avec l’option d’y joindre le texte original en allemand, en français ou en espagnol – une courte biographie incluant en une phrase un énoncé sur la thématique du Congrès (pas plus de 600 caractères en tout) et un portrait photographique avec mention de droit d’auteur s’il y a lieu à Marja-Terttu Kivirinta (mtkivirinta@mac.com) d’ici le 7 avril 2019.

La notification d’acceptation des contributions est prévue pour début mai 2019. Si la proposition est acceptée, les résumés, biographies et le portrait photographique seront publiés en ligne et imprimés dans les documents de présentation du Congrès. Le séjour des intervenants sera pris en charge durant le Congrès.

52º Congreso Internacional de la AICA en Alemania
La Crítica de arte en tiempos de populismo y nacionalismos
del 1 al 7 octubre de 2019
Colonia – Berlín
Un proyecto de AICA Alemania en cooperación con la Fundación Cultural Federal

Convocatoria de papel

Las tendencias populistas – sean del color que sean – determinan al paisaje contemporáneo de los medios de comunicación y al campo del arte y la crítica cultural. Las discusiones acerca del retiro de controvertidas obras de arte o la permeabilidad del discurso del arte para con el debate “Me Too” se imponen en la agenda noticiosa. Los criterios de evaluación ética son llevados al plano en el que las y los artistas ejecutan apropiaciones culturales que son provocadoras de manera consciente o aparentemente ingenua. Pero, ¿por dónde y cómo es trazado el límite que separa a esto de la reducción de la libertad de expresión artística? ¿Qué es lo que esta seguidilla de debates – que oscilan entre frentes éticos y estéticos – puede expresarnos acerca de nuestra concepción del arte y sobre la crítica de arte “responsable” políticamente y “adecuada”?

El 52º Congreso Internacional de la AICA se enfoca en las posibilidades de la discusión crítica en torno al arte como forma de expresión que se aloja en lo social y que, sin embargo, es forma de expresión estéticamente libre. La popularidad se vuelve populismo cuando la simplificación deja de servir a la comunicación de relaciones complejas y cae en la retórica reductora de aquellos que se dirigen a su público con el fin de defender sus propias ambiciones de poder. ¿Cómo es que la crítica de arte puede participar en la formación de una esfera pública diferenciada de forma seria y, así, asumir un rol central en los procesos sociales? ¿Cómo puede aceptar el desafío de abordar de manera sensible las cuestiones políticas y, con autonomía y seguridad, cumplir con su función cuando la corrección política amenaza con restringir la libertad del arte y de la crítica de arte?

La intromisión de la crítica en los debates de política cultural en torno a las decisiones “populistas” de actores influyentes parece inevitable para que este sea escuchada y para posicionar al arte como expresión de la sociedad – y mirando a los desarrollos internacionales como también a aquellos que se dan “en casa”.

Más allá de esto: ¿cuál es el poder que la crítica de arte tiene en el debate en torno al neo-nacionalismo, el racismo y la discriminación? ¿Cuál es la vía que propone en el debate sobre el colonialismo y con sus llamados al resarcimiento y la reparación? ¿Cómo puede posicionarse en el punto crítico entre políticas de identidad y la crítica a estas mismas?

Hemos podido observar que el populismo se ha vuelto parte del día a día – no solo en la política, sino también en la práctica artística, pudiendo llegar a ser tanto objeto de crítica por parte del artista y su obra, como también pudiendo ser usado como una estrategia. 

La pregunta en este sentido es: ¿cómo debería reaccionar al respecto la crítica del arte?

Hasta el día de hoy, el dilema es si la crítica puede seguir siendo independiente en momentos en los que una gran parte de los autónomos que trabajan bajo precarias condiciones depende de cada encargo que recibe. La necesidad económica, la búsqueda constante de clientes que paguen son motivos posibles por los cuales muchos críticos escriben con más ahínco acerca de temas y exposiciones que gozan de popularidad o que son llanamente populistas.

Diferentes ponencias intentarán diferenciar cuáles son las manifestaciones del populismo y cuáles son relevantes para la crítica de arte; cómo es que los centros de exposiciones o los críticos se comportan de manera “populista” y cuál es el rol que juega la adaptación poco crítica del ámbito cultural a lo que se supone es un gusto mayoritario.

El tenor del Congreso será el iniciar conversaciones acerca de arte, sus condiciones y consecuencias posibles; al mismo tiempo, poder pensar y hablar de manera abierta para consigo mismo y con los otros. El Congreso se concentra en aproximaciones tanto periodísticas y artísticas como desde la teoría de la democracia y los estudios del arte.

Los siguientes campos temáticos pueden ser abordados:

  • Concepto e historia del populismo, en especial en el área cultural

  • La crítica de arte como reacción a tendencias populistas en la política (cultural)

  • Interacción y conflictos entre aproximaciones éticas y estéticas en el campo del arte y en el de la crítica del arte.

  • Punto crítico entre la libre expresión de opinión y la corrección política

  • Censura, iconoclasia y terror como estrategias de un populismo cultura

  • Efectos del populismo, el neo-nacionalismo y la censura en la práctica de la crítica de arte

  • El populismo como tema y estilo de la práctica artística, desafío para la crítica de arte

Las y los críticos de arte, artistas, intelectuales, científicos y académicos están invitados a presentar propuestas de ponencias de 20 minutos y, dentro de lo posible, categorizarla en uno de los campos temáticos mencionados en esta lista.

Por favor envíe su resumen (no más de. 2,000 caracteres) en inglés, así como – opcional y adicionalmente – en alemán, francés o español junto a una biografía breve y un Statement de una oración que se relacione con el tema del Congreso. Incluya a su postulación una foto de retrato con las normas de Copyright correspondientes y envíe su postulación hasta el 7 de abril de 2019 a Marja-Terttu Kivirinta (mtkivirinta@mac.com).

A comienzos de mayo del 2019 se comunicará la resolución de las ponencias aceptadas.

En caso de que la propuesta sea aceptada, los resúmenes y biografías con foto serán usadas en línea y de forma impresa en el marco de la difusión del Congreso.

Se dispondrá de alojamiento para las y los ponentes durante las fechas del Congreso.

AICA Congress 2019 Schedule

52nd International AICA Congress Cologne/Berlin, 1–7 October 2019

For the most up to date news on this Congress, please consult: https://aica-international.squarespace.com/upcoming-congress


Tuesday 1 October, Cologne
Meetings of AICA Committees at Stiftung Horbach
Reception at the Town Hall, Hansasaal
Evening event with award ceremony “Distinguished Prize for Art Criticism“ at Museum Ludwig

Wednesday 2 October, Cologne
Meeting of the AICA Board at Stiftung Horbach
General Assembly at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne
Evening reception and “Prelude” to the Congress at the auditorium

Thursday 3 October, Cologne–Berlin
In the morning: departure by train from Cologne to Berlin
c. 3.30pm Start of the Congress at Hamburger Bahnhof
c. 8pm Evening event at Palais Populaire (registration needed)

Friday 4 October, Berlin
Congress at Gropiusbau: Sessions and Roundtable

Saturday 5 October, Berlin
Congress at Gropiusbau: Sessions and Roundtable
Closing and Awards Ceremony

Sunday 6 and Monday 7 October, Berlin

AICA Worldwide: A 70 Years’ Commemoration

Dear Colleague

AICA Worldwide: A 70 Years’ Commemoration

As many of you will be aware, this year marks the 70th anniversary of AICA’s foundation. Properly speaking, the idea for founding our Association was hatched at an international meeting of art critics convoked by UNESCO, in Paris, in June 1948; and a Congress in June-July 1949 led to the formal creation of AICA, with its own statutes, elected President and Bureau. Since then, the number of National Sections belonging to AICA, which has always been a federated organisation, has grown from thirteen to well over sixty, in addition to an ‘Open Section’, with members from a further dozen or so unaffiliated countries; and the membership has grown from as few as fifty-three, as late as in 1953, to around 5,000 today.

All this, and much more, is recounted in the aica press publication, in English and French, Histoire de 50 ans de l'Association internationale des critiques d’art AICA / Histories of 50 Years of the International Association of Art Critics AICA (n.d.) and the more recent English language publication, AICA in the Age of Globalisation (2010), which incorporates some of the earlier material and brings the account up to around ten years ago. The background information about AICA’s history has been further supplemented under the three-year PRISME project (https://acaprisme.hypotheses.org/), financed by the Fondation de France and completed last autumn, which undertook the task of digitalising all AICA’s core documentation from 1948 to 2003, including the proceedings and papers of AICA’s ongoing series of Annual Congresses, and has made this available to all internet users through the database “Base des fonds d’archives”, under: https://www.archivesdelacritiquedart.org/isadg_fondsdarchives/fr-aca-aicai?r=true

The above documentation, all of it publicly available, places a great deal of AICA’s international history at the disposal of users and researchers. However, there are very large gaps in the institutional memory of what kind of activities – publications, conferences, meetings, prizes, debates – have been organised, or taken place, under the aegis of the National Sections. In an attempt to start plugging this gap, AICA under its new International President, Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves, proposes to launch a new programme on its website, to capture some of the histories of the National Sections – existing and defunct – and to build a repository of recollections and reflections that will be of value to future historians.

As a first step, we are writing to you, as Chairs of the Publications Committee and the Archives and Living Memory Committee, with an appeal for visual or written material that could be published online, in the first instance, in autumn 2019 and might be considered on a selective basis for publication in hard copy at some point, one year later.

You are, therefore, asked to invite your individual members to contribute to this proposed publication by 15 July 2019, in the first instance, for contributions to be eligible for online publication in the second half of September 2019. Contributions, which may be accompanied by duly labelled photographs of individuals and activities, may seek to cover the historical achievements of a section or spotlight a single individual or event of particular significance. Longer, and more general, analyses or descriptive accounts might be in the region of from 3,000 to 4,000 words in length; spotlights focusing on a single individual or topic might run to some 1,000 to 1,500 words. Submissions may be in any of AICA’s three working languages (English, French, Spanish) and will be published in that language. The initial selection of material and any editorial process that may be necessary will be carried out by the undersigned, with the help of colleagues from one or other of our two Committees. The editors reserve the right also to approach individuals proactively, with a request for a contribution on a given theme. Material arriving after 15 July 2019 will still be accepted, but its online publication is likely to be deferred until end 2019 / early 2020. We hope to attract a maximum variety of geographical and thematic material, to reflect the international history and global aspirations of AICA itself.

We are writing to you all with the authority and blessing of the Board and Secretariat, and hope that you will do everything within your power, please, to get this information out to your individual members quickly, and encourage them to contribute.

All enquiries and submissions should be directed, in the first instance, please, to one of the two signatories of this email, with a copy to: aica.committees@gmail.com.

Thank you very much, in advance, for your cooperation!

With best wishes,

Jean-Marc Poinsot
Chair, Publication Committee

Henry Meyric Hughes
Chair, Archives and Living Memory Committee
President, Archives de la critique d’art
Hon. International President, AICA

Dutch/Flemish Prize for Young Art Criticism

The bi-annual Dutch/Flemish Prize for Young Art Criticism (Prijs voor de Jonge Kunstkritiek) for art critics under 35, was awarded in December 2018 in Rotterdam to the Dutch art critic Sarah van Binsbergen. AICA Netherlands actively supports the Prize by translating the article into English, and having it published on the AICA International website. With this publication we expect the winning text will receive a wider audience on an international stage. 

Hélène Amouzou Self Portrait 2009.jpg

Hélène Amouzou, Self Portrait, 2009


Erik van Lieshout, Die Insel, in commission of Emscherkunst 2016, courtesy of the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, 2019

A Chicken Wire Ghillie Suit
Why artists sometimes become (in)visible in their work
By: Sarah van Binsbergen

Scuzzy wallpaper peeling off the walls, a stool half visible bottom left, a rough wooden floor. Someone’s standing in this dim setting, or are they? On the floor boards only their feet are clearly visible, above them the hint of a body, ephemeral as a wisp of smoke. In this black-and-white self portrait photographer Hélène Amouzou achieved something quite impressive: she’s appearing and disappearing at the same time.

When I saw the work a few months ago at the exhibition ‘Some Things Hidden’ in the Amsterdam exhibition space Framer Framed, I couldn’t help thinking about another recent artwork in which an artist tries to delete himself. Although the two works couldn’t be more different in style and form, on seeing Amouzou’s self-portraits the closing images of Die Insel, a 2016 film by artist Erik van Lieshout, who was recently awarded the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Art, kept going through my mind. In its final scene the artist uproots plants with boisterous gestures and uses them to clad a piece of chicken wire. He adds branches, leaves, weeds, until the wire is entirely covered. He then places it over the one bench the island boasts. Gone. The remaining wire he uses to make a hollow construction of his own size, which he crawls into. There he is, completely immersed in his surroundings. The camera, wrapped in a plastic bag, captures the image from across the water.

It’s one of the most paradoxical themes in visual art: the artist’s self-disappearance. Referring to a quote by the Dutch author Cees Nooteboom, Joost Zwagerman says in De Stilte van het Licht (The Silence of Light), his final collection of essays, that every artist disappears in their work over time. In recent art history a few artists have tried to highlight this process and have made their total or partial disappearance the subject of their work; Lee Lozano, for instance, who disappeared from the art world with her Dropout Piece, or Chris Burden, who played with the freedom and anonymity wearing a mask allowed him in his work You’ll Never See My Face in Kansas City. And then there’s the artist who took the art of disappearing to the ultimate limit: Bas Jan Ader. Self-disappearance poses the artist with an interesting challenge. If it succeeds, there’s nothing to be seen anymore.

In the past few years, the theme seems to be making a comeback. A striking number of artworks and exhibitions have been made and mounted recently about the processes of becoming visible and invisible. The emphasis is often on the social and political dimensions of (in)visibility. That’s not very surprising; in times of on- and offline surveillance, oversharing and debates on representation and identity politics the question of what it means to be visible or invisible is extremely relevant. I therefore usually follow these developments with great interest and enthusiasm. But does visual art have any new insides to offer?

Ever since the mid noughties a growing group of - mainly young - artists has focused on what it means to be visible in a world populated by CCTV cameras, drones and other modern surveillance technologies. In a poetic manner they draw attention to the imperative visibility the modern world demands from us by making themselves invisible, or by encouraging the onlooker to do so. A striking example of this is the performance The Clandestine Way. The Path of Least Surveillance (2005), in which Belgian artist Francis Alÿs walked through London avoiding as many CCTV cameras as he could. Recently poet, performance artist and fellow Belgian Maarten Inghels made a new version of the work. In his The Invisible Route (2017) he took a similar walk through Antwerp. Just like Alÿs he made a map showing all CCTV cameras in the city. The Anti Drone Tent (2013) by Dutch artist Sarah van Sonsbeeck also draws attention to the downside of visibility: the tent is made of material which absorbs body heat, so drones using thermal imaging cameras cannot detect the occupant of the tent.

Another example of this anti-surveillance art is Facial Weaponization Suite (2011-2014) by American artist Zach Blas, a series of performances using ‘collective masks’ constructed from the facial features of different individuals with common identity markers such as gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. With this work the artist responds to the ways facial recognition is linked with particular profiles and thus employed as an exclusion mechanism or, alternatively, for marketing purposes. The work Fag Face Mask (2012), for example, centres around a mask constructed from the facial features of various gay men; it’s a response to experiments which try to determine a person’s sexual orientation through biometric facial recognition. And more importantly: a response to the alarming fact that this apparently is possible.

The impressive thing about Van Sonsbeeck’s tent is the pairing of beauty and social criticism: the shiny golden material the tent is made of gives this shelter a majestic and fairy tale-like quality, but at the same time the artist wants us to think about the harsh reality of our vulnerability to present-day surveillance techniques and drone technology. Blas’s shiny deformed masks are intriguing to look at as well. Yet to me many of these anti-surveillance artworks lack a deeper layer of meaning: although they evoke interesting social questions about visibility as a form of submission and invisibility as a form of resistance, many of these works stay too close to the political developments they respond to in order to really captivate. The broader significance of visibility isn’t questioned, nor is the role of the artists who make (themselves) visible or invisible. As in many other forms of sociocritical art it ‘wants’ rather than ‘evokes.’

Erik van Lieshout’s Die Insel is a completely different story. Unlike the examples I mentioned above, this work doesn’t refer directly to notions of surveillance or representation, and yet it does feel like a comment on the limiting, oppressive influence that too much invisibility produces. The film was commissioned by a German art foundation which invited Van Lieshout to make an artwork in a nature reserve in Dortmund. The artist, who had just finished an exhausting and extremely social project and would have preferred to turn his back on society for a while as a modern Henry David Thoreau, immediately knew where he wanted to make his work: on a small desert island in the middle of the reserve. There is a wooden bench on it for passing sailors, but no one is allowed to stay for more than a short rest.

Van Lieshout manages to gain permission to work on the island for four months. Not that there’s much he can do there, everything has to remain as it is. And apart from plants, the aforementioned bench and some wooden poles, there’s basically nothing there. He doesn’t succeed in disappearing, which is what he had planned to do, either, for the paradox is that on that tiny island in the middle of the lake, he is incredibly visible. He’s being watched from all sides. At some point he buys a photograph of three armed Arabic men in the desert which he saw in someone’s window in Dortmund. He places the photograph on a pile of rocks on the island’s jetty, with the caption ‘Vorsicht: KUNST’ (Careful: ART). Soon the art foundation receives complaints from residents of the neighbouring villas: they interpret it as a monument glorifying violence.

In his book The Transparency Society philosopher Byung-Chul Han writes: a world in which everything is transparent, where all of your most private information can be made public in all sorts of ways and we enthusiastically participate in that, is a world in which eventually everything is blunted. In such a world art has no place, for imagination only exists by virtue of friction and contradiction. A desperate Erik van Lieshout on that puny little island, searching for a way to turn nothing into art, is a fine illustration of what happens to the artist’s freedom in a world in which everything is instantly visible and nothing can be hidden. In order to create his work in freedom he has to camouflage himself; hence all the fuss with the branches and the chicken wire. Van Lieshout’s disappearance also spells the film’s ending, however.

Erik van Lieshout is praised for his radical, uncompromising style and the sophisticated engagement that characterizes his work. He explores the fringes of society and makes multi-layered, challenging work in which he engages in conversation with people who are usually shunned: residents of disadvantaged neighbourhoods, addicts, homeless people and right or left wing extremists. His approach in his casually filmed videos is radically personal, however. He, Erik, always plays the lead as a (pretending to be) naive artist investigating a group or subculture and comments like a vlogger, with a great feeling for the tragicomical. And it’s always, or mainly, also about him; about his own struggle with his engagement and his identity as an artist. In that sense Die Insel illustrates the impossibility for the artist to disappear. ‘Without me you’re nothing, without me there is no film,’ he says in the film’s opening monologue. And he is right: by exploring his own ambitions as a gutmensch, his own neuroses and struggles, he also exposes his own - often ambivalent – stance towards his subjects.

In such an egotistical approach, something has to give of course, as in any art work or story some things are abandoned or eradicated. In an interview Van Lieshout says that with Die Insel he originally wanted to make a film about the refugee crisis. The island had to take him in and accept him as a metaphor for refugees being taken in and accepted by the German people under Merkel. Yet another meaning of ‘becoming invisible’, another layer. This is probably the reason why he takes a temporary assistant to the island, Ahmad from Syria. Ahmad is never seen, but does have a role in the film: his experiences as a refugee in Germany – amongst which are a number of heart wrenching stories about men and women who tried to help him but then try to talk him into their beds – are depicted by Van Lieshout in a humorous but quite crude way, with the help of the few things available on the island. Ahmad becomes a rosehip on a stick with a hard-on.

As his brother told Van Lieshout during an evening in De Balie: ‘You engage in conversations with people, but we only ever get to see your version of the story.’ An observation Van Lieshout also makes himself: ‘It’s about me, it’s always only about me,’ he laments in Die Insel in his thick Brabant accent.

Photographer Hélène Amouzou’s takes a different angle, but her work in its own way shows the tension between art, visibility and invisibility. In search of a way to dispel loneliness after leaving her homeland Togo, Amouzou took a photography course in her new place of residence, Brussels. The first assignment, a self-portrait, immediately presented an impossible challenge: as a stateless undocumented migrant she wanted no pictures of herself. Didn’t want to make herself visible, but instead to keep herself hidden. In an effort to show something of herself all the same she starts to experiment with various shutter speeds in the attic of her home in Molenbeek. Among suitcases, clothes and other things belonging to her neighbours she makes portraits in which she seems to disappear into the interior.

Although she couldn’t have been aware of it, for she never saw her work, Amouzou’s pictures show a striking resemblance to those of Francesca Woodman, the young photographer who committed suicide in 1981 and who left an impressive body of work. Woodman too made self-portraits in largely empty interiors in which her appearance constantly seems to elude you: in some pictures her body is blurry or transparent as a result of long exposure, sometimes she averts her face, in other pictures furniture, doors or an umbrella hide her from the lens. The pictures reflect a young woman’s longing to make herself visible without falling into cliché or female stereotype.

In his 2015 essay The Invisible and the Visible. Identity Politics and the Economy of Reproduction in Art curator Nav Haq poses that the way in which artists become visible in their work is largely determined by the question of whether or not they belong to a marginalized group. The white, male, heterosexual artist, says Haq, is in fact the only one who can remain invisible in his work because he embodies the standard, the objective, that which isn’t questioned. Haq describes how minority artists tried to fight their way into the art world in the 80s by embracing and emphasizing their minority identity, that which made them deviate from the norm. This worked both ways: they did gain entry into the art world, as long as their work represented a clearly demarcated group: woman, migrant, black, queer or anything else that deviates from the norm. Whilst some artists have managed to break free from this, non-western, female or other deviating artists’ art is still mainly regarded as an extension of their identity. The work is always seen as a self-portrait, whereas art by male artists is appreciated on the basis of a content disconnected from themselves.

This is what makes Amouzou’s photos, and those by Woodman before her, so interesting. The liminal ghostlike state in which they capture themselves in their photographs expresses a hesitation, or perhaps a refusal, to appear completely. Because for a woman in the art world of the 70s and a black, undocumented woman in the art world of 2018 to appear completely means your work will irrevocably be seen as ‘identity art.’ The longing to be completely present, on their own terms, without being reduced to a mere label, a category, is expressed in what they keep hidden.

From completely different angles and using completely different means, but using the theme of self-disappearance both Van Lieshout and Amouzou address what it means to be visible or invisible as an artist. Where ‘anti-surveillance art’ presents a simplistic contrast between visibility as submission and invisibility as freedom and adds nothing new to the meaning of (in)visibility today, Die Insel and Amouzou’s self portraits show the complex relation between seeing and being seen, between making visible and invisible; between representation and visual art.

As Hélène Amouzou’s floral wallpaper reminds us that she can only become visible as an artist in her own right by partly disappearing, Van Lieshout’s chicken wire suit reminds us that his work can only be about more than himself if he doesn’t disappear into it.

In Memoriam: Efi Strousa

In Memoriam

Efi Strousa died in January 2019

Efi Strousa, critic and curator, was for many years a very active board member of AICA, as President of AICA Greece, Vice-President of AICA International and more recently as Treasurer, a role she took when her predecessor, Haydee Venegas sadly died before the end of her term. Efi brought to AICA a rich cultural background, coming from a country that was the cradle of Western civilisation. She studied art history at the Courtauld Institute, London,  was  a brilliant linguist and spoke several languages, including English and French in which she was fluent. With the collector Dakis Joannou and Adelina von Fürstenberg, she was a co-founder of the Deste Foundation, Athens. She curated many exhibitions in Greece and abroad, at the Venice and Sao Paulo Biennales. She lives in our memory as a warm and generous colleague and friend. She leaves us a legacy in her many publications as a critic, especially on Greek modern and contemporary art.

Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves, President of AICA International

Eli Strousa is gone. The news about her death has arrived via a post by an AICA colleague this morning. For several years she was a member of my "AICA family". Without her AICA would not be as vibrant as it is today. I will remember her foremost as a brilliant and wonderfully complex person, fearless in fights for causes she cared about - and she cared about many things. She spoke many languages not only fluently, but with elegance and sophistication, which for me was a sign of her great humanism and curiosity. 
This picture was taken at my summer house in Aegina in 2013. Efi was among first people to visit it. She liked this photograph a lot. That was and always will be a great summer in our lives.

Marek Bartelik, Honorary President, AICA International

The Board of Directors of the Association of Greek Art Critics AICA Hellas is deeply saddened by the loss of Efi Strousa, one of the most important and internationally recognised members of the Association. With her texts and curatorial work, Efi Strousa left her pioneering and creative mark on Greek artistic history, from the heroic years of the 1970s until today. She collaborated closely with the artists on bold and innovative exhibitions, wrote texts that exhaustively analysed important artistic research projects in Greece and in Europe and got the recognition of the International Association of Art Critics, of which she was a Board member (International Section). As President of AICA Hellas for long periods and with unprecedented passion, she took initiatives that made our Association significant in forging the historical spirit of contemporary Greek art. With regards her personal activity, she was the creator of the artistic current that was formed in 1977 and since then dominated the Greek art scene first with the exhibition Myth and Reality in Bari, Italy, and then, with the Avant-Garde and Experimentation (Points of Enquiry, Points of Reference) in 1978, in Modena and Venice.
These exhibitions featured artists that today constitute the main expression of artistic research in the field of theory, methodology and technical functioning of artworks in the city's landscape. Her participation in the Europalia Arts Festival 1982 with the exhibition Emerging Images in Antwerp, was a catalyst for the emergence of a postmodernist stream of Greek artists who have since excelled in the European and later the international artistic arena. Additionally, she was one of the first collaborators of Dakis Ioannou at the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, for which she curated the exhibition 7 Greek Artists: A New Journey. The exhibition was transferred to the Famagusta Gate in 1983 and contributed positively and creatively to the reconfiguration of the Cypriot physiognomy in the area of contemporary art after the moral disappointment and the human and material disasters caused by the Turkish invasion. Omitting the important exhibitions that followed, we shall focus on her crucial work, AICA Hellas’s contribution with the show Athina by Art, an event that was literally her work, with the emergence of more than 80 artists presented by 15 art critics, members of AICA Hellas, on the streets and public spaces in Athens.There is a great number of other initiatives she took, among which the establishment of the AICA Hellas Award. We will remember and always honour her bold spirit, her love for artists and her active social engagement, co-operation and respect for her colleagues. Her texts are now part of the Greek artistic history.

Emmanuel Mavrommatis, President of AICA HELLAS



AICA International and its Committee on Censorship and Freedom of Expression today sent a letter to the Cuban government expressing our protest to the detainment of several artists in Havana earlier this month, and against the decree 349 that will censor and limit artistic freedom in Cuba.

Cc’s were sent to Index on Censorship and the Organization of American States (OAS).

Letter (please scroll down for the Spanish version):

To: Council of Ministers of Cuba
att. Mr. Alpidio Alonso Grau, Minister of Culture

Paris, 11 December 2018

Subject: Arrest Tania Bruguera/Decree 349

cc. Index on Censorship

Dear Mr. Alpidio Alonso Grau,

The international Association of Art Critics (AICA) is a global organisation, established in 1948 by UNESCO, comprising art critics who are actively engaged in improving International cooperation in the fields of artistic creativity, mediation and endeavour.

AICA believes that freedom of expression is an important principle and as a basic civil right must be defended.
A hallmark of any democracy is its willingness to allow, consider and withstand critical as well as benign points of view and to accommodate peaceful protest.

We are concerned that artist and activist Tania Bruguera and others, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, as well as poet Amaury Pacheco, were among those arrested in Cuba on 3 December when staging a protest against the proposed new legislation Decree 349 that will censor and limit artistic freedom in the Cuba.

AICA condemns constraints on freedom of expression. On behalf of AICA International we call upon the Cuban government to repeal this proposed law and to afford artists their fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,

Robert-Jan Muller, Acting Chair, Committee on Censorship and Freedom of Expression

Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves, President, AICA International

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, Secretary-General, AICA International

Mathilde Roman, Treasurer, AICA International

Letter (Spanish version):

Consejo de Ministros de Cuba.
Sr. Alpidio Alonso Grau, Ministro de Cultura.

París, 11 de diciembre de 2018

Objeto: Arresto de Tania Bruguera / Decreto 349 Censura

Estimado Sr. Alpídio Alonso Grau,

La Asociación Internacional de Críticos de Arte (AICA) es una organización mundial, fundada en 1948 por la UNESCO, integrada por críticos de arte que participan activamente en la mejora de la cooperación internacional en los campos de la creatividad artística, la mediación y el fomento.

AICA cree que la libertad de expresión es un principio importante y como derecho civil básico debe ser defendido.
Un sello distintivo de cualquier democracia es su disposición a permitir, considerar y consentir diversos puntos de vista, tanto críticos como a favor, así como a tolerar protestas pacíficas.

Nos preocupa que la artista y activista Tania Bruguera y otroscomo Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara y Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, así como el poeta Amaury Pacheco, estuvieran entre los detenidos en Cuba el 3 de diciembre cuando protestaban contra la nueva legislación, el Decreto 349 que censura y limita la libertad artística en Cuba.

AICA condena las restricciones a la libertad de expresión. En nombre de AICA Internacional, pedimos al gobierno cubano que derogue ese decreto y que se permita a los artistas su derecho humano fundamental a la libertad de expresión.


Robert-Jan Muller Presidente de Comité de Censura y Libertad de Expresión

Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves Presidenta de AICA Internacional

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, Secretaria General de AICA Internacional

Mathilde Roman, Tesorera de AICA Internacional

COLLOQUIUM REPORT: ‘Reframing the (Art) World: Commitment, Challenges and Crises of International Art Criticism since 1945’

Université Rennes 2, 11-12 October 2018

by JJ Charlesworth

Université Rennes 2 is host to the Archives de la critique de l’art, which holds, among other records and archives, the historical archives of AICA. For the last three years, the archive and the university have partnered on a programme of research, monikered ‘PRISME’ – taking as its starting point the AICA archives, to research the as-yet little examined histories of art criticism in the post-war, as these played out through the activity facilitated by AICA’s international network, and the contacts this fostered and the debates it initiated.

In October, a resulting two-day colloquium, ‘Reframing the (Art) World’, brought together 15 papers examining the role of prominent critics and historians and key moments in the history of AICA, in its response to the culture and geopolitics of the Cold War. Organised and led by the university’s Dr Antje Kramer-Mallordy, the four sessions dealt with four themes delving into the place of art criticism through the optics of AICA, covering a period from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The first day looked to European art criticism in the first decade of the Iron Curtain, then turning to the question of how the internationalism of AICA, and of Modernist art criticism figured in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The second day’s papers delved into the transatlantic connections and dialogues between Europe, the UK and the US, followed by a final afternoon which turned, increasingly self-consciously, towards the heterodox developments in theory and criticism that emerged in Europe and the US during the 1970s. It was an illuminating two days, which included a drinks reception at the premises of the archives, hosted by ACA’s president Professor Jean-Marc Poinsot and director Dr Nathalie Boulouch.

That the 1970s figured as a sort of endpoint is no coincidence, since what the colloquium revealed was how the politics of the Cold War so clearly defined – and often constrained – the professional forms and institutional contacts of art criticism in the years to the end of the 1960s; and how both the geopolitical balance and the dominance of a (putatively) internationalist, modernist art criticism both unravelled in the decade following.

The extent to which modernist art criticism was tied up in the ambivalences of internationalist ideals played out in the shadow of US power was a frequent motif. Morgane Walter’s examination of the debates initiated by critic Wilhelm Wissel in Leverküsen in 1955 focussed on how the assembled critics wrangled over how abstraction could embody liberation and an internationalist spirit, while the issue of figurative art was haunted – by its address of the artistic and cultural particularity and locality – by the spectre of nationalism; a spectre which post-war West Germany was keen to distance itself from. Walter’s account revealed the confused tension in disavowing the Nazi pre-war past in the same breath as the pre-war history of figuration – whether, for example, the psychological experience of war (and therefore of ‘national particularity’) could be detected in abstraction made in different national contexts.

Nancy Jachec’s paper looked at the crisscrossing of the Iron Curtain by Czechoslovak intellectual Adolf Hoffmeister; returning to Czechoslovakia in 1946 to work for the new government, he was soon a delegate to UNESCO and the UN. With the repressive turn of 1951 he was recalled, jailed and then given a teaching post. Hoffmeister’s disillusion at Communist repression became the background to his part in bringing Jean-Paul Sartre to Eastern Europe. Jachec’s paper traced Sartre’s important contributions to congresses in Moscow and Leningrad, and Hoffmeister’s support for new cultural journals such as Plamenand Tvarjin the early 60s, later suppressed after the crushing of the Prague Spring.

Following Jachec, Agnezka Bartlová examined how the liberalisation of the 1960s and the aftermath of the Prague Spring figured in the development of Czechophone art criticism during the 60s; charting the fortunes of the monthly Výtvarné uměníand the bimonthly Výtvarná Práce, Bartlová put these in the context of the 1966 AICA congress in Prague and Bratislava, and the activity of the Union of Czeckoslovak Visual artists, by then headed by Hoffmeister, which funded both magazines. Noting the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the 1966 congress through which Czechoslovak critics developed their contacts with the West, Bartlová showed Výtvarné umění’sattention to international tendencies, for example published articles on Marcel Duchamp and cybernetics, as well as reports by Czechoslovak critics of visits to Venice and Documenta. The bimonthly Výtvarná Práce was a faster, more artist-centred publication moreoriented to the local scene. Both however, would cease publication by 1970s as the ministry of culture pulled funding from the Union of Visual Artists. Bartlová concluded by criticising the political queitism of the Czechoslovak section of AICA, lamenting the failure to maintain any collective memory or institutional continuity with the criticism of the 60s, inaugurating, in her view, a long period of silence in Czech art criticism during the last years of the Cold War.

The morning concluded with my discussion of the transatlantic contexts that appear in the content of the British magazine Studio International between 1968 and 1972, as the magazine both represented and intervened in the progressive reorientation of the British contemporary art scene from US-Anglophone relationships to the growing influence of European avant-garde activity after 1968.

Turning away from the Iron Curtain geography of the morning session, the afternoon papers looked towards what would now be called the Global South. The tensions between internationalism and the entrenched influence of Eurocentric critical habits were playfully highlighted by Caroline A. Jones’s delve into the shifting reception of the Pakistani painter Sadequain (Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi), lauded by European critics in the early 1960s as the ‘Pakistani Picasso’. Jones essayed the circuitous routes of Sadequain’s interaction, from the ‘periphery’, with the European ‘centre’ of Modernism – the artist arrived Paris in 1960, winning one of the prizes at the second Biennale de Paris in 1961. Jones traced the complicated to-and-fro between Sadequain’s modernism (as he circulated in Europe and North America) and the calligraphic and iconographic forms he turned to increasingly later in the 60s, as he aligned himself more closely with the Islamic and nationalist cultural and political currents of Pakistan and the Middle East of the period.

Following Jones, Maureen Murphy analysed the context of AICA’s third extraordinary congress of 1973, which took place in Kinshasa, during the rule of Mobutu, as AICA’s preoccupation with developing its network beyond its core of European, US and Latin American sections turned its attention to the new African states. According to Murphy’s account, Mobutu has supported the congress in Congo (it could, she suggested have happened as easily in Dakar), as she unpacked the complicated post-colonial reciprocities that condemned art made in Africa to remain ‘traditional’ however contemporary. Murphy argued that the ‘73 congress became an inadvertent platform for Mobutu’s cultural policy of ‘Authenticity’, in which art could be both ‘local’ and ‘Modernist’.

Unable to attend, Berenice Gustavino’s paper was read by a colleague, charting the contrasting positions and professional rivalries of Argentinian critics Jorge Romero Brest and Jorge Glusberg. Critic, historian and founder in 1948 of the review Ver y Estimar,Romero Brest was closely involved in AICA during the 1950s, founding in 1948 the review Ver y Estimar. Critic, historian, then director of the National Museum of Fine Arts after the overthrow of the Peron government in 1955; Brest was an actively critical presence in the early days of ACIA, quick to see the obstacles and problems that faced AICA’s network. Gustavino’s account unpicked Brest’s dissatisfaction with AICA, looking at his proposal for the 1954 Istanbul congress, in which he sought to develop a more definite and objective terminology of art criticism – a project which the congress turned down as ‘too big’. Gustavino tranced the rivalry between Brest and the younger Glusberg (who founded the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC) in Buenos Aires in 1968) and the institutional tussles between the two, noting Glusberg’s attempts to fuse the Argentinian section of AICA with CAyC, while finally becoming AICA’s president in 1978.

Christina Tejo closed the session with her comparison of critic Mario Pedrosa and museum director Walter Zanini. Tejo’s paper questioned whether figures like Pedrosa and Zanini were active agents in the expansion of the international art system or instead no more that ‘docile subjects framed by a colonialist gaze’. Tejo’s account of Pedrosa’s activity contrasted the critic’s more reciprocal contacts between Europe and Latin America in the dissemination of modernist developments with the greater challenges encountered by Zanini in professionalising Brazil’s museum culture. Pedrosa, well-connected in militant left-wing and avant-garde circles in Europe before the war, became a prominent newspaper critic and vice-president of AICA in 1957, when he also headed the fourth Biennial of São Paolo, and was instrumental in organising the extraordinary AICA Congress of 1959 – the first time AICA has assembled outside Europe. Zanini, trained in art history in Paris and London, was in a strong position to work in Brazil’s growing museum sector, becoming director of Sao Paolo’s Museum of Contemporary art in 1963. Tejo detailed Zanini’s ultimately frustrated struggle to get Latin American institutions taken seriously by their European and North American counterparts during the 60s and 70s, by reviewing his correspondence with the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM), which continually ignored his input. CIMAM’s first conference in Latin America, in Mexico, was only held in 1980.

Tejo’s contrasting of critics and as art historians (often recruited as museum professionals) was echoed in the next day’s paper by Thierry Dufrêne, who presented the diverging trajectories of André Chastel and Pierre Francastel, both involved in the early years of AICA. Chastel, art historian at the Sorbonne was also art critic for Le Monde, took a traditional, autonomous view of art history, rarely taking contemporary art as his subject. By contrast, Francastel, influenced by Durkheim, took a more sociological approach to art. In 1955, a professorship opened at the Sorbonne, which both applied for and which Chastel secured. Dufrêne outlined Chastel’s increasing involvement in art-historical institutions, while Francastel focused on contemporary art, and for a form of criticism implicated in the contemporary and in other parallel fields such as science and architecture, and a criticism committed to reproducing and retaining the encounter with the contemporary work, in opposition to the more didactic and pedagogical drive of André Malraux’s concept of the ‘Musée Imaginaire’, and its cosequences for how art could be experienced in the age of mass communication technologies.

In her paper, Jennifer Cooke looked closely at the largely transatlantic gathering of the 1961 congress of the International Committee CIHA, brought to New York by art historian Millard Miess; student and then later successor of Irwin Panofsky, then established at Princeton. Cooke scrutinised the change in CIHA’s statutes ratified in 1963, which shifted CIHA’s remit to focus less on its earlier attention to national art histories, to the ‘post-classical West’. Examining the congress as a showcase of the iconological tradition spearheaded by Panofsky, Cooke went on to consider how CIHA’s shift (with greater power accrued to American committee members) reflected the obstacles of growing Cold War entrenchment, even as CIHA attempted, throughout the 1960s, to make overtures to Soviet art historians. It took until 1977 (under sustained pressure from UNESCO) for CIHA’s to revert its statutes to acknowledge a wider remit of world art.

The privileged relationship between Western Europe and the United States was also the subject – in more optimistic vein – of Beatriz Cordero’s paper on curator James Johnson Sweeney, curator at MoMA in New York 1935-47, becoming a vice president of AICA in 1948 and then president in 1957, during which Sweeney was director of the Guggenheim. Cordero charted Sweeney’s hyperactive role in bring post-war European modernism to the US – staging the first major museum shows in the US of Dalí and Miro, for example. For Cordero, Sweeney’s cultural roots (born of Irish immigrants), and his education at Oxford (through which he met Roger Fry) and in Paris (meeting met Leger, Miró and Calder) underpinned Sweeney’s reputation as a ‘European’ in America, as an advocate for the European roots of American modernism.

Taking its leave from the high point of the Cold War context, the last session turned to developments in art criticism since the 1970s, under the banner of ‘Art worlds/worlds of ideas: intellectual acquaintances of art criticism’. Larisa Dryansky opened with a paper unearthing an intriguing contribution to the 1977 AICA congress in Kassel and Bonn, by American video artist and critic Douglas Davis. Dryansky noted how twentieth century criticism and art history had often grounded its authority in parallels with scientific method, in ‘scientificity’. In his paper presented at the ’77 congress, ‘Sweet Anarchy’, Davis argued for a criticism which could accept the apparently chaotic manifestations of contemporary art, and relinquish its normative and legislating function. Against the ‘old guard’ of AICA, Davis argued for an art criticism which might shift constantly from one perceptual and theoretical system to the next. There was a Cold War subtext to Davis’s relativism – in championing a simultaneity of modes and theories, Davis pointed to the failure of East and West in sustaining their respective legitimising discourses. The intellectual drive for Davis’s approach was his reading of Paul Feyerabend’s controversial 1975 book Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledgewhich broke with rationalist scepticism of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn to argue that all methodology was suspect, and crisscrossed by irrational, rhetorical and even aesthetic aspects.

If Dryansky’s paper outlined a moment in which art criticism began to be reconfigured in response to the radical scepticism and relativism affecting the social sciences, Nicolas Heimendinger’s examination of the reception of Peter Bürger’s Theory of the Avant-garde in America, through the lens of the journal October. Heimendinger examined how the 1984 English translation of Theory(published in German in 1974) came at a moment of crisis for the journal, which by the early 80s was attempting to move on from its initial, anti-Greenbergian opposition to Modernism. Unravelling the problems of differentiating a regressive post-modernism from a progressive post-modernist critical project, Heimendinger argued that that the reception of Bürger’s Theory should be seen as a key part of the October critics ambivalence towards their role in disseminating a by-then contested post-Structuralism. Theory of the Avant-Garde, Heimendinger proposed, became a major influence in developing the idea of ‘art as institution’, reinvigorating the critical projects by October critics such as Hal Foster, Douglas Crimp and Benjamin Buchloh.

If Heimendinger sought to highlight the circuitous historical trajectory of ideas between decades and continents, and their shifting significance according to context, it highlighted how the early moment of post-modernist art criticism has itself become the object of art-historical study, a ‘period’ now cut off from our own present. As if sensing the problem, Katie Deepwell offered a lively and abrasive counter to the dangers of such distancing, as she criticised the current tendency to see feminist art and art criticism as something done ‘back then’; not only a historical period but now its own niche to be accommodated as an object of art-historical memorialisation, while the field of feminist agitation in the museum appears to be limited to a constant repeating of the limited issue of the representation of women artists in the museum canon. In opposition to these simplifications and amnesias, Deepwell presented a mass of archival references to feminist art critics and criticism in publication over the last fifty years, to illustrate the danger of losing the sense of the complexity and diversity of feminist practice which has led to, and continues in the present.

Deepwell’s recalling of the continuous flow of critical activity through decades, and the problem of staging an (art-)historical origin for a tradition of criticism which is inadvertently cut off from the present by the act of historicising itself, was a problem that could be posed as that of the colloquium as a whole. Collectively, these papers looked back not to a history of art works or artists, but to the history of the institutions and networks of a practice of art criticism that can’t be separated from the institutional ruptures and breaks of those institutions and networks. There is a restorative aspect to un-forgetting the historical debates and conflicts of an organisation like AICA, with its now seventy-year history and its origins in a world order now long gone. Yet that process of historical recollection, here, seemed continually to gesture towards that harder-to-represent moment in which the institutional (and intellectual) continuity of the organisation (and of the mode of art criticism more broadly) was affected by the unravelling of that bygone world order.

This is perhaps why many of these fascinating explorations into AICA’s history alighted so vividly on the long and active process of assimilation and institution-making of international modernism in the post-war period, while signalling, more tentatively, what would be the coming crisis in the theoretical foundations of art criticism; a crisis which would coincide with the period in which the institutional hegemony of Cold War politics would begin its long decline – from the West’s oil crises of the early 1970s to the end of the USSR in 1989.

It may be that our current artworld can be dated from that year onward. Consequenlty, in concluding somewhere in the 1970s, as that crises of the old artworld began, ‘Reframing the (Art) World’ poses the exciting task for further research: how to beginning to write a history of the period in which our present critical and historical methods and paradigms came to be.

Regrettably, travel arrangements meant that I had to leave before the final paper by Clélia Barbut, and the closing discussion between Henry Meyric-Hughes and Jean-Marc Poinsot. However PRISME plans to publish the proceedings of the symposium next year. Thanks are due to Jean-Marc Poinsot, Natalie Boulouch and Antje Kramer, and AICA UK, whose support made my attendance to the conference possible.

Source: http://www.aicauk.org/2018/12/09/colloquiu...

AICA Congress 2018: new Secretary-General


AICA International is pleased to announce that Marc Partouche (AICA France) has been elected Secretary-General of AICA International, succeeding Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton who completes her four year term. Marc Partouche assumes his role on 1 January 2019. 

AICA extends warm congratulations to Marc on his appointment. 

download Marc Partouche’s biography (in English and French)

AICA Congress 2018: Elections

AICA International is pleased to announce that Marc Partouche (AICA France) has been elected Secretary-General of AICA International, succeeding Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton who completes her four year term. Marc Partouche assumes his role on 1 January 2019. 
AICA extends warm congratulations to Marc on his appointment. 
download Marc Partouche’s bio 

Honorary President
Marek Bartelik, former President, AICA International, is elected an Honorary President. 

Also elected are three Vice-Presidents for a three year term:
Lisbeth Bonde (Denmark)
Alfredo Cramerotti (UK)
Chi-Ming Lin (Taiwan) 

Chairs of Committees
Sophie Allgardh is appointed Chair of the Awards Committee.
Liam Kelly is elected Chair of the Congress Committee 2019.
J.P. Lorente is elected Chair of the Finance Committee for a three year term.
Chairs of the other Committees are all re-appointed. 

International Board Members 2019
Jean Bundy (USA)
Icleai Cattani (Brazil)
Joke de Wolf (Netherlands)
Bachar Rahmani (France)
Ulrika Stahre (Sweden) 
Lin-Yen Tsai (Taiwan)
Anselmo Villata (Open Section)
Karen von Veh (Open Section)
Carole Sun Wei Shiwan (Taiwan)
Yi-Hua Wu (Taiwan)
Congratulations to all ! 

AICA Secretariat