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London, AAH Annual Conference, April 10 – 12, 2014
Association of Art Historians Annual conference,
Royal College of Arts, London

Lucy Bradnock, University of Nottingham,
Christopher Griffin, Tate,

This session explores the role of the exhibition catalogue as an active space of expression and experimentation. The exhibition catalogue occupies a distinct position at the intersection of exhibition display, curatorial practice, critical reflection, artistic manifesto and art object. Throughout the twentieth century, artists, critics, curators and groups have sought to augment, complement, or even undermine an exhibition by presenting supplementary, alternative, or oppositional ideas in the accompanying catalogue. This session thus seeks to examine the practices and politics specific to exhibition catalogues, generated by the productive distance between the temporary exhibition and the more permanent printed manifestation that the catalogue represents. The conception of the catalogue as fulfilling a function beyond that of documentation parallels the growth in artists’ books and self-published magazines in the second half of the twentieth century, yet the distinct role of the exhibition catalogue in experimental practice remains under-acknowledged.

Papers are sought that explore the exhibition catalogue as an active mode of avant-garde or experimental endeavour in any geographical region during the twentieth century, or that seek to develop productive theoretical models by which to account for such practices. Topics might include, but are not limited to: the exhibition catalogue as manifesto, a tool of counterculture, or a means of political protest; its relationship to anthropology, ethnography, or performance; analyses of the exhibition catalogue in terms of collage, bricolage, assemblage or the flatbed picture plane; collective or alternative modes of authorship; the catalogue’s negotiation of temporality, ephemerality, and (im)permanence.



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