Deadline: Sep 30, 2015
Global Art Challenges: Towards an “Ecology of Knowledges”
The International Conference Global Art Challenges: Towards an “Ecology of Knowledges” aims to reformulate established approaches to the study of global art in the face of ongoing challenges in that field. Building on sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santo’s concept of an “ecology of knowledges” (2007), the conference seeks to go beyond “abyssal thinking in modern Western-based conceptions” of art and to trace lines of inquiry into new epistemological approaches to global art studies. As theorized by de Sousa Santos, ecological thinking, understood as a counter-epistemology, recognizes the plurality of heterogeneous knowledge(s) and highlights the dynamic interconnections that exist between them. Hence, faced with a longstanding monocultural conception of knowledge and art an “ecology of knowledges” conceives of knowledge-as-intervention-in-reality rather than a hierarchical preference of Western knowledge(s) over other forms of knowing.
This approach proposes an emancipatory attempt to supersede predominant epistemological frameworks that continue to reproduce the power structures that have dominated Western thinking since the Renaissance. Despite the spatial turn of global studies, longstanding monocultural (Western) conceptions of knowledge and art continue to impact and shape the study of global art, as well as its theorization and the validation of artistic practices around the world. An “ecology of knowledges”, as suggested by de Sousa Santos, is a useful concept to counteract this perspective. It recognises the plurality of artistic knowledge(s) and its socio-political agency in modern and contemporary global art. This concept grapples with the current debates surrounding the need to reassess global art study’s methodological tools, calling for the importance of a transcultural and horizontal art history that puts the accent on transnational transfers, cultural encounters, circulatory and transformation processes.
This conference seeks to discuss, from a methodological, epistemological and practical perspective, the possibilities of developing an “ecology of knowledges” in art history, regarding also artistic and institutional practices. It looks for ways to overcome Western hierarchies and enter into a proactive dialogue between practices, methods and discourses. Such perspectives, we hope, will contribute to questioning taxonomies, values, temporalities, and dichotomies that have not just been a part of the art historic discipline since its foundation, but that have been imposed as universal and taken-for-granted. Finally, the conference seeks to become a platform for debating the possibilities of breaking that (Western-dominated) view within art history, seeking a starting point for a change of paradigm in the understanding of global art.
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