The Revolutionary Imaginary: Visual Culture in an Age of Political Turbulence

Nov 30 – Dec 1, 2017

Interdisciplinary conference,

Vilnius (Lithuania)

On November 30 – December 1, 2017 an international conference Revolutionary Imaginary: Visual Culture in an Age of Political Turbulences will be held at the National Art Gallery in Vilnius (Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius, Lithuania).

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

Taking as a starting point, the idea of art as a “medium of social conflicts” (Horst Bredekamp), the conference poses the question of how the visual imagery mediate 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. A series of interrelated questions evolves around this theme, namely: 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)?

During two days scholars from fifteen European countries will be discussing the issues related to iconography and various forms of the representation of revolutions (from 19th century till the digital era), discourses of resistance, different cultures of protest and artistic responses to the most significant political turbulences of our times, in local and global contexts. The conference program embraces such topics as: Revolutionary Iconoclasms; Recoded Spaces, Conflictual Memories and Postsocialist Condition; Protest Cultures in the Age of New Media; The Visual Production of Political Resistance; Affect and Politics; Left Avant-gardism and Political Utopianism under and after Socialism; The Images of the Multitude and the Im/Possibility of Solidarity; The Digital Turn and the Invisible Revolution(s)

See the conference program here.

On the second day of the conference (December 1, 2017) a prominent German scholar and filmmaker Alexander Kluge will deliver a keynote lecture 'Yearning for the childhood of thoughts“. Marx and Eisenstein in the same house', followed by the screening of his film 'News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Capital '(2008). This special event has become possible thanks to the support of Goethe-Institut in Lithuania and especially to its Director - Mr. Detlef Gericke.

Alexander Kluge is one of the leading intellectual voices in Germany today, his research and practice revolves around film, literature, social theory, film theory, television programs, and political action on various cultural fronts. His body of works can be regarded as a continuation, in words and moving images, of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School and constitutes a unique venture in the annals of postwar German culture. The motives, themes, and formal strategies of Kluge's radical cinéma impur, raise questions like representation and gender, history and memory, theory in its relation to practice, and the ongoing vitality of modernism. Alexander Kluge's major works of social criticism include Öffentlichkeit und Erfahrung. Zur Organisationsanalyse von bürgerlicher und proletarischer Öffentlichkeit, co-written with Oskar Negt and originally published in 1972 (Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere), and Geschichte und Eigensinn (1981), also co-authored with Negt.

In 2008 Alexander Kluge presented the almost nine hours of Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike: Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Capital) a reinvention of Sergei Eisenstein's unfinished project of filming Capital by Karl Marx, and one of the most complex and monumental films of recent film history. At the conference the film will be presented in a shortened version (85 minutes).

The conference is a public event, no preliminary registration is required. The conference language is English. Alexander Kluge’s lecture will be delivered in German (with translation into English). The film will be screened in German with English subtitles.

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)

For questions and enquiries please email viscultstudies@gmail.com