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Rose-Anne Gush // Instability of Form after the Global Turn

Forschungsprojekt der Juliane-und-Franz-Roh-Stipendiatin 2020

Instability of Form after the Global Turn This project takes the work of Toyen, Suzanne Césaire, Alina Szapocznikow, Unica Zürn, VALIE EXPORT and Birgit Jürgenssen as the body of research to investigate Theodor Adorno’s perspicacious concept of ‘Verfransung’, the fraying of the boundaries between the art genres, explicated in ‘Art and the Arts’ (1967), arguing for its relevance for resituating ‘global art’ in the present. To date, literature on ‘global art’ has neglected to investigate the ‘form’ of anti- or a-formal artworks. Critical assessments have privileged sociological, geopolitical or content based readings, neglecting to mediate analyses of geopolitical transformations through analyses of art’s formal innovations. Returning to the advent of art’s hybridisation, this project aims to supplement dominant art historical and theoretical understanding of this process in the 1960s, by looking to a longer history of women surrealist or surrealist adjacent artists, in Europe and the Caribbean between the 1930s–70s. Revisiting this history, my project asks how formal instability relates to artistic intimations of catastrophe and residual abjection, and how art renders objective the crises of a bordered world. With a commitment to understanding this corpus immanent to its historical context and genealogy, and drawing on methods developed in social and feminist art history, materialist aesthetics and archival research, I will analyse the works included in this project through their navigation of spatial, temporal, material and corporeal boundaries. I will ask how their anti- or a-formal forms mediate place, mobility and milieu. Using a non-historicist method, I will demonstrate that bringing the framework of combined and uneven development of capitalism together with the concept of 'Verfransung', allows for the remapping of the history of global art. I will supplement this approach with methods such as ‘critical fabulation’ (Hartman) and ‘history from below’, to adopt a perspective that challenges dominant narratives, ‘official history’, aiming to open onto new speculative horizons. Instability of Form after the Global Turn will assess twentieth-century surrealist and surrealist adjacent art by women under the conditions of globalisation, beyond national frameworks. Bringing together seemingly divergent artistic and theoretical materials, this project reconsiders how ‘global art’ is understood both in relation to aesthetics, and to questions of the border, migration and displacement within a twentieth-century history.