Exploring “Predicated Internationalism — Peripheries and the Global Work of Art”

Tyra Wu ’19
Features Editor

In modern society, we have come to regard art as something that occurs independent of other influences. We tend to see art pieces as autonomous of each other while, in reality, the artists who create them are influenced by everything, including other artists.

Professor Caroline Jones of MIT visited Smith on Thursday, March 31 to address her thoughts on this topic in a lecture called “Predicated Internationalism — ‘Peripheries’ and the Global Work of Art.” During this lecture, Jones asserted her belief that “art is never autonomous.” She traced this idea back to the world’s fairs and biennials in Brazil and Paris. Jones argued that these world-wide events structured a set of imperatives that artists then followed.

“My talk today emerges from this paradox of the embedding of an autonomous art into instrumentalized global pictures,” Jones said. “The global work of art explores the productive tensions between a discursively constructed autonomous aesthetic ground and the very real geopolitical space that produces them.” Jones reminds us that art is never created in a vacuum. Social and political influences cannot help but affect art.

Throughout the lecture Jones discussed the connections between artists of different regions, by highlighting artists known for their similar styles. In particular, Jones focused on Sadequain, a Pakistani artist often referred to as the “Pakistani Picasso,” and Victor Brecheret, also known as the “Brazilian Rodin.”

Jones discussed the many similarities between these artists and the ones they are named after, even drawing a connection between Sadequain’s decision to assume a shortened version of his name and Picasso’s decision to drop his father’s name. According to Jones these cases serve as prime examples of predicated internationalism.

“Identifying predicated internationalism allows us to reveal the constructed center of discourse, the dominant work genre — in this case, painting — and the designated periphery.” What we generally hear about art, and what we don’t hear, is constructed.

Jones studies modern and contemporary art with a focus on modes of production, distribution and reception. She studied art history and visual studies at Harvard College, did graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York and completed her Ph.D. at Stanford University. Jones has written several books including her forthcoming book “Desires for the World Picture: the global work of art.”

“In pursuing a longer history, I’m after how art works in realms that are variously produced as national, international, transnational,” Jones said. “I seek in this matrix the traces of artistic agency and audience appropriation that continue to change the game. I want to explore the linguistic evidence for artist’s engagement in and with geopolitics via a mechanism called predicated internationalism.”

This lecture is the first in the colloquium series “Future Fields: Global Methodologies and Art of the Middle East.” This colloquium aims to answer the question, “How can we reshape existing Western derived theories of culture, politics and society in order to study the many cultural practices that are only now being integrated into the humanities purview?”

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