2023 Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

We are thrilled to announce our 2023 keynotes:

  • susan pui san lok, artist, Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the University of the Arts London Decolonising Arts Institute
  • Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art, Yale University
  • Debra Higgs Strickland, Professor of Medieval Art History, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

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susan pui san lok is an artist and writer based in London. She joined UAL in June 2018 as a Reader, and was appointed Professor in Contemporary Art and Director of the Decolonising Arts Institute in October 2019. Prior to UAL, she was a Reader then Associate Professor in Fine Art in the Faculty of Arts and the Creative Industries at Middlesex University (2013-18). She was Co-Investigator on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project, Black Artists and Modernism (2015-18), led by UAL in partnership with Middlesex University, with Professor Sonia Boyce as Principal Investigator. She has also taught at the University of East London, Goldsmiths College, and guest-lectured widely, including at Alfred University, New York; Birkbeck College, London; Concordia University, Montreal; Courtauld Institute, London; HDK-Valand, Gothenburg University; Reed College, Portland, Oregon; Royal College of Art, London; Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London; UAL Central Saint Martins and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts; University of Leeds; and Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

Susan will present on: ‘Against and away from that hushing’: notes and scores for voices

What does it mean to speak in this space ‘for art history’? Speaking ‘to’ not ‘about’, speaking ‘with’ (in disparate company, scattered yet gathering, outside in)… Walking with the words of Trinh Minh-ha and Maria Lugones in my hands and ears, ‘against and away from that hushing of the manyness of the past in the present’, I assemble some off-key notes… to sound out some of the voicings and ventriloquisms echoing in my praxis of the last 30 years, to locate myself momentarily and uncomfortably ‘here’. Invoking words, gestures and interruptions that might be partially read, seen and heard (or not at all), I want to revisit and affirm these as small, tactical acts of disturbance and resistance, decolonial and otherwise. A farcical calling card (1995-ongoing), a disobliging ‘artist’s statement’, my ghosts of AAH conferences past (1998, 2008, 2018), and the multiplicity of voices coming into play in between and since – improvised choruses and ad hoc witnesses to mundane and fabulous displacements, to live archivery, aspiring and refusing (Notes on Return, 2003, Golden, 2005-, A COVEN A GROVE A STAND, 2019, seven x seven, 2021, Centenary, 2022, REWIND/REPLAY, 2022-23). How do you listen and attend to what you cannot hear?

Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art. He specializes in the eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century art of Britain and the British Empire, nineteenth-century American and German art and museum studies. Following positions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Universities of London and Birmingham in Great Britain, he came to Yale in 1998. In 2013-14 Tim Barringer held a J. Clawson Mills Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His books include ‘Reading the Pre-Raphaelites’ (Yale, 1998), ‘Men at Work: Art and Labour in Victorian Britain’ (Yale, 2005) ‘Opulence and Anxiety’ (2007), catalogue for an exhibition at Compton Verney, ‘Before and After Modernism’ (Central St Martins, 2010) and ‘David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life (Royal Academy, 2016). In 2018, a new collection of essays ‘Victorian Jamaica’ (co-edited with Wayne Modest) was published by Duke University Press.

Tim will present on: Art/Music/Empire: Intersectional Albertopolis

This paper examines the interwoven histories of art, music and imperial ideology in the emergence of the complex of institutions at South Kensington, founded after the Great Exhibition of 1851. These would come to include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal College of Art and the Royal College of Music. Histories of the performing arts and those of visual and material culture are generally considered in isolation. But close examination of the braiding of these early institutional histories can reveal how powerfully the problematic of empire has shaped Britain’s cultural landscape. Synergies of sound and vision were deployed as oppressively at Albertopolis as on the durbar fields of the Raj. A decolonizing re-examination of the South Kensington archives, however, makes possible a fuller understanding of the imperfect functioning of imperialism as a totalizing cultural system. The absorption of visual and sonic influences from colonized peoples was a form of appropriation that also destabilized the mythic structures of British identity formation. Counternarratives reveal fractures along lines of class, race, gender and sexuality and suggest ways in which the institutions of Albertopolis, still powerful today, contain dissident strains within their own histories.

Debra Higgs Strickland is an art historian concerned with the foundational presence of non-humans and non-Christians in late medieval and early modern visual cultures grounded in pejorative ideological traditions, on which she has published widely. Her best-known books are The Monsters of Hieronymus Bosch (2019), Medieval Bestiaries: Text, Image, Ideology (1995) and Saracens, Demons, and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art (2003). She sits on the Editorials Board of Studies in Iconography (journal) and is a member of the Advisory Board for Monsters and Marvels: Alterity in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds (monograph series).

Debra will present on: Difficult Places on the Hereford World Map (c. 1300)

What can a fourteenth-century map of the world tell us about a medieval worldview? The Hereford Map, the most celebrated and best preserved of the monumental mappae mundi, presents a schematic rendering of the then-known world’s landmasses and waterways, enriched by topographical features and hundreds of tiny figures and architectural icons explicated by hundreds more Latin and Anglo-Norman legends. Displayed in Hereford Cathedral for the edification of local clergy and international pilgrims and visitors from all walks of life, it has long been recognized as an important witness to medieval geographical, theological, encyclopaedic, biblical, bestiary, and travel traditions. Its simultaneously spatial and temporal presentation of not only the entire populated ecumene but also the whole of Christian salvation history–from Genesis to Judgement–invited each viewer to find their own place in this world and the next. However, certain places and the imagined habits of their inhabitants eluded the Christian salvational narrative, if not Christian experience. In this paper, I explore how these ‘difficult’ places pointed to more worldly concerns shared by the Map’s diverse viewers through representational (dis)placement of what we recognize today as race, gender, sexuality and other central human issues; thereby demonstrating how the mappae mundi provide unique opportunities for modern critical thinking about medieval difference.

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