The Lettrist poems you are about to hear signify nothing
and have no meaning. We composed them solely
for the beauty of pure noise, for the harmony of the scream.

Isidore Isou

The end of the Second World War marked the start of new struggles in many parts of the world: partitions, wars of independence, revolutions, and dictatorships. Tiampo traces how artists from the decolonizing world living in Paris developed a vocabulary of form that encoded materials and their destruction with phenomenological and political significance. Scratching, breaking, gouging, concealing, stretching and otherwise rendering illegible, these artists silently denounced the political realities from which they chose exile. Their politically charged engagements with the limits of language and representation underscored the ethical significance of Poststructuralism’s propositions, which also emerged out of the decolonizing struggles of the former French Empire (Lionnet and Shih, 2011). This talk is part of a larger project that demonstrates how Paris functioned as a crucible of global encounter and ‘transmodernity’ (Dussel, 2002) that enabled cross-fertilization among the many artists who founded modernist movements in their countries of origin. Ultimately, the project seeks to decolonize current narratives of Paris as modernism’s point of origin, and re-theorize how we think and write about artistic centres.

Ming Tiampo is Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is a scholar of transnational vanguardism with a focus on Japan after 1945. Tiampo’s book Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) received an honorable mention for the Robert Motherwell Book award. In 2013, she was co-curator of the AICA award-winning Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. In addition to her work on Gutai, Tiampo has published on Japanese modernism, war art in Japan, globalization and art, multiculturalism in Canada, and the connections between Inuit and Japanese prints. In 2013, she co-edited Art and War in Japan and its Empire: 1931-1960 (Brill Academic Press). Tiampo is a founding member of the Center for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University.

In English
Organized by

ICI Berlin

The lecture is part of the ICI Lecture Series ERRANS. The English verb ‘to err’ has largely lost its positive connotations. It no longer invokes wandering, rambling, or roaming, and is now understood negatively in relation to a prescribed path or goal. To be sure, errors are acknowledged to play an important role in the pursuit of knowledge and happiness, but usually only to the extent that their recognition allows for their elimination, correction, and avoidance. Recognizing that a critique of ideals of productivity, success, goal-orientation, and determination is necessarily paradoxical, the lecture series takes the shifting meanings of ‘erring’ – connoting the violation of norms as well as the activity of wandering – as a prompt to explore the critical potentials and risks of embracing error, randomness, failure, and non-teleological temporalities, and to do so across different disciplines and discourses.

tiampo kv

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.