Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings : Black Artists and Modernism in Europe after 1968

Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
07 Dec 2017 - 09 Dec 2017

View of Nil Yalter, C’est un dur métier que l’exil / Exile is a hard job, 1976/2015. Mixed media. Nil Yalter, 1973-2015, La Verrière, Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, Brussels. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis, 2015.

View of Nil Yalter, C’est un dur métier que l’exil / Exile is a hard job, 1976/2015. Mixed media. Nil Yalter, 1973-2015, La Verrière, Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, Brussels. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis, 2015.

Black Artists and Modernism and the Van Abbemuseum are pleased to announce the upcoming conference, Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings. The conference will take place from Thursday, December 7 to Saturday, December 9, 2017 at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL.

Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings seeks to open up new understandings of Conceptualism produced by artists based in Europe after the political and social upheavals of 1968. It adopts Luis Camnitzer, Jane Farver and Rachel Weiss’s definition of Conceptualism as a “wide array of works and practices which, in radically reducing the role of the art object, reimagined the possibilities vis-à-vis the social, political, and economic realities within which it was being made” (1999). Intersectionalism is associated with a feminist approach that has acknowledged differences across “universalist” feminism since its early stages. Developing internationally from the US context, it examines the interrelation of race, class, gender and sexuality, understanding power differentials as co-constituted and co-constitutive. In the UK, feminist art historians have negotiated these situated positions since the mid-1980s, through New Art History, Cultural Studies and Black feminism. While artists in the UK and US have coalesced in different ways around “Black,” the term has operated in Europe in distinct ways. How is it referred, used, negated, activated or constructed through the conceptual work of artists in Europe?

Shifting perspectives on black artists and modernism beyond British and transatlantic frames, the conference’s focus on Europe seeks to highlight the specificities and limits of discourses on “Blackness” and “Conceptualism” between neighbouring contexts. Where conceptual art is all too often situated as resistant to identity politics, the conference objectives are two-fold. Looking particularly at the practices of artists based, or with long-term connections to Europe, we aim to open up debates around intersectional readings of artists’ practices and artworks that shift the interpretative paradigm from the question of how they may be said to represent identity politics, to how they arguably produce identity politics as constituted by the work. Returning to the materiality of particular artworks and their conditions of display, interpretation and consumption, how might we re-read and re-frame these artworks beyond oppositional “either/or” conceptual or sociological contents, from both intersectional and international perspectives? Secondly, given the contingency of art history’s revisions on evermore situated perspectives, we ask how conceptualism per se might be re-thought and re-visioned through the very practices of artists?

The conference sessions will focus on works in public collections by Stanley Brouwn, David Medalla, Nil Yalter, and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, with a screening of Abonnenc’s 2012 work, An Italian Film (Africa Addio), a viewing and discussion of the exhibition Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective, and a performance by Patricia Kaersenhout of her work Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow (2014-ongoing).

Convenors: Nick Aikens, Dr Sophie Orlando and Dr susan pui san lok

Keynotes: Valerie Cassel Oliver; Hans D Christ and Iris Dressler

Speakers: Dr Juan Albarran, Dr Lotte Arndt, Dr Eva Bentcheva, Christiane Berndes, Prof Sonia Boyce, Dr Jennifer Burris, Laura Castagnini, Dr Alice Correia, Dr Sandra Delacourt, Dr David Dibosa, EC Feiss, Dr Alexandra Kokoli, Charl Landvreugd, Elisabeth Lebovici, Prof Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes, Dr susan pui san lok, Dr Sophie Orlando, Yu Wei.

The full programme, day and conference passes are available here.

“Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings” is a collaboration with Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, as part of the three-year AHRC-funded research project Black Artists and Modernism (BAM), led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in partnership with Middlesex University. The conference is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

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