Decolonising History: Visualisations of Conflict in a ‘Post-War’ Europe.


Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art: University College London

University College London: Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, Gower St.

The conference seeks to engage with and challenge the notion of a ‘post-war Europe’ through the lens of artistic, photographic and filmic visualisations of decolonial struggles and their legacies. Writing in reference to France’s imperial and colonial past, in her book From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962 (2014) Hannah Feldman has argued that the notion of a ‘post-war’ Europe occludes many of the conflicts which evolved after the end of the Second World War. These conflicts are manifest not only in the decolonial and liberation struggles in European colonies such as Algeria (1954-62), Angola (1961-74) or Indochina (1946-54), but in the displacement, migrations, and subsequent struggles for ‘citizenship’ and equal rights faced by colonial and ‘post-colonial’ migrants in Europe. The conference proposes to consider these social, political and cultural shifts through the lens of visual culture. 

Sat 18 March 2017

09:30 Introduction (Stephanie King and Katarzyna Falęcka, UCL)

10:00 Panel One: Mapping the Landscape (Chair: Tom Snow, UCL)

  • Dr Colin Sterling (UCL), Visualising Varosha: Activist Collecting and the Performance of Photography ‘at the Margins’
  • Clare Carolin (Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford), The Inadmissible Image of England’s Ireland: Ken Howard’s Watercolour Paintings of the Troubles
  • Dr Fiona Allen (University of Leeds) Rethinking Colonial Modernism: Architecture, Decolonization and Contemporary Art

11:30 Break

11:50 Panel 2: Mediating War (Chair: Helena Vilalta, UCL)

  • Professor Martin Evans (University of Sussex), Photography, Film, Posters: Competing Visual Narratives and Violence during the Algerian War 1954-62
  • Afonso Ramos (UCL), Heads Will Roll: Picking a War with Photography: Angola, 1961
  • Dr Emilie Goudal (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris), The Damned of History: Fictional Sources of the Algerian War as Archives of the Present Time
  • 13:20 Lunch (not provided)

14:20 Panel 3: Common visions/contested alliances (Chair: Dr Sandra Plummer, Slade School of Art)

  • Dr Klara Kemp Welch (Courtauld Institute of Art) Cultural Non-Alignments: Visualisations of Conflict and Solidarity at the Ljubljana Graphic Arts Biennial
  • Dr Kieran Connell (Queen’s University Belfast) Photographing Handsworth: race, rioting and the politics of community 
  • Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann (Plymouth University) Community, solidarity and struggle: Ray Walker’s East London murals as sites of realist contestation
  • 15:50 Break

16:00 Keynote Lecture: Dr Ros Gray (Goldsmiths University), Filmmaking in the Liberated Zones: The worldly resonances of Frelimo, from armed struggle to the formation of a revolutionary nation-state in Mozambique. Chair: Afonso Dias Ramos (UCL).

17:15 Wine Reception (History of Art Department, Seminar Room 3/4, 20 Gordon Square)

Ros Gray is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Critical Studies in the Art Department at Goldsmiths. Her research explores the trajectories of militant filmmaking, particularly in relation to liberation struggles and revolutionary movements in Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso, and more recently the intersections between artistic practices and decolonial environmentalism. She is the author of numerous articles in journals including ARTMargins, The Journal of Visual Cultures, The Journal of African Cinemas and Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture. Ros has contributed to books such as Postcommunist Film: Russian, Eastern European and World Culture; the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies; Renée Green: Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams and a three volume book published in Portuguese on the history of filmmaking in Angola entitled Angola – O Nascimento de uma Nação. Ros was co-editor with Kodwo Eshun of a special issue of Third Text entitled The Militant Image: A Ciné-Geography, and co-curated a number of related film programmes at Iniva in London and at Musée Quai de Branly in Paris. She is on the Editorial Board of Third Text, and is currently preparing two publications – a monograph entitled The Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution and a special issue of Third Text on the topic of Botanical Conflicts: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Soil and Planting.

Colin Sterling is a Project Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects. His PhD, which investigated the interrelationship of heritage and photography in Cyprus and Cambodia, was awarded in September 2015. He is co-coordinator of the Research Network Archaeology/Heritage/Art at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, and an Associate of the heritage consultancy Barker Langham. He is currently writing a monograph provisionally entitled Heritage (Re)framed: Photography, Memory and the Affective Past.

Clare Carolin is a Graduate Researcher at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford and the Imperial War Museum, London. Her research is supported by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award and focuses on the IWM’s programme of commissioning contemporary art in response to conflicts involving British troop deployment in the period after 1968. Previously, she was Senior Research Tutor and Deputy Head of Programme in the Curating Contemporary Art Department at the Royal College of Art, Exhibitions Curator at the Hayward Gallery and Senior Curator at Modern Art Oxford. She holds an MA (Hons) in Art History from the University of Edinburgh, and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art. She has taught, lectured, published and curated exhibitions internationally and is Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, Philippines with whom she is currently developing an exhibition on the subject of nationalism inspired the work of Benedict Anderson.

Fiona Allen received her PhD from the University of Leeds in July 2016. Her thesis explored how the architectural legacies of French colonial rule have been addressed within contemporary art. She has published her research in a range of journals, including Art & the Public Sphere, parallax and Architecture Beyond Europe, and is currently programming a Southeast Asian film festival to be held at SOAS in June 2017.

Martin Evans is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Algeria: France’s Undeclared War (Oxford University Press, 2012) and (with John Phillips) Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed (Yale, 2007). He is presently co-curating an exhibition entitled Paris-London: Global Cities that will open at the French National Immigration Museum in Paris in October 2018. He is a member of the History Today editorial board to which he also regularly contributes.

Afonso Dias Ramos is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History of Art at University College London. The focus of his doctoral research is the relationship between political violence and photography in contemporary art, exploring and confronting the recent artistic legacy of the liberation and civil war in Angola (1961-2002) in countries such as Angola, Cuba, Portugal, South Africa, or the US. His research interests focus mainly on visual studies, photography theory, and colonial history. Recent publications include the articles ‘Imageless in Angola: Appropriating Photography’ (2015), “‘Rarely penetrated by camera or film’ – NBC’s Angola: Journey to War (1961)’ (2017), and ‘Photography and Propaganda in the Late Portuguese Empire: Volkmar Wentzel’s Assignments for National Geographic Magazine’ (2017).

Emilie Goudal is a postdoctoral fellow at the German Center for Art History (Paris). She held a fellowship from the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs at Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC) Tunis (2009-2011) and received her PhD in Art History from University Paris Ouest Nanterre. Her thesis will be edited in 2017 at the Presses du réel under the titled France faces her History. International visual artists and the Algerian War (1954-2014). Her research focuses on the interconnection between art, history, politics and collective memory in France and Algeria in the de/postcolonial context. She is the author of several papers on these topics, including an article entitled ‘Frantz Fanon iconique? Pensées à voir, l’Algérie de Fanon dans les arts visuel’ which will be published in Perspective: actualité en histoire de l’art, journal of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris in December 2017.

Klara Kemp-Welch is Lecturer in 20th Century Modernism at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She was educated at University College London and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, completing a PhD in Art History in 2008 under Professor Briony Fer and joining the Courtauld Institute of Art the following year. Her first monograph Antipolitics in Central European Art. Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule 1956-1989 appeared in 2014 and she is currently completing another, Networking the Bloc. Experimental Art in Eastern Europe, scheduled to be published by MIT Press in 2018.

Ben WiedelKaufmann is in his third year of PhD research at Plymouth University. His doctoral project examines the relations between Left wing politics and exterior mural painting in London between 1975 and 1986. He holds a degree in History of Art from the University of Cambridge, is an Associate Fellow of the HEA, and has published reviews and catalogues on a range of modern and contemporary artists. In 2014 he curated The Social Bases of Abstract Art, a survey of 50 years of British abstraction, approached through the filter of two 1930s essays by Meyer Schapiro. His PhD research is funded by a HuMPA Studentship.

Kieran Connell is a Lecturer in Contemporary British History at Queen’s University Belfast. He has published articles on the history of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, race and photography, has curated three exhibitions of photography and is co-editor (with Matthew Hilton) of Cultural Studies 50 Years On (2016). He has previously worked at the Open University and the University of Birmingham.

Tom Snow is PhD candidate in the History of Art Department, University College London. His current research focuses on tensions between social movements, critical art practice, and the neoliberal institution, with a particular focus on Istanbul between 2009 and 2013. He has written for magazines and journals including Frieze and Afterall, and most recently contributed to the 2016 book publication Futures Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East, edited by Anthony Downey. Tom also participates in various research groups including the CSCA, and acts as editorial correspondent to the research foundation Ibraaz.

Helena Vilalta is a PhD candidate in the History of Art at University College London and an associate lecturer on the MRes programme ‘Art: Exhibition Studies’ at Central Saint Martins. She is the former senior editor of Afterall journal, where she worked from 2012–16. Prior to this, she held curatorial positions at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School in New York and the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona. She has contributed to publications such as Afterall, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Cahiers du Cinéma and Concreta, and has curated exhibitions at Gasworks and The Showroom in London, amongst others. Her most recent article, ‘Empty Fields and Crying Stones’, published in Afterall, considers the curatorial strategies employed by SALT in Istanbul to visualise the erasure of the Armenian genocide from official historical and political discourse in present-day Turkey.

Sandra Plummer is an Honorary Research Associate at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art. Her current research on photographic representations of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland builds on her PhD in Art History. She has published on contemporary photography in journals including Photographies, Photoworks, Source, Rhizomes and Philosophy of Photography. Forthcoming publications include her chapter ‘Deleuze and the Simulacrum: Simulation and Semblance in Public Order’ in The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory (2017).

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