– Spring 2015

The Potential of Plurality: A Discussion with the Directors of L’Internationale

Nathalie Zonnenberg

Seminar at Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM), Ljubljana, as part of the five-year research project ‘Glossary of Common Knowledge’ within the framework of the project ‘Uses of Art — The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’ by L’Internationale. Photograph: Dejan Habicht. Courtesy Moderna galerija

The following conversation explores the origins of L’Internationale, a confederation of six European museums, and how it functions as an alternative producer of knowledge. Moderated by Nathalie Zonnenberg, the discussion took place on 4 April 2014 in Ghent among the directors of the participating institutions: Zdenka Badovinac, of Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM), Ljubljana; Manuel Borja-Villel, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (MNCARS); Bart De Baere, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA); and Bartomeu Marí, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). Charles Esche, from the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Vasif Kortun, from SALT, Istanbul and Ankara sent additional observations.

Nathalie Zonnenberg: L’Internationale is comprised of different types of institutions that came together from various parts of Europe. I’d first like to ask how this configuration of institutions came about.

Zdenka Badovinac: It actually happened by chance. L’Internationale was conceived in 2010 after an unsuccessful bid to the European Cultural Foundation with a programme of exhibitions on Conceptual art in Eastern Europe and Latin America. We were refused on the grounds that the form our collaboration would take had not been elaborated well

  1. Viktor Misiano, ‘The Institutionalization of Friendship’ (1998), available at www.irwin.si/texts/institutionalisation (last accessed on 11 September 2014).

  2. Bartomeu Marí, ‘Writing History Without a Prior Canon’ (2012), online publication of L’Internationale, available at http://www.macba.cat/uploads/publicacions/internationale/Bartomeu.pdf (last accessed on 15 September 2014).

  3. See, for example, T.J. Clark, Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.

  4. In 2008 the Reina Sofía presented a new display placing Guernica in the sociopolitical and cultural context in which it was made: the Spanish pavilion for the International Exposition of 1937, held in Paris, which was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government in the midst of the Civil War. The exhibition display at Reina Sofía recreates the original context by bringing together the works by other artists commissioned alongside Picasso (such as Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Julio González, Alberto Sánchez and Josep Renau) as well as an architectonic maquette of the pavilion (by architects Josep Lluís Sert and Luis Lacasa) and photographic and filmic documents supporting the cause of the Republican government. The lighting and architecture of the exhibition gallery have also been modified to enable a complete frontal view of the painting.

  5. The exhibition ‘Losing the Human Form: A Seismic Image of the 1980s in Latin America’ (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 26 October 2012—11 March 2013, curated by Red Conceptualismos del Sur) highlighted some of these practices.

  6. See L’Internationale’s website: http://www.internationaleonline.org/confederation (last accessed on 3 November 2014).

  7. These projects involve exhibitions, symposia, publications, education programmes and staff exchanges among the L’Internationale group and partner institutions. For more information see http://www.internationaleonline.org/colophon (last accessed on 3 November 2014).

  8. See Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

  9. See Donna Haraway, ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, Feminist Studies, vol.14, no.3, Fall 1988, pp.575—99.