CFP: “Bad History,” an issue of KAPSULA Magazine. Submissions due: December 6, 2013


KAPSULA is a listserv dedicated to engaged and evaluative art criticism. Entirely digital, the publication explores forms appropriate for web documents and aims to advance online art publishing.


Exploring history in an entirely objective manner is, frankly, impossible. Artists engaging with the past remain firmly planted in the present, with their biases and blind spots inescapable. But while the impossibility of purging subjectivity has formed an ongoing problem for some, certain artists have used these slippery slopes as sources of inspiration and alterity, embracing what might otherwise be maligned as “bad history.” Think of Massacio toying with narrative time in the Brancacci Chapel’s Tribute Money, or the countless paintings that depict historical scenes with characters dressed in contemporary garb and surrounded by contemporary architecture.

This tendency towards anachronism and historical revision continues to emerge in contemporary artworks. However, theorist Hal Foster (in Return of the Real [1996]) notes a distinct shift in artistic engagement with history following the Postmodern turn:

“In order to extend aesthetic space, artists delved into historical time, and returned past models to the present in a way that opened new sites for work. The two axes were in tension, but it was a productive tension; ideally coordinated, the two moved forward together, with past and present in parallax. Today, as artists follow horizontal lines of working, the vertical lines sometimes appear to be lost.”

“This horizontal way of working demands that artists and critics be familiar not only with the structure of each culture well enough to map it, but also with its history well enough to narrate it… This move has rendered contemporary art dangerously political” (202).

We welcome proposals and papers that explore “Bad History” in relation to art, and the recent shifts it may have undergone. Potential questions and topics to explore could include (but are not limited to):

– Historical revision in contemporary art.

– Is playing with history in art always a matter of ethics? Is there a realm beyond ethics within the context of art?

– Does the historical depend upon the presentation of ‘artifacts’—does it rely on a tradition of museological display?

– Is the revisioning of historical events a decidedly minority-driven tactic?

– Does historical revision, and the rejection of belief in objective history, have emancipatory potential?

– Is, as Hal Foster argues, the move to a more “horizontal way of working” (i.e. artist’s understanding both “discursive breadth” and “historical depth”) a more “dangerously political” method?

– The co-existence of multiple “histories.” (E.g. Modernism and postmodernism occurring simultaneously.)

Electronic submissions (of final papers and more tentative proposals) will be accepted until:

December 6th, 2013,



If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Yoli Terziyska at