Call: Representations – Struggles for Reality (1st International Symposium)

1st International Symposium
Representations – Struggles for Reality

Part of the Research Program on: Aesthetic Lives, Artistic Selves

International Network for Alternative Academia
(Extends a general invitation to participate)

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th of November, 2012
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Call for Papers

This trans-disciplinary project explores the creation, consumption and dissemination of representations. It aims to map out the relationship between representations, conceptions of the real and cultural constructions of reality. Examining representations as developing at the intersections of epistemological, political and ethical modes of enquiry, this symposium offers the opportunity to reflect on the practice and the theory of the constitution, legitimation and social implications of image, art and the new media.

We invite colleagues from all disciplines and professions interested in sharing these explorations in a collective, deliberative and dialogical environment to send presentation proposals that address these general questions or the following themes:

1. Real and Imaginary – A Political History

  • To Represent or To Reproduce?
    • How is it that representations reflect, reproduce and create our sense of reality?
    • How are representations and our concepts of reality interlaced and intertwined?
    • What role do abstractions, conversions and distortions play in the construction of representations and our bonds to ‘weighty’ conceptions of reality?
  • Power and Legitimacy
    • What is at stake in the battles over representation? What is the relationship between power, reality and representation?
    • What are the processes through which representations are legitimized and canonized?
    • How is a sense of belonging and identity established in and through media, art and/or artistic creation? How are the threads of power and the needs for legitimacy played out in this context?
    • How are self-representations to be assessed? How are misrepresentations to be responded to?
    • Who gets to name what is real? What standard of evaluation should be employed?
  • You Say You Want A Revolution?: Rebellious Representations
    • How are images and ideas transformed into action?
    • What is the role of representation in political activism, religious proselytism, and contestation movements?
    • How do representations fuel transformation and change? How do representations thwart such efforts?
    • How are representations contested? What are the spaces for such deliberations?

2. The Authentic, The Original, The Real

  • On Authenticity
    • In a world of reproduction, what is the meaning and the value of judgments of authenticity?
    • What factors and institutions fuel the quest for the perfect representation in art and science?
    • How are new technologies reconfiguring our understandings of authority and expertise?
    • Are distortions of reality necessarily destructive? What are the potential productive forces of distortion?
    • What does the return to the representative in contemporary representations reveal about present day conceptions of reality?
  • On Originality
    • What is the relationship between The Original and the original?
    • How are new understandings of originality reconfiguring our ideas of genius?
    • In an era defined by pastiche and bricolage, how is originality to be assessed?
    • Given the prevalence of prequels and sequels, remakes and remixes, are we bearing witness to the end of creativity and/or the end of originality?
    • How are forgeries and fakes to be defined, identified and valued?
    • What is the role of the signature in new forms of representation?
  • On Reality
    • How are images transformed into icons?
    • In what ways do icons reflect reality? In what ways do they deconstruct reality?
    • How are multiple realities to be represented?
    • How can emergent realities be captured?
    • In what manner should competing representations be assessed? What standards of evaluation should be employed?
    • What do pastiche, bricolage and hybridity reveal about our notions of reality?

3. Being, Becoming and Performing the Aesthetic

  • The Politics of Art and the Art of Politics
    • What are the conditions for the possibility of an aestheticization of politics? How are those conditions met in contemporary cultures?
    • What is the role of modern day patrons in the artworld?
    • How will the history of the politicization of art be written?
    • What does the history and the practice of curating reveal about the intersection of art and politics?
    • What does the structure, organization and operation of art schools reveal about the politics in and of art?
    • What factors shape and inform the development of a political economy of representations?
    • How are representations interpreted as political gestures?
  • Technology as Practice
    • How are new technologies for the creation, consumption and dissemination of representations leading us to reconceptualize The Artworld?
    • How is art being commodified in and through new media? How are new technologies shaping and being shaped by the commodification of art?
    • How do new technologies redefine our understanding of imagination?
    • How is the relationship between technology and practice being re-established in a post-internet era?
  • Creativity and Critique
    • How might art be conceived of as a form of critique?
    • Can creativity be charted? What new models of creativity might be offered to capture how reality is transformed by representation and representations are transformed by reality?
    • How might creativity be conceived of as critique?
    • How are digital and virtual representations leading us to define creativity?
    • What new horizons, new metaphors, new means for re-signifying life and experience in the virtual and non-virtual worlds are being envisioned?

If you are interested in participating in this Annual Symposium, submit a 400 to 500 word abstract by Friday 8th of June, 2012. Please use the following template for your submission:

First: Author(s);
Second: Affiliation, if any;
Third: Email Address;
Fourth: Title of Abstract and Proposal;
Fifth: The 400 to 500 Word Abstract.

To facilitate the processing of abstracts, we ask that you use Word, WordPerfect or RTF formats only and that you use plain text, resisting the temptation of using special formatting, such as bold, italics or underline.

Please send emails with your proposals to the Annual Symposium Coordination address ( with the following subject line: Representations – Struggles for Reality Abstract Proposal.

For every abstract proposal sent, we acknowledge receipt. If you do not receive a reply from us within one week you should assume we did not receive it. Please resend from your account and from an alternative one, to make sure your proposal does get to us.

All presentation and paper proposals that address these questions and issues will be fully considered and evaluated. Accepted abstracts will require a full draft paper by Friday 31st of August, 2012. Papers presented at the symposium are eligible for publication as part of a digital or paperback book.

We invite colleagues and people interested in participating to disseminate this call for papers. Thank you for sharing and cross-listing where and whenever appropriate.

Hope to meet you in Montreal!

Symposium Coordinators:

Cheryl Sim Commissaire Associée
DHC/ART Fondation pour l’art contemporain
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Wendy O’Brien
Professor of Social and Political Theory
School of Liberal Studies
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
General Coordinator
International Network for Alternative Academia
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Informational Note:

Alternative Academia is an international network of intellectuals, academics, independent scholars and practitioners committed to creating spaces, both within and beyond traditional academe, for creative, trans-disciplinary and critical thinking on key themes. We offer annual and biannual symposiums at sites around the world, providing forums that foster the development of new frames of reference and innovative structures for the production and expansion of knowledge and theory. Dialogue, discussion and deliberation define both the methods employed and the values upheld by this network.

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