Art Out Of Time

Symposium on June 26 and 27, 2014 | University of Oxford

Art Out Of Time invites academics, curators and artists to challenge periodization anxiety apparent in the recent trend for inviting contemporary artists into museums to create interventions in early modern displays; or for juxtaposing medieval and modern art in current publications by Alexander Nagel and Amy Powell, who are suggesting that art does not belong in the period in which it is produced but is very much part of our present world. This symposium starts from questions as to whether distinctions between pre-, early-, and post- modern are disciplinary fictions, what exactly is gained and what is lost in this dialogue—or clash—between old and new objects, and if museums perhaps want to get rid of a ‘stuffy’ reputation to take on some of the lustre and prestige of contemporary art. Speakers include Whitney Davis, Karen Lang, Tamar Garb, Amy Powell, Elizabeth Price, and Alexander Sturgis.

We invite abstracts for presentations in one of the four workshops organized around specific themes (see below). Selected papers will be included in the conference publication.

Please send a 300 word abstract, a short CV, and an indication in which workshop you would like to participate to Deadline: April 30, 2014.

Workshop 1: Making/Unmaking

What happens when contemporary artists use, or abuse, art objects from the past? This workshop seeks to explore these coagulations of ‘past’ and ‘present’ by considering various examples of this practice, ranging from reinvigorating acts of curatorship, such as Grayson Perry’s major exhibition The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum, to the Chapman Brothers’ destructive repainting of Goya’s etchings.

Workshop 2: Re-Thinking Historical Time

This workshop explores challenges posed to modernist historicism by concepts of time and history, such as anachronisms, longue durees and other non-linear models from philosophy, physical science and (fantasy-)fiction. It invites theoretical investigations from various disciplinary perspectives as well as presentations that fold time between different periods. The session particularly considers the ways in which art objects themselves can contribute to theoretical thinking about time and history.

Workshop 3: Alternative Temporalities

How do non-western conceptions of time complicate and problematise classical periodisation and the modernist narratives which underpin them? This workshop invites researchers from a variety of disciplines to consider a range of art historical objects from diverse geographical perspectives. From non-linear understandings of time in Aboriginal culture to Zen (Chan) Buddhism’s integration of time and space, it asks how much our understanding of time is culturally appropriated and how a wider consideration of these ‘alternative temporalities’ can in turn reframe geographical and historical boundaries.

Workshop 4: Neo-Installation

Should neo-installations be understood as institutional critique, celebration, or crisis? Do they have a capacity to disrupt existing art historical chronologies or re-inscribe the canons of postwar European practice? And can this phenomenon be related to questions of authenticity? This workshop will address issues posed by the recent interest in recreating historical exhibitions that transgresses the time-bound and site-specific nature of the originals.

Art Out Of Time is organised by the Institute for Visual Research which brings together scholars, artists, curators from across the Oxford communities and beyond to discuss topical issues in the field of visual culture. Its steering board includes members from the History of Art Department, the History Faculty, Classics, the Ruskin School of Art, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and Modern Art Oxford.