18 -19/03/20 – CFP – Picturing Tomorrow: Future-directed Imagination in American Art

Posted on November 22, 2019

March 18-19, 2020, Université Paris Nanterre

– March 18, 2020 : 18h00 dans la salle de conférence de la fondation Terra
– March 19, 2020 : de 9h30 à 17h30 à l’Université Nanterre

How do we understand the concept of the future? Is it inevitable and shaped by a long sequence of events and interconnected chance occurrences? Or do we conceive of it as something that is determined by our actions and decisions in the present day? Is it a pure potentiality, a promise of a radically different world and yet unimaginable existence? Or is it something that is forever unreachable, something that defines our experience of the present as a perpetual state of deferral and transience?

Historically, these questions have inspired a variety of political, cultural, and discursive formulations that have informed different, period-specific concepts of the future. In this regard, art has been instrumental in giving form to the shifting definitions of the future—a few examples include nineteenth-century visions of territorial, economic, and epistemological progress; an understanding of the future as a rapture, inherent in the historical avant-gardes’ reliance on the strategies of shock and estrangement; or postmodernist emphasis on immanence as a means to constantly retrieve the future moment into the political and social arena of today.

This study day aims to explore the trajectory of future-directed imagination in American art from the 18th century to the 1980s. We invite papers that focus on the variety of strategies, devices, and formulations that artists used for the concept of the future in their work.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • images of utopia and/or dystopia;
  • projections for economic and territorial expansion;
  • apocalyptic visions;
  • the influence of social engineering theories and programs;
  • speculation, understood as either a speculative impulse within the artistic practice itself or as a response to financial and real-estate market speculation;
  • the influence of European Futurism on American art;
  • the relationship between science fiction and the visual arts;
  • Afrofuturism;
    anticipatory impulse in art and artists’ writings;
  • commemorative practices and the relationship between the future and memories of the past.

Papers may be in French or English. To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of 250 words, and a two-page CV to:

Deadline: December 30, 2019.

The event is organized by Tatsiana Zhurauliova, Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow at the Université Paris Nanterre and Université Paris Diderot, in collaboration with these affiliated institutions.