Session summaries

Post democratic culture and culture in Post democracy

1 — Fredrik Krohn Andersson — Jeff Werner —

Characterizations of that we have entered a new era abound. Colin Crouch and others have suggested that the current circumstances could be described through the concept of Post-democracy, which is associated with neoliberal rationalities and modes of governing. The session raises question such as: How is post-democracy manifested and culturally materialised? Is it possible or meaningful to discuss art and culture as expressions as well as indexes of post-democracy or as forms of counter acts and resistance?

Art and Design in Translation: The circulation of objects, people and approaches

2 — Dr Shona Kallestrup — Dr Charlotte Ashby —

Material objects, techniques and approaches are produced within particular contexts. This session is concerned with what happens to the meaning of these objects and practices when they are translated or transported to other contexts. How do those aspects considered ‘Nordic’ or 'foreign' make the transition across geographic boundaries? What impact do they have on the new contexts in which they find themselves, and how are they themselves refashioned? How is original meaning affected or reinterpreted, and what remains stable?

A Farewell to Critique? Reconsidering Critique as Art Historical Method

3 — Sara Callahan — Anna-Maria Hällgren — Charlotta Krispinsson

Since the advent of so-called New Art History, critique has been an omnipresent as well as welcomed part of the discipline. But what, exactly, are we doing while engaging in critique? What is the cost of habitually “reading against the grain”? Of continually deconstructing, denaturalizing and demystifying the world as we know it? What could we do otherwise? The aim of this session is to invite a discussion on critique in art history.


4 — Louise Garrett — Cecilia Canziani —

‘Hospitality’ has recently emerged in art and curatorial discourse as a way of addressing the paradoxically open generosity and exclusionary closure that condition every curated encounter between configurations of hosts and guests. Derrida addresses the categorical imperative of unconditional hospitality as an impossibility that is nevertheless crucial to the orientation of the laws of conditional hospitality – a site of particularly urgent scrutiny in relation to the geopolitics of the current migrant situation. This session critically addresses ‘hospitality’ as a proposition within art and curatorial histories, theories, spaces and practices.

Medieval Nordic Art and the Un-nameable

5 — Elina Gertsman — Elina Räsänen —

Medieval art is readily associated with the nameable and categorizable. Easily defined iconographic themes; basic architectural elements; images that lend themselves to clear periodization — all are seen as inescapable tropes that define the visual culture of the Middle Ages. But such ostensible clarity, of image and of nomenclature, is nothing but a myth: medieval art thrives on the undefined and the fluid, the hybrid and the unstable. We invite papers that address the un-nameable in medieval Nordic art that cannot be taxonomized.

Queer Art, Artists and Identity: Nordic and Global Contexts

6 — Dr. Magnús Gestsson — —

This session focuses on the work of queer artists, their art and identity in Nordic and global art worlds. It examines the way in which cultural value of art expressing queer issues is established and conceivably lost due to queer-phobia and institutional indifference. The session also looks at gender roles and how trans and non-binary identity is expressed in the work of queer artists both white and of colour and possibly censored by public and institutionalised racism and queer phobia.

Futures from the Past? Nordic Exhibition Histories

7 — Anne Gregersen — Kristian Handberg — Michael Kjær

While exhibition histories flourish as an international trend, there is still a lack of research concerning Nordic exhibitions and how they influenced and shaped the understanding of the past as well as the contemporary. Which exhibitions stand out as important today and how do we even approach the exhibitions of the past? This session will discuss and consider how the past, the present, and even the future have been produced via the medium of the exhibition in a Nordic context.

Mixed Media

8 — Dr. Wiebke Gronemeyer — Prof. Dr. Isabel Wünsche —

This session addresses the relevance of materiality in art history and visual studies. Taking its cue from the phrase “Mixed Media,” which is used to describe either a variety of materials used, or referred to when the material foundation of an artwork is not specified at all, we invite papers in this session that explore the transformative function and participatory role of materiality in the processes of producing and interpreting art.

Nature, non-human and ecology in modern art, architecture and environmental planning

9 — Hanna Johansson — Kirsi Saarikangas —

The session discusses nature as simultaneously and paradoxically self-evident and an unnamed — or untitled — element 20th century 20th century modernisms of art, architectural and environmental planning. Recent rethinking of nature, ecology, and non-human offers novel perspectives to the relations and tensions of nature, artistic, and architectural expressions as well as enabling the perception of previously unnoticed ecological implications, possibilities, and processes.

Networks and Collaborations in Nordic Architectural Culture

10 — Espen Johnsen — Christina Pech — Talette Simonsen

How did architects in the Nordic countries collaborate with professionals and form part of international networks throughout the twentieth century? The session aims at examining how collaborations shaped architects’ — the Nordic as well as their colleagues in other countries — understanding, practice and methods of modern architecture. We invite papers studying built projects, competition proposals, exhibitions, publications or other related mediations of architecture, which make visible and bring to light the operations of Nordic networks.

A Whiter Shade of Pale — Whiteness Perspective on Nordic Visual Culture

11 — Ulrika Kjellman — Jeff Werner —

In the hegemonic white culture of the Nordic countries white has been the norm, connected with ideas about progress and high culture. Critical whiteness studies see race/whiteness not as biological, but as being socially constructed, and one of its main goals has been to deconstruct whiteness and its claimed neutral non-racial position. The Northern countries offer a vast visual material that could be interesting to scrutinize from this perspective. This session aims at mapping contemporary whiteness studies in work dealing with Nordic visual culture.

Art, Artists, and Art Institutions in Times of War and Conflicts

12 — Hanna-Leena Paloposki — Maija Koskinen —

Wars and conflicts permeate and affect the whole society: they inevitably shape the conditions of the art field. The session discusses these effects in times of wars and conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries especially in relation to the Nordic countries. How did/do wars and conflicts impact on art, artists, art studies, exhibitions, art market, collecting and international art relations? Was there space for ‘the freedom of art’ and why have these subjects been, for the most part, in the margin of (Nordic) art history?

Showing not telling. Art institutional practices of inclusions/exclusions

13 — Professor Lena Liepe — Professor Helene Illeris —

The session focuses on the role of art education in face of the present “times of crisis” in global society. How may art education take its responsibility vis-à-vis a public that looks to art for ways of understanding the present? We wish to highlight strategies by which meaning is ascribed to art in an exhibition context. What are the implications of refraining from labels (”no title”)? In what ways is exhibition related text material employed to convey meaning? We encourage papers based in normative critique and gender theory.

Art and Spirituality in a Secular Society

14 — Max Liljefors — —

This session will discuss if and how spirituality has a place in old and new art today. Spirituality can mean institutionalized religion(s) but also impulses towards the ineffable, sacredness or transcendence outside frameworks of faith. “In the modern era, one of the most active metaphors for the spiritual project is ‘art’,” Susan Sontag wrote in 1967. In secular society, is spirit now exorcized from art, or, has the aesthetic become a primary gateway to spiritual experiences?

Remembering — Art History and Curatorial Practices in Nordic Post-War Exhibition Studies

15 — Anna Lundström — Anna Tellgren —

In recent decades, a vital research field has emerged internationally with regard to 20th-century museum and exhibition history. The past decade’s research on the role of the curator and on the exhibition as a medium has given rise to questions and methodologies that differ from general art history as well as from the interdisciplinary field of museology. With this session, we want to provide a forum where Nordic researchers and practitioners may discuss fundamental issues relating to both theoretical approaches and methodological problems.

Life: On Art, Animation, and Biology

16 — Emil Leth Meilvang — —

The interpenetration of art and life, the art work conceptualised as living, has been a recurrent motif all through art history, theory and praxis. How to approach this alleged affinity between art and life? What does such organically informed language indicate, how has artists worked with notions of life and the biological, and what would an art history informed by biology look like? The panel will explore these issues, focusing on notions of life and vitality, with an aim to shed light on the interconnected realms of art, biology, and animation.

Decolonial Aesthetics: A View from the North

17 — Mårten Snickare — —

This session wants to further discussion and exchange among scholars whose research connect on to the emergent field of decolonial aesthetics. It also wants to try out strategies and practices of decolonial aesthetics within the geopolitical context of the North. The complex and entangled colonial histories of the Nordic countries, together with their reluctance to recognize their colonial legacy, makes this an urgent and promising task. Finally, the discourse of decolonial aesthetics might itself be enriched by a view from the North.

To be [titled], or not to be [titled]? Art History and its “well-(un)known” masters…

18 — Dr. Julia Trinkert — Dr. Reinhard Köpf —

It seems to be impossible to imagine an art history without names, particularly in medieval and early-modern art. In scientific practice the attribution to a “name” can significantly influence the perception and assessment of traditional works of art. In our session we pose the question, if this method still has a chance of entitlement in an art history methodological canon.

Untitled Spaces: Scenography and Nordic Art History

19 — Dr Astrid von Rosen — Dr Viveka Kjellmer —

This session creates opportunities for a re-imagining of the contact zones linking art history and scenography in a Nordic context. Understanding scenography as relational, material and affective spaces for transformative experience, the session explores how “untitled” scenographic spaces can be conceptualized in relation to art history. How can applications of scenography revitalize art history as a discipline in transition? How can scenography, as a way of thinking, be used as a critical tool for exploring visual culture in new ways?