The Sea is History: Art and Black Atlantic Cultures / A symposium around the work of Frank Bowling

Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
20 Oct 2017

Graphic: Haus der Kunst.

Graphic: Haus der Kunst.

On June 23, 2017, Haus der Kunst opened Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi, a comprehensive survey of monumental and mid-sized paintings by the distinguished Guyanese-born, British painter Frank Bowling.

It may be asked: Why the “Black Atlantic” now, in the discourse of the visual? How might the visual, through the insistent aesthetic, formal, and theoretical lens of art offer us a sense of the renewal and interest in Black Atlantic cultures and the cosmopolitan variants of critical practice that it has engendered? In recent times, artists ranging from Sonia Boyce, Ellen Gallagher, Isaac Julien and Steve McQueen have produced works that intervene in this diasporic critical space. Likewise, theorists such as J. Michael Dash and David Scott continue to examine questions surrounding the Antilles and the Caribbean as active sites of philosophic imagination.

The goal of this symposium is to examine the intersection of the artistic, theoretical, literary, and cultural dimensions of Bowling’s practice. Over the course of the symposium, the invited participants, ranging from artists to literary scholars, cultural theorists, and art historians, will bring into sharp focus the ways in which the “Black Atlantic” continues to inform the production of art today by a new generation of artists, in connection with Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi.

The symposium will take place on October 20, 2017, 11am

Speakers: Sonia Boyce, J. Michael Dash, Ellen Gallagher, Isaac Julien, Courtney J. Martin, Steve McQueen, Mark Nash, David Scott, Allison Thompson



Welcome and introduction
Okwui Enwezor, Director Haus der Kunst

Session 1
Mappa Mundi: The Discursive Nets of the Caribbean Sea
J. Michael Dash, Professor of French Literature, Thought and Culture (New York University): “L’ivresse du sensible: Reading Surfaces with Edouard Glissant”
Courtney J. Martin, Deputy Director and Chief Curator (Dia Art Foundation, New York): “They’ve all got Painting: Frank Bowling’s Modernity an the post-1960 Atlantic”
David Scott, Professor and Chair of Anthropology (Columbia University, New York) and President of Small Axe Inc.: “The Archaeology of Ourselves”
Moderated by Mark Nash, independent curator and writer, London

Film screening
Steve McQueen, Ashes, 2014, 10 minutes

Session 2
Crossings: Film, Narrative and the “Black Atlantic” Cultural Matrix
Isaac Julien, artist and filmmaker, London
Steve McQueen, artist and filmmaker, Amsterdam
Moderated by Okwui Enwezor

Session 3
Travelling Light: Re/figuring the “Black Atlantic”
Sonia Boyce, artist, London: “From the Substrate to the Riverbed”
Ellen Gallagher, artist, Rotterdam and New York: “Are we Obsidian?”
Moderated by Allison Thompson, Head of the Centre for the Visual and Performing Arts (Barbados Community College)

6.30 pm
Film screening
Isaac Julien, Paradise Omeros, 2002, 20 minutes

Ticket sales under or at the museum’s front desk.
The symposium will be held in English.

With thanks to ICF International Curators Forum for the support of the symposium.
Additional thanks to an anonymous supporter and David A. Bailey.


Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
D-80538 Munich
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–8pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm

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