CfP in edited volume: Picturing Post-Industrialism

 Since the 1970s, many of Europe’s one-time industrial landscapes have been redefined as locations of leisure through art and visual culture. The best of these projects typically imagine the uneven, contradictory, and often troubled transitions to post-industrialization. However, regeneration efforts can also make invisible the work, labour and production of the past. Similarly, they often cover up the ecological spoils and social devastation of the present. Picturing Post-Industrialism is an edited collection that will investigate artistic initiatives that make the industrial past visible, negotiable, reimaginable in the wake of closures, unemployment, diminished social services and shattered identities across Europe.

Art and visual culture incorporating the residues at and of former industry at post-industrial sites continue to thrive across Europe – including the former coal and steel production plants in Duisburg and other Ruhr Valley cities, the shipyards of Gdańsk, Newcastle and Bilbao, the coal mines of Loir, Silesia and the English Midlands, the textile factories of Łódź and other Eastern European cities, breweries in Kladno, petrol and oil refineries in Ploiești and Cluj, Romania. Picturing Post-Industrialism will examine art and visual culture at these and other European sites for their aesthetic, historical, and geographical role within regeneration and re-articulation efforts.

Scholars in the disciplines of sociology, geography, economics, cultural studies, anthropology, urban design and architecture have examined the fallout of the post-industrial upheavals. However, while artists continue to produce varied and multiple visual representations of processes of ongoing de-industrialization and the post-industrial condition, these have not yet been fully analyzed within art history, film studies, visual studies and related disciplines.

Similar to the lengthy and culturally specific processes of industrialization in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century, the decline of industrial production and its economic models continue to differ in scale, pace and effectivity from one European country to another. In addition, the politics and history of each country has uniquely influenced the processes of de-industrialization and the formation of post-industrial societies. Art and visual culture have consistently taken up the challenge to engage with the specificity of these processes. While terms such as “de-industrialization,” and “post-industrialization” flatten out the contours of the processes in question, art and visual culture have been committed to representing and re-animating, interrogating and re-visioning the scale, substance, and consequences of specific, often ongoing, processes. In addition, visual culture has been instrumental in recognizing the impact of de-industrialization on all areas of public life: social, economic, political, historical and environmental. Picturing Post-Industrialism will examine these heterogenous images post-industrial landscape across Europe, in its broadest terms.

We seek contributions for Picturing Post-Industrialism, that engage questions of the role of art and visual culture at and across diverse European landscapes, as they are defined geographically, politically, economically and socially. In addition, we seek texts on a variety of visual media: from traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, through film, and photography, to vernacular visual forms such as murals and social media production. The collection will include analysis from a variety of theoretical and research perspectives. The diversity of the contributions to Picturing Post-Industrialism will generate a complex discussion of the many roles that images and visual cultures have played, as well as in our conception of them, in the (ongoing) post-industrial moment.

Title: Picturing Post-Industrialism

Editors: Frances Guerin (University of Kent), Magda Szcześniak (University of Warsaw)

We welcome proposals on topics including, but not limited to:

  • The politics and history of the representation of de-industrialization and post-industrialization in specific European countries;
  • The contemporary reappearance and reuse of media and genres, which were critical for understanding industrialization in modernity (e.g. landscape painting and photography);
  • Use of new media to address, navigate and create the new social scenes of post-industrialization;
  • Use of art and visual culture to re-spatialize former industrial landscapes;
  • Art and visual culture as memorial to the industrial past;
  • Documentation and exhibition of the remnants of industrial heritage;
  • The political and social effects of industrial heritage as representation;
  • The role of art in the amelioration of local communities devastated by de-industrialization;
  • The perils of using art in post-industrial landscapes, such as the risks of reinforcing processes of gentrification;
  • The cultural differences and specificities of the visual culture of post-industrialization;
  • Use of art and visual culture to facilitate a deeper understanding of processes of de- and post-industrialization;
  • Use of art and visual culture to reanimate de-industrializing/ed areas.

Please send inquiries, and/or 400-500 word abstract, a one to two page CV to:

Frances Guerin and Magda Szcześniak:

Abstract due: March 15, 2020

Notification of Acceptance: May 15, 2020

Full essay of 5,000-7,500 words due: May 15, 2021

The anthology has been solicited by a commercial UK academic press. Contract will be offered on basis of abstracts of selected contributions.

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