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From Alexandria to Tokyo Art, Colonialism and Entangled Histories

split screen film still of a portrait of a person wearing a hood and goggles

Meiro Koizumi, Portrait of a Young Samurai (film still), 2009
© Meiro Koizumi. Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery

Explore the complex creations and legacies non-European colonialisms have had on artistic perspectives from North Africa to East Asia

The symposium aims to decentre present-day debates on art and colonialism. While European colonialism and imperialism have become important themes in contemporary museum and academic discourses and exhibition practices, artistic perspectives on non-European colonialism and experiences of domination remain relatively understudied. This is so despite the complex creations and legacies these experiences have and continue to generate. Moreover, little comparative analysis has been done in this regard, especially as pertains to art. The symposium therefore aims to shed light on the multiplicity of colonialisms spanning from North Africa to East Asia and their role in the relational constitution of the modern world. In particular, it seeks to explore art and artist focused case studies that examine undisciplined histories, memory building and the conflicting, multivalent narratives these have generated.

The pressures of post-war and post-independence reconstructions and nation buildings have long concealed the complex and contested relationships between artistic connections and exchanges and the workings of domination and inequality. The symposium will thus question whether the formation of avant-garde artistic networks connected at an international level can be separated from the hierarchical conditions under which colonial connections were formed. Secondly, it will assess how the re-evaluation of colonialism raises a challenge as much to Eurocentric art histories as to nationalist ones, which have arguably contributed in drawing new separatist and exclusionary lines.


Thursday 3 December


  • Panel 1: Between Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism
    • Speakers include Fusako Innami (Durham University), Helena Capkova (Ritsumeikan University, Waseda University) and Sanathanan Thamotharampillai (University of Jaffna). Moderated by Devika Singh (Tate Modern).

10.30–11.00 Break


  • Panel 2: The Cold War, Liberation, and Modernism
    • Speakers include Nadia Radwan (University of Bern), Maria Mileeva (The Courtauld), Zeigam Azizov (Artist, Philosopher) and Nobuo Takamori (Taipei National University of the Arts). Moderated by Christian Kravagna (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna).

Friday 4 December


  • Panel 3: Multiplicity of the Postcolonial
    • Speakers include Tzu Nyen Ho (Artist), Hiroki Yamamoto (Kyoto University of Art and Design), Jung-Yeon Ma (Meiji University, Tama Art University) and Nodoka Odawara (Artist, Critic). Moderated by Michio Hayashi (Sophia University).

10.30–11.00 Break


  • Panel 4: Against the Neo-colonial
    • Speakers include Ana Bilbao (University of York), Pamela Corey (SOAS), Fiona Amundsen (Auckland University of Technology) and Wenny Teo (The Courtauld). Moderated by Ming Tiampo (Carleton University).

Symposium convenors

Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum
Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, Tate Modern
Devika Singh, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern
Michio Hayashi, Professor, Sophia University
Christian Kravagna, Professor, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

This event is organised by Mori Art Museum and Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational in partnership with Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University.

Online events

The symposium will be streamed on YouTube


3 December 2020 at 09.00–12.30

4 December 2020 at 09.00–12.30

In partnership with