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This one-day symposium brings together key scholars and curators to consider the role that the American Midwest has played in narratives of American art history, as a place, a space, and an idea.
It aims to move beyond art histories that focus on the United States’ peripheral centres (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco) or that stage the cultural production of the Midwest exclusively as the history of Regionalist painting.
In order to nuance these histories, the symposium proposes that narratives of American avant-gardism, modernism, conceptualism, and postmodernism are underpinned by the deployment of the Midwest as an ideologically-loaded discursive site against which normative positions are articulated.
Papers and panels explore the following questions:
- What is the place of the Midwest in the American cultural imaginary, and what role has it therefore played in American art histories?
- How have institutions and exhibitions reinforced the occlusion of the Midwest from dominant art historical narratives?
- How does regional identity operate as a mobile phenomenon, via a Midwest diaspora, according to which artists left behind their Midwestern roots to participate in peripheral/coastal scenes?
Our goal is to interrogate the ways in which American cultural and social history is widely invested in the deployment of regional clichés, whilst largely failing to acknowledge the ideas on which those are based.