Jasmine Chohan - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Jasmine Chohan

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Jasmine Chohan

PhD student

Thesis: The Uninvited Artists of the Havana Biennial

Supervised by Prof. Julian Stallabrass

Funded by Michael Heller and The Joseph & Esther Lichtenstein Scholarship

My thesis will explore the Havana Biennial through a contemporary art historical study. This is a major bi/triennial event, which focuses on peripheral art. My research will be looking at the uninvited artists who unofficially participated in the Havana Biennial from the periphery and how the format of exhibition contributed to the creation of a new periphery within the wider peripheral art world. My thesis will look at the way in which the Havana Biennial interacts and responds to the city and its inhabitants, furthering my understanding of how the uninvited Cuban artists were integrated into the Biennial. The thesis will analyse the relationship between the invited and uninvited participants, placing this into a wider discussion of how the local fits into the global. This will be done through a comparative study of biennial discourse and mainstream media’s coverage of both groups of participants.

The thesis aims to bring the discussion of the peripheral art world to the centre. I will look at the relationship between the West and Cuba and the way its colonial past has shaped current cultural attitudes and trends. This will be done through an analysis of the influence of colonial models, (modes of exhibition), and institutions on the colonised and the resulting marginalisation of local artists in the more globalised and internationalised Havana Biennial. Even though Latin America is considered an emerging market and cultural entity, study around the region and especially Cuba remains limited.

My thesis will go beyond the current post-colonial and social art history methodological understandings of centres, peripheries and the marginalised in the art world. T.J Clark will be used to analyse age-old centre-periphery relations, seen in late 19th century avant-garde France and the creation of the ‘rejected Salon’.  I will also be using the writings of academics and art historians such as Edward Said, Gerardo Mosquera, Linda Nochlin and philosopher Homi K. Bhabha amongst others. My doctorate will build on this body of work by looking at the creation of a new periphery, within the existing broader periphery. I will argue that this was a result of the adoption of the biennial model, (seen in the Venice Biennale, created in 1895), a Western form of exhibition that necessitates a centre-periphery relationship.


  • BA Art History- Courtauld Institute of Art
  • MA Art History- Aestheticising Politics: The Globalisation of Contemporary Art, Professor Julian Stallabrass- Merit Thesis: The Havana Biennial: Changing Agendas- Distinction/Publication

Research interests

  • Contemporary art history
  • Latin American art history
  • Post- Colonial discourse
  • Cuban art history
  • Centre/ Periphery relations.

Recent publications

Other academic activity

  • Producer of Afghan artist and official translator of the 12th Havana Biennial.
  • Director of exhibition ‘The ISA Revolution’ to be opened in Havana in June 2016.
  • Director of the Cuban International Art Network (CIAN).
  • Working on Art Tours to Cuba with Cubaism.

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