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Edvard Munch, «Fargeeksperiment», 1915-6, Photo: Munchmuseet

Modernisms Still Left on the Doorstep

18 November 2016

The Munch Museum

The sixth annual conference organised by the “Munch, Modernism, and Modernity” research group, a cooperation between the National Museum, the Munch Museum and the University of Oslo.

This conference analyzes the problem of “universality” vs. the specificity of traditions of modernism, national, regional, and epistemological. It takes its title, and the metaphor of the doorstep, from Rosalind Krauss’s “Photography’s Discursive Spaces” (1982), which questioned the location of images and media that do not fit into the categories by which we understand the visual world. We are familiar with the triumphal notion of “modernism” – or are we? Which modernism do we invoke when we speak of “modernism” in general? How do we account for local modernisms, figurative modernisms, narrative and politically instrumentalized modernisms? If modernism is distinguished by its diversity and fluidity, why are some modernisms celebrated and others neglected or invalidated? What are the ongoing mechanisms of valorization or erasure? When we speak of “modernism”, which languages do we address, which discursive frames? Can aesthetic modernism be disengaged from political, industrial, or religious modernism? Can we speak of modernism without speaking of Imperialism and global circuits of exchange? What are the histories of iconization and canonization?

This conference adapts the metaphor of the doorstep to consider the range of expressions and experiments, productions, careers, policies, and conduits that formed networks of what was, and is now considered, to be “modern”.