This international conference examines the media, narratives and practices which have sought to make contemporary visual arts accessible to wide audiences from 1950 to the present.
The development of the media (press, cinema, television, the internet), the proliferation of illustrated publications and the exponential increase in the number of exhibitions and new museums around the world has given rise to a vast array of mediums that have played a key role in configuring and disseminating narratives of contemporary art among a wide, diverse and unspecialised audience. The expansion of education and leisure- and consumerism-related activities has also led to a significant rise in the mainstream’s interest in the visual arts. Both the aims and effects of the initiatives steered towards the “popularisation” of the arts are diverse and often incompatible, ranging from the commercialisation of culture to the empowering of individuals and collectives. Consequently, the ways of approaching communication and dissemination vary according to the receivers, who are equally diverse: from political and cultural agents to consumers from the society of the spectacle and digital users.
Furthermore, it must be noted that although these receivers sometimes follow norms established by senders, they also frequently modify, misinterpret, deny or subvert them. Thus contemporary art is re-appropriated in unpredictable and unexpected ways, and counter-publics emerge. The demands on the worlds of culture and the humanities require them to have a social impact and to construct “from below”, contributing to empowerment, using new technologies wisely, and promoting freedom, democracy, equality and respect, as well as the integration of diversity. Yet there is also the need to combine critical analyses and productive reflections to elucidate the method of obtaining results.
The conference is structured around two sessions, including the presentation of communications selected via an international open call for papers, a round-table discussion and two lectures, combining to create a framework to debate and think about the problems, limitations and opportunities arising in the crossroads between the arts and wide audiences.
Juan Martín Prada. A professor at the University of Cádiz, where he is in charge of the research group Contemporary Aesthetic Theories. He is also the author of the books El ver y las imágenes en el tiempo de Internet (2018) and Prácticas artísticas e Internet en la época de las redes sociales (2012), among others.
Lynn Spigel. A professor of Digital Media Culture at Northwestern University, she writes and lectures about the cultural history of film, television and digital media, with a focus on gender, technology and the relationship the media bears to daily life. She is the author of Feminist TV Criticism (2007) and Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs (2001), among others.
Pablo Martínez. An educator and researcher, and currently head of Public Programmes at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (MACBA). He has worked in the sphere of education and public policy activities in the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, among others.
Fran MM Cabeza de Vaca. A member of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Education team. As an artist and teacher, he has participated in different initiatives that sit at the crossroads between education and art practices, for instance with the collective ZEMOS98 and the project Expanded Education (2012).
Onur Yıldız. With a PhD in Political Theory from the University of Essex, his lines of research take in radical theory, democratic politics, populisms and the political uses of art. He is currently head of Pubic Programmes at SALT (Istanbul).
Adela Železnik. She holds a PhD in Art History and has curated exhibitions and participated in projects related to pedagogies in contemporary art, for instance the Radical Education Collective and L’Internationale’s mediation work group. Since 1993, she has worked as head of education and public programmes at Moderna galerija, Ljubljana.
Ana Baeza Ruiz. An associate professor at University College London and research fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her research explores the history of UK museums in the middle of the 20th century, specifically the structuring of collections and curatorial techniques in public art museums.
María Dolores Barrena Delgado. She holds a PhD in Art History and works as an exhibition curator, forming part of the Curatorial Platform of the International Photography Biennial Fotonoviembre. Since 2013 she has worked on Solar. Acción cultural Sociedad – Lugar – Arte, a cultural association which considers everyday space to be a place of research and artistic creation.
Andrew Cappetta. A doctoral candidate in Art History and assistant curator in the academic programmes at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. He has worked in various art institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and has written a number of texts on art, music and education for journals such as The Brooklyn Rail, Art & Education and Sound Effects, among others.
Laura Gómez Vaquero. A professor of Film and Art in different centres belonging to the University Camilo José Cela and the University Rey Juan Carlos. She has also been a member of the programme committee for Madrid’s International Documentary Festival, DocumentaMadrid, and is the author of a number of publications, including Las voces del cambio. La palabra en el documental durante la transición en España (2012).
Ivana Hanaček. An art historian and curator whose research centres around the conditions of socialist realism in Yugoslavian art. With an interest in the intersection between art, public space and education, she has been part of different collectives and programmes such as BLOK and the Political School for Artists.
Catalina Imizcoz. An editor, producer and researcher of contemporary art who is also an associate professor at University College London and the University of Arts London. Her research focuses on publications which have shaped exhibition studies, for instance the magazine ramona, from Argentina.
Sonia Jiménez Hortelano. With a PhD in Art History, she is currently undertaking a training and research fellowship at the Museo Nacional del Prado. She has worked as a mediator at Bombas Gens Centre d’Art, in Valencia, and has carried out internships in the museum sphere, working in centres such as the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) and La Nau from the University of Valencia.
Ariadna Lorenzo Sunyer. A doctoral candidate at the University of Lausanne and the University of Gerona. Her research analyses the role of artists’ conferences in the development of school art and museum programmes for art education and communication. Moreover, she has curated a wide range of exhibitions and is part of different research groups.
Eva March. With a PhD in Art History and an associate professor at Pompeu Fabra Univeristy, she has focused her research on the study of museums and collecting in Catalonia during the first 30 years of the 20th century. She is the author of Los museos de arte y arqueología de Barcelona durante la Dictadura de Primo de Rivera (2011).
Briley Rasmussen. An assistant professor and director of Museum Studies at the University of Florida. Her field of research focuses on the history of education practices in museums, and she has worked in this sphere in institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.
André Rui Graça. With a PhD in film studies from University College London and an independent advisor, he is currently a researcher in the Centre for 20th Century Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Coimbra. His research focuses on the film market in general and the dissemination and consumption of Portuguese cinema and art in particular.
Clara Solbes Borja. An art historian with broad experience in the museum sphere, she has worked as a mediator at Bombas Gens Centre d’Art and an exhibition assistant at IVAM. She has also been part of different teams which aim to establish a gender perspective in museums, for instance “Re-readings. Museum Itineraries in Terms of Gender”.
Alia Soliman. A doctoral candidate at University College London and a cultural advisor. She has published work on female sexuality, ageing and the image of the body, in addition to the dissemination of the image in contemporary culture.
Elizabeth Stainforth. A professor at the University of Leeds whose research explores digital heritage and memory cultures. She has also worked as an associate editor for the parallax journal and has published different articles in journals such as Museum and Society.
Patrick Van Rossem. A curator, critic and researcher with a PhD in Art History and an associate professor at Utrecht University. His interests lie in the performative turn in visual arts and the relationships between artists and audiences from 1960 onwards. He is the co-author of The audience as an authorial presence in the creative act. Considering authorship and the performative turn in the 1960s and 1970s (2012).
Daniel A. Verdú Schumann. Currently a researcher at Paderborn University and associate professor at University Carlos III, Madrid. He has conducted research into Spanish art and the art world between 1960 and 1990, and is the author of diverse publications such as Crítica y pintura en los años ochenta (2007) and Alberto Solsona (2013)
Emily Watlington. As a contemporary art critic and curator, her work is centred around the study of video through affect theory, feminist theory and disability studies. She has worked in institutions such as the MIT List Visual Arts Center and has written for different magazines, including Frieze and Art Papers.
Katharine J. Wright. As an independent curator and researcher, she has worked in different art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Specialised in post-war American art, she has a keen academic interest in alternative media, public art, photography and graphic design.