Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings - Black Artists and Modernism in Europe after 1968

Nil Yalter, C’est un dur métier que l’exil / Exile is a hard job, 1976/2015, exhibition view “Nil Yalter, 1973-2015”, La Verrière, Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, Bruxelles. Photograph by Isabelle Arthuis (2015). Mixed Media

Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings Black Artists and Modernism in Europe after 1968

07/12/2017 - 09/12/2017
Presented by Black Artists & Modernism in collaboration with Van Abbemuseum

Convenors: Nick Aikens, Dr Sophie Orlando and Dr susan pui san lok 
Location: Van Abbemuseum 

Keynotes: Valerie Cassel Oliver; Hans D Christ and Iris Dressler

Speakers: Dr Juan Albarran, Dr Lotte Arndt, Dr Eva Bentcheva, Christiane Berndes, Prof Sonia Boyce, Dr Jennifer Burris, Laura Castagnini, Dr Alice Correia, Dr Sandra Delacourt, Dr David Dibosa, EC Feiss, Dr Alexandra Kokoli, Charl Landvreugd, Elisabeth Lebovici, Prof Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes, Dr susan pui san lok, Dr Sophie Orlando, Yu Wei. 

Black Artists & Modernism and the Van Abbemuseum are pleased to announce the upcoming conference, Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings. The conference will take place from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th December 2017 at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL. 

Conceptualism – Intersectional Readings, International Framings seeks to open up new understandings of Conceptualism produced by artists based in Europe after the political and social upheavals of 1968. It adopts Luis Camnitzer, Jane Farver and Rachel Weiss’s definition of Conceptualism as a “wide array of works and practices which, in radically reducing the role of the art object, reimagined the possibilities vis-à-vis the social, political, and economic realities within which it was being made” (1999). Intersectionalism is associated with a feminist approach that has acknowledged differences across ‘universalist’ feminism since its early stages. Developing internationally from the US context, it examines the interrelation of race, class, gender and sexuality, understanding power differentials as co-constituted and co-constitutive (Hill Collins, 1990).  In the UK, feminist art historians have negotiated these situated positions since the mid-1980s, through New Art History, Cultural Studies and Black feminism (Pollock, Robinson, Deepwell, Tawadros). While artists in the UK and US have coalesced in different ways around ‘Black’, the term has operated in Europe in distinct ways. How is it refered, used, negated, activated or constructed through the conceptual work of artists in Europe?

Shifting perspectives on black artists and modernism beyond British and transatlantic frames, the conference’s focus on Europe seeks to highlight the specificities and limits of discourses on "Blackness" and "Conceptualism" between neighbouring contexts. Where conceptual art is all too often situated as resistant to identity politics, the conference objectives are two-fold. Looking particularly at the practices of artists based, or with long-term connections to Europe, we aim to open up debates around intersectional readings of artists’ practices and artworks that shift the interpretative paradigm from the question of how they may be said to represent identity politics, to how they arguably produce identity politics as constituted by the work. Returning to the materiality of particular artworks and their conditions of display, interpretation and consumption, how might we re-read and re-frame these artworks beyond oppositional "either/or" conceptual or sociological contents, from both intersectional and international perspectives? Secondly, given the contingency of art history’s revisions on evermore situated  perspectives, we ask how conceptualism per se might be re-thought and re-visioned through the very practices of artists?

The conference sessions will focus on works in public collections by Stanley Brouwn, David Medalla, Nil Yalter, and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, with a screening of Abonnenc’s 2012 work, An Italian Film (Africa Addio), a viewing and discussion of the exhibition Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective, and a performance by Patricia Kaersenhout of her work Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow (2014-ongoing).

Conceptualism - Intersectional Readings, International Framings is a collaboration with Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, as part of the three-year AHRC-funded research project Black Artists and Modernism (BAM), led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in partnership with Middlesex University. The conference is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.



DAY ONE (Evening)

19.00 Welcome (Charles Esche)
           Keynote – Hans D.Christ and Iris Dressler
           Q&A moderated by Charles Esche
20.30 Dinner 


9.40 Welcome and Intro (Nick Aikens, susan pui san lok, Sophie Orlando)
10.00 Session I: Conceptualism and Intersectional Readings
Chaired by Annie Fletcher
● Alexandra Kokoli, ‘Read My QR: Quilla Constance and the Conceptualist Promise of Intelligibility’
● Elisabeth Lebovici ‘The Death of the Author in the Age of the Death of the Author’
● susan pui san lok, 'Found and Lost - A Genealogy of Waste? Shimizu, Takahashi, and Phaophanit/Oboussier'
11.45 BREAK
12.00 Session II: Nil Yalter
Chaired by Sarah Wilson
● Dr Fabienne Dumont, ‘Is Nil Yalter’s work compatible with Black Conceptualism?
An analysis based on the FRAC Lorraine collection’
● Sumesh Sharma, ‘The idea of India: a non-national narration on Black Conceptualism
- Nil Yalter and Judy Blum Reddy’
● Laura Castagnini, ‘Feminist and/or conceptual? Reading the socio-political in Nil Yalter’s Temporary Dwellings (1974-7) and Women at Work, Women at Home (1981)’
13.30 LUNCH [Van Abbe Cafe]
Screening of Stanley Brouwn, 1989, Steps, 40’ 15” [Auditorium]
14.30 Session III: ‘How to talk about the work?’
Chaired by David Dibosa
Screening of excerpt of Stanley Brouwn, 1989, Steps, 40’ 15”, followed by a discussion with Sophie Orlando, E C Feiss and Charl Landvreugd
15.30 BREAK
15:45 Session V: David Medalla
Chaired by Nick Aiken
● David Dibosa, ‘Ambivalent Thresholds: David Medalla’s Conceptualism and Queer British Art’
● Eva Bentcheva ‘Conceptualism-Scepticism and Creative Cross-Pollinations in the work of David Medalla, 1969-72’
● Sonia Boyce, ‘Dearly Beloved: transitory relations and the queering of “women’s work” in David Medalla’s A Stitch in Time (1967-1972)’
17.00 BREAK
17.15 Plenary (Nick Aikens, susan pui san lok, Sophie Orlando)
17.45 Screening Matthieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, 2012, An Italian Film (Africa Addio), 25’
19.00 DINNER


09.45 Welcome back (Nick Aikens)
10.00 Keynote – Valerie Cassel Oliver, ‘Expanding Consciousness: In the Wake of Conceptualism’
Q&A moderated by Sonia Boyce
11.00 BREAK
11.15 Session IV: Conceptualism and International Framings
Chaired by Hammad Nasar
● Alice Correia, ‘Conceptual Photography and the Articulation of South-Asian Identities in the 1980s’
● Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, ‘Conceptualisms and Liberation Theology behind the Iron Curtain’
● Juan Albarran, ‘Re-positioning Spanish Conceptualism’
● Yu Wei, ‘The Conceptualist projects of Li Yuan-chia and Rasheed Araeen from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s’
13.00 LUNCH [Van Abbe Café]
13.45 Rasheed Araeen Exhibition tour with Nick Aikens [Van Abbe, Old Building]
14.30 Works on Display Breakout discussions around various works
15.30 Session VI: Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Chaired by Sophie Orlando
● Sandra Delacourt, ‘Back in Flow: Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s Inanimate Ancestors make the Canonical Minimalists do the Twist’
● Jennifer Burris, ‘Fragments and Forewords: Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’
● Lotte Arndt, ‘Fissuring the Erasures of Historical Violence’
17.00 Performance Patricia Kaersenhout (2014-) Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow
17.30 Plenary (Nick Aikens, susan pui san lok, Sophie Orlando)
18.30 END

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