Call for Papers
Call for Papers Extended Deadline: 16 February 2012
Photography and the Unrepresentable:
A History of Photographic (Mis)representation
Contributions are invited for the first Art History Graduate Conference to be held within the School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) at the University of Essex. Graduate students from MA or PhD programmes are invited to submit paper abstracts on the theme of Photography and the Unrepresentable. The conference is an opportunity to take part in the first interdisciplinary conference within the department and to meet other graduate students engaged in the study of photography, art theory and philosophy.
Photographic representation is historically partial, fragmented and suspected of having been manipulated. 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 work by Georges Didi-Huberman (Images in Spite of All, 2003; trans. 2007), Jean-Luc Nancy (The Ground of the Image, 2003; 2005) and Jacques Rancière (The Future of the Image, 2003; 2007) have each subjected art historical narratives of the photographic image to a critique of the notion of representation itself. We are particularly interested in extending such questions about the impossibility (or taboo) of representation to open a discussion on how the links between photography, trauma and historical memory can be re-examined.
As in the case of Didi-Huberman's reflections on the representation of the Holocaust in his Images in Spite of All, photography perhaps best functions as a discursive site in which either the idea of the unrepresentable emerges as self-evident or its fictitious nature simultaneously manifests, hides, and collapses. Questions arising from this include: 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 can this request be justified?
This conference aims not only to interrogate contradictions and arbitrariness inherent in the idea of the unrepresentable, but also to open up new perspectives on the relationship between photography and the unrepresentable in artistic, cultural and social practices today. Contributions might also focus on issues of censorship, the role of chance and the impact of digitalization as recurrent themes in a history of photographic (mis)representation.
We invite submissions from graduate students, both MA and PhD, from all disciplines, on topics that may include, but are not limited to:
- The unrepresentable and the unimaginable
- The aporia of representation: impossibility or interdiction?
- Photography and the representation of catastrophe
- Montage and historical imagination
- Can photography represent thought?
- Can digital images be linked to trauma in the same way that analogue (indexical) ones are?
- Photography and mourning: voice, memory and myth
- Representation and photographic truth
- Artists who take the photographic apparatus as the subject of their work (e.g., Marcel Duchamp, Gerhard Richter, Robert Smithson and Tacita Dean).
- Links between photographic authenticity and transparency in modernist architecture
Please send 300-word abstracts of 20 minute-papers accompanied by a short CV to email@example.com by 16 February 2012. Successful submissions will be notified as soon as the reviewing process is completed.
Selected conference proceedings will be published in a special issue of rebus, the department’s online journal of Art History and Theory.
Conference Organizing Committee:
Aline Guillermet (PhD candidate in Art History: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hugh Govan (PhD candidate in Art History: email@example.com)
Taisuke Edamura (PhD candidate in Art History: firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more information please contact the conference organisors: