Amin on Feldman, ‘From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962’ | AMCA | Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey
Amin on Feldman, ‘From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962’
Alessandra Amin on Hannah Feldman.From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. xvi + 317 pp. $99.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8223-5356-0; $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8223-5371-3.
Hannah Feldman’s From a Nation Torn critically addresses mainstream art-historical approaches to French modernism and the cultural context that shaped its production and reception. Specifically, Feldman contests the dominant appellation “postwar” as describing the history of France from the late 1940s into the 1960s. The visual culture of this period, argues Feldman, should instead be considered “art-during-war,” given France’s uninterrupted involvement in imperial wars in Southeast Asia and North Africa between the conclusion of WWII and Algerian independence in 1962. Focusing on the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62), Feldman analyzes the complex interactions between political philosophies, public culture, and visual production during the “decades of decolonization,” highlighting the ways in which the dissolution of France’s colonial empire impacted the development of arts and aesthetic theory within French national borders. In so doing, she seeks not only to reimagine the history of French modernism as “transnational, influenced and rooted in the experience of the colonies as well as the metropole,” but to position “art objects and the visualities they engender as primary sites of theorization and analysis, rather than as secondary or tertiary epiphenomena” in the broader context of modern French history (pp. 8,15).