International Symposium, Department of Art History, Haifa University,
Encounters: Representations, Performances and Conceptualization of
Encounters in Art History and Contemporary Visual Culture
Art represents encounters between the individual and the communal,
artists and patrons, different classes, societies and cultures. It
stages encounters among dominant groups in society and between the
forsaken and the redeemed, the accepted and the refused. It is created
by an encounter of the artist and his or her materials, and between his
or her artwork and his or her current cultural values. It may represent
the encounter of human and fauna, nature and culture, spectator and
scenery, the leader and his or her people. Art may also document and
reveal violent encounters like wars, social conflicts, terror events
and political controversies. Moreover, art does not generate encounters
solely by its formation but through its presentation and
institutionalization too. The symposium 'Encounters' seeks to examine
the encounters that art represents and engenders.
The encounter with the artwork is a meaningful experience in the art
discourse; it is shaped by the gaze, the touch and interpretation.
Encounter may mean the very moment an idea forms in the creator's mind,
or an image appears from the material. Foundational questions about the
intersection between figure and ground, body and space, stain and line,
or between an object and its environment, are the key to the reading of
many artworks. Alongside the artwork's syntax and semantics, the
encounter may become the framework of its experience and
interpretation. The aesthetic experience as an encounter can be
described as harmonic and/or conflictual, it may resemble a lovers'
tryst, but it may also document a violent encounter. The encounter is
an essential condition in the transformation of a trivial thing into a
work of art; the spaces of the artistic installation are also places of
encounter between the mundane and the significant. The symposium will
explore the encounters and the ways in which the interface between the
viewer and the artwork, the subject and the object, the art discourse
and culture, is defined.
The artwork as an encounter compels the artist and the spectator to
face the daily routine as well as the question of death. The encounter
of the I and the one, the I-Thou and the I-It in Buber's terminology,
or the I and the other in Levinas's, allows us to examine how the
encounter – as a dialogical or oppositional form, face to face or
facing a concealment – becomes a significant and evocative discourse.
This sort of encounter, whether the result of events that occurred in
reality or are considered reality beyond the reach of discursive
language, allows us to survey early and contemporary artistic
representations with new perspectives.
Abstracts are invited by 31 January 2012. Please send them to:
All abstracts must be in English or Hebrew and should be limited to 300
Please head your abstract with your name, professional affiliation, and
the paper’s title. Submit with the abstract a curriculum vitae (up to
200 words), work or home address, and email address. Each paper should
be limited to a 20-minute presentation, followed by dialogue and
All applicants will be notified of the acceptance or rejection of their
proposal by 28 February 2012 (and in special request before). For more
information please contact the symposium coordinators: Mrs. Zufit Furst
and Mrs. Sharon Melamed-Oron: encounters2012gmail.com
Partial and non-obligatory list of possible topics is the following:
1. Representations of encounters among artists, patrons, common people,
classes and cultures.
2. The artwork as a place of encounter.
3. The encounter between the spectator and the observed, particularly
between the spectator and the artwork.
4. Places of encounter: the museum, the gallery and the studio.
5. The encounter between subject and object: the thought of encounter
as a foundation for appealing the aesthetic subject-object
dichotomies or as a tool that helps to deal with artistic or
6. Representations of encounters as a means of ethical discussion (for
example from a Levinasian viewpoint).
7. Religious encounters of man, God and the sacred.
8. Social and multiple participant encounters: encounters that relate
to ethnicity, gender, linguistic and political representations
(religious and secular communities, men and women, colored and white
people, straight, asexual and queer identities, etc.)
9. Phenomenological encounters: representations of encounters between
the human and the world as represented and discussed in the artwork,
from a phenomenological perspective.
10. Digital encounters: the meaning of the encounter and its
representations in an age controlled by digitally encoded
communication and information.
11. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary encounters: the meanings,
advantages and the value of the multidisciplinary discourse that
relates to creating and interpreting art.
12. Communal encounters: encounters of artists, creators and
cooperative groups performing artistic events.
13. Ambivalent encounters: overt and latent encounters of violent and
peaceable struggles, representations of ideological, collaborative
concepts, as well as representations that relate to values and
social protest in art and visual culture.
CFP: Encounters in Art History & Visual Culture (Haifa, 22-23 May 12). In: ArtHist.net, Dec 5, 2011 (accessed Oct 24, 2021), <https://arthist.net/archive/2368>.