Call for papers: The Revolutionary Imaginary: Visual Culture in an Age of Political Turbulences

Interdisciplinary conference,

Vilnius (Lithuania)

November 30 – December 1, 2017

The ”Revolution” has been one of the key words in social and political thinking of Europe, at least, since the end of the 18th century. The idea of dramatic turn(s) that marks the radical rupture with the past has not only shaped the vision of political transformations, but also engendered the discourse of technological, communicational, cultural and industrial revolutions.

At a certain point of history (at the proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama moment of its end) – namely, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the closure of an era of political utopias (for many, this has started with the events of 1968 in Paris or in Prague) - the word seemed to have vanished from the everyday vocabulary. Yet nowadays we are witnessing the return of the Idea of Revolution on political scene, in media discourse, in social theory and in art.

In addressing the Idea of Revolution in different cultural contexts and theoretical discourses, we intend to bring together the social and political meanings of the concept itself together with the modes of its representation in visual culture. The history of modern art and media has provided us with a rich iconography of the Revolution - both as a singular Event and as a perpetual movement (from Delacroix to Eisenstein and beyond). But the question of how the Revolution is (to be) represented is much more complicated.

Taking as a starting point, the idea of art as a “medium of social conflicts” (Horst Bredekamp), we pose the question of how the visual imagery mediated the social Imaginary in various modalities of revolutionary praxis and how the abstract concepts of revolution, resistance and revolt have been made visible and intelligible through different forms of visual culture – from photography and cinema to comics and political posters. In addition to that, we would like to discuss the following issues: how has the very idea of a "Revolution" changed with the course of time? What role do current or recent events, new theories and practices play in this re-vision? How are the concepts of "Representation" and " Revolution" related to each other? How has the idea of the Revolution been re-actualized, re-enacted and reformulated in recent political performances, media representations and artistic practices? And last but not least: what role do visual images play in the revolutionary praxis, as "multipliers of meanings, power and emotions" (W.J.T.Mitchell)?

The topics of conference interventions can address a number of themes, including, but not limited to, the following issues:

  • The Visual Production of Political Resistance: the Post-Socialist condition

  • Image-movement: permanent revolution and its artistic embodiment

  • Visual Imagery and Revolutionary Violence

  • The Iconography of Revolution: in Search of the Form of Historical Events

  • The Sounds of Revolution in Cinematography and Performative Practices

  • “Liberty on the Barricades”? Women as Agents of a Revolutionary Movement in Feminist Art

  • Reenacting the Revolution: Narratives of Resistance in Re-play

  • The revolution in abstracto: the contours of historical events in a non- figurative image

  • Dressing the Revolution: Fashion and Social Change

  • "First as a Tragedy, then as a Farce"? Revolutions in cartoons and comics

  • Artist as a Political Philosopher

  • Les figurants: The Revolutionary Masses and Collective Energy in cinema 
and other forms of arts

  • Political Carnivals: the spectacularization of protest in the age of late 
capitalism 


  • Staging Revolution(s) Online: the multimedia narratives of the historical multivocality

We welcome contributions from scholars from around the world and various backgrounds (political sciences, art theory, history, media and cultural studies, gender studies, etc.). The time for presentations is limited to maximum 30 minutes, followed by a short debate. The conference language is English.

Please, submit an abstract (300-500 words) and a short bio, accompanied by contact details and affiliation (max. 150 words) to the following e-mail address: revolutionaryimaginary2017@gmail.com .

The deadline for submissions: September 30, 2017.

The responses to the proposals will be sent by October 10, 2017.

There is no conference fee, however, participants are expected to cover their own expenses.

The conference is organized by the Visual Culture in Europe Network and by the Laboratory of Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art at the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania).

Сonference venue: National Art Gallery (Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius, Lithuania).

Conference Committee:

Natalija Arlauskaitė (Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University, Lithuania)

Lolita Jablonskienė (National Art Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania

Davide Lombardo (New York University in Florence, Italy)

Almira Ousmanova (European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Krešimir Purgar (University of Zagreb, Croatia)

Audronė Žukauskaitė (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania)