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Aesthetic Orders of Dwelling. The visual politics of dwelling and domesticity in the art and visual culture of modernity

Call for Papers

An international conference held by the research unit wohnen+/-ausstellen (dwelling+/-exhibiting), a collaboration between the Institute for Art History– Film Studies – Art Education at the University of Bremen and the Mariann Steegmann Institute – Art & Gender.

The arts and visual culture produce imaginaries of habitation, dwelling and home-making in specific image and media form(at)s. They render the abstract structure of the domestic in a way that is clear and tangible.
The domestic is a mesh made up of a diverse range of discourses on the social formation of dwelling and/or dwelling as a normalizing abidance within the social. Within this mesh, relationships are shaped between inhabitants, spatiality and objects/things. The development of modernity since 1800 has seen these relationships conceptualized, lived and continually cast in aesthetic terms within processes of subject and community formation and transformed into imagery.
In this context, dwelling, habitation and inhabitants are presented in different sorts of images, genres (including interiors, still lifes and family scenes), in pictorial strategies and visual processes. Displaying these images makes evident the orders, principles, practices and poiesis of dwelling and the domestic.
The general theme of the conference is the question of how dwelling and the domestic have historically been and are still being rendered pictorially as a spatial-relational, material and psychological environment. How do aesthetic structures form and configure notions of dwelling? How are these notions evoked by visualizations of the material and the spatial? How do pictorial and visual media operate in their generation of dwelling and domesticity? What is depicted, what is implied and what is not visually presented? Have images of dwelling changed historically and, if so, how? How are orders, normativizations and idealizations of the domestic pictorially arranged? What political and utopian ideas are linked with them? How do artists and visual designers produce dwelling, to what extent do they work within conventions, what are their discursive starting points, what images are they critical of and what sort of images do they produce?
The focus of the conference is not only on the fundamental imagery around discourses of dwelling but also the question of the meaning production and meaning shifts that such images generate.
At issue here are the multiplicity and reproductivity, the innovative and affirmative character of the images concerned – and thus the potentiality of the pictorial in dwelling.
We would welcome papers that consider the imagery of dwelling and the domestic within both historical and contemporary frameworks of the arts, visual culture and the media in terms of both the concrete analysis of objects and cultural, social and sociopolitical contextualization.
Potential thematic areas: 

  • Engagements with visual practices and strategies of dwelling
  • Engagements with pictorial cultures of the material aspects of dwelling
  • What pictorial processes and forms of representation are deployed in the generation of dwelling and domesticity?
  • What critiques are formulated by artists and designers?
  • What alternative pictorial strategies and processes have been and are currently being formulated?
  • Gender relations in the different genres of imagery around dwelling
  • Gender and materiality
  • Feminist critiques of the pictorial culture of dwelling
  • Social-critical consideration of imagery (e.g. as a site of the biopolitical, normativizations and sexualities)
  • Examinations of images from a postcolonial perspective

 Proposals for papers (title, abstract max. 500 words, biographical details) should be submitted by email by 15 May 2020 to:
Concept and conference management:
Prof. Dr. Irene Nierhaus
Institute for Art History– Film Studies – Art Education / University of Bremen and the Mariann Steegmann Institute – Art & Gender
Dr. Kathrin Heinz
Mariann Steegmann Institute – Art & Gender
Amelie Ochs
Research assistant

Mariann Steegmann Institut. Kunst & Gender c/o Universität Bremen, FVG M1060/1061, Celsiusstr. 2, 28359 Bremen