Exhibiting Gender, Curating Conflict: Body Politics and Affective Objects in Art and Museums

6 June 2017, 9.00 AM - 6 June 2017, 5.00 PM

Keynote speaker: Christine Sylvester, University of Connecticut

Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort Gardens, University of Bristol

Exhibiting Gender, Curating Conflict: Body Politics and Affective Objects in Art and Museums

Venue: Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort Gardens, University of Bristol
Date: Tuesday 6 June 2017

Preliminary programme details GRC/GIC Workshop: exhibiting gender (PDF, 534kB)

Registration and tea/coffee, Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort Gardens
Short introduction by Audrey Reeves (University of Bristol) and Charlotte Heath-Kelly (University of Warwick)
Panel 1. Exhibiting gender: The curation of sexed and gendered bodies - chaired by Charlotte Heath-Kelly; discussant: Audrey Reeves 
  • Claire Corkill (Council of British Archaeology) and Kit Heyam (University of Leeds), ‘Gender nonconformity at Knockaloe internment camp: Representing polyvocal narratives’
  • Cami Rowe (Goldsmiths College, University of London), ‘State borders as sites of personal artefact curation: Creative challenges’
  • Maria Fannin (University of Bristol), ‘Gender, pregnancy and the placenta in the medical museum’
Tea and coffee break
Panel 2. Curating conflict: Remembering violence and politicising death in urban exhibitions - discussant: Elisa Wynne-Hughes (Cardiff University)
  • Terrell Carver (University of Bristol), ‘The People’s Pavements: The baldosas por la memoria of Buenos Aires’
  • Audrey Reeves (University of Bristol), ‘Auto-ethnography and the study of affect and emotion in world politics: Investigating security discourses at London’s Imperial War Museum’
  • Ciara Merrick (University of Bristol), ‘The gallery of Belfast’s walls: Remembering the Troubles and troubling remembrance through feminist interventions’ (TBC)
Lunch. Packed lunches will be available in the Verdon-Smith Room
Roundtable. Feminism, visual art, and wartime memory: a conversation with Gail Ritchie,
  • Gail Ritchie (Queen Street Studios, Belfast). Introducing ‘Little Acts of Cruelty’ and other works.
Followed by discussion from:
  • Elspeth Van Veeren (University of Bristol)
  • Deborah Withers (University of Bristol)
  • Azlan Ratin (University of Bristol)
  • Marysia Zalewski (Cardiff University) (TBC)
Tea and coffee break
Keynote address by Christine Sylvester (University of Connecticut): ‘The American Wars in Vietnam and Iraq: Whose War is on View?’-chaired by Terrell Carver (University of Bristol).
Wine reception
Feminist heritage walk from workshop to dinner venue, led by Stevie Youssef (University of Bristol)
Workshop dinner - Olive Shed


Workshop description

The gendered nature and power of public exhibitions has long sparked feminist interest and activism. National art galleries, history museums, and war memorials glorify statesmen, captains, and soldiers as the makers of war and history. Meanwhile, the same public exhibits represent women as passively grateful for these men’s desire, protection, and sacrifice. Women and the feminist movement have nonetheless often taken hold of art and exhibitions to disrupt the narrative that while men fight foreign men on the battlefield, women are kept safe and pacified at home. From the suffragettes to the Guerrilla Girls collective, artists, activists, and curators have denounced diverse forms of gender-based violence, and showcased alternative narratives of conflict and peace. As museums evolve to integrate digital technologies, popular culture, and interactive experiences, feminist enquiries remain essential to investigate the curation of conflict. How do increasingly global, digital, and commercial museums and galleries construct gender through the medium of the exhibit? And how is conflict – in the home, in the streets, on the battlefield – represented by curators and experienced by visitors? This workshop invites researchers, artists, and curators to interrogate museums and art as sites where common sense about gender, peace, and conflict is seamlessly reproduced and actively challenged. It also opens an exploration of exhibits’ power to affect and inspire feminist research. Empirically, exhibits and artefacts under study may be located anywhere in the world. We hope that cross-national perspectives can inform a joint reflection with local curators and artists on art and museums in Bristol, the UK, and beyond.

We seek contributions at various stages of development – work in progress or at early stages is very welcome – on the following topics, inter alia:

          • Feminism and women’s bodies in art/exhibition
          • Gender in the curation of violence and war
          • Intersectionality and representations of race, ethnicity, and imperial heritage
          • Curatorial performances in conversation with queer/feminist theory
          • Performance, embodiment, and sensation in exhibitions
          • The gender politics of affect and emotion at the museum
          • Materiality, spatiality, and technology in curatorial practices
          • Feminist political economy of art and exhibitions

Please note that while the workshop is free to attend, unfortunately we cannot provide funding for transport or accommodation.

Contact information

Conveners: Dr Audrey Reeves, University of Bristol, audrey.reeves@bristol.ac.uk and Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly, University of Warwick c.heath-kelly@warwick.ac.uk

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