In the Name of Art
Investigation on the ambiguous status of generic artistic names from 1945 to now
Monday 30th May – Tuesday 31st May 2011
Université Paris I-Hicsa
At the INHA
Organized by Katia Schneller and Vanessa Théodoropoulou
"Abstract Expressionism," "Pop Art" "Minimal Art," "Conceptual Art," "Body Art," "Land Art," "Neo dada," "Nouveau Réalisme," "Neo-Expressionism," "Young British Artists," "Relational Aesthetics." This litany of labels is presented in the modern and contemporary art museums and syllabi, as the different "movements" that have dominated the artistic production of the second half of the 20th century. Despite their success in the contemporary art vulgate, the status of these terms remains uncertain, or even problematic.
If the specialists agree on the difficulty that occurs each time they attempt to define them, the artists that they are supposed to regroup, don't hesitate to reject them, as they consider that they reduce their work. While the historiography of these labels seems to imply the renewal or repetition of the so called "historical avant-garde” project, their ambiguous status (style, period, aesthetic project, label or pure marketing strategy?) participate in the profound mutation of the art system, of the way it functions (market, institution, critique) and of the nature of its creative intentions.
In parallel with the elaboration of these labels, a contiguous phenomenon has developed: a great number of configurations (groups, collectives, cooperatives, enterprises etc.), from the Situationist international and Fluxus, to Présence Panchounette, Group Material, Superflex, Temporary Services, The Yes Men, Société Réaliste, or even etoy.Corporation, has entered the artistic scene. Conversely to the labels mentioned above, their names imply an identity or some kind of shared intention, not necessarily related to the elaboration of a new aesthetic. If these configurations, as auto-determined collective identities, seem to integrate the political legacy of the avant-garde, they radically redefine it.
Instead of only acknowledging the paradoxical double legacy of the avant-gardist phenomenon, we would like to question it. What does the ambiguous nature of the labels that appeared in the second half of the 20th century reveal? What means the proliferation of "collectivities" adopting different forms of structure ? How do these phenomena allow us to reconsider the problematic relationship between modernism and avant-garde? By interrogating these different generic names, the aim of this symposium is to investigate the complicated relationships that artists maintain with notions of community and style, once intergraded in the historical avant-garde's project. The symposium will therefore be divided in two days : a first one dedicated to labels and a second one to groups.
Proposals of a 400 words maximum in French or English could address the following questions :
-Is the rejection of these labels related to the development of individualism ? And if this is the case, how can we understand it ? Is it the sign of a desire to reject the political aspect of the avant-garde ?
-Do these names designate periods, styles, or labels ? How can we understand the sliding from one function to another one ?
-How does a label succeed to establish itself over other rival labels ?
-What does the choice to submit one’s personal identity to a common identity mean ? What can we learn from the claim or the rejection of a generic name ?
-What are the strategies of communication and expression of these groups ? How do they distinguish themselves from the ones used by the historical avant-gardes ?
-What can this situation mean about the political positioning of artists within reality or the dominant symbolic order ? Which type of alternative orders do they try to produce ?
-How do groups redefine the notion of commitment in the artistic field ?
-How do these formations break or enlarge notions such as community or subjectivity ? How do they represent them or put them in practice?
Proposals along with a one-page Curriculum Vitae should be submitted before January 15, 2011 to Katia Schneller and Vanessa Theodoropoulou to the following address : firstname.lastname@example.org
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