Tuesday May 28th 2013, 13.30-17.30, Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building
This event is free and open to all.
A workshop that will think about the way in which art works made or received outside of the validating institutions of contemporary art might be considered within the discipline of art history.
Invited Participants: Prof. Dawn Ades (University of Essex, Emeritus), Prof. Briony Fer (University College London), Prof. David Lomas (University of Manchester), Prof. Carol Mavor (University of Manchester), Prof. Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Prof. Mark Turner (Kings College, London).
Organised by Dr James Boaden (University of York)
This workshop begins from an enquiry into the nature of the discipline of the history of art – as it is manifested in art historical writing and exhibition making – it aims to test how far its methods are adequate for examining modern and contemporary art works which have been either produced or received (in whole or in part) outside of canonical circumstances. It aims to look at the methodologies used to look at artworks that were: produced by untrained artists (for example ‘folk’ artists or so-called ‘outsider’ artists); or artworks which were not created for exhibition (for example purely personal works, work made for religious ritual, work made as part of a therapeutic process); or in general art works for which there are no easy adequate means of contextualisation. The workshop will focus on objects which were intended (and have been conventionally understood) as ‘art works’ rather than craft or visual culture more broadly – it is hoped that the workshop will go some way to critiquing these terms, and thinking through their implications. Invited participants have been asked to discuss their own experience of writing about or exhibiting works that might at least partially fit this description and the problems such practices pose for the conventions of art historical scholarship and display.
This kind of discussion seems necessary in the light of much recent curatorial practice. For example, the press release issued by the 55th Venice Biennale suggests the central exhibition this year will blur “the line between professional artists and amateurs, outsiders and insiders” and includes a list of artists that takes in the medium Hilma af Klint, the occultist Alistair Crowley, and is titled ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’ after a visionary sculpture by the artist Marino Auriti. Recent large-scale exhibitions such as Manifesta 9 or Documenta 13, have also brought together contemporary art works alongside historical works, vernacular practices, ‘outsider art’, and a rich variety of other artefacts. Other examples of contemporary engagement with this kind of work can be seen in Rosemarie Trockel’s exhibition ‘A Cosmos’ (2012-13), which includes her own work juxtaposed with works made by artists who worked outside of the art world such as Morton Bartlett, Judith Scott and James Castle; or Robert Gober’s contribution to the 2012 Whitney Biennial, where he curated artwork by Forest Bess. The exceptional popularity of the exhibitions held by The Museum of Everything across Europe is also relevant to these discussions.
Participants will present their own experiences of writing about or curating work that might be considered under these terms for between ten and fifteen minutes, reflecting on the processes of research rather than a summing up of findings. The bulk of the workshop will consist of conversation surrounding issues raised by the presentations, where participants might find synergies or differences between their own methods and experiences and those of the other participants. It is hoped that together we might begin to look at some of the broad questions raised in regards to art history as a discipline by this sort of practice and in particular if there is a schism between art history and curatorial practice around this work.
Department of the History of Art
University of York, YO10 5DD, UK
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