Imaginary Leaps into a Decanonized Future
Writing letters to start anew: What might the world be like without canons?
This programme was part of OCA’s ongoing research into artistic canons: a line of inquiry that brings together and builds upon the de-colonial, de-modern and transformative propositions that have marked OCA’s activities over the last four years. With new museums expanding around the world, including two major additions set to open in our hometown of Oslo, this programme argues for urgency in rethinking the status of the canon and canonising procedures as we vault ourselves into uncharted cultural-institutional futures.
More intimacy and more exchange is just what so many of us working in art institutions, museums, schools, biennials etc. need if we are to make leaps into decanonical futures. They feel at any rate like good starting points as we gather together our mental energy to erode that detached voice of power and authority which has engineered the centuries-long underpinning of the canon through whiteness, patriarchy, eurocentrism, heteronormativity and elitism. So we asked a range of contributors already preoccupied by the urgency of these questions if they’d like to write letters, and whether they would share these exchanges or other performances and discourses at the gathering and during its lead-up.
While the current proposition respectfully acknowledges those much-needed institutional efforts across the world towards inclusivity by expanding the canon and diversifying the narratives that audiences and readers can engage with, we also assume that at the end of the day, canon-expansionism is perpetrated to the benefit of canonism. With ‘the canon’ usually standing in for the Western canon, it seems that – more often than not – expanding the canon means fitting the ‘overlooked’ into the already established frameworks of Western thought, particularly Modernism and its offspring, rather than the other way around.
We had the great privilege of bringing together artists, poets, curators and scholars from various parts of the world to help us in this endeavour. They include Las Nietas de Nonó, Liv Bugge, Dorota Gawęda, Geir Tore Holm, Søssa Jørgensen, Bouchra Khalili, Eglė Kulbokaitė, Quinn Latimer, Miguel A. López, Camille Norment, farid rakun, Ayatgali Tuleubek and Rolando Vázquez. In addition, Natasha Ginwala, Cecilia Vicuña and others participated from afar.
The afterparty was hosted by Karmaklubb.*
The experiment began with exchanges flowing between various participants ahead of the gathering. If you wish to receive some of these by mail, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your postal address.