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"International Art English," published in Triple Canopy in July, has circulated widely and generated debates about the relationship between language, legibility, and power in the art world. The authors of the article, Alix Rule and David Levine, analyze a corpus of press releases circulated by e-flux in order to describe the language of contemporary art. They trace the particularities of this language to English translations of critical texts published in the 1970s in journals like October. The widespread use of the Internet has, they argue, accelerated the development of IAE, turning it into a kind of lingua franca; the proliferation of international variations—French IAE, Scandinavian IAE, Chinese IAE—ends up diluting the authority of critics, "traditionally the elite innovators of IAE." Given these developments, Rule and Levine ask: "Can we imagine an art world without IAE? Without its special language, would art need to submit to the scrutiny of broader audiences and local ones? Would it hold up?"

With this forum, Triple Canopy hopes to provoke a critical response to the article, consider questions and perspectives eschewed by the authors, and solicit the perspectives of those who work with (or resist working with) IAE, whether they are critics, curators, educators, or publicists. Specifically, the discussion will focus on the political implications and uses of IAE, within and outside of the art world. "Thanks to International Art English, the artist can still appear vaguely subversive and the host state committed to openness, a mutual saving of face," writes Mostafa Heddaya in a recent essay for Hyperallergic. How does such "critical" language direct attention away from the suppression of political dissent, especially when employed by institutions—and their proxies—operating in environments marred by human-rights violations, such as China and the UAE (or even the US)? How does obfuscation slip into propaganda? And do those who regularly produce IAE experience the language as burdensome or liberating, a welcome tool for the diffusion of power or another step toward a global standard of ambiguity and opacity?

The forum will be facilitated by Nathalie Anglès, Wenzel Bilger, Lauren Cornell, Mariam Ghani, Mostafa Heddaya, David Levine, Alexander Provan, Yael Reinharz, Alix Rule, Lumi Tan, and Hrag Vartanian.

Participants
  • Nathalie Anglès is cofounder and executive director of Residency Unlimited, a New York-based nonprofit arts organization that fosters customised residencies for artists and curators through strategic partnerships with collaborating institutions. From 2000 until 2008, she was the director of Location One’s international residency program. In 2008 she received the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government.
  • Wenzel Bilger is regional program director of the Goethe-Institut New York.
  • Lauren Cornell is the curator of the 2015 triennial, digital projects, and Museum as Hub at the New Museum in New York. From 2005-2012, she served as adjunct curator at the New Museum and executive director of Rhizome, an organization dedicated to the creation, presentation and preservation of art engaged with technology.
  • Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, filmmaker, and member of the Gulflabor Working Group. Her work has recently been shown at dOCUMENTA (13) (Kabul and Kassel), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Sharjah Biennial 10. Ghani is currently a visiting scholar at the Asian Pacific American Institute at NYU. Gulflabor is a coalition of artists, writers, curators, educators and others working to ensure that workers’ rights are protected during the construction and maintenance of new cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.
  • Mostafa Heddaya is a writer in New York and the coeditor of American Circus.
  • David Levine is an artist based in Brooklyn and Berlin. His performances and projects have been presented at MoMA, Mass MoCA, Documenta 12 (with Cabinet), and the Townhouse Gallery (Cairo), as well as Galerie Feinkost (Berlin) and François Ghebaly Gallery (Los Angeles).
  • Alexander Provan lives in Brooklyn and is the editor of Triple Canopy. He is also a contributing editor of Bidoun, a magazine of the arts and culture of the Middle East and its diaspora. His writing on digital culture, aesthetics, literature, and politics have appeared in The Nation, The Believer, n+1, Bookforum, Artforum, Frieze, and Art in America, among other publications. He is a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School for 2013-15.
  • Yael Reinharz is executive director of Artis, an independent nonprofit organization that broadens international awareness and understanding of contemporary art from Israel, and provides important resources, programs and platforms for artists and art professionals to develop lasting partnerships with the global art community.
  • Alix Rule is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Columbia University.
  • Lumi Tan is an assistant curator at The Kitchen in New York and associate editor of The Exhibitionist: Journal for Exhibition Making.
  • Hrag Vartanian is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and critic. He is the editor of Hyperallergic and a member of the Triangle Arts Association board.