Uniwersytet WrocławskiInstytut Historii Sztuki Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
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Konferencje 2012

Politics of Erasure. Memory, Representation, Tyranny and Ethos.

The international conference

Politics of Erasure. Memory, Representation, Tyranny and Ethos.

will be held place in the Institute of Art History, Wroclaw (pronounced: Wrots-love), Szewska Street 36, Poland on 17-18th of October 2012

Politics of Erasure. Memory, Representation, Tyranny and Ethos

WWW: opposite.uni.wroc.pl

it offers an opportunity for scholars, art and art history students, artists and curators to meet and exchange ideas on contemporary intentional erasure strategies in art.

Politicians used to make people disappear from photographs, erasing those who lost official favor in a necessary ritual of cleansing and removing undesirables. Such erasures were committed elsewhere, not only under dictatorships. There were not only forgeries of history - because as we know history is written by the winners - but also manipulations of memory, canceling not only any trace of events or persons but also making us change our recollections of our own experiences. More interesting, however, is wiping out facts in the light of proper knowledge, by means of allegedly scientific or elevated ideological methods and not necessarily as a ubiquitous companion of crime, violence or falsification. Mere stereotypes, not weapons but simplified and standardized conceptions about women removed the works of women artists from prestigious art museums. The point of departure for a reassessment of the politics of erasure could be an analysis of the famous Erased de Kooning (1953) by Robert Rauschenberg and this artist's ambivalent position as both patricide and admirer of the previous generation of artists. But we can point out many other renowned erasures; by omitting Madonna-like images of maternity, Many Kelly's Post-Partum Document fostered images of women with a different, secular and pleasure-giving language of experiencing motherhood; the challenging attempts of John Baldessari to do artless art posed questions on the point of following authority's instructions; Chris Ofili's unsettling The Upper Room invalides anthropocentric concepts of the world; the works by Maurizio Cattelan hung up randomly on strings during the artist's last retrospective in the Guggenheim throws ideas of coherence and consistency into an abyss. We would like to trace a politics of erasure: was it just a ruthless fight for power, treating antagonists as enemies or a desire to expand our field of perception and negotiate visibility? Or maybe, the politics of erasure is rather a constant move towards expanding our imagination, a way of not submitting to a terror of visibility in favor of activating intuition and memory? Was Georges Didi-Huberman right in conceiving the tyranny of the Visible and the tyranny of the Idea as two sides of the same coin? Maybe the transitional and ambiguous Erased de Kooning, created in a long process should not be venerated as a commercial product -a work of art but should be conceived only as a trace of it. Because what was really important was the long performance of erasing, a meditation on cultural legacy and the space left for the next generations of artists?
Could then a technique of erasing be a support to the rituals of popular belief and ruthless purges or could it rather be a chance to experience the real world without mediation of clichés conviction?

There will be the following four sections of debates: memory, representation, tyranny and ethos:

  1. Memory, damnatio memoriae, oblivion as condemnation to death, mnemotechnical systems; art as a space for resurrection and/or relief
  2. Representation, selection and fight for the reassessment of representation as administering justice; when erasure means heavy repressions and the true ordeal
  3. Tyranny of the visible and the tyranny of the idea. Is it possible to evade a trap of quiddity (absolute knowledge or seeing) possible?
  4. Ethos of removing, impoverishment. Different and radical ways of deprivation: removing the artist's hand from art practice, the artist's ego, signature style, originality, responsibility, aura, satisfaction…

Abstracts (circa 300 words) should be submitted to wrotslove2012@gmail.com, not later than June, 30, 2012. There is no registration fee nor any other payment.

Organising committee:
Anna Markowska, Ph.D, prof. of Wroclaw University (anna.markowska@gmail.com)
Malgorzata Micula, M.A.(m.micula@googlemail.com)