Making Community In Contemporary Irish Arts 2020 Conference

Country: France

City: Rennes

Abstr. due: 14.02.2020

Dates: 04.06.20 — 05.06.20

Area Of Sciences: Arts; Cultural science;

Organizing comittee e-mail: ou

Organizers: University of Rennes


In recent years, artists in Ireland have taken part in and sometimes spearheaded the campaigns for
Marriage Equality (2015) or for abortion rights (2018) through collectives like the Artist’s Campaign
to Repeal the Eight, and, with Brexit looming large, artists have initiated participatory projects with
local border communities. The question of human rights has been central to artistic creation in
Northern Ireland since the mid-1990s however, with the channeling of European funds through
international bodies and the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) leading to the
professionalization of community arts and the growth of socially engaged arts projects. On the
European scale, the involvement of arts organizations in cultural networks such as Trans Europe
Halles (TEH) or Caravan has contributed to anchoring Irish arts in Europe and strengthening
partnerships among practitioners championing social engagement and the defence of Human
Rights. Programmes such as Creative Europe have allowed artists’ collectives to obtain funding for
transnational projects reaching out to communities regardless of national border (‘Corners of
Europe’, 2010 and 2016). Have these initiatives had a lasting impact, and what have been the
challenges in implementing the recommendations of the UNHC’s High Commission to “increas[e]
social interactions, mutual understanding and trust that can be built or rebuilt through these
Contemporary collaborative projects, happenings and performance art that induce
interaction with the spectator are increasingly premised on ethical readings. Nicolas Bourriaud’s
seminal work Relational Aesthetics (2002) inaugurated a change in critical approaches to art by
focusing on the inter-human aspect of art practices and emphasizing proximity as a means of
resisting an increasing fragmented society. More recently, Corine Pelluchon calls for an “ethics of
consideration” to reconcile theory and practice and reason and affect in the context of a pluralistic,
multicultural democracy endowed with tremendously powerful technologies. This ethics should
articulate the intersubjective, the environmental and the civic, and aim to restore faith in the ideal of
emancipation through social justice prompted by Enlightenment philosophy (Ethique de la
considération, 2018). Jacques Rancière, on the other hand, offers a critique of post-utopian
aesthetics. He contends that in a time when discourses and practices tend to make art into an
entertaining form of social mediation or public service, what is lost in ethics is the radicality of art
(Malaise dans l’esthétique, 2004). Claire Bishop examines the aesthetic and ethical issues triggered
by collaborative practices, focusing on the evolution of spectatorship (Artificial Hells: Participatory
Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, 2012) while art critic Grant H. Kester approaches relational or
dialogical art as a contemporary global form and Charlotte McIvor’s Migration and Performance in
Contemporary Ireland, Towards a New Interculturalism (2016) scrutinizes performative practices in
the context of recent social changes in Ireland.
In a time that calls for “response-ability” (R. Braidotti, The Posthuman, 2013) this conference
seeks to explore creative practices and processes in Irish visual and performing arts, whether they
are “disruptive and interventionist [or…] constructive and ameliorative” (Participation, Documents on
Contemporary Art, 2006). It will also offer an opportunity to critically assess artistic modalities, as
well as political and cultural agendas, in a context of growing distrust for representative democracy
which often demands increased awareness of the artist’s own vulnerability in creating a common
“we” (Guillaume Leblanc, Que faire de notre vunérabilité?, 2011).
The organisers invite submissions for papers exploring the forms and challenges met by
participatory contemporary arts in Ireland. Possible topics include, but are not limited to :
• Engagement with issues of citizenship through education and institutions; activism and
militant art ; participation and representation.
• Subjectivity and authorship or authorial control (artist collectives, single artists),
ownership and contents creation ; legitimacy ; agency and control.
• Social and cultural interactions in order to address rights and discriminations based on
gender, age, sexual orientation, nationality, origins, skin colour, religion, disabilities,
class, education.
• The social dimension of the posthuman through local, national and international
solidarities and political and social initiatives ; the entanglement of the human and the
environment, climate action, borders.
• Artistic models and methods : research-creation, residencies and artistic communities or
collaborations, curatorial practices ; cross-overs of arts and sciences, new media or
materials archives and conservation; public and site-specific works, experimentations.
• Impact and traces of the art event : how the performance is remembered, exhibited,
documented, curated, archived.

Conference Web-Site: