ANN: Infrastructures of Collecting (online / Amsterdam, 22 Jun 2021)

The webinar “Infrastructures of Collecting in Transnational Perspective,” featuring keynote lectures by John Clark and Partha Mitter, marks the start of the long-term research project “(Un)mapping Infrastructures: Transnational Perspectives on Modern Art, 1900-1970.”

The original meaning of “infrastructure” (from the Latin infra, and structura) refers to a substructure or ground, and to static constructions which, like nodal points, establish important lines of connection and guarantee supply. Applied to the arts, the term may be said to designate institutions such as museums, exhibition venues, biennials, and universities but also funding institutions, publishers, and other (academic) authorities that contribute to relevant discourses, networks, and the publicizing of art.

Taking a transnational, non-Eurocentric perspective, the goal of this project is to critically question these infrastructures in the modern era, as well as to examine their possible alternatives. It will ask specifically about blind spots, neglected peripheries, and the forgotten margins of history, moving our understanding of modern art production beyond the dominant canon and narrative. Orders, spaces, and actors will be mapped in specific case studies in order to survey the infrastructural field anew.

The next event (“Infrastructures of Producing, Transporting and Logistics in Transnational Perspective”) will take place on 27 and 28 October 2021 at LMU and Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021
11.00 – 11.10: Prof. Dr. Gregor Langfeld, “(Un)Mapping Infrastructures: Transnational Perspectives on Modern Art” (University of Amsterdam and Open University)
11.10 – 11.35: Prof. Dr. Partha Mitter, “Decolonising Modernism” (emeritus University of Sussex)
11.35 – 12.00: Prof. Dr. John Clark, “The Asian Modern: Before and After” (emeritus University of Sydney, Australia)
12.00 – 12.30: Discussion (moderator Dr. Rachel Esner, University of Amsterdam) 

Professor Partha Mitter, “Decolonising Modernism” 
Admirable though postmodern critiques have been in challenging the Eurocentrism of modernist art, they fall short of conferring agency to non-western artists. Rewriting art history is a slow and difficult process and cannot be accomplished overnight. We cannot hope to decentre modernism until we are able to ‘decolonise’ our own mindset. This lecture will address the asymmetrical relationship between centre and periphery and the incommensurate temporalities of western modernism versus other modernisms, which have resulted in global cultural exchanges being viewed as a linear one-way process. Instead, history shows that such exchanges follow the multiple criss-crossing of ideas and agencies in a global process of hybridity.

Professor John Clark, “The Asian Modern: Before and After”
This lecture will summarize some methodological shifts in art historical work on the Asian Modern, beginning with institutional issues surrounding the pre-war Japanese avant-garde, moving to stylistic structures in academy realism and its dissemination in China in the 1950s. It will discuss problems of historically reconstructing the life and work of a modernizing Thai mural painter in the 1950s-1960s. Finally, it moves to the theoretical construction of parallel modernisms, and here will generalize beyond the historical cut-off date of the Infrastructures project in 1970.

To attend the online event, please register via:

For questions about the project contact: and see