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Public Disorder: Post-World War II European Art and Its Publics

Noit Banai Noit.Banai@Tufts.Edu
Department of Visual and Critical Studies, Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Bosto

Hannah Feldman
Department of Art History, Northwestern University

Following the end of WWII, artists across Europe, both east and west, sought to re-imagine the identity of the public. The internationalist utopia of the historical avant-garde had not come to pass, the populism of the national socialist model had been discredited by Fascism and Nazism, and it was yet unclear what shape the burgeoning commercial public would take in either soviet block or western nations.

This panel seeks to foster a multidisciplinary conversation on the problem of the post-WWII 'public disorder.' This necessitates crossing disciplinary boundaries in order to 1) assess the relevance of current theories of the public and counter-public spheres in relation to the art production of this period; 2) develop new models of mediation to elucidate the relationship between artistic practice and the socio-political sphere and to elaborate on the models of publicity that emerged within the specific conditions of individual countries; 3) identify intersections between post-WWII paradigms of the public and their contemporary reception and critique. It might also entail considerations of art works that deliberately disdain public aspirations to explore the realm of privacy as a potential locus of political engagement.

For example, what practices and sites did artists employ to engender a new, often multiple, public body? How did this endeavour intersect with specific historical events – i.e., the various wars of independence, establishment of the European Community, construction of the Berlin Wall, events of 1968? We seek papers that engage with specific case studies, employ new theoretical approaches, and develop original methodological models.