CFP: The Aesthetics of Social Equality: Avant-Garde, Populisms and the People (HSE-Moscow; May 10-11, 2018)

Angelina Lucento's picture

Call for Papers, Higher School of Economics, Moscow (May 10-11, 2018)
The Aesthetics of Social Equality: Avant-Garde, Populisms and the People

Deadline: February 15, 2018

Keynote Speakers
Sarah Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Yannis Stavrakakis, Professor of Political Theory, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

This symposium explores the social and historical interweaving of art and avant-garde aesthetics with universal demands for equality and the right of the “people”: the underclass, the underprivileged and the oppressed. Drawing on the technocratic rise of a current liberal anti-populist discourse in Europe and the USA that unilaterally discards appeals to the people as dangerous and irresponsible, whether coming from the left or from the right, this event explores the implications of artistic experiments that place discourses about emancipation, race and gender equality, the abolition of labour exploitation at center stage, while also advancing a contentious politics or dichotomous representations of social affairs. In the Western tradition of aesthetics, and especially in the writings of Clement Greenberg and Theodor Adorno, one can trace a certain disdain for artistic practices whose motives become too obvious, too moralistic or just too ‘easy’. Such practices seem to downgrade civil responsibility rather than enable it. The figure of the ‘philistine’, in Adorno’s work for instance, the uncivilized ‘other’ whose judgement relies on instinct rather than reflection, can be seen, according to this tradition, as the exact audience that populist art addresses. The current anti-populist discourse emerging in Europe and the world, which morally condemns the people as irrational and uneducated, often draws on such assumptions.

Rather than seeing populism as an evil category strictly separated from its ‘other’, this event will ask under which conditions populisms, and the rhetoric of intolerance and immediacy they harbour, can be thought as egalitarian and socially transformative practices.

We look for papers addressing the following themes:
Realism(s)
Socialist Art
Art and social engagement
Populism(s) in contemporary art
Populist culture
Art and precarity
Art and ethnography
The artist as producer
The artist as community worker
The role of the art object in radical aesthetics and transformative politics

Abstracts should be in English or Russian and no longer than 500 words. They should include a name, institutional affiliations, a short CV and contact details. Please submit you abstracts at artandthepeople2018@gmail.com by February 15, 2018.
Notifications date: February 25, 2018
Conference date: May 10-11, 2018

Keynote Speakers

Yannis Stavrakakis, Professor of Political Theory, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Stavrakakis’ research primarily focuses on contemporary political theory (with emphasis on psychoanalytic and poststructuralist approaches) and on the analysis of ideology and discourse in late modern societies (with emphasis on populism, environmentalism, nationalism and post‐democracy). He is the author of Lacan and the Political (Routledge, London & New York 1999) and The Lacanian Left (Edinburgh University Press/ SUNY Press, Edinburgh and Albany 2007) and co‐editor of Discourse Theory and Political Analysis (Manchester University Press, Manchester 2000), Lacan & Science (Karnac, London 2002), Aspects of Censorship in Greece (Nefeli, Athens 2008) and The Political in Contemporary Art (Ekkremes, Athens 2008). He has co-authored with Nikolas Sevastakis, Populism, anti-populism and crisis (Nefeli, Athens 2012). He is vice-president of the Hellenic Political Science Association and co-convener of the Populism Specialist Group of the British Political Studies Association. During the period 2014-15 he headed the research programme: POPULISMUS: Populist Discourse and Democracy.

Sarah Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Sarah Wilson is an art historian and curator whose interests extend from post-war and Cold War Europe and the USSR to contemporary global art. She was educated at the University of Oxford (BA English Literature) and at the Courtauld, where she took her MA and PhD degrees. She joined The Courtauld’s faculty in 1982. She was Head of the Modern and Contemporary Section at the Courtauld from 2005-Spring 2008 and has been Head of Diploma programmes during 2014-2015. In 2010-11, with Mellon Professor Boris Groys (New York University) Sarah Wilson initiated the MA course, ‘Global Conceptualism’, which links Anglo-American conceptual art and European lineages stemming from Mallarmé, Duchamp and structural linguistics, with conceptual art practices originating in Moscow or taken up beyond the ‘first’ world. She takes an active role in CCRAC, the Cambridge-Courtauld Russian Art Centre, with the contemporary exhibition and talks programme of Calvert 22 which reaches out to Russia and Eastern Europe, and with Pushkin House in London. From 2013 she expanded her ‘Global Conceptualism’ MA remit with an interest in modern and contemporary Asia. In 2014 she was appointed to the curatorial team of the 1st Asian Biennale (China-Guangzhou). Sarah’s major publications include : Paris, Capital of the Arts,1900-1968 (Royal Academy, 2002), a substantial livre–catalogue and the standard publication on the subject, and The Visual World of French Theory: Figurations. A second volume: The Visual World of French Theory II: interventions (in preparation) will challenge the ‘Figurations‘ volume, with an emphasis on conceptual art, performance and film.

This conference is organized by the Department of Media and the Department of History of Higher School of Economics, Moscow

Organizers
Angelina Lucento, Assistant Professor, Department of History, HSE
Panos Kompatsiaris, Assistant Professor, Department of Media, HSE