Modernist Experimentation and Photographic (Anti) Portraiture
Call for papers for proposed panel at the Modernist Studies Association conference, Rice University, Houston (October 12-16, 2001).
This prospective panel seeks papers that explore modernist photographic portraits, particularly those that are constructed self-reflexively, that experiment with the possibilities of the medium, and that begin to experiment with, distort, or eliminate representations of human likeness. Papers should situate images, figures, practices, and theories in both historic and discursive contexts, and should attempt to speculate about photography’s particular role within modernism and modernity.
Since this panel is not organized around schools of modern photography (Bauhaus, Surrealism, Dadaism, American Pictorialism) but the photographic portrait as a genre, papers might examine images produced by the following figures: Ilse Bing, Alvin Langdon Coburn (his vortographs of Ezra Pound might be pertinent), Claude Cahun, F. Holland Day, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Florence Henri, Gertrude Kasebier, Andre Kertesz, Lee Miller, Dora Maar, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Alfred Steiglitz, and Clarence White.(though this list is by no means exhaustive)
Papers might explore the following themes and questions:
*Photography is often theorized as an indexical practice (most prominently by Roland Barthes and Rosalind Krauss); do modernist portrait photographs provide any new evidence of a modernist conception of the subject’s physical actuality or nature?
*Since portraiture and biography generically intersect, what can these portraits tell us about modernist biographical and autobiographical practice and the construction of modernist identity? (or vice-versa) Can modernist portrait photographs contribute to theorizations of modernist life-writing?
*What do modernist photographic portraits reveal about modernist conceptions of celebrity, community, family, and memory?
*Since photography was described and theorized as a "The Pencil of Nature" by Henry Fox Talbot, the author of the first photographically illustrated book, what kind of light does the modernist portrait shed on coincident literary practices, particularly those that dissolve and distort the intact individual subject or render the subject passive? (Mediumistic or automatic writing for example)
*What can modernist photographic portraits reveal about the fluidity and/or fixity of raced and gendered positions, the space of imaginative invention between the subject and the image, intersubjectivity, and modernist collaboraton?
Please send 300 word abstracts and a brief biographical statement to the following e-mail address by May 12th. (The panel proposal deadline is May 30th) email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org All submissions will be considered. Questions and inquiries welcome.
200 Willoughby Ave.
Brooklyn, New York
11201 (718)645-5381 Email: email@example.com
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