Social Responsibility and Art since the 1960s: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Annual Art History Graduate Conference

  • Dates: Friday 22 May 2015
  • Time: 10.00am - 7.00pm
  • Location: University of Essex, Colchester campus

Keynote speaker


León Ferrari, Untitled (2001). Image courtesy of ESCALA

León Ferrari, Untitled (2001). Image courtesy of ESCALA. Artwork © León Ferrari. Image © ESCALA.

This conference seeks to explore artistic and scholarly approaches to social responsibility and the arts since the 1960s.

During the 1960s, social responsibility was a pivotal idea in political, social and artistic discussions. The decade was marked by social change.

The Civil Rights movement, second-wave feminism, decolonisation, and much civil unrest which culminated in the world-wide protests of May 1968, the largest of which occurred in France.

In the following decades movements, groups, and artists addressed social responsibility in their practice. This conference looks to address the following questions: Who is responsible for the content and reaction to art? The artist? The viewer? The sponsor?


Registration for the conference is free. To register, please use our Eventbrite page:


The conference takes place in room 4.722 (Senate Room), which is located in the Psychology building on Square 2, entrance 1W of our Colchester campus.

  • Programme

    10.00 - 10.30am - Registration and coffee

    10.30am - 12.00 noon - Session 1: Artists and Social Responsibility

    • Dr Giulia Lamoni (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) – ‘Objects/Resistance: Envisioning Responsibility in Cecilia Vicuña’s Work’
    • Christina Grevenbrock (University of Kiel) – ‘Teresa Margolles: Hidden Terror’
    • Neylan Bağcioğlu (University of Cambridge) – ‘Delegating (Community) Action: Stuart Brisley’s Peterlee Project’

    12.00 noon - 1.00pm - Lunch

    1.00 - 2.00pm - Workshop: Liberate Tate

    • Lecture performance by the art collective Liberate Tate, which aims to “free art from oil” with a primary focus on the art museum Tate ending its corporate sponsorship with BP.

    2.00 - 3.30pm - Session 2: The Sociopolitical and Art in Dialogue

    • Dr Kate Corder – ‘Questions of social responsibility concerning art practice in public places, gardens and walking trails’
    • Fiona Geuß (Freie Universität Berlin) – ‘The People’s Choice – Floating Dialogues: How Artists Can Create Publics through Conversation Formats’
    • Merlin Seller (University of East Anglia) – ‘Responsible Play: Videogames as Critical Social Projects’

    3.30 - 3.50pm - Coffee break

    3.50 - 5.20pm - Session 3: Questioning Social Responsibility

    • Délia Vékony (International Business School, Budapest) - ‘What Good Are the Arts? Social Responsibility and Contemporary Art’
    • Dr Sabine Grosser (University of Applied Science in Kiel) – ‘At the Turn of the Centuries: Re-considering the Responsibility of an Artist in a Postcolonial Buddhist Society’
    • Dr Stevphen Shukaitis (University of Essex) – ‘Social Responsibility Without the Social? Or, Why the Demands of Social Responsibility for the Arts is a Trap’

    5.20 - 6.20pm - Keynote address ‘Notes towards a Socially Irresponsible Art’

    6.30 - 7.00pm - Reception and private view

    Closing wine reception at Abject Subject exhibition at the University's Art Exchange gallery.

How to get here and accessibility

The conference takes place at our University's campus in Colchester. Colchester is an hour away from London by train. See our information pages for further details about how to get here and campus accessibility:


For further information about the conference including access to Colchester campus, please email


Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study

We are internationally recognised as a leading centre of postgraduate study in art history and curatorial studies, both at Masters and PhD level.

Curatorial Studies

Centre for Curatorial Studies

Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is a research and teaching unit based in our School that focuses on contemporary curatorial theory and practice and contemporary museology.



The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is a unique research and teaching resource giving our students the chance to engage with over 750 artworks from 1900 to the present.

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).