Resistance, Art and Visual Thinking


9 November 2023


Full Programme


Resistance, Art and Visual Thinking

André Gide, the French existential author wrote, “Art begins with resistance – at the point where resistance is overcome” (Poétique). If art begins at resistance, where does it end, and indeed, can it? The context of this conference, taking place against the backdrop of global conflict and socio-political struggle, along with the inflammatory and divisive rhetoric of the so-called ‘culture wars’, make this an important and timely platform for ideas of resistance. Artworks, as physical objects, could be said to privilege the visual, and it is in this re-orientation of the visual and verbal that resistance can so effectively become manifest. W. J. T. Mitchell reminds us that the ‘pictorial’ or visual should be viewed as a ‘post-linguistic, post-semiotic rediscovery … a complex interplay between visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality.’ (1994: 16) This nexus of sensory, cultural, and political interactions forms the basis for our explorations of art, resistance, and visual thinking.

Resistance in art can take many forms. Whilst the most obvious form of resistance might be said to be political, resistance can also manifest in a deeply personal or abstract aesthetic sense. We are interested in exploring the multifaceted ways in which visual thinking in/as art can articulate resistance in some shape or form.

The key questions addressed by this conference include: How can art embody resistance in its form and/or creation? How do narratives of resistance inform the art object’s cultural, social, and political histories? How can ‘visual thinking’ subvert and unsettle hegemonic power structures in local, national, and international contexts? Is it an act of resistance itself to usurp language in favour of the visual? How can artists and artworks form international and intersectional networks of resistance across place and time?


This annual online conference, organised by the Doctoral and Early Career Research committee of the Association for Art History, showcases research from International Masters students and first-year PhD candidates. This year we explore issues of Resistance, Art and Visual Thinking over a broad range of historical periods and geographic regions. See the full programme.

  • Ekow Eshun (Creative Director, Writer, Broadcaster and winner of the AAH Curatorial Prize 2023 for ‘In the Black Fantastic’ at the Hayward Gallery)
  • Mira Xenia Schwerda (Art Historian, Curator and Managing Director of Khamseen)
  • Rachel Winter (Curator and Innovative Museum Educator, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University)


Global New Voices 2023 is organised by Sophie Kazan and Tom Metcalf on behalf of the DECR committee of the Association for Art History and is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as doctoral and early career researchers.


While this reading group is ticketed (£3 for members of the Association for Art History, £5 for non-members) we do not want finances to be a barrier to inclusion. Please email us ( if you cannot afford a ticket or student membership to the Association, and we will book you free of charge, no questions asked.

Book now!

Image: Nabil Kanso, The Split of Life, 1976, Courtesy of the Nabil Kanso Estate. 

Photos of keynotes (l-r): Ekow Eshun, photo: Zeinab Batchelor; Mira Xenia Schwerda; Rachel Winter.

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