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Call for Papers: Asia through Exhibition Histories

06 nov 2017
Public talk
Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London, London.

Afterall is uniting with Asia Art Archive, the Paul Mellon Centre and Tate Research Centre: Asiato host a session at the forthcoming annual conference for the UK’s Association for Art History (AAH). Hosted by the Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London, this event will run 5 to 7 April 2018.

Film Pageant, 2000, painted banner, oil on canvas, 305 x 1220 cm, Balkrishna Art. Exhibition installation shot: ‘Century City’ (Tate Modern, 2001) © Tate photography

Asia through Exhibition Histories

What does it mean to practise exhibition histories rather than art history? How are distinct disciplines drawn on, alongside or in contrast to art history when the focus lies on art gaining its public moment through the lens of ‘Asia’ (or ‘East Asia’, ’Southeast Asia’, ‘South Asia’, ‘Central Asia’, etc.)? This session invites reflection on the methodological issues and theoretical implications of both exhibiting ‘Asia’ and of analysing such past shows now.

While regional showcase exhibitions – presented both in Asia and elsewhere across the globe – are an obvious topic for appraisal in this context, we also welcome papers considering initiatives that have not explicitly taken on that role but have instead emerged over time as regionally influential. To take two examples from the 1990s, ‘Cities on the Move’ would be one obvious case-study, while ‘Chiang Mai Social Installation’ might be significant in a different manner.

We will prioritise analysis of art made and shown in the last 75 years – however, our understanding of what constitutes an exhibition is broad and diverse, to include any event of becoming-public for art. We encourage unconventional anchors for critical attention as well as the rethinking of more familiar examples – and indeed a case-studies model need not be adopted, with more purely theoretical, geopolitical, sociological, curatorial and artistic contributions anticipated.

Broad themes for presentation may include, but are not limited to:
– art history and the exhibition-form in or concerning Asia;
– the critical role to be played by performance, literary or other cultural studies;
– ‘landmark’ shows in the history of Asian art and challenges to exhibition-based canon formation and to art history in the singular;
– self-organised and institutional public initiatives;
–nationalism, regionalism and transnationalism in Asian exhibitionary practice;
– and interdisciplinary and trandisciplinarity in exhibition histories with a focus on Asia.

In this session, we seek to question the stationary perspective and centre/periphery binary implied by ‘looking out’, encouraging debate of past art exhibitions as a way to think about more mobile and contingent histories that also prompt us to look both inwards and sideways. In other words, we call for discussion of exhibition histories that encourage looking in multiple directions.

The call for papers follows and responses should be addressed to Lucy Steeds, l.steeds[at], arriving by midnight (GMT) on Monday 6 November 2017.

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper, also your name and institutional affiliation (if any). We would also appreciate a biographical paragraph. Please make sure your title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because this will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.

Please note that AAH membership is required for participation and/or attendance (more on the conference here and on membership here).