Decolonial AestheSis

Decolonial aestheSis asks why Western aesthetic categories like 'beauty' or 'representation' have come to dominate all discussion of art and its value, and how those categories organise the way we think of ourselves and others: as white or black, high or low, strong or weak, good or evil. And decolonial art (or literature, architecture, and so on) enacts these critiques, using techniques like juxtaposition, parody, or simple disobedience to the rules of art and polite society, to expose the contradictions of coloniality. Its goal, then, is not to produce feelings of beauty or sublimity, but ones of sadness, indignation, repentance, hope, and determination to change things in the future.

  I This dossier is one more step of the journey that began toward the end of 2009/beginning of 2010, and that already has roads planned into the future. The idea of this dossier, however, emerged in Middelburg, The Netherlands, during the Decolonial Summer School of 2012. It was Roland Bolz, at that time one of the course assistants, who suggested the idea of contributing to Social Text: Periscope with a theme circulating around the decolonial. To mark these beginnings here means that there were some sort of visible signs of underground conversations in which decolonial aestheSis was already at work.… >>

In this dossier we look at the geopolitics of sensing, knowing and believing that have been at play in the variegated versions of the project decolonial aestheSis. The participants are intellectuals, curators and artist and many of them all at once. They were invited explore decolonial aestheSis through their own artistic and theoretical work. The ideas of the general introduction on decolonial aestheSis were distributed among the contributors. As mentioned in Section I all of them were previously engaged in one or the other events exploring "decolonial aestheSis" that found their expressions in exhibits, workshops and publications in specialized journals.… >>

In locales where the resources are scarce and the imperial-colonial configurations more complicated than in the West-East or North-South dichotomies, the politics of physical survival and the politics of servility towards the criminal state unfortunately dominate. There are no recipes against this, other than delinking and disobeying. And most of decolonial artists in this situation and in such spaces are confined to the position of subversive tricksters and negotiators, creating, little by little, a decolonial transmodern "community of sense," to paraphrase J. Ranciere, 2009. This is the case with the art practices of Eurasian borderlands and particularly such post-Soviet-colonial locales… >>

Three years ago, in the summer of 2010 I began a series of projects for Documenta 13 as part of the artists' initiative called AND AND AND. On the one hand, these contributions focused on my Phantom Limbs and Twin Towers Go Global projects, creating a series that was spread out over multiple locations around the world between 2010 and 2012. These works happened both within and outside the official 100 days of Documenta itself. To complement these spread-out interventions, I co-organized, with Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, a highly concentrated collective event entitled "Five Decolonial Days in Kassel: Transforming… >>

  The conceptualization of decolonial aesthetics[i] is fairly recent, however its points of departure — the epistemic shifts that have been challenging coloniality in the artistic and cultural practices of the Global South — are as old as the colonial system. The defiance of colonialism in Vodou dance and rituals, which in Haiti ultimately led to the first successful enslaved people's revolution, is a splendid case in point. What decolonial aesthetics does is to connect these legacies and their current displays to the decolonial analytical model. BE.BOP 2012. Black Europe Body Politics[ii] introduced this theoretical approach to the visual arts… >>

The postcommunist transition has been characterized in Eastern Europe by the return and rearticulation of capitalism and coloniality in this region of the world. Seen from Eastern Europe, the postcommunist transition can be understood as the top-to-bottom integration of East European governmentalities into the political (European Union), security (North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Frontex), and economic orders (International Monetary Fund, World Bank) of Western governmentalities, at the cost of the general population, and with the open support of the Eurocentric intellectual and formal civil society, including most of the former anticommunist dissidents. In so far as Romania is concerned, the… >>

Introduction by Walter Mignolo Tanja Ostojić? And what is decolonially aestheSis in her work? Simply, Tanja's work unveils the logic of coloniality through the intersectionality of the European Union's politics of migration, gender, and sexuality. When Rolando and I invited Tanja to contribute to this issue of Social Text: Periscope, she wanted to support the project by contributing her work but at the same time was concerned that she does not use the "decolonial aesthetics" vocabulary and arguments. This conversation was taking place after several decolonial aesthetics events in which Tanja participated: Bogota 2010, Duke 2011, Kassel 2012. At that… >>



By on July 15th, 2013 0 Comments »
The Panama Canal, completed in 1914, creates a borderland of North and South. The nation of Panamá was invented by it, a consequence of centuries of Spanish occupation and US imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The canal initiated a series of migrations and dislocations, including those of thousands of Afro-Caribbeans who came to Panamá to excavate and build. Its construction produced a public spectacle of empire —photography, cinema, journalistic accounts — punctuated by the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco that celebrated its completion. The US occupied the Canal Zone, a 553-square-mile strip of land including and… >>

  The Biennial Statement The written curatorial statement from the organizing committee of the 11th Havana Biennial arrived via email the same day that we were preparing a dossier for the Romanian magazine IDEA. As we put together a brief history of "Decolonial Aesthetics" meetings and some portions of the "Decolonial Manifesto," we discussed the need to bring to the biennial some of the critical and creative processes emanating from the decolonial collective. Previous editions of the biennial were overcharged with doses of "postmodernity," marginal notes on the  "postcolonial" condition, and celebrations of the "altermodern" (with its postproduction and relational… >>

Hong Kong cinema has been in a state of ambivalence for a long time despite the fact that it has always been so unambivalently commercialized. This is less a cause than a consequence of the fissured condition of cultural production shaped by what I call the "double hegemony" of the national and the colonial.[i] Coloniality, as Walter Mignolo has argued, can exist without colonialism; in the case of Hong Kong, coloniality is both the consequence of British colonialism (which presumably "ended" in 1997) and a system of values and public governance--a variation of the "colonial matrix of power"--perpetuated in the… >>

LOOKING BACK -- The Decolonial Aesthetics Exhibition at Duke University   The Decolonial Aesthetics Exhibition (May 4-June 5, 2011) at Duke University's Fredric Jameson Gallery and The Nasher Museum of Art, among other venues, curated installations by scholar-artists Guo-Juin Hong (Taiwan, Durham) and his collaborators from Taiwan, Sega Huang, Pei-Chyi Wan, and Ying-Shun Wang, as well as by Hong-An Truong (Durham, NYC). In addition, we invited the artist-scholar Viet Le (Los Angeles, Saigon), and, via video conference from Ho Chi Minh City, artist Dinh Q. Le and curator Zoe Butt, director of the contemporary art space San Art, for a… >>

How do decolonial aestheSis accord with but also depart from a "post-" sensibility, be it modern, structural, or, perhaps, even colonial? Édouard Glissant is instructive in this respect, when he comments upon the metropolitan poststructural heritage as a French citizen of the département d'outre-mer: I experience at the same time a feeling of the ridiculous and a feeling of the extreme importance of these ideas. . . . We need to develop a poetics of the "subject" if only because we have been too long "objectified" or rather "objected to." . . . The text must for us (in our… >>

I always ask my students, grad and undergraduate, for the mid-term "exam", to write a letter to whomever they wish. It should be an educated person who is a little bit familiar with the topic, or not necessarily. The question is to explain "in your own words" (and not to hide behind textual commentaries or statistics), your understanding of the concepts and issues discussed in the first part of the seminar. This Spring, I taught a seminar on Decolonial Aesthetics. Or better yet, decolonial aesthesis. Aesthesis is a Greek word, as we know, it refers to senses, sensibility. There is… >>