Art(ist)s in Resistance, Nov. 6-8, 2019

deadline for submissions: 
May 5, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Le Mans and Angers

From abolitionist literature to antiwar painting, from documentary photography to committed filmmaking, the arts have been tools of resistance to dominant ideologies. Artistic practices provide people with a means of dissent in democratic and/or authoritarian societies. Under the cover of visual or poetic metaphors, artists imagine alternative realities that can be read as arts of resistance. The world has witnessed in the postwar era a proliferation of artistic trends, a constant re-evaluation of what constitutes a work of art, a multiplicity of experimentations and explorations, not to mention an ever-increasing diversity of media available to express the artist’s ideas. These changes have led artists and critics to question the very nature of contemporary works of art, the esthetic experiences that those works elicit as well as any political implications they might contain. One historical practice of “resistance” encouraged artists to work in forms that would transform the wider world by creating works that act as critiques of the cultural and advertising industries using everyday objects (including the “ready-made”, everyday objects that resist the traditional cubby-holing by the art world). The political and social ambitions of art(ist)s have given rise to a wide range of theoretical debates in the postmodern era. Arthur Danto, Jacques Rancière, Dominique Baqué, Guy Debord, Violaine Roussel, among others, have underlined the difficulties for artists to retain creative independence in capitalist societies, where the market value of their work may act as a deterrent to political audacity.

This conference aims to investigate various paths of resistance in the arts, promoting comparative approaches that may help us identify similar strategies and preoccupations in different countries. Among the questions the conference will address are: What makes a work of art political? What is the proper role of scholarship in relation to activist art? Do certain modes of audience receptivity/readership offer meaningful models of political resistance? Are individual acts of artistic or creative resistance relevant to large-scale social and political movements? How are movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo reflected in contemporary works of art? Are political works from earlier historical time periods relevant to contemporary political struggles? Given the desire by local artists to question the aesthetic and ethical values in various colonial political systems as well as to break away from the stultifying classicism and hegemony inherent in those systems, how might we understand artistic movements in Latin America and elsewhere? (for example, the Mexican Mural Movement, Brazilian modernism, the Cuban group Minorista, and the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa).

The conference organizers invite papers for 20-minute presentations on the arts as they foster, represent or otherwise intersect with political resistance. We welcome both papers that explore “political” works and those that consider the complex ways in which literature, film, music, and/or other kinds of artistic works might encourage models of resistance to oppressive social and political forces in addition to our habits of consumption and communication. Please send your abstract (about 250 words) and a short biography to the conference website by 5th May 2019. You will need to create an account before submitting your proposal.