Productive failure: writing queer transnational South Asian art histories

Day 1. Thursday, 27th October.
10:00 – 11:00
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

This presentation aims to explore the writing of queer transnational South Asian art histories. I do so through a deliberate ‘productive failure’ – specifically by not upholding the strictly genealogical approach that is regularly assumed for South Asian art histories. As a case study, I draw on various theories of affect to explore artworks and visual culture in connection to three historical events: the deaths of turban-wearing Sikhs misidentified as terrorists after the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States; the death of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, misidentified by British police as a terrorist shortly after the terrorist attacks of 7 July 2005 in London; and the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, misidentified as a criminal by George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Florida in 2012. I consider a public art memorial designed by London-based Mary Edwards to commemorate the death of Menezes, artworks by Kehinde Wiley and Adrian Margaret Smith Piper, and a cartoon by Los Angeles-based Carter Goodrich that appeared on the cover of the New Yorker shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I theorise how these disparate works might engender an ethical future across racial, ethnic, and national lines. At stake in this presentation is the question of how certain subjects are considered as ‘belonging’ and others as not; and the role of art and writing in the re-constitution of notions of ‘home’ and thereby transnational South Asian art histories.

Alpesh Kantilal Patel
Florida International University

Dr. Alpesh Kantilal Patel’s art historical scholarship, art criticism, and curating reflect his queer, anti-racist, transnational and practice-led approach to contemporary art. He is director of the MFA in Visual Arts program and an Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. This fall, he is Critical Fellow at Cranbrook Academy of Art where he is delivering two keynote lectures on the subject ‘artistic practice as theory and as entangled with the world’. His monograph ‘Productive failure: Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories’ is forthcoming from Manchester University Press (June 2017). He recently completed research supported by the Fulbright Foundation for his book project Contemporary Eastern European art history: queer practices and transregional frames. In the spring of 2017, he will chair the panel ‘Art History as Créolité/Creolising Art History’ for the annual conference of the Association of Art Historians in England. A frequent contributor of exhibition reviews to, Dr. Patel has published in Artforum (print), Art in America,, and frieze. Click here for more information on the book Creolizing Europe, to which he contributed a chapter related to the topic of the conference.

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