A Bacchanal of Truth

Day: Thursday 5 April

Aron Vinegar (University of Oslo)

Session Abstract

‘Look out!’ I read this headline for the Annual Conference as a provocation launched in extremis. In the spirit of such an interpretation, this session is an exploration of the logic and passion of exaggeration, extravagance, hyperbolics, extremist positions, and excessive statements in and around art, art history, criticism, visual studies, philosophy and politics. It is an attempt to plumb the possibilities for and the necessity of exaggeration in order to generate new modes and thresholds of truth that do not entail adding knowledge to knowledge. Quintilian defined hyperbole as ‘the proper straining of the truth’; Thoreau wrote, ‘I am convinced that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression’; Badiou notes that, ‘(All) truths are woven from extreme consequences. Truth is always extremist’; and Hanna Arendt provocatively states that ‘all thought is exaggeration’. This panel is not primarily interested in obvious examples taken from high modernism – ‘the age of extremes’ in art and politics – but rather in exploring modes of exaggeration concerning art’s relationship to aesthetics, truth, and politics in and for our time.

Are there different modalities or new techniques that we need to invent, and that we might add to those like hyperbole, assertion, tautology, rage, ellipses, or polemos? Does postmodernism and much of its aftermath necessarily mark the emergence of a postextremist state of consciousness, a ‘neo-mediocre climate’? If capitalism is predicated on its ability to produce and absorb all excess, what are we to do? What about our current political climate and its extremisms?

Speakers and Papers

Tom Wilkinson (The Warburg Institute, London) Honest Dollars: Why did money start telling the truth during the German Hyperinflation, and could it do the same today?

Ingrid Halland (University of Oslo, Norway) ‘Nothing better than a touch of ecology and catastrophe.’ On Jean Baudrillard’s attempt to destroy the environment, 1970

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (Queens’ College, Cambridge) Reality Machine: Contested (visual) regimes of truth in a postfactual era. One exhibition, two Latin American cases

Amanda Boetzkes (University of Guelph, Canada) Annie Pootoogook’s Realism and the Plenitude of the Object

Naomi Vogt (University College London) Where’s my magnetic trains and my electricness? Exuberance as form in the work of Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch

Emily Watlington (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) Decorative, Domestic, Dumb: Lily van der Stokker’s feminist flatness

Alison Alder (Australian National University School of Art and Design) POSTED EXTRAVAGANZAS: The art of
exaggeration and the political poster

Larne Abse Gogarty (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) Too Much: Excess and commitment in contemporary art and criticism


Art and Law: Objects and Spaces as Legal Actors

Day: Saturday 8 April

Jack Hartnell (University of East Anglia)
Kevin Lotery (Sarah Lawrence College, New York)

Session Abstract

This session considers the intersections between visualculture and the law. Art history has long investigated the role of the law, from issues of visual evidence and legal aesthetics to ideas of artistic originality and authorship. But recent scholarship has increasingly drawn attention to the ways in which art can participate in the law’s actual operation. This session aims to broaden these investigations along historical and disciplinary lines by tracing the long history of artistic intrusions into legal life, focusing on moments when art and architecture, broadly defined, have functioned as legal actors in their own right.

How have aesthetic objects past and present actively shaped the production and execution of the law as witnesses or juridical subjects in themselves? How have artists approached the courtroom as a site of artistic production and intervention? And in what ways has aesthetic production sought to short-circuit legal structures or forward alternative, even utopian, legal systems?

Speakers and Papers

Legal Architectures

Matthew Wells
(Victoria & Albert Museum / Royal College of Art) Architectural Models as Evidence and Actors in the 19th Century

Olga Touloumi
(Bard College) Building the Case, c1945

Affect and the Courtroom

Daniel Zolli (The Pennsylvania State University) Bell on Trial: Legal authority, agency, and exile in the ‘Piagnona’ of San Marco

Lela Graybill (University of Utah) The Forensic Eye and the Public Mind: The Bertillon system of crime scene photography

Law and Borderlines

Elsje van Kessel (University of St Andrews) Legal Agency, Asian material culture, and the freedom of the seas c1600
Stacey Vorster (University of the Witwatersrand / University of Amsterdam) Rehabilitating Images of Justice in Post- Apartheid South Africa

Johanna Gosse (University of Colorado, Boulder) Border Land Art: Social practice as transborder legal action in postcommodity’s Repellent Fence (2015)