What is Transnational?

Transnational is a way of understanding, researching and curating which encourages the idea that art, artists and art histories are connected beyond their countries of origin. The word ‘transnational’ encourages us all to challenge and revise western-centric art histories by highlighting the global exchanges and flow of artists and ideas.

What do we do?

The Centre’s primary research outcome is rooted in our activities across Tate’s collection, displays, exhibitions and public programmes, with research fully integrated into the workings of the museum. We are committed to engaging in innovative ways of thinking about art, as well as ensuring that Tate and our research is accessible to all.

Over the next 5 years, our vision is to redefine our existing collection of art, and offer new perspectives on global art histories. Our research and programming will contribute to the reviewing and reframing of art histories. We will expand Tate’s existing commitment to developing its collections and programmes beyond Western Europe and North America.

What is planned?

The Centre’s research will inform future exhibitions, collection displays and acquisitions across all four Tate galleries. Our research will also be showcased on Tate's website and social channels.

We will also produce one major symposium and six smaller events each year, shaped by and feeding into our research priorities. The Centre will proactively seek partnerships in order to widen our networks, both within and beyond the UK.

What are our priorities?

Our research priorities will be guided by Tate’s curatorial teams, and the Centre’s adjunct curators working in the fields of indigeneity, Africa and the diaspora, and multiple modernisms. They will help to determine the strategic direction for future acquisitions, collection displays and exhibition programmes.

Looking at the concept of transnational from multiple points of view, some of the grounding questions that will shape the Centre’s first phase from 2019-2021 include:

  • How does the idea of transnational help us to rethink multiple art histories in such a way that they can replace a single western-centric canon?

  • How does the idea of transnational relate to our understanding of British art, history and identity?

  • What are the creative contributions enabled by migration and diaspora?

  • What can we learn from First Nation and indigenous artists when rethinking the role of nation states in relation to art?

  • How do multiple modernities and modernism intersect in the first half of the twentieth century?

Upcoming events

Opportunities to get involved

The Centre offers a variety of short-term posts that are designed specifically to offer developmental opportunities to researchers and curators from around the world. These are tiered to identify and support people at all stages of their careers. Opportunities, open calls and grant applications will be posted to this page when they arise.

These posts provides curators and researchers with the opportunity to remain within the region they are working in and carry out field research in relevant areas for Tate.

This programme provides academics and curators with the opportunity to develop their independent research that aligns with Tate’s research interests.

The Travel Grant programme is an annual award for early career scholars and curators to attend the Centre’s symposium.

Applications for this year’s grant are now closed.

Transnational in the Galleries

Dig Deeper

Past events

Integrated within Tate Modern’s Curatorial team, the Centre’s core team work with the wider Curatorial team to lead or contribute to exhibitions, collection displays, acquisitions and public events. The Centre’s core team also work closely with the Learning & Research and Digital departments as well as other colleagues at Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, to connect Tate with a wide network of peers and academic partners.

The Centre is led by Dr Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art (Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational). Lee has had responsibilities for the research and acquisition of art from the Asia-Pacific region for the Tate collection and previously headed Tate Research Centre: Asia (2012–16). As Exhibitions & Displays Curator at Tate Liverpool she curated several exhibitions and collection displays such as Doug Aitken: The Source and Thresholds. Lee also served as the Commissioner & Curator of the Korean Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale. She is currently curating Nam June Paik, which will premiere at Tate Modern in late 2019 and tour in Europe, USA and Asia, co-organised by Tate Modern and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tate Modern has recently appointed two curators, Nabila Abdel Nabi and Devika Singh, who are embedded in Tate Modern’s Curatorial team to carry out acquisition and programme related curatorial work, with a focus on the Centre’s aim of contributing to the development of the ‘transnational’ framework.

Nabila Abdel Nabi was Associate Curator at The Power Plant, Toronto and prior to that she was Gallery Manager at The Third Line, Dubai. She has worked on solo exhibitions and facilitated new commissions by artists including Hajra Waheed (upcoming), Vivian Suter, Omar Ba, Emeka Ogboh, Abbas Akhavan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Karla Black, Michael Landy, Kader Attia, Amalia Pica and Jonathas de Andrade, among others. She holds an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a BA from the University of Chicago.

Devika Singh’s work focuses on modern and contemporary art and architecture in South Asia and the global history of modernism. She was Smuts Research Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies of the University of Cambridge and a fellow at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris. She holds a PhD from Cambridge and was a visiting fellow at the French Academy at Rome, the Freie Universität and the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. She has published widely in journals and exhibition catalogues. Recent exhibitions curated by Singh include Planetary Planning at Dhaka Art Summit (2018) and Gedney in India at CSMVS, Mumbai (2017) and Duke University (2018).

The Centre’s activities are devised and managed by Emma Jones, Research Manager, and Rachel Hajek, Research Coordinator.

Adjunct Curators will be appointed in the coming months and will carry out field research in relevant areas. Details of new curatorial appointments will be shared on this page.

Steering Committee
The Centre is guided by Tate’s internal Steering Committee, which consists of Tate-wide directors and senior members of staff with expertise in Tate’s core activities including the collection, displays and exhibitions, research and national and international partnerships. The Steering Committee members input into and steer the Centre’s strategy and output and align our events with Tate’s programmes at all Tate sites: Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions & Programmes, Tate Modern

Anna Cutler, Director of Learning and Research
Cecile de Cormis, Head of Corporate Development
Ann Gallagher, Director of Collection, British Art
Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art (Europe and Americas)
Clara Kim, The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art (Africa, Asia & Middle East)
Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art (Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational)
Gregor Muir, Director of Collection, International Art, Tate Modern
Judith Nesbitt, Director of National & International Partnerships
Emily Pringle, Head of Research
Charlotte Reeves, Head of Corporate Partnerships
Andrea Schlieker, Director of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Britain

Advisory Board
The Centre is also supported by an Advisory Board, which consists of external academics working in the field of transnational art history. The role of the Board is to advise and steer the Centre’s strategic direction and to help develop a wider network in academia and artistic communities across the world.

Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern

Professor Oriana Baddeley (University of the Arts London)
Professor Monica Juneja (Heidelberg University)
Professor Christian Kravagna (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University)
Professor Ming Tiampo (Carleton University)

Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational
Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
+44 (0)20 7401 5038

Rachel Hajek, Research Coordinator

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