Photography and the Unrepresentable
A History of Photographic (Mis)representation
Art History Graduate Conference
Tuesday 15 May 2012, 9:30 - 18:00
4.722 (Senate Room, Floor 4, Psychology Department Building, Square 1 Entrance 1W)
University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory & History (CentreCATH)
Professor of Social & Critical Histories of Art, School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies
University of Leeds
The School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) at the University of Essex is pleased to announce that it will be holding the first Art History Graduate Conference since its inauguration in October 2011. Under the theme of "Photography and the Unrepresentable," the conference aims to open up new perspectives on the complex relationship between these two concepts in artistic, cultural and social practices.
Photographic representation is commonly viewed as partial and fragmented. In today's extreme overflow of images photography increasingly emerges as formally deceptive and ideologically manipulative in the ways in which it serves the construction, circulation, and validation of chosen discourses (e.g. colonialism, social violence, and scientific truth).
Image: © Taisuke Edamura, 2012
Further challenges to the notion of photographic representation lie in recent history: after World War II, the ethical implications of representation became a primary concern, while the very possibility of representation of traumatic events was questioned by theorists and artists alike.
More recently, writings by Georges Didi-Huberman, Jacques Rancière, and Jean-Luc Nancy have sought to question the impossibility (or taboo) of representation, opening a discussion on how the links between photography, trauma and historical memory can be re-examined.
Photography perhaps best functions as a discursive site in which either the unrepresentable emerges as self-evident or its fictitious nature simultaneously manifests, hides, and collapses. In the light of this hypothesis, the conference intends to address the following questions:
What does the notion of the unrepresentable do to assumptions of photographic truth? What might the unrepresentable look like? Is there a representational impossibility specific to photography? When photography is requested to perform "adequate representation," how and in what context does the request become justifiable? How do today's image-making technologies affect the understanding of the unrepresentable?
The conference is being organised by Aline Guillermet, Hugh Govan and Taisuke Edamura, all current PhD candidates in Art History within the School of Philosophy and Art History.
Photography and the Unrepresentable - A History of Photographic (Mis)Representation is funded by the School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) at the University of Essex and Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. The conference organisers would also like to thank Art Exchange (Arts on 5) and all the other individuals who have so generously supported the event.
For more information please contact the conference organisers:
Photography and the Unrepresentable - A History of Photographic (Mis)Representation is funded by the School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) at the University of Essex and Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. The conference organizers would also like to thank Art Exchange (Arts on 5) and all other individuals who have so generously supported the event.