[artinfo] CFP: Between Democracies 1989-2014,

Andreas Broeckmann broeckmann at leuphana.de
Thu Mar 6 12:28:12 CET 2014

From: Karen von Veh <karenv at uj.ac.za>
Date: Mar 6, 2014
Subject: CFP: Between Democracies 1989-2014 (Johannesburg, 13-15 Mar 15)

University of Johannesburg (Faculty of Art, 
Design and Architecture), South Africa, March 13 
- 15, 2015
Deadline: Jul 31, 2014

Call for Papers

Between democracies 1989-2014: Remembering, narrating and reimagining
the past in Eastern and Central Europe and Southern Africa

Keynote speakers:
Prof Achille Mbembe, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser)

Contemporary theoretical framework for the conference: South Africa
and Eastern and Central Europe

'South Africa' refers to a geographical location as well as to a
constructed cultural space. In 1994, new ideological and political
shifts in South Africa were entrenched by a neo-liberal democracy.
Artists and art historians have in recent years revisited the
contestations interconnected with the ideas of a racialised and
gendered political landscape and the renegotiation of constructed
social spaces. Post-apartheid South Africa from 1994 to 2014 is marked
by the initially jubilant ideals of nation-building strategies such as
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the notions of the Rainbow
Nation and the African Renaissance as vehicles to grapple with the
social constructions of identities in a 'new' South Africa. These
strategies reflected a rationalisation of the post-colonial recovery
with a sense of self and place and were premised on the assumptions of
interchange, mixing, inter/transculturations, hybridity and

In the 1990s, paradigm shifts were noted in the international
mainstream art arena. New York was no longer the international art
capital, Eastern and Central European artists were now more visible as
a result of the end of the Cold War and South African art was awarded
several international platforms. But many South African artists
continued their artistic practices of the 'struggle years'. They were
also under enormous pressure both at home and from abroad to visually
embody the political changes, as well as to explore innovative
approaches in their art. Art produced in the public domain of South
Africa is still located in the political place of unresolved
identities and remains in search of a recovery of self. Historical and
political disruptions of transforming contexts periodically propelled
artists into spaces of contention and disjuncture in continuing and
discontinuing artistic practices. Contemporary artworks in the
national South African context encompass representations of place,
memory, active ideological forces in society, new public places and
acculturated places of intermingling and negotiation.

The 'post-communist condition' is not restricted to the space of the
former Eastern Europe, but it also affects 'the former West'. It has
become at least a pan-European phenomenon, if not a global one, taking
into account the pervasiveness of capitalist relations in the present
world order. Instead of defining a clearly regulated geographical
space, the expression has rather referred to a heterogeneous and
conflicting discursive terrain. The collapse of the Berlin Wall
prompted a reimagining of the formerly divided Europe on the grounds
of different political imaginaries, economies and bio-political
regimes. This process has been regarded as dependent on a shifting
temporal logic ("back from the future", as Boris Groys puts it),
pertaining to a post-utopian attitude, given the prospective dimension
of communist utopia. Artists and curators revisited the logic of
modernity and explored its unrealised possibilities (Svetlana Boym),
while at the same time questioning contested territorial marks and
processes of un-belonging. From a socialist perspective, the recent
crisis of global capital requires a reconsideration of social
relations constructed by the Soviet imaginary, proposing alternative
economies of knowledge and desire and different imagined collectives.

In relation to temporality, issues of identity and reconstruction of
the private and the collective selves became central themes in the
recently unmarked and de-territorialised places of the 'former East'.
Thus, the question of coping with the socialist past and its heritage
has been an important political issue in much of the art after 1989,
overlapping issues of gender, ethnicity, class and national belonging.
It has been dealt with primarily by means of a psychoanalytical
approach, for which terms such as trauma, amnesia and desire pervaded
art historical explanation of recent shifts in those societies and
their art. Equally important is the post-colonial perspective,
according to which the reconstruction of collective identities
corresponding with a shifting political and social imaginary and the
gradual disruption of the social fabric in an unstable political
milieu are key factors in understanding many of the artistic concerns
with their present, as well as, and especially with their past. In
this respect, an "aesthetics of post-history", as envisaged by Irit
Rogoff in order to deal with the German art after the Holocaust, may
be considered in relation to the ways in which collective and personal
memory of the communist past is represented, performed, its former
narratives and certitudes critically destabilised or its effigies
commercialised in recent political gestures and artistic practices.

Sub themes:
- uses and limitations of postcolonial theory in art historical methodologies
- constructs of place and political disruption
- the discourse of memory and commemoration - 
transforming ideologies - new contexts of 
- acculturated places of intermingling and 
negotiation - negotiating postcolonial identities
- national (re)constructions and their visual representations

Send a 300 word abstract to: Judy Peter (PhD), 
eesa at uj.ac.za Deadline for abstracts: 31 July, 
The conference proceedings will be published in a peer reviewed volume.

Judy Peter (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Cristian Nae (George Enescu" University of Arts, Iasi, Romania)
Ljiljana Kole”nik (Institute of Art History, Croatia)
Karen von Veh (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CFP: Between Democracies 1989-2014 (Johannesburg, 
13-15 Mar 15). In: H-ArtHist, Mar 6, 2014. 


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