From Afro-futurism to memorials and monuments, from dystopian prophecies to the celebration of an eternal return of American “greatness,” American culture is and has always been deeply engaged with the notion of time. This symposium will consider time as it relates specifically to the visual arts of the United States, from the 17th to the 21st century. In doing so, it will unveil time as a fundamental dimension to American culture, despite a long tradition emphasizing the centrality of space.
Over the past decades, a number of historical studies have demonstrated that time is not a straightforward or neutral framework. From discussing the emergence of standardized, rationalized time as concomitant with the rise of industrialization, to analysing the temporalities of colonialism, these studies have shown that the concept of time is historically determined and that it constantly evolves under the pressures of technological, social, and economic factors. Yet in the field of art history, and especially U.S. art history, studies devoted to time as it relates to the visual arts remain comparatively limited in scope and number. This symposium will address this absence by taking a long view at the development of the concept of time in American art and visual culture.
We invite contributions from scholars whose research focuses on the variety of strategies, devices, and formulations that artists used for the concept of time in their work. The symposium will investigate the historical dimensions of such issues as the temporalities of art making and art perception; the idea of the image as a way of arresting time or, on the contrary, time as an integral dimension of the artwork; notions of memory and anticipation; art as a bridge between the past and the future; the circulation and evolving reception of artworks over time; archives and historiographies; the development of timelines of art history or, on the contrary, the concept of art’s ahistoricity. Such comprehensive consideration of the notion of time seems to have particular urgency today, at a moment of intense reckoning with the enduring legacies of the past and the arresting inability to imagine the future, threatened by the climate crisis and the global pandemic.
- Please send a proposal (500 words maximum) and a short CV to: by June 30, 2021.
- Selected contributors will be notified by July 25, 2021
Organized by Hélène Valance, associate professor of American studies at Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté and CNRS research fellow at LARCA, Université de Paris, and Tatsiana Zhurauliova, associate researcher at LARCA, Université de Paris.
About Time : Temporality in American art and Visual Culture
Université de Paris, 4-5 novembre, 2021