Eszter Szakács + Naeem Mohaiemen | In Messy Practice

Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 7 - 8:30pm

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The anthology Solidarity Must Be Defended (editors: Szakacs + Mohaiemen, 2021) looks at gestures and alignments within the visual arts around transnational solidarity during the Cold War. In dialogue with, among others, the quietist tendencies of non-alignment and the radical vector of liberation movements, the book looks at both grand initiatives and tragic misfires from an entangled, decolonizing world. The point of departure for this anthology is a special issue of Mezosfera magazine (“Refractions of Socialist Solidarity”) edited in Budapest by Szakács in dialogue with Mohaiemen’s three-channel film Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017). This anthology proposes that transnational solidarity is always worth celebrating, but also extremely difficult to inhabit.

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Eszter Szakács is a Ph.D. candidate in the project IMAGINART—Imagining Institutions Otherwise: Art, Politics, and State Transformation at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Previously she worked at Budapest, where she has been co-editor of the online international art magazine Mezosfera, co-editor of the book IMAGINATION/IDEA: The Beginning of Hungarian Conceptual Art – The László Beke Collection, 1971 (, JRP|Ringier, 2014), and curator of the collaborative research project Curatorial Dictionary. She is a curatorial team member of the civil initiative OFF-Biennale Budapest. Her research revolves around prefigurative politics in art organizing, questions of internationalisms, relations between Eastern Europe and the Global South, as well as the exhibitionary form of research.

Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, drawings, sculptures, and essays to research socialist utopia, incomplete decolonization, malleable borders, unreliable memory, and the decaying family unit. His projects often start from Bangladesh’s two postcolonial markers (1947, 1971) and then radiate outward to unlikely, and unstable, transnational alliances: Lebanese migration networks, Japanese hijackers, and a Dutch academic. He is author of Midnight’s Third Child  (Nokta, forthcoming) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); and co-editor (w/ Lorenzo Fusi) of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). Naeem was a Guggenheim Fellow (2014: film-video) and a Turner Prize finalist (2018). He is currently Mellon Research Fellow at Columbia University, New York, and Senior Research Fellow (non-residential) at Lunder Institute of American Art, Maine.

The IDS public lecture series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding from the Robert Lehman Foundation. The IDS public lecture series is also made possible by generous support from the Open Society Foundations.


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