Imaginaries of the Present: News Photography, Politics, and Poetics
22 and 23 October 2010/
Université du Québec à Montréal
Deadline: 1 May 2010
A production of the Équipe de recherche sur l'imaginaire contemporain, la littérature, les images et les nouvelles textualités (ERIC LINT) and Figura, centre de recherche sur le texte et l’imaginaire www.figura.uqam.ca
Photography is not a twenty-first-century imagery. Its technical, epistemological, and symbolic foundations belong, rather, to the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, photography continues to assert its contemporaneity by responding to present-day challenges, whether they are social, compassionate, aesthetic, or political. Photography stands out as an efficient imagery in terms of recording every details of history, significant or not. In fact, it fell to photography to produce the ultimate visual account of the twentieth century, some ten years ago, when the shelves of bookstores were weighed down with an unprecedented number of books full of photographs reputed to be the most famous of the twentieth century. The twentieth century will be memorable or it will not be – this was the implicit injunction behind the massive recourse to event-based photography. The twentieth century will in fact be remarkable – whence the obligatory presence of “masterpieces” of photojournalism, instant monuments exhibited as exemplary crystallizations of history, repeatedly honoured with awards and distinctions.
Even today, photography is accorded a memorial function seemingly rivalled by no other imagery. The news continues to supply multiple examples of this unalterable prerogative of photography. Whatever technological and media changes affect event-based imagery, whatever the response of contemporary societies to the events that affect them, photography remains the purveyor of icons of present times.
To what can this strong currency of photography be attributed? What are the conditions (media-based, political, mental) behind this preserved quality? To which imaginary of contemporaneity does photography contribute? What should the expression “news photograph” mean? How do mediatization procedures (selection, dissemination, repetition) and the monumentalization of press images (artification, exhibition, awarding of prizes) participate in the presentism of photography? What should we think of the persistence of the past – déjà-vu impressions, the reiteration of historical figures, the use of allegory and rhetoric, and so on – within press images?
These are the questions that this colloquium will set out to answer. The proposed papers, in French or English, may come from various disciplines (photography studies, art history, literary studies, aesthetics, communications, cultural studies, visual studies, etc.) and may deal with historical or current subjects of analysis from all geo-cultural origins. Here are some examples of themes and questions that could be explored:
• Historicity of press images
• Icons and allegorizations of events
• Political instrumentalizations of the news
• Ethical and aesthetic valorization of press images
• Temporalities of news images
• Imaginaries of recording and transmission
• Intermediality and inter-iconicity
• Figurative reconstruction and reiteration
Proposals for papers (300–500 words) must be received by 1 May 2010, accompanied by a brief CV specifying the candidate’s institutional affiliation. Please send to Vincent Lavoie, Art History Department, Université du Québec à Montréal: email@example.com. Those whose proposals are accepted will make a twenty-minute oral presentation, followed by a question period. These presentations may then be published in Cahiers Figura, which distributes works and essays linked to the main research axes of the Centre de recherche Figura.
Vincent Lavoie, Ph.D.
Département d'histoire de l'art
Case postale 8888, succursale Centre-Ville
(514) 987-3000, ext. 6199 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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