Past Disquiet

Past Disquiet

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

Collectif de peintres antifascistes painting a banner for a protest on May 1, 1976, directed against the government’s policies towards the arts. Photo: César. Source: Claude Lazar.

March 11, 2016
Past Disquiet
Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978
March 19–May 9, 2016
Conference: “A History of Limits. On the Architecture of Canon Narratives”: March 18–19
Twitter / Facebook

The critique and deconstruction of the modern canon has shaped both artistic practice and theory over the past three decades. However, the canon is not just an instrument of institutional power. It is also a means to create forms of literacy and historical consciousness. How are the narratives of art history and criticism embedded in wider and contested historical and political contexts? On what basis is it possible to construct a revised and expanded canon? “A History of Limits” is the inaugural event of the long-term project Kanon-Fragen 2016–2019 which takes as its starting point the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s founding mission from 1989.

“A History of Limits” engages with “hallucinatory” dimensions of the canon in its relation to the unconscious of a colonial modernity, and interrogates the foundational myths of modern institutional canons, testing their currency and limits. What are the institutional boundary-making practices, implicit categories, and framing economies in times of a “limitless expansion” of contemporary art? Moderated by Anselm Franke and Paz Guevara, ”A History of Limits” features theoretical and artistic contributions by Lene Berg, Diedrich Diederichsen, Ticio Escobar, Nida Ghouse, Malak Helmy, Tom Holert, Ho Tzu Nyen, Luis Jacob, Lara Khaldi, Erhard Schüttpelz, Kerstin Stakemeier, David Teh, Mark Wigley, Claudia Zaldívar, as well as curators Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti.

The first exhibition to open simultaneously within in the framework of Kanon-Fragen 2016–2019 is Past Disquiet. Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978 (March 19–May 9, 2016). Curated by Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti, Past Disquiet is a documentary and archival exhibition centered on the research conducted on and around the story of the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, which opened in the spring of 1978 at the Beirut Arab University, Lebanon. Organized by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), it comprised approximately 200 artworks donated by artists from around thirty countries. The exhibition was intended as the seed collection for a museum in exile, taking the form of an itinerant exhibition that was meant to tour worldwide until it could be repatriated to Palestine. During the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982, the building where the works were stored, together with the exhibition’s archival traces, was destroyed.

The first iteration of Past Disquiet was presented at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), as part of an effort to enable a broader understanding of the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts in which art is created, valued, displayed publicly, and integrated with the collective imaginary. The Berlin version of Past Disquiet critically explores the mechanisms of canon-making in the discourse and historiography of art, and in the realm of art and artists’ practices, looks into the relationships between a Germany divided by the Cold War and the causes that animated the anti-imperialist solidarity front, specifically the struggle for Palestine.

Originally conceived and presented by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) in 2015. The Berlin version is a production of Haus der Kulturen der Welt and MACBA. The research for this project has been made possible by the generous support of: Rana Sadik and Samer Younis, Sharjah Art Foundation, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), ZedGrant, the A. M. Qattan Foundation, and Tensta Konsthall.

The multi-year project Kanon-Fragen by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt examines the architectures of historical narratives and the foundations of institutional canon-formation. From 2016 until 2019, the Department of Visual Arts under the direction of Anselm Franke will be collaborating with a variety of partners in preparing a series of exhibition projects. It will involve curatorial and artistic collaborations with Paz Guevara and Antonia Majaca, Nida Ghouse, Dierk Schmidt with Sonja Lau and Su Wei, Tom Holert, and Diedrich Diederichsen, among others.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.


Press contact:
Anne Maier
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
T +49 30 39787 153 / anne.maier [​at​]

RSVP for Past Disquiet
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
March 11, 2016

Thank you for your RSVP.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.