Reading Art History Against the Grain

In this seminar, we will be reading art history against the grain. That means, we will critically look at the fields of “art”, “aesthetics” and “art history” as by-products of colonial-capitalist system of differentiation and division. We will be looking at the process of the “modernisation” of the arts and its relation to the construction of the modern rational self since the Renaissance, and the ways in which this modernisation consists of separating art as a category from collective and material relations and mimetic and mediumistic ritual, and a vast arsenal of what could be called cosmological functions. We will discuss how modern-colonial concepts of property and self-ownership are crucial to the emergence of the modern field of art, and how that which lies beyond these concept of property and accumulation became classified in new moulds, such as “belief”, “magic”, fetishism”, or even categories such as “ethnographic objects” or “folklore” etc. The bigger part of the seminar we will be devoting to developing the kind of tools needed to undercut the divisions that are constitutive of modern knowledge and the reproduction of imperial relations, and to begin navigate a wider field of knowledge pertaining to the role of cosmology and the grammar of art.