The Art of Scandal

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The History of Art Graduate Student Association at The Ohio State University
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Scandal has long played an essential role in the critical and historical reception of art. Sometimes intentional and at other times unwanted, scandal erupts at almost every significant juncture in the history of art. When an artist is found in the midst of a scandal, he/she will either be lauded as a prophet shaking a reluctant society, or as an opportunist acting out of self-promotion. Controversies are equally certain to arise at the points of contact between the world of art and political power structures. Whatever its particularities, artistic scandal is often instrumental in challenging and reformulating the boundaries of social, moral, and artistic acceptability.

The Keynote speaker for this conference will be a member of the Slovenian art group Irwin. Along with the rock group Laibach and the Scipion Nasice Sisters Theater Group, Irwin is a founding member of the larger artistic collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Irwin's art openly confronts the East-European past, deliberately conjuring the charged images and emblems of Austro-Hungarian, Nazi, and Soviet rule, but refusing to condemn these instances of the political subjugation of their native Slovenia. Mirroring the actions of their former oppressors, Irwin addresses the postmodern world according to their principle of "retro-avantgardism." Their method of being both retrograde and utopian has led them to being called by the philosopher Boris Groys, "More Total than Totalitarianism." Since its inception, Irwin has been a major presence in an emergent post-Soviet modernism, staging worldwide exhibitions and releasing provocative literature.

The History of Art Graduate Student Association at The Ohio State University is seeking submissions for "The Art of Scandal," which will be held May 14-15, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. This conference seeks to explore the mechanics and the ramifications of scandal in all of its diverse forms. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

Intentional artistic provocation
Works or artists scandalized for their politics
Controversial exhibitions
Various forms of hoaxing
Unscrupulous institutional censorship
Works that address a scandalous event
Contested art historical revisionism
Unpopular public commissions
Unethical or oppressive changes in museum policy
Divisive debates over of provenance

We welcome submissions from graduate students at all stages of their studies, working in any related field. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a CV to: by January 15, 2010. Any questions may also be sent to this address.