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Intimacies: Friction, Restoration, Action.

History of Art Graduate Student Symposium
Saturday, October 8, 2022
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Assembly Hall, 4th floor Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.) Map
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Deepti Misri, University of Colorado Boulder

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, human-to-human intimacy has been both profoundly desired and intensely feared. Simultaneously a source of connection and affliction, intimacy generates a suite of meanings. At the same time, we can locate intimacy—its frictions as well as its potentials—across the globe in both the distant and near past.

It figures, for example, in the post-conquest Andes. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, a Quechua nobleman, narrated the violence of Spanish colonization—a force of intimacy typically embedded in the dominant narrative of “contact” or “encounter”—and the eradication of Andean lifeways in his El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno [The First New Chronicle and Good Government]. The illustrations accompanying this 1200-page letter, written around 1615, represent the frictional collision of colonizers and native Andeans by picturing a world out of order, or pachacuti—a “world upside down.”

Affective, felt-sensing, and intimate encounters have also forged a platform of coalition across identities and locations. In the context of premodern South Asia, poetic expressions of utmost devotion to deities (bhakti) often comprised an intimate relationship with the divine. This devotion centered on receiving darśana, or a glimpse of the deity. In one such example, Tamil Alvar saint Tiruppan Alvar sang to the Hindu-god Vishnu, “His beautiful red lips! They have stolen my heart away!” Coming from a historically marginalized
community that was unable to enter temples to see images of Vishnu, Tiruppan Alvar’s intimate devotion challenged the socio-political boundaries of medieval southern Indian Hindu communities. Likewise, in The Kitchen Table series (1990), Carrie Mae Weems stages everyday activities connoting intimacy—combing hair, putting on makeup with her daughter, playing cards while smoking—all at her kitchen table. Consciously collapsing the borders between the personal, private, and political, Weems’ work exemplifies what could be considered a public, even restorative, form of intimacy. In these ways, intimacy is both a historical framework and a method. It invites various tentative forms of theorization and historicization to coexist while being put in contest, thereby creating space for open-ended and speculative inquiries into its nature and potential.

Intimacies: Friction, Restoration, Action invites participants to engage with the following questions: how is intimacy imagined and imaged across time and space? What narratives are tied to ideas of intimacy? How have the binary figurations of public and private, personal and political contributed to the ways that intimacy is understood? How can we conceive of alternative practices of intimacy, including what might be called “intimate sociality”? How does intimacy serve as a potent activist and artistic method in the face of the ongoing global pandemic, at the same time that it is jeopardized by public health concerns, closed borders, and ever-intensifying care labor?

Symposium schedule

9:00am–9:15am: Welcome

9:15am–11:15am: PANEL I: INTIMATE BODIES

Indranil Banerjee, “Lazzat al-Nisa in Translation: Pornography, Titillation, and Printed Book in Colonial India” (virtual presentation)

Benjamin Allsopp, “Knowing and Seeing the Secrets of Women: An Illumination of The Dissection of Agrippina in John the Fearless’ De cas des nobles hommes et femmes”

Sizhao Yi, “Beyond the Boudoir: The Lives of a Lotus Shoe and the Woman Who Made/Worn It”

Dylan Volk, “ ‘Trouble Makers’: Trans Feminism, Tribadism, and the Force of Friction”

11:15am–11:30am: Break


Ifsha Zehra, “Personal, Political, and Intimate: Evolving Feminist Activism in Kashmir” (virtual presentation)

Liliana Clavijo, “‘Estallido social’ in Colombia 2021. Corporality and Resistance in Public Space”

Michelle Donnelly, “Choreographed Encounters: The Intimacy of David Hammons's Body Prints” (virtual presentation)

1:00pm–2:00pm: Break

2:00pm–3:00pm: Keynote: Dr. Deepti Misri, Paradise Lost? Intimate Archives and Public Memories

3:00pm–3:15pm: Break


Katherine Mitchell, “Personal Panorama: John P. Doremus’s Mississippi River Stereographs”

Michaela Kotziers, “Lesbian Feminisms as Intimate Encounters”

Sophie Buchmueller, “Life and Death Under Glass: Exploring the Entanglements of Mark Dion's Neukom Vivarium”
Building: Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.)
Event Type: Conference / Symposium
Tags: Art, Culture, Free, history, Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Visual Arts
Source: Happening @ Michigan from History of Art