The arts have a long global history. The movement of both artists and their products reaches far back in time and over wide geographical expanses. Perhaps the difference today is that it is now hard to determine the geographical origin of a work. Styles and technologies, sites of production and sites of distribution are no longer bound by national traditions, although traditions may be among the influences. Over the course of the last decade DUCIS has taken numerous opportunities to explore the interplay of global trends and what artists create.
GATA has presented an extensive programming range:
An outstanding example of GATA’s work was the 2002 conference and exhibition Shades of Black: Black British Artists in the 1980s. The exhibition combined an extended visual chronology with examples of the art produced during that period. At the same time we hosted a conference that included most of the major black British artists from the period (and subsequently) and critics. Cultural theorist Stuart Hall gave the keynote lecture and was a critical presence throughout (as he has been in the world of black British art since the 1980s). Materials from the conference were edited by David Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce into a book published by Duke University Press in 2005; the volume won the 2007 Historians of British Art Book Prize in the multi-authored/edited volume category.
In different directions, GATA organized a show of Afghanistan photographs to accompany the first conference on the history and anthropology of the region, a show of mourning photographs with panel discussion, which opened on September 11, 2006, and a show of gorgeous color prints from work in Haiti that was matched by a Vodun alter and traditionally decorated flags and bottles. These were among the collaborative shows with the Franklin Center Gallery.
Our lunch conversations, which remain the core of GATA programming, opened in September 1998 with the visit of Roger Grenier, a French novelist and member of the editorial board of Gallimard. Speakers since then have included journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, composers Chen Yi, DJ Spooky and Julia Wolfe, performance artist Holly Hughes, photographers Dawoud Bey, Mitchell Epstein, Wendy Ewald, Phyllis Galembo, and Alfredo Jaar, filmmakers Martin Arnold, Evan Chan, and Raoul Peck, choreographers Ron Brown and Keith Thompson, novelists Francine Prose, Lynn Tillman and Elif Shofak, poets Nathaniel Mackey, Ed Roberson and Jerome Rothenberg, visual artists Christopher Cozier, Sarah Ann Johnson, Keith Piper and Xu Bing.
Presentations/readings targeted to larger audiences have included Andre Brink, Peter Carey, Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, Ngugi wa’Thiongo and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. Additional programs have included the film festival and conference Ten Years After: Russia and Eastern Europe; film festival with visiting filmmakers Outside the Frame: East Asian Film; and film festival and conference Arada::Between, Ten Contemporary Turkish Films. GATA hosted the 1999 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar with over 50 filmmakers attending.
DUCIS will continue and expand its GATA lunch series, working in close cooperation with numerous other campus units including the Nasher Art Museum, the Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke Performances, and the Visual Arts Initiative.
Our newest initiative, to launch in early 2009, is the University Seminar on Artists and the Global Production of Art. The non-credit seminar will involve regular meetings of faculty and graduate students from the arts, humanities and social sciences. Each semester the Seminar would organize 3-4 presentations by visiting scholars whose work ranges across disciplines and artistic practices. Papers will be electronically available in advance. Some of the visits would include general presentations in the GATA lunch series. The seminar is built around three themes:
- Institutions of production, mediation and circulation;
- Mediating figures, gatekeepers, cultural brokers;
- Artists, works of art and creative processes.
From the seminar we hope to develop new courses, collaborative research projects, and public conferences, panels and lectures.