Appel à contributions : Global Art Challenges (Barcelona, 26-28 Apr 16)

LIEU : University of Barcelona, April 26 – 28, 2016
DEADLINE : Sep 30, 2015

Global Art Challenges: Towards an “Ecology of Knowledges”

The International Conference Global Art Challenges: Towards an “Ecology
of Knowledges” aims to reformulate established approaches to the study
of global art in the face of ongoing challenges in that field. Building
on sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santo’s concept of an “ecology of
knowledges” (2007), the conference seeks to go beyond “abyssal thinking
in modern Western-based conceptions” of art and to trace lines of
inquiry into new epistemological approaches to global art studies. As
theorized by de Sousa Santos, ecological thinking, understood as a
counter-epistemology, recognizes the plurality of heterogeneous
knowledge(s) and highlights the dynamic interconnections that exist
between them . Hence, faced with a longstanding monocultural conception
of knowledge and art an “ecology of knowledges” conceives of
knowledge-as-intervention-in-reality rather than a hierarchical
preference of Western knowledge(s) over other forms of knowing.

This approach proposes an emancipatory attempt to supersede predominant
epistemological frameworks that continue to reproduce the power
structures that have dominated Western thinking since the Renaissance.
Despite the spatial turn of global studies, longstanding monocultural
(Western) conceptions of knowledge and art continue to impact and shape
the study of global art, as well as its theorization and the validation
of artistic practices around the world. An “ecology of knowledges”, as
suggested by de Sousa Santos, is a useful concept to counteract this
perspective. It recognises the plurality of artistic knowledge(s) and
its socio-political agency in modern and contemporary global art. This
concept grapples with the current debates surrounding the need to
reassess global art study’s methodological tools, calling for the
importance of a transcultural and horizontal art history that puts the
accent on transnational transfers, cultural encounters, circulatory and
transformation processes.

This conference seeks to discuss, from a methodological,
epistemological and practical perspective, the possibilities of
developing an “ecology of knowledges” in art history, regarding also
artistic and institutional practices. It looks for ways to overcome
Western hierarchies and enter into a proactive dialogue between
practices, methods and discourses. Such perspectives, we hope, will
contribute to questioning taxonomies, values, temporalities, and
dichotomies that have not just been a part of the art historic
discipline since its foundation, but that have been imposed as
universal and taken-for-granted. Finally, the conference seeks to
become a platform for debating the possibilities of breaking that
(Western-dominated) view within art history, seeking a starting point
for a change of paradigm in the understanding of global art.

Conference Objectives:

The International Conference Challenges of Global Art: Towards an
“Ecology of Knowledges” aims …

– … to highlight, revalorize, and investigate new and “alternative”
forms of knowledge production regarding global art, identifying
non-Western and non-normative knowledge(s), know-how and practices.

– … to put forward forms of hybridization and different temporalities
by taking into account local as well as global dynamics in the
contemporary art scene.

– … to identify knowledge(s) and cases in which
real-world-interventions are enabled, highlighting local resistances,
subaltern experiences and political agency.

– … to highlight the transfers and circulatory processes in artistic
practices and art history by questioning discourses and notions (such
as modernism) that were built on the dichotomy between West and

– … to foster thinking about new concepts for the study of global art
that supersede the subject/object of knowledge binary.

– … to think of other methodological tools and strategies in Art
History and Global Art Studies that could be useful within the
framework of an “ecology of knowledges”.

– … to discuss the role of Global Art Studies, and of Art History more
generally, within the global setting of modern and contemporary art.

The conference will feature four panels and a round table discussion.
Every panel will be comprised of five speakers, with an allocated
speaking time of 20 minutes each. All three panels will be presented by
a convenor who will encourage debate among the participants. The
closing round table discussion will articulate the themes of the
conference and provide a space for dialogue among the conference

Scholars, arts practitioners, researchers, and graduate students
working in the field of global art are invited to submit proposals for
one of the following panels:

Panel 1. Critical Perspectives in Global Art History
Keynote Speaker: Monica Juneja (Universität Heidelberg, Germany)
Convenor: Anna Maria Guasch (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)

This session aims to question and to reformulate established approaches
to the methodological study of global art history in the light of
on-going debates in the field. Such an undertaking seems especially
relevant when considering that the spatial turn has often led to an
extension of existing approaches and to a perpetuation of conceptual
imperialism historically embedded in Western art history. Guiding
questions of the session are: How can we gain a global and integrative
perspective and avoid the dangers of reproducing similar asymmetries
between artistic productions around the globe? What are the tools that
allow us to highlight multiple locations, temporalities and processes
of transcultural configurations? In how far can an ecological
perspective enrich and articulate our view on global art history?

Panel 2. ‘Close Others’ in ‘The West’
Keynote Speaker: Klara Kemp-Welch (The Courtauld Institute of Art,
London, UK)
Convenor: Nasheli Jiménez del Val (Instituto de Investigaciones
Estéticas-UNAM, Mexico)

This session addresses the need to continue decentering cultural and
aesthetic paradigms regarding the Cold War era. Despite significant
academic projects such as Former-West, the idea of ‘the West’ is still
usually taken as shorthand for Western Europe and North America. The
concept of the West therefore remains limited to an established series
of hegemonic centres, irrespective of the transformations of the global
cultural and political field since 1989. This panel explores the
relationship of the former hegemonic centres of the West to their
‘close-Others’ in Europe and the Americas (Southern and Eastern
European; Central and Southern American), and vice-versa. The aim is to
rethink the conception of the West itself from a range of dialogical
and dialectical perspectives and to thereby destabilise the concept
internally. We propose to treat the West as a pluri-cultural and
polycentric matrix, defined by the encounters and exchanges of multiple
cultures. In addition to challenging centre-periphery dichotomies, this
session seeks to bring to light the transcultural and multivalent
processes that the development of modernity and postmodernity has
entailed. We are especially interested in assessing the subaltern
potentialities of artistic practices and knowledge developed outside
normative spheres. Guiding questions of the sessions are: How do the
perspectives on race, gender and ideology that have emerged in
different parts of Europe and the Americas vary? What might these
variations contribute to the wider project of ‘provincialising the

Panel 3. Visualizing Global Networks
Keynote Speaker: Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel (École Normale Supérieur,
Convenor: Paula Barreiro López (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)

This session aims to outline the possibilities of mapping the diverse
artistic and intellectual networks of cultural transfer and their close
intertwining with the social, political and economic spheres.
Globalisation is, in this context, understood as a process that starts
well before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its roots can be traced back
to a long history of global exchanges and increasing social mobility,
which relate to the economic and political as well as to the cultural
fields. Guiding questions are: How can we visualise transnational
patterns and which are key characteristics of today’s global
experiences, such as circulations, exchanges and networks? How can such
a multi-level conception with various players and agencies challenge
binary models that still shape the discipline where culture is seen to
flow from metropolitan centres of the Western world to the peripheries?
In which way(s) can the visualization of global networks reveal the
complexity of artistic creation by bringing to surface the multiplicity
of practices and “knowledges” that configured the cultural world?

Panel 4. Art-as-intervention-in-reality. Ecology of Knowledges and
institutional practices.
Keynote Speaker: Maria Hlavajova (Basis Voor Akuele Kunst, Utrecht)
Convenor: Christian M. Alonso (Universitat de Barcelona)

The panel proposes to think about (and from within) contemporary
artistic practice at the present time, the latter characterized by
Zygmunt Bauman as the “condition in which rulers no longer can rule and
the ruled no longer wish to be ruled” . This context poses the need for
reassessing and rearticulating basic notions for the understanding of
western epistemologies such as progress, critique, nature-culture
relations, the very idea of state-nation and furthermore the museum and
the artistic institution. Therefore this panel suggests discussing ways
that manage (or that could manage) reorienting the activity of artistic
institutions in our contemporary world by implementing an “ecology of
knowledges” in the experimental and discursive field. Bearing in mind
that the “ecology of knowledges” understands
knowledge–as-intervention-in-reality a guiding question is: Which role
could the integration of various artistic practices (as knowledge
production) and their political agency play in the reconfiguration of
the artistic institution at present time?
Scientific Committee
Monica Juneja, Universität Heidelberg
Klara Kemp-Welch, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Maria Hlavajova, Basis Voor Akuele Kunst, Utrecht
Anna María Guasch, Universitat de Barcelona
Paula Barreiro López, Universitat de Barcelona
Nasheli Jiménez del Val, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, D.F.

Organized by:

Anna Maria Guasch (UB), Paula Barreiro López (UB), and Nasheli Jiménez
del Val (UNAM, Mexico) and Christian M. Alonso (UB), within the
frameworks of the research groups Art, Globalization, Interculturality
(AGI: and
Decentralized Modernities: art, politics and counter-culture in the
transatlantic axis during the Cold War (MoDe(s) (HAR2014-53834-P)
( at the University
of Barcelona.

Aula Magna. Department of Art History, University of Barcelona (UB)
Auditorium. Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA)


How to submit
Papers, creative projects and other non-traditional presentations
exploring the aforementioned topics are welcome.

A completed application form (attached) including a 500 words abstract
and a short biography (300 words) should be submitted to one of the
panels throught the webpage AGI
or send to by 30 September 2015.

Authors will be notified of their acceptance for a panel, the
publication, or both, by 1 December 2015.

All abstract submissions (even if not selected for a panel
presentation) will be considered for the publication Global Art
Challenges: Towards an “Ecology of Knowledges”, an edited volume
presenting the results of this conference to be published by the
University of Barcelona.

Please note that at this time the conference organizers cannot provide
travel grants or accommodation stipends for presenters.

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