Inspired by the no title theme of the conference, this session explores another practice of labelling artworks: The phrase “Mixed Media” is used to describe artworks, in most cases abstract paintings, installations, or performances, that either use a variety of materials explicitly stated on the label or, in contrast, their material foundation is not specified at all. In both cases, the relation between the materials used and the inherent meaning of the artwork is a distant and/or even displaced one.
This session aims to discuss the relevance of materiality in art history and visual studies, where materiality is hardly ever regarded as an agent of producing meaning. Quite the contrary, the practice of an artist or a curator is considered to be material only to the extent that it is composed of materials structured to obtain effects. Matter is acknowledged as that of which an artwork is being made, but the role the material make-up of the art work plays beyond creating a visual effect is rarely addressed. Theoretical accounts in the tradition of historical materialism reduce the artwork to a commodity, a perspective that equally suppresses the artwork’s status as an object of material culture. Thus, materiality is almost never approached in scholarship as an element that informs aesthetic experience to the extent that it leads conceptual thinking in art.
For this session, we invite papers that explore the transformative function and participatory role of materiality in the processes of producing and interpreting art.
Papers might address, but are by no means restricted to the following issues:
- Matter as agent within artistic processes
- Materiality and medium specificity
- Materiality and participation in artistic practices
- Materiality after dematerialization
- Materiality and digitization
- Form/Matter divide in modernist criticism
- Material agency and politics of display
- Curating materiality
We welcome contributions from the fields of art history, anthropology, visual culture, and museum studies.