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Contemporary Anachronisms

A (Virtual) Graduate Student Conference

Anachronism in art presents itself as a co-incidence of persons, objects, events, (or more), from different time periods. Anachronisms are sometimes perceived as anomalies in art, but understanding art anachronistically can enrich historiographical thinking. The discipline of art history is generally understood according to linear chronology. But anachronism is a forceful lens by which the analysis of art refutes comparison and embraces resonances across alternative streams of time. It allows forms, concepts, and materialities to speak across history – linking artworks from different epochs and contexts, yielding unexpected and profound interpretations of art. There are instances of anachronisms in art history that are widely accepted, such as the studies of Michelangelo’s work through Auguste Rodin’s figures. Contemporary anachronisms, however, have become a form of practice in their own right. For instance, German photographer Rebecca Rütten recreates Renaissance still-lives littered with contemporary content, such as fast-food burgers and fries. Contemporary Cree artist Kent Monkman’s history paintings have trans-sequential narratives that situate his own self portrait (and that of his two-spirit alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle) in the midst of references to canonical works of Western art. Accordingly, this conference considers the possibilities of disrupting and retelling history through contemporary anachronisms.

We seek proposals that consider the following line of questioning:

What can anachronistic methodologies of charting art historiography tell us about the trajectory of contemporary art?
+ Outside of content: evaluating anachronism through choice of medium
+ Anachronism in digital art and culture
+ Establishing authorship through chronopolitics
+ Anachronism to disrupt and expand the organization of art history and historiography
+ Resisting sequentiality in art history
+ Trans-temporality through critical accounts of anachronism
+ How can we use anachronism in art to critically evaluate productive-progressivism? If art can be understood as not existing in a linear temporality, how can we apply this to our understanding of “then”, “now”, and “later”? (As in anachronistic thinking would imply that the past, present, and future don’t proceed along a flat line, but rather is synchronized and woven through each other) 


We are pleased to present Dr. Eva Kernbauer as the keynote speaker for “Contemporary Anachronisms”. Dr. Kernbauer is a professor of art history at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria, and is the author of Art, History, and Anachronic Interventions Since 1990 (Routledge 2021).


Please submit a 250-word (max.) proposal outlining your paper and research at large to anachronisms.submission@gmail.com by February 15, 2021.
Presentations will be 20 minutes.
This conference will take place synchronistically over Zoom on Thursday May 6th and Friday May 7th, 2021 and is hosted by the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph.

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region.

Contemporary Anachronisms cfpposter
Artwork by Genevieve Blais