The international conference Cold Atlantic will examine the artistic, cultural and aesthetic exchanges produced between the USA, Europe, Africa and Latin America during the Cold War. The aim is to highlight the axes of alignment and artistic exchange between the geopolitically minor actors that were trapped inside the huge theatrical strategy from this period. The conference, which will be conducted through round-table discussions, lectures and dialogue, organised through an open international process, looks to recover relatively unstudied nodes of cultural influence and dissemination in its aim to decentralise the Paris-New York axis that still dominates and is ubiquitous in studies on the Cold War and its artistic incarnations, thus fostering discussion that grants a voice to the forms of cultural expression that materialised outside official power structures.
These dialogues and interactions will be analysed within a Cold War context, whilst also proceeding from the destabilisation of the status quo brought about by the Bandung Conference (1955) and the Hungarian Revolution (1956). Consequently, it underscores the forms of mediation, dissent and resistance that sought to offer alternative answers to the ideological and aesthetic split that defined the cultural and social climate after World War Two. The conference will call into question canonical narratives of artistic modernity by exploring transatlantic artistic networks, with a view to eliciting the plurality of the responses to the ideological positioning this war held on a cultural level. Therefore, from this perspective Cold Atlantic will chart a new cartography of artistic practices and institutional relations, both subjective and political.
The re-evaluation of crossroads and friction in artistic production, material culture and political resistance will help to reconsider different accounts of modern art’s struggle, displaying alternatives to the prevailing Western vision, whilst also calling attention to the links that would bring dissident responses to life in the geopolitical order of the Cold War, a key period in the configuration of today’s global world. Spain’s own “peripheral” position with regard to the UK, France and the United States opens up a space that fosters a reconsideration of the role of modern art, questioning accounts based on the concept of progress that have predominated the study of artistic modernity.
This project has been made possible through the contribution of the Terra Foundation for American Art: