CONF May 4, 2024

Decolonizing the Avant-Garde I (Paris, 12-13 Jun 24)

American University of Paris, Jun 12–13, 2024
Registration deadline: Jun 7, 2024

Isabel Wünsche

Symposium: "Decolonizing the Avant-Garde, I",
American University of Paris, 6 rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris.

This conference is organized by Sascha Bru (University of Leuven), Fabrice Flahutez (Université de Lyon-Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne), Iveta Slavkova (American University of Paris) and Isabel Wünsche (Constructor University, Bremen).

This first symposium of the three-year project Decolonizing the Avant-Garde explores the impact of colonization and colonialism within Europe's and Northern America's geographical borders on post-1945 practices of artists related to the avant-garde across races and ethnicities. The symposium also pays attention to activities in Australia and Japan, as these often are seen as forming part of the West.

As the avant-garde often has been regarded as a typically Western phenomenon, it is perhaps to the West that we should turn first in an attempt to decolonize the post-1945 avant-garde. This first symposium explores the impact of colonization and colonialism within Western Europe's, Northern America's and Australia's geographical borders on post-1945 practices of artists related to the avant-garde across races and ethnicities.

Questions addressed include: How can we decolonize the post-1945 avant-garde within the West? What aspects of art and artists' trajectories and positionalities require special attention in this undertaking? What experimental artists or artists' formations in the West have been largely neglected and why? To what extent do creative decolonizing practices set forth by avant-garde artists from the West shed light on these issues? What, if any, alternative view(s) of 'the West' did the avant-garde give shape to and circulate? And when all is said and done, how do answers to these questions alter our understanding of 'the avant-garde'? Does it still make sense, for example, to talk about a 'Western' (neo-)avant-garde, or is a different nomination called for?

Jennifer Biddle (University of New South Wales, Sydney)
Sara Crangle (University of Sussex)
Catherine Dossin (Purdue College of Liberal Arts)
Jonathan P. Eburne (Penn State University)
Hannah J. Feldman (Northwestern University)
Fabrice Flahutez (Université de Lyon-Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne)
Jacopo Galimberti (Università Iuav di Venezia)
Tsitsi Jaji (Duke University)
Julia Leach (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg)
Dorotha Michalska (University of Oxford)
Olivier Penot-Lacassagne (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3)
Dorothy Price (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
Effie Rentzou (Princeton University)



13:30-14:00 Welcome + Opening Address
Iveta Slavkova (American University of Paris) + Sascha Bru (Universityof Leuven) and Isabel Wünsche (Constructor University, Bremen)

SESSION 1: In and Around Surrealism

Effie Rentzou (Princeton University): The Avant-Garde Contests Itself: Les Réverbères and Le Cheval de 4

Jonathan P. Eburne (Pennsylvania State University): The Persistence of Amnesia

Olivier Penot-Lacassagne (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris): Surrealism: Revolution against Whiteness

16:15-16:30 Coffee Break

SESSION 2: Atlantic Crossings

Fabrice Flahutez (Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne): Roberto Matta: My House Is Not in Space but in Time

Catherine Dossin (Purdue University): Hervé Télémaque: Decolonizing and Reconnecting the Post-War Avant-Gardes across the Atlantic

Dorota Michalska (University of Oxford): The Open Veins of The Earth: Władysław Hasior (1928-1999), Post-War Marxism and Decoloniality Between Poland and Uruguay

19:30 Cocktail Dinatoire



SESSION 3: Indigenous Avant-Garde / Avant-Garde Indigeneity

Jennifer Biddle (University of New South Wales, Sydney): 2023: A Non-Teleological History of Now

Julia Anne Leach (University of Manitoba): What's Right with Winnipeg?

Jacopo Galimberti (IUAV, Venice): The Enemy Within: The Avant-garde and the Native American in 1970s Italy

12:15-13:45 Lunch Break

SESSION 4: Trajectories and Positionalities

Hannah Feldman (Northwestern University): Before Guarding the Body: Huguette Caland, in War and in Love

Sara Crangle (University of Sussex): Fierce Intimacies: Black Avant-Gardes and Gender

Tsitsi Jaji (Duke University): On the Blackness of Blackness

16:00-16:15 Coffee Break

Closing Discussion moderated by Sascha Bru and Isabel Wünsche


A program with abstracts and bios of speakers can be consulted here:

Venue and Registration:
The conference takes place at the American University of Paris (AUP). Participation (either in-person or online) is free, but registration is mandatory. To register, please complete the AUP registration form:

For more information about the symposium and the project it figures in, visit:

CONF: Decolonizing the Avant-Garde I (Paris, 12-13 Jun 24). In:, May 4, 2024 (accessed Jul 17, 2024), <>.