Writers’ houses and spaces featured in literature have for long attracted visual artists. The fact that they are now no longer to eschew literature “like the plague” (Greenberg) has recently led to many – and increasingly mainstream – endeavors by artists to engage with literary spaces. This panel seeks to contextualize, theorize and assemble case studies in this cross-disciplinary, trans-medial area, calling word and image or literary scholars, art historians, as well as artists and curators to contribute.
Tacita Dean’s works on W.G.Sebald, Rodney Graham’s (re)creation of Poe’s Landor’s Cottage and many artists’ fascination with the fabric of Dublin in the wake of Joyce’s Ulysses (James Coleman or Joseph Beuys) are only a few examples. Other artists resort to the book shop, the reading group, borrow educational formats or perform readings to create work and address with their own imaginations the sites of the fictionalized imaginary. They thereby re-member, i.e. give concrete expression (often through the creation of objects) to their (object-less, imaginary) memory of reading; they present the imaginary twice removed and at the same time brought into our own, current spaces. Far from feeding the “tribute industry”, these artistic practices are often critical of reception histories, as well as possibly the writers in question, and present complex, interpretable interpretations of word and image relations. Which practices of memorializing writers/fiction interest contemporary artists in particular? How culturally conditioned or specific are interactive or web-based responses, as opposed to those tapping into traditional literary museums and “old” media?
This panel is designed to take up a strand of discussions at the Belfast IAWIS focus conference “Displaying Word and Image”, June 2010, and may provide opportunity to be included in its proceedings.