March 3-5, 2022. 110th College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago. Panel co-chaired with Dr. Agata Pietrasik, Freie Universitaet, Berlin.

Traveling art exhibitions gained momentum in the mid-20th century as an efficient mode of engaging global audience. The importance of traveling shows was confirmed by the 1953 UNESCO’s Manual of Traveling Exhibitions, a document that solidified traveling exhibitions as a new means of mass communication. Importantly, traveling exhibitions traversed not only geographical borders. They crossed boundaries between aesthetics and politics, engaging different discourses and ideological frameworks, ranging from issues of national self-representations to art’s role in diffusing socialism.

This panel unpacks the above connections by critically examining global histories of traveling exhibitions in the 1950’s with their institutional backing, curatorial motivations, and repercussions for collective cultural memory. It questions the politics of traveling shows and inquires into the mode of spectatorship they created. Four proposed presentations open up perspectives reaching beyond the already well-researched West European-North American axis.

Fabiola Martínez Rodríguez focuses on artistic exchange between the Global South and the Eastern Block by discussing how exhibitions of Mexican art helped challenge socialism realism. Laura Bohenblust excavates fascinating history of floating exhibitions organized by Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, pointing out their entanglement in global geopolitics of the postwar moment. Chelsea Haines analyses how exhibitions of art shaped and upheld the modern image of the newly established state of Israel, examining the role they played in Europe’s reckoning with the Holocaust. Piotr Słodkowski further inspects the role of art exhibitions in shaping European Holocaust memory through his analyses of international exhibitions that toured both Eastern and Western Europe.


Laura Bohnenblust, Universität Bern: “Traveling Exhibitions on the High Seas – Floating (Art) Exhibitions”

Fabiola Martinez, Saint Louis University: “Mexican art in the Eastern Bloc 1955-1956”

Chelsea Haines, Arizona State University: “Zionism in Translation: Israeli Art in Western Europe, 1954-55”

Piotr Słodkowski, Warsaw University: “Memory of the Holocaust in the East- and West-European exhibitions by Marek Oberländer”

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