Troubling Borders: Art worlds in sites of conflict

Edwin Coomasaru, Courtauld Institute of Art
Sarah Kelleher, University College Cork
Rachel Warriner, Courtauld Institute of Art

Borders, bound up with the politics of gender, race, sexuality and sectarian identity, are troubling. There is a long history of anxiety about corporeal or geopolitical boundaries which has led to their framing in our current political moment as sites of crisis. When contested, borders can become threatening, as seen in recent rhetoric around migration and calls for militarised walls. Conventionally understood as relating to nationhood, borders exist in broader terms between communities and bodies, and thus invite tropes of complexity ‘typically assembled under the prefixes inter, trans, bi and cross’ (Michaelson and Johnson, Border Secrets, p.10). As such, the border as an intellectual entry point signals a locus of possibility, creativity and complex alliance as well as antagonism and complicity. While art history has often explored those individual practices that seek to re-think the borders that define personal and political experience, what has been less considered is the ways in which borders impact the operation of art worlds. Art worlds, here understood in Howard Becker’s terms as the networks and communities who facilitate the production of art according to shared understandings of its value, are also impacted by borders national, social and aesthetic. Thinking about troubled borders, this panel invites papers that will consider how art worlds are made under contested conditions, how focus on particular identities offers productive and supportive opportunities for creative work for anti-racist, feminist and queer communities, and how identifying across national borders helps develop new forms of collectivity.



Black British Art: Negotiating the borders of ‘Britishness’
Jennifer Sarathy (CUNY Graduate Center, New York)

Collective Re-worlding: Queer curatorial models
Quinn Garrison
(The University of Edinburgh)

Across Borders and Firewalls: Collective action, community and Electronic Civil Disobedience at the US/Mexico border
Elara Kyffin Shurety (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Iranian Art and the Global: Cementing and circumventing the border
Leili Sreberny-Mohammadi (NYU)

Northern Ireland on the Borders of Documentary and Abstraction

Catherine Spencer (University of St Andrews)

Destroying the Art Object to Revel in the Debris: An exploration of Maria Kulikovska’s Army of Clones and Let Me Say: It’s Not Forgotten
Kalyna Somchynsky (University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada)




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