CFP: Exhibiting Gender, Curating Conflict: Body Politics and Affective Objects in Art and Museums

University of Bristol, 6 June 2017

Keynote speaker: Professor Christine Sylvester, University of Connecticut

Workshop description

The gendered nature and power of public exhibitions has long sparked feminist interest and activism. National art galleries, history museums, and war memorials glorify statesmen, captains, and soldiers as the makers of war and history. Meanwhile, the same public exhibits represent women as passively grateful for these men’s desire, protection, and sacrifice. Women and the feminist movement have nonetheless often taken hold of art and exhibitions to disrupt the narrative that while men fight foreign men on the battlefield, women are kept safe and pacified at home. From the suffragettes to the Guerrilla Girls collective, artists, activists, and curators have denounced diverse forms of gender-based violence, and showcased alternative narratives of conflict and peace. As museums evolve to integrate digital technologies, popular culture, and interactive experiences, feminist enquiries remain essential to investigate the curation of conflict. How do increasingly global, digital, and commercial museums and galleries construct gender through the medium of the exhibit? And how is conflict – in the home, in the streets, on the battlefield – represented by curators and experienced by visitors? This workshop invites researchers, artists, and curators to interrogate museums and art as sites where common sense about gender, peace, and conflict is seamlessly reproduced and actively challenged. It also opens an exploration of exhibits’ power to affect and inspire feminist research. Empirically, exhibits and artefacts under study may be located anywhere in the world. We hope that cross-national perspectives can inform a joint reflection with local curators and artists on art and museums in Bristol, the UK, and beyond.

We seek contributions at various stages of development – work in progress very welcome – on the following topics, inter alia:

  • Feminism and women’s bodies in art/exhibition
  • Gender in the curation of violence and war
  • Intersectionality and representations of race, ethnicity, and imperial heritage
  • Curatorial performances in conversation with queer/feminist theory
  • Performance, embodiment, and sensation in exhibitions
  • The gender politics of affect and emotion at the museum
  • Materiality, spatiality, and technology in curatorial practices
  • Feminist political economy of art and exhibitions

General queries and abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to
Dr Audrey Reeves
and Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly by 1 May 2017.

While the workshop is free to attend, unfortunately we cannot provide funding for transport or accommodation.