Otherwise Engaged

Part One: Symposium

Five, by Lubaina Himid, 1991, acrylic on canvas. Two females sitting at table.

Five, by Lubaina Himid MBE, 1991, acrylic on canvas, 1.5x1.2m Collection of G. Pollock, permanent loan to Leeds Art Gallery

Otherwise Engaged

Legacies and Questions of Marginal and Mainstream Visual Arts Strategies

Otherwise Engaged is an international, predominantly post-graduate symposium. Saturday 3 December 2011, University of Leeds.

In 1995 Kobena Mercer published the first in his Annotating Art’s Histories edited series, Cosmopolitan Modernisms.  In his introduction, Mercer stated that the series would offer:

 ‘[A] fresh approach [to art history] by showing how a shared history of art and ideas was experienced differently around the globe….In a situation where the aspiration to be all inclusive has become the official watchword of institutional policy, has the very idea of ‘inclusion’ now become a double-edged sword?

In 2011, as an emerging group of artists, curators, art historians and academics enter the field of visual arts, this symposium seeks to investigate how we are to engage with the challenges of a shared and plural art history that Mercer, and so many others, speak of.  What is the meaning of ‘inclusion’ today, sixteen years after Mercer’s publication? The symposium hopes to explore the numerous ways in which issues of race, culture, class, sex and gender have been considered across the various arenas of visual art, and how this emerging generation of those operating in the visual arts engage with the existing challenges of the past, present and future.

Otherwise Engaged is a one-day, predominantly post-graduate, symposium considering the challenges of intervention, integration, separatism, confrontation, assimilation, ghettoisation and accommodation.  How have marginalised spaces and mainstream institutions engaged with these challenges?  We are interested in exploring the processes, relationships and pluralities of the various sites of the marginal and the mainstream.  What are the experiences and examples of specific interventions, theoretical strategic models, and tactical approaches from contemporary art practice and writing, culture, education and curating?

Otherwise Engaged is an interdisciplinary event that crosshatches experiences, perspectives and analyses from art history, fine art, cultural studies, museum and curatorial studies, feminist studies, gender studies, sociology and post/colonial studies. While the symposium is situated in contemporary Britain and the complexities of representation and identity internal to Britain, we strongly encourage the exploration of relationships with other sites, both geographically and generationally.

Old Mining Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT, on Saturday 3 December 2011.  Supported by University of Leeds LEAP Research Hub.


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