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7 March 2019

Decolonize! Art, curatorial and critical practices in contemporary times



Art, curatorial and critical practices in contemporary times



Giulia Casartelli
PHD presso l’Università Nazionale e Capodistriana di Atene


Maria Rosa Jijon
segretaria Illa, artista visiva  e attivista

Monica Sassatelli
Goldsmiths, University of London, Università di Bologna

Renata Summo-O’Connell
curatrice del progetto e direttore Artegiro Contemporary Art

Roberta Trapè
docente e ricercatrice Miur, Università di Melburne


Recently, I assisted to a conversation between a European research project leader and a conference participant. In that verbal exchange, I realised that the term  decolonizing” emerged as reflecting a sort of overarching humanitarian intellectual attitude against prejudices and discriminations. The notion, shared by both interlocutors, transformed decolonizing in a definitive recipe for overcoming all conflicts and crisis.


From Fanon’s sociogenesis to Walter Mignolo’s Decolonial Aesthetics Manifesto, many of us, artists, curators and art critics, working closely in contact with “the colonial wound”, are acutely aware of racialization as classification and ranking, and of its man-made origin, as Mignolo says.

The collective reflection performed here, in this collection of artworks and texts, is about a shared effort to practice various brands of decoloniality, to open up more and more, through knowing and understanding, decolonial artistic creativity and decolonial critique, promoting an exchange of such process first of all, together with its occasional findings.


A pursuit for “forms ever new”, a realization that theory takes the form of theatre, avoiding a sharp choice between literary fiction and scientific styles but striving to experiment: this was our chosen brief as authors for this publication format.


We are artists, curators, critics, scholars and our contributions are mainly textual and visual, although some authors have chosen to propose their argument entirely on a visual level. We have endeavoured to be substantial, challenged by theory as well as challenging theory, questioning assumptions, incorporating sounds, videos and images beyond eurocentrism (when this applied to our position), as well as other positionings.


Art, curating, critiquing practices today take place in fact in a world where notions of

postcolonial, neo-colonial, decolonial, global, co-exist and continue to play roles that puzzle as well as challenge us. They characterise a state of things that generates affiliations and  relationships between art practice and curating, critique, power and the markets. Relationships which are at times new, at times rather trite and well-trodden. Decolonize! is only the first act of a bold, collective production,  imultaneously live and online1, to explore multiple visions of contemporary art practice, to investigate ways to curate and to critique today in what is an

extremely varied world.


For these reasons, with Braidotti and Glissant, the Decolonize! project banks on creolization of languages, proposing a thought and discussion exercise that is not academic and does not wish to be. Through artists and writers’ collaborations, written and visual reflections, photo journals by individual authors, we have tried to explain our experiences in decolonizing artistic and critical practice as well as curating, exposing its process with failures and successes.


Last but not least, we celebrate a new start in facing the unavoidable interrogatives our contemporary, intensely close but deeply diverse cultural world presents us with.


Giulia Casartelli (Lecco, 1986) sta attualmente conducendo la sua ricerca di dottorato presso l’Università Nazionale e Capodistriana di Atene sul ruolo delle politiche culturali nella costruzione identitaria dell’Unione Europea, analizzando il caso della Turchia.  All’attività di curatrice indipendente, ha affiancato esperienze in gallerie d’arte e organizzazioni non governative a Milano, Nuova Delhi e Città del Capo. Nel 2015 e’ stata coordinatrice associata del Padiglione armeno alla 56. Biennale di Venezia, premiato con il Leone d’Oro per la Miglior Partecipazione Nazionale.


Renata Summo-O’Connell


Renata is curator and director of Artegiro Contemporary Art, a transnational nomadic curatorial project in contemporary art based in Italy. Having studied and worked for a number of years in the fields of Sociolinguistics and Gender Studies in Australia, Renata is continuing her study and writing independently in the areas of art criticism, women artists, language and society. Her background in Aesthetics, Gender Studies and Sociolinguistics, directs her work to develop new models of transnational research, which, beyond institutional boundaries, may effectively further international debate and engage in creative and cultural projects. Renata has co founded AILAE in 2007 with Roberta Trapè and Damian O’Connell. She launched the Imagined Australia project ( see edited collection Imagined Australia. Reflections Around the Reciprocal Construction of Identity Between Australia and Europe, published by Peter Lang in 2009). Artegiro Contemporary Art advances one of AILAE’s objectives, to make culture and in particular art “outside the palace”, promoting collaborative curatorial and critical projects, art residencies and projects.


Monica Sassatelli


Monica Sassatelli is a cultural sociologist, with particular interest in urban and European cultural policies. Her research focuses on cultural institutions and events, urban festivals and biennials in particular. Among her publications, Becoming Europeans. Cultural Identity and Cultural Policies (Palgrave, 2009) and Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere (co-edited with L.Giorgi and G.Delanty, Routledge, 2011).

Currently she is Associate Professor at the University of Bologna, and Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Roberta Trapè

Roberta Trapè is an honorary scholar at the University of Melbourne, School of Languages ​​and Linguistics, where she worked for five years. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Studies at the University of Florence. She deals with the contemporary literature of the English-speaking countries, and in particular of the Australian travel literature in Italy. In 2011 she published the book Imaging Italia through the eyes of contemporary Australian travelers (1990-2010), and later on numerous articles on this subject. She also wrote about notions of space and movement in contemporary society, the role of space in history and the figure of the migrant. Her research is based on constant communication with writers and writers who live in Australia and are in dialogue with Italian culture. She analyzed the work of the Australian scholar Paul Carter, who connects Italy with a series of reflections and practices on the themes of migration, citizenship and identity. She also wrote about the collaboration of artists and artists in Alice Springs and Perth for the design of public spaces through an innovative model of creative community. It is part of AILAE, founded by Renata Summo O’Connell, a non-profit European association that aims to build opportunities for dialogue and debate on art, culture and politics between Europe and the rest of the world.


This Book Was Made Possible Through the Financial Support of Artegiro Contemporary Art and of a Private Donor.

Illustration and front cover© Botticelli in Cairo (2018) by Qarm Qart