Colloque : « Visual Culture in Crisis » (York, 10-11 mai 2013)

Visual Culture in Crisis – Britain c.1800-Present, UK, May 10 – 11, 2013

Registration now open

Conference 10-11th May 2013, Bowland Auditorium, Humanities Research Centre, University of York

Keynotes: Professor Christopher Pinney (UCL), Dr Eric Stryker (Southern Methodist University), Dr Chad Elias (University of York) and Corinne Silva (Artist).

‘European mastery is always in crisis – and it is this same crisis that defines European modernity’ – Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.

The word ‘crisis’ is frequently invoked to assess Britain’s current place in the world: crises in finance, journalism, politics and geopolitics dominate the media, all of which see the term  sed both to reflect, and manipulate, a sense of uncertainty and confusion on personal, national, and global levels. Taking its cue from Hardt and Negri’s location of ‘crisis’ as central to European modernity, this conference seeks to explore how visual cultures from the 19th century to the present have simultaneously responded to – and emerged from – such successive crises. Crisis might signify avant-garde break-through and embrace of modernity. It might impel artistic breakdown or flight from modernity, anarchic celebration, or resistance in the form of protest. Crisis in visual culture could above all be emblematic of the contingent nature of personal and political identities. As both a product and a precipitant of the inter-state and inter-subjective networks that have emerged in conjunction with imperialism and economic globalisation, crisis can articulate a disharmony between metropole and colony, centre and periphery, state and individual, working constantly to disrupt the geographical, cultural and class boundaries of peoples and nations. This two-day conference, generously supported the British Art Research School at the University of York and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, aims to begin unpacking some of these issues.

Day 1: Friday 10th May 2013

1.15 – 1.30pm: Registration
1.30 – 1.40pm: Welcome and Introduction (Sean Willcock and Catherine Spencer)

Panel 1: Landscapes of Breakdown

1.40 – 2.00pm: Lynn Hilditch (Liverpool Hope University): ‘Surrealism in Crisis: An Analysis of Lee Miller’s Grim Glory Photographs of the London Blitz’
2.00 – 2.20pm: Ian Bamford (University of Ulster): ‘Sketching Suffering: the Illustrated London News and the Visual Representation of the Great Irish Potato Famine’
2.20 – 2.40pm: Emilia Terracciano (Courtauld Institute of Art): ‘Phantasmagoric Landscapes: Cecil Beaton and the Spectres of the 1943 Bengal Famine’
2.40 – 3.05pm: Discussion (Chair: Michael White)

3.05 – 3.25pm: Coffee

Panel 2: Between Exile and Inclusion

3.25 – 3.45pm: Greg Salter (University of East Anglia): ‘“We Set Up Our Own World”: Crisis and Kinship in the Art of Keith Vaughan in the 1950s’
3.45 – 4.05pm: Rachel Smith (University of York/Tate Britain): ‘St Ives 1938-60: Crisis and the Colony’
4.05 – 4.20pm: Discussion (Chair: Sarah Turner)
4.20 – 4.30pm: Comfort break
4.30 – 6.00pm: Eric Stryker (Southern Methodist University) Keynote and Discussion (Chair: Robert Sutton)
6.00 – 6.45pm: Wine reception

Day 2: Saturday 11th May 2013

9.45 – 9.55am: Registration
9.55 – 10.00am: Welcome and Introduction (Sean Willcock and Catherine Spencer)

Panel 3: Disrupt / Interrupt / Erupt

10.00 – 10.20am: Elizabeth Robles (University of Bristol): ‘Disruptive Restaging’
10.20 – 10.40am: Eva Bentcheva (School of Oriental and African Studies): ‘Performing Diaspora Struggles: Diaspora Experience as Performance Art in Kali by Sutapa Biswas’
10.40 – 11.00am: Konstantinos Stasinopoulos (University of York): ‘The Negotiating Table: Speech, War and Violence in the Performance Work of Mona Hatoum’
11.00 – 11.25am: Discussion (Chair: James Boaden)
11.25 – 11.45am: Coffee
11.45 – 1.15pm: Christopher Pinney (UCL) Keynote and Discussion (Chair: Sean Willcock)
1.15 – 2.00pm: Lunch

Panel 4: Unrest and Reform

2.00 – 2.20pm: Cicely Robinson (University of York): ‘National Anxieties in the Wake of War: The Foundation of the National Gallery, c. 1823-1845’
2.20 – 2.40pm: Jeong-yon Ha (University of Edinburgh): ‘The Old House by the Thames: The Thames Imagery as Response to the Capitalist Nation in Crisis, c. 1880-1900’
2.40 – 3.00pm: Andrew Witt (University College London): ‘Riots, Strikes and Mass Mobilization: A Contemporary Account of the “Conflict Image”‘
3.00 – 3.25pm: Discussion (Chair: Kate Nicholls)
3.25 – 3.45pm: Coffee break
3.45 – 4.45pm: Chad Elias (University of York) in discussion with artist Corinne Silva
4.45 – 5.15pm: Group discussion and closing comments (Chair: Catherine Spencer)
5.15- 6.00pm: Wine reception

For the full schedule and speaker abstracts, please visit the conference website at

Attendance is free but registration is required – in order to register for either both or one day of the conference please email the organisers Sean Willcock and Catherine Spencer at

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