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OSK / Stedelijk Museum / RKD Visiting Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art seminar: Sarat Maharaj
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June 1, 2018

Stedelijk Museum / RKD Visiting Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art


Sarat Maharaj:

The Apartheid-era Art History Room, The Prehistoric & Art Practice as Knowledge/Non-Knowledge


28 – 30 May 2018


In May 2018 RMA and PhD students in Art History and related fields at Dutch universities will have the opportunity to participate in the Visiting Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art seminar, sponsored by the Stedelijk Museum, RKD, OSK, and the Universiteit van Amsterdam. The 2018 fellow is Sarat Maharaj.


Auditors may contact Dr. Gregor Langfeld: g.m.langfeld@uva.nl


The Visiting Fellow seminar can be followed as a 6 EC tutorial (limited to 8 students). The number of places for non-UvA RMA OSK students who wish to follow the course for credits is limited. See below for application details.


Biography Sarat Maharaj:

Sarat Maharaj was born in South Africa and educated in SA/UK. He is Professor of Visual Art & Knowledge Systems, Lund University/Malmo Art Academy, Sweden—and Research Professor at Goldsmiths University of London where he was Professor of Art History and Theory (1980-2005).  

Maharaj was Rudolf Arnheim Visiting Professor, Humboldt University, Berlin (2001-2002) and Fine Art Research Fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht (1999-2001). 

His research focuses on Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce and Richard Hamilton.

Recent publications include The Sarat Maharaj Reader (English/Chinese 2010); ‘Small Change of the Universal’: Beyond Modernity? (British Journal of Sociology, 2010); ‘Hungry Clouds Swag on the Deep’ Santu Mofokeng at Kassel 2002: Chasing Shadows (2011); ‘The Jobless State: Work, Global Assembly Line, Indolence’ in Work, Work, Work: A Rader on Art and Labour (2012); ‘What the Thunder Said’ in Art as a Thinking Process (2012).

He was co-curator of documenta 11 (2002); with Richard Hamilton and Ecke Bonk, he curated retinal .optical .visual. conceptual at Museum Boijmanns Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2002); he was co-curator of Farewell to Postcolonialism, Guangzhou (2008) and Art, Knowledge and Politics, São Paolo Biennale (2010); and was curator of the Gothenburg Biennale: Pandemonium: Art in a Time of Creativity Fever(2011).


The topic of the seminar and the public lectures

Sarat Maharaj: The Apartheid-era Art History Room, The Prehistoric & Art Practice as Knowledge/Non-Knowledge


Following a practice/theory approach, participants of the Stedelijk / RKD / OSK Fellowship will be involved in aspects of the construction of the Art History Room of the Apartheid years (from the segregation years at University College, Durban, South Africa). This reconstruction / installation is open to interpretation, debate and invention. 

The focus is on 'archival consciousness’, historical thought and imagination in the 'contemporary', curating as analytical process and knowledge production. James Joyce's Finnegans Wake as a “museum” of world history, housed in a prehistoric passage tomb opens the topic out onto a look at correspondences between the 'out of Africa' prehistoric migrations and the migrations today to Europe - within the frame of North / South evolutionary models of development and modernity and globalization. We will turn to look at Prehistoric Art (Stone Age archives of Europe and the Drakensberg range, South Africa - parietal, rupestral and mobilary art) and contemporary art with its Duchampian roots, issues of Retinal / Conceptual practices and post-Gutenberg technologies: the plurality of art practices in the shift from the 'culture industries' to the 'creative industries' of the postindustrial world. This will involve an ethics of 'living with difference and multiplicity’, questions of identity and belonging, the critique of multiculturalism and institutional notions of 'diversity'. 

The practice/theory approach will occasionally necessitate also to focus on 'Know how and No How': Art Knowledge as forms of Non-Knowledge / Xeno Epistemics – knowing the other and other ways of knowing. Art Research in the Age of Research and Development is being seen as key to the Knowledge Economy. Is our species then that of an 'Ignorantis Sapiens', where art knowledge as 'knowledgeable ignorance' is placed in a 'Know-All' society?


The public lectures at the Stedelijk Museum and the RKD, The Hague, that are part of this programme will zoom in on aspects of this overall field of investigations, rooted in Prof. Maharaj’s publications, educational and curatorial practice.





Monday, 28 May 2018,             10.00-13.00:      seminar (University of Amsterdam)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018,             10.00-13.00:      seminar (University of Amsterdam)

Afternoon:      RKD lecture

Wednesday, 30 May 2018,        10.00-13.00:      seminar (University of Amsterdam)

Afternoon:      Stedelijk Museum lecture 


Furthermore, two preparatory meetings (2-3 hours) will take place in the first half of May. Students will be supplied with a list of readings in advance. These will introduce the material and issues of the seminar and are required, whether you are taking the seminar for credits or not (see below). Dates and time to be announced.


The Visiting Fellow seminar can be followed as a 6 EC tutorial (limited to 8 students). The number of places for non-UvA RMA OSK students who wish to follow the course for credits is limited. On the basis of the readings supplied, tutorial students will be expected to develop a research question and proposal, plus a bibliography on their chosen topic for a 3,000-4,000 word paper (exact length will be specified during the course), on which their grade will be based.


Whether you are taking the course for credits or as an auditor, send a CV and brief letter of motivation to Dr. Gregor Langfeld g.m.langfeld@uva.nl until 9 March 2018. Indicate if you would like to follow the seminar as an auditor or as a 6 EC tutorial (limited to 8 students).


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