From B to X. Making Art (History) since John Berger

December 15, 2017

The Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA), together with the Musée de l’Elysée and the University of Bern, are calling together an international symposium (Lausanne, October 11th – 12th, 2018) to explore the production of alternative, politically engaged discourses on art and their reception over the past 50 years. Entitled From B to X. Making Art (History) since John Berger, this international symposium will focus primarily on specific practices of image-making, whereby installation, comparison, and layout are studied as creative motors and epistemological processes.

What arises from the juxtaposition or interaction of images, often connected without a word? How does the medium of photography configure a particular vision of art and disseminate a particular version of its narrative? What role do film or television series play in the transmission, perception, and criticism of the visual arts? What is the specific impact of making or doing? How can we derive meaning from bodies, voices, and emotions in exhibition spaces? How do images arranged in a gallery tell a story? Bringing together theoretical and practical concerns, the discussion will take place in both the academic and museum territories, alternating between SIK-ISEA’s Antenne romande at the Université de Lausanne and the Musée de l’Elysée during installation.

More broadly, this conference is also the opportunity to discuss the future(s) of art history as a discipline, within the university and museum contexts. The title, inspired by Berger’s book From A to X. A Story in Letters (Brooklyn/London: Verso Books, 2008), offers a prospective incentive that is non-dogmatic: it asks how we move forward in a discipline that is often declared to be in crisis? How do the ever increasing actors in the field find common ground or diverge from one another, especially at a time when art schools in Switzerland are establishing PhD degrees? Far from claiming to be either exhaustive or prescriptive, this symposium is intended as an opportunity to assess the methods and scope of art history in Switzerland and further afield.

Call for papers