Call for Papers : “Where is our ecological art history?

April 10-12, 2014 : 40th Anniversary, Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair, Royal College of Art, London

Deadline for proposals : November 11th 2013

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The discipline of art history has proved itself able to look various crises of culture in the face and open up the discipline to ideological struggles and debates. These debates have involved its own politics as a discipline in response to critical issues. Issues of gender, sexuality, race and social identity have strongly inflected the discipline and have importantly shaped its trajectories and characteristic preoccupations over a number of years, but what of the critical issue of our environment? There are some highly significant works which have discussed art’s and artists’ responses and interventions in the crucial area of ecology, but perhaps less talked about and made visible is art history’s disciplinary response to crises in nature and the environment throughout its history as a discipline.

AAH2014 will represent the richness and diversity of art historical debate across the broadest sweep of time and space. The conference will unite the interests of art history with those of contemporary practice, as well as a wide diversity of visual and material culture, including art, architecture and design. As it is in close collaboration with museums and galleries, most notably the V&A Museum, the RCA aims to offer a conference exploring ‘history in the making’ through engagement with practice, collections and exhibitions.

The aim of this session is to bring this ecological art history to the fore, to uncover, freshly discover and make visible examples of such an ecological art history. The session also offers the opportunity to discuss whether art history’s status as a ‘humanistic’ discipline has in the past hindered its concern for the natural world and the environment other than through strong human cultural paradigms, and consider how the discipline has started to change with further interests in ‘eco-aesthetics’ and other multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary approaches to the history of the environment and its critical future : “We feel that this is an extremely prescient moment for the history of art to engage more actively in this cross-disciplinary theme”, explains Andrew Patrizio, Professor of Scottish Visual Culture, School of History of Art, University of Edinburgh.

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