Summer Symposium

The Summer Symposium is a two-day annual conference of post-graduate research papers which takes place at a different university each year in early Summer.

Art & Ephemerality
26-27 June 2014
University of Bristol

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Simon Shaw-Miller, History of Art Department, University of Bristol
Prof. Paul Binski, History of Art Department, University of Cambridge
more to be confirmed.

Call for Papers

Artworks and objects that are not intended to last or only remain briefly in existence invariably accentuate the passage of time. In collaboration with the University of Bristol, this year’s AAH Student Summer Symposium will explore the implications of ephemerality for art and its histories through a wide range of historical and critical perspectives.

How do ephemeral practices—from medieval and early modern rituals to contemporary site-specific and performance-based events—intersect with the history of art and exhibitions? How should art history negotiate methodologies and strategies of documentation and preservation, when the delicate nature of materials sometimes results in the transformation, deterioration, or even disappearance of the work? When objects are irretrievably lost, is it possible to access them through documents that attempt to instigate a sense of permanence that was denied at the time? And how have museums and other exhibition spaces attempted to collect, display and preserve ephemeral objects? In the wake of recent technological developments, how do the dialectics of permanence and impermanence related to momentary flickers of celluloid or transitory pixels on a screen differ from those of bygone times? How do (media) technologies invoke notions of ephemerality and contemporaneity across different historical times?

We welcome contributions from all periods and contexts that engage with the relation between art and ephemerality within aesthetic, cultural, social, and material frameworks. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Histories of and critical perspectives on ephemeral artworks and artefacts
Ephemeral architectures: monuments, festivals, world fairs, expos and biennales
Issues of documentation and conservation pertaining to ephemeral art
Methodologies of studying ephemeral objects
Relations between permanence and temporality in collections and exhibitions
Ephemeral practices and their commodity status The afterlife of the artefact: recycling, transforming, rebuilding
The afterlife of the artefact: recycling, transforming, rebuilding

Paper Proposals by 1 April 2014
Abstracts of no more than 250 words for 20-minute papers plus a 100-word biography should be emailed as a single Word document to by 1 April 2014.

The symposium is open to all, however speakers are required to be AAH members.

Organisers: Anna Bonewitz, Tilo Reifenstein, Ruth Walker and Sophia Zhou 

will be available online

  Previous Summer Symposiums:

Summer Symposium, Ashmolean, Oxford, 2013
Summer Symposium, The Linnean Society and The Royal Academy of Arts
, London, 28 -29 June 2012
Summer Symposium, Loughborough University, 1st July 2011
Summer Symposium, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 24 - 25 June 2010
Summer Symposium University of Bristol, June 2009

Summer Symposium, Oxford Brookes & The Asmolean Museum, June 2008 (poster & Programme)
Summer Symposium, University of St Andrews, July 2007
Summer Symposium, University of East Anglia, July 2006
Summer School, Glasgow School of Art, July 2005
Summer School, University of Plymouth, Exeter, July 2004
Summer School, University of Edinburgh, July 2003
Summer School, Essex, July 2002
Summer School, Birmingham, June 2001
Summer School, Reading, July 2000





Fountain Geyser Pool, Yellowstone National Park. Ansel Adams, ca. 1933-1942. U.S. National Archives Fountain Geyser Pool, Yellowstone National Park. Ansel Adams, ca. 1933-1942. U.S. National Archives