iawis/aierti focus conferences

University of Ulster, Belfast
4-6 June 2010
Conference Convenors: Dr Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Dr Karen E. Brown
Keynote Speaker: Professor W. J. T. Mitchell
Please redirect to the conference web site for all information: http://www.ulster.ac.uk/displayingwandi
This conference will bring together word and image, as well as literary scholarship, art history and theory, art practice, curatorial practice, museology, and visual culture, in order to address the interrelationship between word & image and display.
The questions addressed will include: how does the art exhibition function as mediator of literature? Which approaches to Word and Image are specific to curators or museum practitioners? How do Word and Image studies theorize, inform or imply display? We also wish to investigate the use of text/writing in and surrounding exhibitions, and the semiotics of museums’ visual identities. How do competencies interact in the tri-disciplinary field between (1) art/art history/theory, (2) museum studies/curatorial practice and (3) literary studies? How are competencies acquired, and how do policies and funding structures enable work in this field?We seek with this conference to (in)form a network that will investigate literary art exhibitions and work on relevant outputs. A publication on the conference theme will be produced.The following information will be online in due course:
Conference Fees and Booking
Conference Timetable and Academic Sessions
Programme Information and Information for Delegates
Advice on Travel and AccommodationFull sessions list and contact details for convenorsLiberature: displaying the meaning of the book
Katarzyna Bazarnik, Jagiellonian University, Krakow- k.bazarnik@uj.edu.pl

Liberature is a term coined in 1999 by a Polish writer Zenon Fajfer to refer to literary works in which the shape and structure of the book, its format and size, layout and kind of typeface, kind and colour of paper, illustrations and other graphic elements can be valid means of expression. It is derived from Latin liber (‘book’ and ‘free’) to stress the book as an integral and meaningful component of the work, and to point out that writers are free to take liberties with the visual and spatial qualities of writing. Liberature was first used to refer to Fajfer and Katarzyna Bazarnik’s Oka-leczenie, a three-volume-concertina book, but this approach to the literary medium is also characteristic of such writers as Sterne, Blake, Mallarmé, Joyce, B.S. Johnson, Federman, and Danielewski. Postulating such a genre opens up literary analysis to embrace the material, spatial, and visual qualities of the book, when they are intentionally shaped by the author, and raises numerous questions about the nature of the literary medium. The panel participants are invited to critically examine the following:
– non-verbal devices in literature
– textual and literary criticism, and liberature
– liberature and book arts
– liberature and the new media
– liberature avant la lettre
– gallery versus library contexts
YouTube video about liberature with English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGWG4EYSLkg

How Does the Art Exhibition Function as a Mediator of Literature?
David Brittain, Manchester Metropolitan University and Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, University of Ulster


How do artists and their exhibitions engage with literary texts? There are well-known difficulties associated with representing literature in an art exhibition (just as there are difficulties presenting images and objects within a library or literary museum context). Curators prefer objects that fix to walls, or at least stand upright, while visitors have preconceptions about the nature of art and the distinct nature of literature.
The panel will occupy itself for instance with hybrids like Eduardo Paolozzi’s collages, which are adaptable to both a gallery context and a publication. Art history has co-opted his magazine collages for Ambit (1967-78) into the oeuvre, but it will be argued (by David Brittain) that the collages can be interpreted as part of a literary project driven by J.G Ballard.
The panel seeks to draw attention to a current phenomenon, whereby ambitious contemporary art exhibitions in prestigious institutions stage shows that (sometimes obliquely but distinctively) elucidate and mediate literature through visual art. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes’ paper will attempt to draw a connecting line between Harald Szeemann’s curatorial practice (departing from Jarry) and the recent spate of exhibitions related to W.G. Sebald, not least Altermodern.
We invite further papers that can also consider institutional frameworks (i.e. hybrids between literary and art museums), in addition to hybrid art- or literary work and the problems with display. It is also relevant that these problems – as well as particular critical potency – arise from artists, writers and curators not conforming to the needs for easy display, easy categorization, or the expectation of uncritical, serving tributes to literature.

ICLM Panel
Gulyás Gabriella, International Committee for Literary Museums (ICLM), International Council for Museums (ICOM) – gulyasg@pim.hu
The International Committee for Literary Museums (Comité international pour les musées littéraires) is one of ICOM’s most established sections. ICLM’s principal aim is to develop activities such as research, publishing, exhibition and education for literary historical/biographical museums and composers’ museums.
We recognize “Displaying Word and Image” as core to our members’ activities and are pleased to participate with an ICLM session in the Belfast conference, engage with IAWIS scholars and other academics or practitioners, artists and curators alike, in a process of mutually informing this area of engagement in scholarship and practice. We welcome all proposals that relate to our remit.
(See http://icom.museum/international/iclm.html)

Beyond “Exhibition as Text”: performing narratives of identity and memory
Dominic Hardy, Université du Québec à Montréal

– hardy.dominic@uqam.ca

This panel takes as its starting point changes taking place in the familiar model of the exhibition as a coherent and determining narrative textual structure, and thus in the relation of this model to personal and collective forms of memory and identity.
At the core of many if not most exhibition planning we commonly find some form of didactic objective-setting which amplifies the central role of inter-textualities; thus, design of exhibition spaces and content – layout, graphic and architectural design, artworks and text combining in a wide spectrum of approaches that assume in all cases a productive interdependence – tend to fulfill diverse notions of sequential build-up in a framework for the ‘production of meaning’ for which the visitor becomes finally responsible according to any number of factors of prior and transformative experience. But another way to look at this process starts with this pragmatic dimension, as visitors work with the materials on offer to act as editors, producing montages that escape from, reassemble or indeed ‘rewrite’ the narrative which it is assumed that they ‘read’. On this model, the exhibition is activated, performed, and enacted by the combination of museum personnel (in all areas), artists and visitors who transform the model of exhibition as effectively text and discourse. Exhibitions are then less to be read and deciphered, and rather become spaces that seek to instigate what is more and more seen as a necessarily unpredictable undertaking, one that calls on more complex manifestations of memory and identity in fashioning perceptions of, and ways of working with, past and present cultural experience.

“Musing in the Museum”
Liliane Louvel, Université de Poitiers, France and Laurence Petit, Université Paul Valery-Montpellier 3, France


This session will address the following topics: literature and museology; writing the museum in literature (narrative fiction and poetry): the book as museum and the museum as book; reading and viewing: the eye in progress or the journey of the eye; ekphrasis and pictorial description; museophilia and museophobia; hybridity and iconotextuality.
Bearing in mind that in certain museums or art galleries, some of the art work is actually created in response to curators’ specific desires, one may wonder to what extent a book that draws its inspiration from paintings displayed in a gallery, a museum, or an art exhibition ends up being itself a museum – a textual museum or ‘museum of words’, to use James Heffernan’s phrase. The book in its materiality, complete with text and images in praesentia in some cases, or with images in absentia – and therefore nothing but text – in other cases, constitutes a gallery through which the reader/viewer, just like the characters, wanders and muses in the manner of an art lover. The book plays the part of the galleries of old – such as Philostrates’ or those painting galleries in which, by providing the missing links between the pictures, the visitor made up a narrative while contemplating the legends represented. This wandering or musing process thus follows an old tradition recalling Roger de Piles’ own definition of painting as pilgrimage.
Whether in poetry or in narrative fiction, the museum is therefore the locus of an interesting journey undergone by a reading and viewing ‘eye/I in progress’ probing the image in search of answers about the self, or re-appropriating the image to turn it into a new, hybrid work, half word, half picture – a true instance of an ‘iconotext’. Through an ambivalent discourse which oscillates between museophilia and museophobia – the literary museum being alternately seen as an invigorating source of inspiration and creation, or as a tomb threatening the self with annihilation – literary texts thus offer a stimulating and conflicting museology which, depending on the period, anticipates, or resonates with, W.J.T. Mitchell’s account of the ‘pictorial turn’ in the second half of the twentieth century.

The Museum and the City: Placemaking, Branding, Identity
Bharain Mac an Bhreithiún, Bath Spa University / University of the Arts London and Karen E. Brown, University College Dublin

– macanbhreithiun@yahoo.iekaren.brown@ucd.ie

What role does the museum play in the construction of identity in the contemporary city? How is the visual identity of the museum connected to themes such as city branding, placemaking and memory in the urban environment. This session invites papers that examine the interplay of the museum and its urban environment, with a particular emphasis on the role played by text and image in forging this connection. Cities such as Glasgow and Bilbao have used high-profile museums as a means of addressing problems and promoting urban regeneration. Other cities such as Vienna and Berlin have addressed issues of urban memory and the decimation of historic Jewish populations through their museums. How do these institutions use word and image to communicate their relationship with the host city and what do they represent in terms of the politics of space and place? How do museums contribute to the branding of the contemporary city and do they have a role to play in emphasising the local sense of place or genius loci in the globalised urban environment?

Literary and Artistic Exhibition Strategies: même combat?
Catriona MacLeod, University of Pennsylvania and Véronique Plesch, Colby College


This session hopes to explore in what ways one’s disciplinary origin and formation shape both the design of exhibitions as well as one’s viewing. In other words, does disciplinary background determine exhibition strategies and if yes, what can we learn from these differences? What dilemmas, challenges, and opportunities arise if one is exhibiting visual and verbal works alongside? Can they ever be exhibited as true equals or is there always a hierarchical relationship in which one is only a supplement of the other? What happens in the case of ‘double lives’ such as literary figures who also worked in visual media and visual artists who expressed themselves in literary forms? How does one competently tie the two facets of expression? We encourage papers exploring a range of case studies both contemporary and historical.

Framing and Reframing through the Visual: Assessing Curatorial Narratives in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Sara Pappas, University of Richmond and Sarah Falls, ARTstor

– spappas@richmond.edu,sefalls624@gmail.com

This panel will address how exhibitions and museum displays can function as narratives or texts. We will explore how word and image come together in exhibition spaces to construct cultural or historical narratives. Often these narratives contest and sometimes undo established or dominant narratives. Our discussion will include an analysis of the stated intent of exhibitions presented in catalogues and exhibition literature, but will also extend to consider how many different strands of word and image converge in an exhibition to transmit an idea, a story, or even an ideology, sometimes outside the stated intent of the exhibition itself. Our papers will examine the many ‘texts’ and ‘sub-texts’ of modern and contemporary display: exhibition literature and catalogues, museum maps, the use of technology, organization of display and placement of works of art, the use of literary texts and narratives, chat cards and the guiding wall text of exhibitions, artists’ statements, art critics, and art history.

Im(agin)ing Oscar Wilde
David Rose, OScholars

– oscholars@gmail.com

From the Punch cartoons that caricatured Wilde almost as soon as he went down, from Oxford to contemporary works by Maggi Hambling or Danny Osborne, from studio portraits by Sarony and Elliott & Fry to fridge magnets and postcard series adorned with Wildean epigrams, together with the images conveyed by thousands of book jackets, Wilde the ‘lord of language’ and author of The Critic as Artist, has always been represented at the junction of word and icon.
This panel seeks papers on the changing reification and commodification of this, the most celebrated of all Irish writers and what this reveals about the affirmation and mediation of celebrity. A variety of theoretical, descriptive and contextual approaches are encouraged, and submissions can include but are not limited to papers on illustration, portraiture, caricature, strip cartoons, artefacts, figurines etc, using Wilde either as the subject and working outwards to a theoretical frame, or the concept as the subject working inwards to Wilde as exemplar.

Con-texts: Displaying Photographs
Hilde Van Gelder, University of Leuven and Alex Streitberger

– Hilde.VanGelder@arts.kuleuven.be,alex.streitberger@uclouvain.be

Since Walter Benjamin the question has risen whether ‘the caption [will] become the most important part of the shot’. The close relationship between photographic meaning and linguistic ‘con-text’ is a widely accepted issue. The photograph’s dependency on its accompanying text(s) opens the door for questioning the myth of the medium as a neutral reproduction of reality. In recent times, criticism of photography’s neutrality has shifted its focus from the linguistic text to the institutional context.
This led to an investigation of the ways in which photographs are displayed, including their spatial, material and discursive conditions. Referring to Foucault’s use of the term ‘dispositive’, the aim is hence to reveal the political, social and aesthetic dimensions of photographic exhibition displays.
To tackle this challenge, it is indispensable to return to the (linguistic) text, as multiple linguistic layers guide our perception of a photographic display. Already before visiting an exhibition, newspaper articles, television reports, and Internet blogs announce the exhibition and generate expectations. Then, on the exhibition floor, text panels, captions, headlines printed on the wall, as well as folders and catalogue texts exercise a strong influence on the perception of photographs in addition to such physical issues like the architecture, the framing, the size of the print and, of course, the arrangement of the images. Its impression afterwards is once again affected by text-image combinations diffused by the mass media.
This session focuses on the manifold and complex ways in which, since the 1970s, photography and texts interact within exhibition displays in order to channel the attention of the visitors towards a specific perception of photography. Precisely because the perception of a photograph – unlike painting – depends on diverging cultural and social uses and categories its meaning within an exhibition setting is extremely precarious. For example, in an exhibition it is often the accompanying linguistic explanation provided by folders, catalogues or mural texts that decides if the photograph has to be conceived as a document of something or as a formal composition.
In order to reflect on this and other con-texts of photographic displays, participants may wish to consider the following topics:
– How do artists integrate text in photographic displays and what are their intentions?
– How does linguistic information interact with the exhibition display as a means to favor a specific look at the photographic image?
– To what extent do photographic-textual displays undermine clearly distinct functions and categories such as documentation and fiction?
– What political, social and aesthetic messages are explicitly and implicitly propagated by these displays and how do they act on our perception of photography’s reference to reality?
Paper proposals are welcomed that address these issues in case studies that relate to historical and/or contemporary aspects of the debate or that consider the art theoretical foundations concerning the methodological possibilities of displaying photographs as art.

Revisiting the Canon: famous museum artworks in the hands and eyes of writers and artists in the nineteenth century
Stephen Wildman, Lancaster University, UK and Laurence Roussillon-Constanty, Université Toulouse 3, France

– s.wildman@lancaster.ac.uklaurence.constanty@gmail.com

In his introduction to Le musée Imaginaire, André Malraux notes that every museum goer knows that even the greatest museums such as the Louvre, the Tate Gallery or the Prado cannot encompass every work of art in the world. However, the very selection they offer calls up a myriad of other art works that are just as worthy of admiration. In a similar way, one can suggest that the artist (whether he/she be a painter, sculptor, writer or poet) who pays a tribute to a famous (and recognizable) piece of art translates his/her reception of the piece of art into another object that is either clearly identifiable – in a classical ekphrastic gesture – or bears a more subtle relation to the original piece of art so that it becomes other. In the margins of the museum canon or as a reaction to it, the transaction from word to image or from image to word thus allows modern artists to write a history of their own that, in the expression found on the Ulster Museum webpage, ‘unravels the past to reveal the future’.
This session will explore the word-image relation in cases where famous European artworks found themselves as a subject for new creation from the mid-nineteenth century onward.

Open Session / Performance
Claire Moran, Queen’s University Belfast

– c.moran@qub.ac.uk

Confirmed Contributors
L. Vandegrift Davala
Alexander Gaiotto Miyoshi
Hee Sook Lee-Niinioja
David Osbaldeston
Min Hie YUN
Marjorie Cheung Ka_yee

Please click one of the links below for information on previous IAWIS/AIERTI focus conferences.

Exposed Memory: Family Pictures in Private and Public Memory, Budapest 2006
Experience and Manner. Humanists as Draftsmen in Early Modern Europe, Berlin 2006
Symposium ‘Teaching Word & Image’, Utrecht 2004
Conference ‘Artful Deceptions’, National University of Ireland, Galway 2004