NIRVCNottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

Art and the Crisis in Multiculturalism

Conference 13-14 September 2002

Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture
Lakeside Arts Centre
The University of Nottingham

During the 1980s and early 1990s there was great controversy in the visual and performing arts around issues of multiculturalism, which resulted in this once-disturbing concept becoming widely accepted as the basis for standard practice. Currently, the combined impact of globalisation and 9/11 has dramatically disrupted this consensus, such that the very idea of multiculturalism is in crisis. 'Art and the Crisis in Multiculturalism' examines the extent and range of this crisis in representing ethnicity and asks what new strategies might now be adopted. For artists, the demand to present 'positive images' of ethnicity can now seem restrictive, while curators struggle to balance the demands of their audience with the new directions in the visual arts.

Convened by Nicholas Mirzoeff (SUNY) & Michael Hatt (Nottingham), the conference will seek to redirect our attention with regard to multiculturalism from the local to the global. The conference will locate multiculturalism historically as a means of depicting ethnic identity within the nation state, and ask what ethnicity represents in the current era of mass migration. Rather than adopt a case-by-case approach, we shall address transnational themes on a comparative basis in a range of visual and performative media. The event will bring together a key international group of artists, film and music makers, theorists, critics and curators, including Pratibha Parmar (film maker and artist), John Akomfrah (film maker, Smoking Guns Films), Roshini Kempadoo (practising artist and critic), Norman Kleeblatt (Senior Curator of Fine Arts, The Jewish Museum, New York), Annie Coombes (Birkbeck), Gen Doy (DeMontfort), Jessica Dubow (Witwatersrand/ Nottingham), Reina Lewis (East London). In addition to themed sessions and plenary lectures, the event will include film screenings, a photography exhibition, and a final plenary debate chaired by Griselda Pollock (AHRB CentreCATH, Leeds).

Plenary speakers

  • Nicholas Mirzoeff (Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Visual Culture, NIRV): 'Terror and Beauty'
  • Irit Rogoff (Goldsmiths): 'Mapping multiculturalism'
  • May Joseph (Pratt School of Art, NYU): 'Nomadic Citizens'
  • Fred Moten (Performance Studies, NYU): 'The Black Public Sphere'

We are actively encouraging the participation of both established and younger scholars and practitioners, to elicit the widest possible engagement of those interested in inter-disciplinary debates on ethnicity in the arts. We plan to publish the conference papers in an edited book entitled Art and the Crisis in Multiculturalism in Professor Mirzoeff's 'Visual Culture' series with Routledge Press.



Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3318
fax: +44 (0)115 846 7778