CFP: Contemporary Art and its Audiences: New Interactive Practices

From Kathryn Brown to H-ArtHist: 

Association of Art Historians Annual Conference 2011
31 March-2 April 2011, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom

This panel analyses the social and aesthetic implications of inviting audience members to participate in the production and display of contemporary art. Increasingly, viewers are asked to play roles that are inscribed in works of art, to engage physically with installations, to contribute to interactive displays, and to explore innovative gallery spaces. Such unprecedented levels of audience participation challenge not only the structural integrity of works of art, but also the ways in which viewers conceive of their relationship to the artist and to each other. By investigating artistic and curatorial practices that invite the viewer’s participation in the production and display of artworks, this session questions the social and epistemological issues that inform the nature of interactive audience experience. What kind of shared assumptions (between artist and audience and between audience members inter se) are required or desirable in order for such participation to be effective? Are invitations to participate in contemporary artworks embedded in the common social practices of particular communities or do they create new forms of community that transcend local boundaries? To what extent, if at all, does the invitation to participate in the production and/ or public display of an artwork presuppose, reinforce, or challenge the liberal principles of a democratic society? By analysing the ways in which members of the public participate (or refuse to participate) in contemporary artworks and their display, this session asks how new interactive practices both shape viewers and/or provoke resistance to works of art. The panel aims to consider a geographically diverse range of artworks and exhibition practices. Papers considering these issues are sought from the perspectives of artists, audiences, and curators.

If you would like to offer a paper for this session, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words by email to Dr Kathryn Brown (Tilburg University, Netherlands) at k.j.brown@uvt.nl. Submission deadline: 8th November, 2010.