Blood in Modern and Contemporary Art

Session Convenors

Neil MacDonald Independent

Camilla Mørk Røstvik University of St Andrews

Session Abstract

Art practices that involve human blood have a long and controversial history. Blood has often been considered shocking, despite the ubiquity and frequently benign presence of blood in everyday life. Since at least the 1970s, artists have used blood to open up debates about gender identity, disease, racism and violence. These works draw upon blood’s potency as both metaphor and physical matter. A resolutely liminal substance, blood can convey life and death, masculinity and femininity, nutrition and threat. Blood has also been used by artists to explore issues of inheritance, memory and history in relation to racial, class and national identities. Blood can be seen as separating and demarcating communities but also as erupting across and disrupting boundaries.

This panel seeks to examine the distinct capacity of blood to explore the multiplicity and complexity of identities and histories being articulated in art and culture today. At a moment when art’s histories are increasingly discussed in interdisciplinary and comparative terms, blood is well positioned as a meeting point between art history and many other fields, such as the medical humanities, cultural studies, anthropology, religious studies and performance studies. We therefore encourage papers drawing inspiration from these disciplines.

We welcome proposals for 25-minute papers engaging with art and blood, including (but not limited to) the following themes: Menstruation; HIV/AIDS and blood diseases; Censorship; Blood as pollutant or nutrient; Post-Colonial theory; Blood, race and racism; Identity; Violence; Abortion, childbirth and pregnancy; Blood as paint; Blood as protest.

To offer a paper
Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenors, details above.

Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because it will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018

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