Agents of Change: Process, Transformation and Decentring Art’s Histories

Join us for a one-day symposium of research from emerging scholars in the field with our keynote speaker Christine Eyene, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art (Liverpool John Moores University) and Research Curator (Tate Liverpool).

Symposium Date: Friday 28 June 2024, 10am-6pm

Location: Liverpool John Moores University, (Redmonds Building, Lecture Theatre 2)



Members of the Doctoral and Early Career Researcher (DECR) Committee Bea Gassmann De Sousa, Amy Melia, and Sonny Ruggiero are delighted to bring you Agents of Change, the Association for Art History’s 2024 Summer Symposium.

Held at Liverpool John Moores University, this gathering will bring together a group of emerging researchers thinking critically about how decentring approaches can incite significant changes in art and society alike. Each of the symposium’s selected speakers will focus on the themes of process, transformation and decentring in their research, exploring from a variety of perspectives, the underlying processes through which art can function as an agent of change.

In art history, significant change can be of material or social impact. Art emerges and evolves from complex subjective, material and social processes. These can often involve radical transformations and critical attempts to decentre art’s histories. What are the social or material processes of change artworks can embody, engendering and blending possibilities at the intersections of art and science, or art and activism? Which aesthetic or alchemical transformations can impact profoundly on known frameworks of art history? How do artists, cultural agents, and art movements inspire changes that shift focus away from the dominant narratives and discourses of art history, towards those historically characterised as being ‘in the periphery’ of the Global North? This symposium offers an opportunity to examine pivotal moments of change and explore their impact in detail.

A catered lunch/coffee is included for all attendees.


10.10                 Opening remarks by Bea Gassmann de Sousa and Amy Melia (DECR)

10.30-12.00       Panel 1 | Transforming Institutions: Decentring, Activism and Otherness

Naomi Polonsky, Early Career Researcher, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge ‘Burnt to a Crisp’: St Edmund, Natural Beauty and Perpetual Ecological Change

Marta Marsicka, PhD Candidate, University of the Arts London

Genius From the Periphery – Revisiting ‘Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle of Thread and Rope’ Exhibition at TATE Modern

Giulia Menegale, PhD Candidate, IMT (School for Advanced Studies)

Piercing the Museum: “Museum Situado”, A Collaborative Network Between The Museo National Centro De Arte Reina Sofia and the Lavapiés

Adi Lerer, PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London Critique as an Invitation – Practicing Otherness with the Museum

12.00-13.00      Lunch Break

13.15-14.45       Panel 2 | Challenging the Narrative: Crisis, Politics, Mythologisation

Alessandra Faccini, PhD Candidate, Politecnico di Torino

Italian Artistic Activism in Time of Precarity: Labour, Autonomy, and Social Change.

Yitao Qian, PhD Candidate, SOAS, University of London

Branding ‘New China’: Utilising Woodblock Facsimiles to Restore Cultural Orthodoxy

Ella Flavell, PhD Candidate, University of Warwick The Mythologisation of Carlo Zinelli

Anna Voke, PhD Candidate, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne On Deformation: Radical Ceramics in the Age of the Antropocene

14.45-15.00      Coffee Break

15.00-16.30      Panel 3 | Critical Matter: Race, Identity and Materiality

Kathleen Rawlings, PhD Candidate, University of Oxford

Art/Work: Labour, Race, and Resistance in the Landscapes of Moses Tladi and John Mohl

Kalvin Schmidt-Rimpler Dinh, PhD Candidate, University College London

‘Abrupt stops and unexpected liquidity’: Sound, Sight, and Race in the Collages of Romare Bearden

Man Li, PhD Candidate, University of York

National Identity and Beyond: A Popular Culture Perspective on Cao Fei’s RMB City Series

16.30-16.45      Coffee Break


Keynote: Christine Eyene, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art, Liverpool John Moores University and Research Curator, Tate Liverpool

17.45-18.00       Closing Remarks

Image: Madeleine Mbida, Eight in Red (detail), 2016. Oil paint on canvas, 99 x 80 cm. Private collection. Courtesy the artist.

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