September 18, 2013

Call for proposals: Visual Activism Symposium

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Zanele Muholi, Caitlin and I, Boston, 2009. Chromogenic print. Collection of Christopher Meany; promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Zanele Muholi.

The International Association of Visual Culture (IAVC) invites proposals for its third biennial symposium in San Francisco on March 14 to 16, 2014.

The symposium will be an international gathering centered on the concept of visual activism. It will explore the relationships between visual culture and activist practices across a wide range of contexts. Through varied and diverse modes of image-making, artists and designers may create and manipulate tools of social change.  Likewise, political activists may utilize visual strategies and objects in order to confront and address social and political issues. Art can take the form of political and social activism, and activism often takes on specific, and sometimes surprising, visual forms that are not always aligned with or recognizable by art-world frameworks. During the convening, artists, cultural producers, scholars, students, critics, organizers, activists, and citizens will engage with and offer perspectives on the many questions that arise: to what degree do forms of visual activism travel? In what ways are they necessarily grounded in geographically specific spaces and locally specific knowledge? How can theorists, scholars, and practitioners engage in conversations about abstract or oblique visual activism, such as those produced in conditions of extreme censorship? How can the complexity of governmental or commercial visual activism be approached to better address hegemonies of visual culture? How does the past become a form of visual activism in the present?

Proposals should respond to these questions or related topics and may take the form of papers (20 minutes), artist talks (20 minutes), short performances (five to 30 minutes), or lighting-round interventions (five minutes). Limited funds are available to support travel. Proposals should include a 400-word abstract, links to websites with additional publications or relevant images and information, and a CV. Please send proposals to [email protected] (with” Visual Activism” as the subject line) no later than October 1, 2013.

Free and open to the public, the conference comprises various modes of engagement: short and long-form presentations, small-group discussions, screenings, and performances. It will also be paired with Bearing Witness, the second of three SFMOMA symposia made possible by the Fraenkel Gallery Fund for New Studies in Photography.

Visual Activism is convened by Julia Bryan-Wilson (associate professor, modern and contemporary art, UC Berkeley), Jennifer A. González (associate professor, history of art and visual culture, contemporary art, race and representation, UC Santa Cruz) and Dominic Willsdon (Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs, SFMOMA). It will take place at the Brava Theater Center and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Please email [email protected] to be added to the mailing list to receive updates about the conference such as registration information, the calendar of events, and list of participants.

For further information about the International Association of Visual Culture, or to join the IAVC, please follow this link.

Schedule + Locations

Friday, March 14, 2014
Brava Theater
2781 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Saturday, March 15, 2014
Brava Theater

Sunday, March 16, 2014
Bearing Witness
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Thank you!

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