Summer Symposium

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

Art & Ephemerality
26-27 June
University of Bristol

Keynote Speakers

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 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?

The conference will cover all periods and contexts that engage with the relation between art and ephemerality within aesthetic, cultural, social, and material frameworks. 

Tickets, pre-book online
AAH member: £18
Full price: £26
*University of Bristol students and alumni: £7

these tickets are subsidised through the generous support of the University of Bristol's Art History Deptartment

Tickets for the two-day symposium includes a guided tour of the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) exhibition The Powers of the Sea, lunch and refreshments over both days. It doesn't include accommodation, but click here for local places to stay at reasonable rates.

Lunch and dinner
A sandwich lunch will  be provided, but there are plenty of cafes and shops close by too. Delegates attending the symposium are invited to attend an evening meal at a local restaurant on Thursday 26 June. This will be self-paying, but will cost about £15 for two-courses. Please let us know if you'd be interested in dinner as we need to know numbers. Indicate on the booking form if you'd like to attend the self-paying dinner.

Cabelle Ahn (Bard Graduate Centre), Peter Bengtsen (Lund University), Anna Blair (University of Cambridge), Nina Cahill (University of Kassel), Kim Clayton-Greene (University of Melbourne), Sophie Kromholz (University of Glasgow), Jane Partner (University of Cambridge), Amanda Sciampacone (Birkbeck, University of London), Roberta Serpolli (Ca' Foscari University, Venice), Freya Spoor (University of Edinburgh), Ellen Wagner (University of Offenbach), Jungyoon Yang (University of Amsterdam).

Full List of Papers

Cabelle Ahn
( Bard Graduate Center)
Neither Medium nor Message: Drawing and the Documentation of Performance Art since the 1960s

Peter Bengtsen
(Lund University)
The Value of Street Art: on the Commodity Status of Artworks Removed from the Street

Anna Blair
(University of Cambridge)
Spectacle to Collectable: Illuminated Fountains and L'Illustration at the 1931 Colonial Exposition

Nina Cahill
(University of Kassel)
Ephemerality and Theatricality as Strategies of Visualisation in Seventeenth Century Dutch Painting

Kim Clayton-Greene
(University of Melbourne)
Displaying the Print in the Non-existent Nineteenth-Century Home

Sophie Kromholz
(University of Glasgow)
‘From Dust to Dust’—Completion through Loss and Rethinking the Role of Documentation, Memory, and the Archive as Alternative Means of Conservation

Jane Partner
(University of Cambridge)
The Ephemerality of the Body: Human Tissue as a Material in Contemporary Sculpture

Amanda Sciampacone
(Birkbeck, University of London)
The Ephemerality of Disease: Cholera, the Spectral, and Nineteenth-Century Print Culture

Roberta Serpolli
(Ca’ Foscari University)
Ephemerality and Permanence: Minimal, Conceptual and Phenomenal Art in the Panza di Biumo Collection

Freya Spoor
(University of Edinburgh)
The Transience of the Pastel Medium and the Fate of the Short-lived Society of British Pastelists, 1888–1890

Ellen Wagner
(University of Offenbach)
Sculpture of the Post-Ephemeral

Jungyoon Yang
(University of Amsterdam)
The Transformation of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Wedding Booklets: from Nuptial Ephemerae to Artistic Monumenta

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

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

This event is supported by The Alumni Foundation, University of Bristol  and the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA)

  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