Electronic Textures

Twentieth-century modernism revisited through the lenses of postcolonial and Pan-African Magazines

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim Academy of Fine Art

Project manager: professor David rych

“Where no art history exists, critical journals and other related platforms are crucial to molding its discourse and involve all the intellectual processes that such an undertaking implies.” This first sentence of the mission statement of “NKAJournal of Contemporary African Art”, which was co-founded in 1994 by Okwui Enwezor, the artistic director of Documenta 11, crystallises the main concern of many magazines launched at various times and different places within the African continent or the African diaspora.

The format of magazines is not so much understood as a business model but rather as a periodical and often temporary intervention against a hegemonic voice. These were often set up under precarious circumstances as a collaborative artistic form of organizing discourse, critique and self‐expression, but also as a format which renders possible the necessary task of creating a new language to talk about art, life and politics. Magazines can tell a story about given moments in history and they communicate an immediacy of what was at stake just because of the fact of their existence, and they can also mirror a crisis through their duration and the challenge of reinventing themselves.

Electronic Textures revisits of twentieth-century modernism by reading through vanguard Pan-African, transcultural and international magazines. These magazines focus on non-western arts -music, cinema, art, photography, literature, poetry, architecture ‐ but also engage in political processes such as freedom and independence movements, and self‐organisation, realizing the potentiality of subjectivity in colonial and postcolonial structures. The research and exploration of the magazines will equally take up the challenge of developing new narratives in art history. The format of these historical magazines will be questioned as well as its actual relevance and potential.

The research project is divided into four stages:

  • Locating the archives of the different journals; first selection of the journals of interest
  • Comparing the selected magazines and curating a selection; organization of a workshop in Trondheim with international curators, editors and artists in order to develop narrative and aesthetic strategies for the artist e-book
  • Production of three artist e-books and a website
  • Conference to present the research and the artist e-books