Paul Goodwin began by fleshing out the meanings of the prefix ‘trans’. He ‘activated the trans’ by opening up transnational readings, theories and strategies in art to radical perspectives such as intersectional black feminism and Caribbean postcolonial thought. Indeed, those move beyond familiar framings centred on notions of the international, national, and transnational, the local and the global, the West and the Non-West. He also shared the experience of his recently co-curated exhibition ‘UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time’, involving black artists in Britain. A younger generation of black artists seems to be shifting away from formal, institutional strategies of inclusion and demands to be part of the canon. This was what the older generation of key black artists pushed for, including Sonia Boyce, Keith Piper, and Donald Rodney, who made art objects critical of racism. For Godwin, this turning away from, or refusal, to address the modern canon makes space for questions about emerging trans-operations encompassing objects, performances, sounds, and political organising strategies.
Jeroen de Kloet also tackled issues surrounding the fluctuations between concepts of the local and the international/global. De Kloet pointed out that in the last 20 years or the so-called burden of representation and self-orientalism have not really changed much, despite the growth of critical discourses. For instance, Chinese contemporary artists are still expected to say something about China—to represent it—and, preferably, by presenting a critical and political stance. While certain locations are discursively produced as setting trends and producing universals, others are seen as stuck in a specific geopolitical paradigm. The panel developed into a debate about the pros and cons of adopting transnationalism as a framing for critical theories, as it remains grounded on the notion of the ‘national.