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A new history of photographic cultures in Egypt

The events of 25 January 2011 placed Egypt at the front and centre of discussions around radical transformations taking place in global photographic cultures. Yet Egypt and photography share a longer, richer history rarely included in Western histories of the medium. Decolonizing Images focuses on the local visual heritage of Egypt and, in doing so, continues the urgent process of decolonizing the canon of photography. Drawing on a wide range of historical and contemporary visual materials this book discovers the potential of photography as a decolonizing force. In diverse ways the medium has been used to influence political affairs, cultural life and reimaginings of Egypt in the transformation from a colony to a sovereign nation. Ronnie Close presents a new account of the visual cultures produced in and exhibited inside of Egypt by interpreting the camera’s ability to conceal as much as it reveals. He rethinks how the visual has constituted a distinct cultural sensibility on its own terms. This book moves from the initial encounters between local knowledge and Western-led modernity to explore how the image intersects with issues of representation, censorship, activism and art photography. The image disseminates knowledge from the specificity of its time but retains a singular property of its own creative expression that is more than the sum of its parts. Close overturns Eurocentric understandings of the photograph through a compelling narrative on this indigenous visual culture in a complex vision of decolonial difference in contemporary Egypt.

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Decolonial aesthetic futures
Ronnie Close

understood over phases of social transformation to suggest other values for photography. Decoloniality is not a singular entity itself but rather a framework of approaches that seeks to disrupt colonial pasts and rethink the knowledge economy in order to allow breathing space for other cultures formed on the margins to become visible, beyond the orbit of Western thought. Such a reset decentres from hetero/cisnormativity, gender hierarchies and racial privilege underpinned by modernity to allow for the multiplicity of lives of colonized people to appear

in Decolonizing images
Ronnie Close

Unlearning photographic modernity Decolonizing images involves examining the meaning, function and aesthetics of locally produced photographic works circulated in the context of visual traditions and cultures mostly within Egypt. The approach is an interdisciplinary one, informed by photographic criticism and postcolonial theories, and, in particular, decoloniality is deployed as a framework to examine the visual material histories as a means to understand the camera image as a discursive episteme. By this decolonizing, the

in Decolonizing images
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Christian Kravagna

sufficient to me for understanding the political aspects of the respective artistic and theoretical statements in view of, among other things, the inflation of the transcultural in recent developments in art historiography, which threatens to bury the postcolonial critique of the culturally exclusive conception of white Western modernism. 16 Aside from the danger of neglecting the decolonial transformation of modernism as the main thrust of many historical articulations of the transcultural, another argument can also be

in Transmodern
Dominic Johnson

, although he approaches the problem of a critically invested spectatorship from outside the theatrical apparatus, replacing the stage with the problem of the gallery and substituting the phenomenon of the individual spectator with dialogic environments in situ. Through Brecht – and more profoundly through the then-emergent writings of the Brazilian decolonial activist Paulo Freire – Trengove would create politically insightful performances that twinned ordeal or endurance with a new dialogical aesthetic, by prioritising, framing or extending ‘reallife incidents’ (such as

in Unlimited action
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Ronnie Close

literacy came into everyday life from an intimate, ground-level viewpoint to iterate decolonial aims. Photographs in the illustrated press and media can function in similar ways to the idea of ‘vernacular modernism’ of amateur photography (Pinney 2003 : 202) as the visual informs us of the symbolic values of the pictorial in the collective imagination. Over the course of the century Egypt transformed Pan-Arabism as Cairo became a hub for anti-colonial movements from Africa and Asia during the Cold War. At the same time state censorship of the local media and control of

in Decolonizing images
Contemporary monumentality, entropy, and migration at the gateway to Europe
Tenley Bick

fantasy of eternal memory through its slow erasure” ( 2019 : 254). With these earlier discussions in both primary and secondary scholarship in mind, what differentiates the contemporary entropic monumentality I want to get to here is its clear imbrication with (undoing) coloniality associated with monuments in Italy as exertions of power. This form of entropic monumentality is inclined to decolonial fluidity (as opposed to imperial “openings”) and flows of shared terrain (Mignolo, 2018 : 135–42). 20

in Migrants shaping Europe, past and present
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Maps, spatiality and conceptual art
Elize Mazadiego

or decolonial. Given that feminist geography emerges in the 1990s, with Doreen Massey and Gillian Rose’s work, much of the work we see in this volume demonstrates a practice that precedes some critical theoretical developments. 40 Furthermore, this book grapples with the question ‘What is the significance of conceptualism’s space-making?’. As it unfolds, contributors point to a number of

in Charting space
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The cartographies of conceptual art

By the late 1960s cartographic formats and spatial information were a recurring feature in many conceptualist artworks. While maps have received some scholarly attention, Charting space offers a rich study of conceptualism’s mapping practices that includes more expanded forms of spatial representations. Departing from the perspective that artists were merely recording and communicating information, this book expands on the philosophical and political imperatives within their artistic practices. The volume brings together twelve in-depth case studies that address artists’ engagement with matters of space at a time when concepts of space garnered new significance in art, theory and culture. It covers a diverse range of subjects, such as London’s socio-spatial sphere in the 1970s, geopolitics and decoloniality in Brazil, the global networking strategies of the Psychophysiology Research Institute in Japan, the subjective body in relation to cosmological space from the Great Basin Desert in the United States, and notions of identity and race in the urban itinerant practices of transnational artists. Together the chapters shed fresh light on an evident ‘spatial turn’ from the postwar period into the contemporary, and the influence of larger historical, social and cultural contexts upon it. The contributors illustrate how conceptualism’s cartographies were critical sites in formulating artists’ politics, graphing heterogeneous spaces and upsetting prevailing systems.

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An art history of contact, 1920–60

This book intervenes in current debates on global art history and transcultural modernism from a postcolonial perspective. It reacts to the challenges of elaborating a post-Eurocentric art history by providing a joint study of the transcultural in artistic practice, theoretical concepts, and anti-colonial liberation movements of the 1920s to 1960s. The notion of the transmodern refers to an artistic and theoretical impulse aimed at a decolonial transformation of white and Western conceptions of modern art. Transmodern understands the diversity of global modernisms not merely as regional effects of cultural globalisation but as intentional and political responses to the coloniality of Western modernity. During the first half of the twentieth century, within the framework of anti-colonial and anti-racist movements, a transcultural modernism emerges at many places of the globe. Concurrently, Western concepts of race and culture, shaped by colonial worldviews, become subject to fundamental theoretical critique. Demonstrating the emergence of global modernism in the context of decolonisation, this book is oriented towards the motif of contact. While anthropological and sociological works – by e.g. Fernando Ortiz and Melville J. Herskovits – examine situations of contact under colonial conditions and develop new conceptions of culture and identity employing terms like transculturation and syncretism, the transmodern movement in the arts is based on contacts and collaborations between artists across colonial boundaries. Alongside methodological considerations on a postcolonial history of modern art, this book presents case studies in Indian modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, and postwar abstraction.