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AICAUK President’s Report 2016

24/11/2016

This updates my interim report for the Summer meeting which was kindly hosted by Executive Committee member, Sacha Craddock. The Executive has met six times over the year when we were joined by Anna McNay who has taken the role of web editor updating members’ news and events. The most recent Comment is a timely and passionately argued piece on the danger of retreating to ‘defensive cultural silos’ by Paul O’Kane: ‘Post-Perspectival Art and Politics in Post-Brexit Britain: (towards a Holistic Relativism)’. We congratulate Anna and Alfredo Cramerotti on their election to the Committee at our AGM.

AICA Events
Sylwia Serafinowicz successfully organized a panel discussion with artists Sonia Boyce, Adham Faramawy and Nina Edge at the Bluecoat during the Liverpool Biennial which addressed the theme of Bilocation and the experience of migration. We warmly congratulate Sonia Boyce on her recent Hamlyn Foundation Award. We are hoping to recruit more regional members who will organize AICA events locally and expand AICA’s role nationally.
Executive members, Laura Moffat and Hugh Pilkington, convened two very enjoyable BAR AICA evenings at the Artillery Arms, Bunhill Gardens, London where exhibitions discussed included Conceptual art, Mona Hatoum, Wifredo Lam, Abstract Expressionism and William Kentridge . These are provocative and wide ranging discussions, do come along, join in and offer proposals for discussion.
Perhaps one of the most significant AICAUK events this year was the recent symposium in celebration of John Berger which was organized by Alfredo Cramerotti with Lily Ford of the Derek Jarman Lab at the Birkbeck Institute of the Moving image. This was a visually rich and reflective day of films and contributions by people who have worked closely with Berger. Lisa Appignanesi spoke of his friendship and early collaboration and of his range and significance, cultural and political. Griselda Pollock gave a brilliantly incisive summary of the day. We are immensely grateful to Alfredo and to Lily Ford and Matthew Barrington and Michael Temple of BIMI for their collaboration and support.

Congress
The AICA International Congress in Havana was a milestone event for AICA in re- engaging with a country that is emerging from revolution and forging new links, cultural as well as political and economic. Cuba was one of the earliest countries to engage with AICA and established an AICA chapter in 1986; the section was re-established in 2014 with 29 members led by president David Mateo. The Congress was welcomed by the Ministry of Culture with the strong support of Ruben del Valle Lantaron, President of the National Council for the Visual Arts and Jorge Fernadez, the Director of the National Museum of Fine Arts and our host for the Congress which was attended by 140 delegates from 27 countries. The speakers, including AICAUK members Michael Asbury and Hilary Robinson, Robert Storr from the US and Dannys Montes de Ota, Director of the Havana Biennial, offered perspectives on the theme New Utopias, Art, Memory and Context.
Panel contributions also offered some hitherto little known histories of the international relationships of Cuban artists, curators and critics since the 1950s. The event was enthusiastically attended by Cuban artists, curators and critics and laid firm foundations for AICA’s presence at the 13th Havana Biennial in November 2018.
We were pleased to offer four travel awards for AICAUK members to attend the Congress and hope that we can continue this support for future Congresses.
Next year is the 5Oth anniversary of AICA International’s Congress and it is hoped to plan a special Congress in Paris in the autumn which will look at the history of the organization and present some of the findings of the groundbreaking Prisme research project, led by the Archives de la Critique d’art. It may also be the moment to assess whether criticism can still fulfill Baudelaire’s injunction that criticism should be ‘partial, passionate and political”.

Membership
We have welcomed ten new members this year, all endorsed by the International Committee. We have also lost two of our most celebrated members. The art historian, critic and curator Luke Hermann, whose obituary is posted on the AICA website, was possibly our longest serving member, joining at the recommendation of Sir Herbert Read in 1958. Most recently, we were deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Giles Waterfield who made such a distinguished contribution to the visual arts in Britain; his last book The Peoples’ Palaces uncovers the splendid democratic histories of our great regional museums. His prize winning novels were written with the generous vision and wry wit by which he is fondly remembered.

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton