October 18, 2021

The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung


Flags at Bandung Airport. Photograph, Asian-African Conference Bulletin, no. 3, 1955. Issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia. Design: Mahya Ketabchi.

With Noor Abuarafeh, Elizabeth Asafo-Adjei, Karima Boudou Mzouar, Ntone Edjabe, Suman Gopinath, Atreyee Gupta, Lara Khaldi, Vera Mey, Naeem Mohaiemen, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Philippe Pirotte, Arham Rahman, Leigh Raiford, Grace Samboh, Grant Watson, Sadie Woods

The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung is a research project about a formative historical gathering. The Asian-African Conference held in 1955 in the city of Bandung, Indonesia, can be considered a catalyst of already existing political and cultural affiliations. Stimulated by the Bandung moment, this Asian African solidarity movement had an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist rationale.

In his book The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference (1956), African American writer Richard Wright drew connections between the Bandung Conference and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in the USA. He championed the African American cause and called for solidarity with People of Color in their decolonial struggle against capitalist, Western and white exploitation. Key for this objective was cultural cooperation between Asia and Africa and their diasporas. Notedly, the Asian-African Conference installed a cultural committee next to a political and an economical one.

In a series of online roundtables with scholars, curators, and artists, provisional research is shared with an audience in the form of storylines. Reanimating the so-called ‘third-way’ political imagination carried by the Bandung spirit, this collective research is driven by a poetics of correspondence, addressing cultural traditions while at the same time revealing translational experiences across Asia, Africa, and their diasporas.


Thursday, October 21, 6pm (CEST)
Philippe Pirotte
, Introduction: Richard Wright, The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung
Leigh Raiford, Bandung to Black Power: Mapping Kathleen Cleaver's Radical Geographies
Karima Boudou Mzouar, The Key to San Francisco: Mehdi Ben Barka and the Tricontinental Conference in Cuba

Thursday, October 28, 9am (CEST)
Shabbir Hussain Mustafa
, “We are not merely the objects of history chained to a law of challenge and response.” Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the Staging of the 5th NAM Summit
Suman Gopinath & Grant Watson, The Poet in Bandung

Thursday, November 4, 4pm (CET)
Grace Samboh
& Arham Rahman, KARANGAN: Lampiran tentang pengelolaan, keramah-tamahan, dll (Appendices on organization, hospitality, and other things)
Ntone Edjabe, Radio Freedom
Sadie Woods, Songs of Liberation

Thursday, November 11, 5pm (CET)
Noor Abuarafeh
& Lara Khaldi, Letters to a Museum
Elizabeth Asafo-Adjei, The art of giving: Kofi Antubam’s introduction of Ghana through diplomatic gifts

Thursday, November 18, 5pm (CET)
Vera Mey
, Artistic alignment and the expanding geographic horizon of modern Cambodian mural paintings 1950s–1960s
Atreyee Gupta, Vectors of Bandung: The Third World Liberation Front at the University of California, Berkeley
Naeem Mohaiemen, Jamahiriya

The full program and registration links can be found here.

Generous support for The Color Curtain and the Promise of Bandung was provided by a research fellowship awarded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The series of roundtables is organized with additional support from Hochschule für Bildende Künste–Städelschule, Frankfurt, and from UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California.

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