Academic Session 21: Reading 2013

39th Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Reading
11-13 April 2013

Thinking and Rethinking Exhibition Histories

Session Convenors

Lucy Steeds, University of the Arts London,
Antony Hudek, Liverpool John Moores University,

Exhibitions of contemporary art over the last 50 years are increasingly a focus for academic study. This session seeks to reflect on this development, addressing what it might mean to analyse contemporary art not in the context of when and where it is made, but of its public display. At a moment when a new field of exhibition studies seems to be emerging, and when art history is turning to exhibitions as legitimate research ‘outputs’, it is time to consider the historiographic question of the relationship between exhibition studies and neighbouring fields: art history, of course, but also sociology, philosophy and visual and cultural studies.

Attention needs to be paid to the distinctive nature of exhibitions as time-based, and spatial entities involving artists, curators, designers and, not least, publics. However, this begs questions of definition and prompts us to ask what kind of histories might be made out of, say, a performance at an opening or exhibitions produced solely for publication, television or the internet. Debating the implications of a history premised on ‘landmark’ exhibitions will be central to this session, as will exploring the use in exhibition studies of methods of historical enquiry that privilege the transient and ‘minor’ over the canonical.


Morgan Thomas (University of Cincinnati) Histories and Hallucinations: In the vicinity of Van Gogh, 1947

Line Ellegaard (Afterall Books: Exhibition Histories, London) A Different View: On the historiography of the exhibition installation view

Léa-Catherine Szacka and Remi Parcollet (Laboratoire d’Excellence Création, Arts et Patrimoines, Paris) Writing Institutional Exhibition History: On the Centre Pompidou’s ‘Catalogue raisonné’ project

Margriet Schavemaker (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) Recollecting, Reconnecting and Rewriting: Exhibition history and the reopening of the Stedelijk Museum

Andy Weir (Goldsmiths, University of London) Myrmecochory Occurs: Exhibiting Indifference to the Participating Subject in Pierre Huyghe’s Untilled (2012) at dOCUMENTA (13)

Regina Parra (Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, São Paulo) Hélio Oiticica at the 27th Bienal de São Paulo: The artist as a ‘proposer’

Vinicius Spricigo (Universidade Católica de São Paulo/Freie Univesität Berlin) Towards an Archaeology of Exhibitions

Jung-Yeon Ma (Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts) Vivid Memories of ‘Florescent Chrysanthemum’, 1968–69

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