In Amos Tutuola’s novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1954), the young protagonist is running away from slave hunters when he accidently crosses the border of reality as he knows it. His flight from bondage, however, does not earn him freedom. Rather, he finds himself in an absurd, liminal world of speaking symbols and delirious phantasms, in which the entire regime of producing meaning constantly shifts. The “bush of ghosts” in the conference title refers to a place beyond orderly sense, where one’s relationship to the world breaks down and is founded anew. Conversations and films focus on the re-assigning significance to modernism; the collapse of cultural fault lines; the role of the intellectual in cultural diplomacy; the battle for Picasso’s mind; the exhibition as a medium; and the usage value of indeterminacy in art. Examining the ideological echoes of the Cold War through aesthetic debates, the conference gathers artists and historians to engage the specters of modernism as they have shape-shifted through the course of the twentieth century.
With Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck, Clare Davies, Kodwo Eshun, Angela Harutyunyan, Patrick Iber, Nataša Ilić, Alexander Keefe, Jaleh Mansoor, Museum of American Art in Berlin