CfP Art & Violence Now (University of Edinburgh 11.06.18)

Lucy Weir's picture
Call for Papers
June 11, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

Art & Violence Now examines manifestations, enactments and representations of violence in contemporary art against a global political and cultural backdrop in which terrorism, extremism, intolerance, sexual and other forms of violence appear endemic and inescapable. We welcome contributions drawing upon specific and broader notions of violence and harm, whether conceptual, theoretical, psychoanalytic and/or linguistic.

How does contemporary art address issues of violence? What role does violence play in mass popular culture? What forms does violence take today, and do we have an adequate critical vocabulary for theorizing contemporary forms of violence? How does violence put pressure on models of visual experience, on forms of subjecthood, and collectivity? How do online and digital media frame violence, and are these media inherently more violent than other, older forms?

Whether engaging Slavoj Zizek’s Lacanian reformulation of the principle of violence as the foundation of symbolization and language, or Adriana Cavarero’s feminist phenomenology of violence in terms of ‘horrorism’, or directly reappraising earlier avant-garde theories, such as Georges Bataille’s analysis of the sacred function of violence, or Simone Weil’s theorization of ‘force’, we invite a wide range of theoretical perspectives, in exploring the above and other questions. Topics may include but are not limited to: temporalities of trauma and questions of immediacy and mediation; questions of scale, as described by the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro’ of violence and aesthetic form; how art responds, on the one hand, to the violence at arms-length of drone warfare, or refugee camps and prisons located off the mainland, and on the other, to the intimate structures of systemic as well as interpersonal violence in everyday life. Hate-speech online, and the snowballing, autonomous character of social media mob violence, as highlighted for example by Angela Nagle in Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right (2017), foreground the ways in which our technologies shape new forms of violent collectivity, and call into question the continuing viability of violence, trauma and shock as part of our critical vocabularies; once used by the historic avant-gardes to signal theoretical transgression, challenge and subversion. In the end, perhaps the question this conference asks most deeply is, does violence itself have a history? And is the 'now' of art and violence today distinguishable from other moments through an examination of its representation in performance, traditional media, social media, digital etc.? 

Academic and/or practice-based contributions on contemporary art and violence are welcomed from any discipline. Proposals of around 250 words (with or without images) should be sent to and by the deadline of 19 March 2018.

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