Apr 10-12, 2014, Association of Art Historians 40th Anniversary Conference, Royal College of Art, London.
Paper delivered at the panel “Making Do – Materiality in the Conceptual Age” conveyed by Sophie Halart and Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra.
The emergence of conceptual art in the United States and post-war
Europe marked the most radical change of paradigm since Marcel
Duchamp’s ready-made. Advocating the ‘dematerialization’ of the art
object and a redefinition of art as a (self-) questioning language,
conceptualism challenged received ideas about the production and
circulation of artworks. Over recent years, a large body of research
has examined the development of conceptual practices in so-called
‘peripheral’ regions, such as Eastern Europe and Latin America, and the
ways in which they responded to the double imperative of resisting the
cultural hegemony of the West/North and opposing authoritarian regimes.
Yet the articulation of conceptualism as a critical category deserves
This panel re-examines conceptualism in the light of that which
it has tended to negate: materiality. Pertaining to the artwork’s
physical existence, as well as to its ability to trigger an embodied
relation with the audience, a reconsideration of materiality in
conceptual art raises questions about the historical conditions of
artistic production and the roles of gender and space within this
practice. What does materiality tell us about a conceptual piece? How
are the material and conceptual intertwined? How do different media
involved in conceptual art approach and treat matter? Is there such a
thing as a ‘return’ of materiality in the post-conceptual age? How are
these notions deployed institutionally? The panel assesses the
importance of exploring the interrelations of conceptualism and
materiality, and encourage comparison and dialogue between different
regions and timeframes.