Soundings from the Painterly Pacific: A Symposium

Soundings from the Painterly Pacific: A Symposium
Featuring Chriscinda Henry, Jeff Moser and Angela Vanhaelen

April 12, 2013, Arts Building160

Coffee at 9:45, Papers 10 am-12:30 pm, discussion over lunch

“What do artists do during wars? … Is direct confrontation with conflict the only way for art to take war in?” So asks Svetlana Alpers in The Vexations of Art (2005). Noting the marginal place of war in seventeenth century Dutch art, Alpers appeals to an oblique engagement with conflict that she calls “the painterly pacific.” Fluid and suggestive, Alpers’s phrase positively invites further thinking. In dialogue with Media@McGill’s 2012-3 theme of “Media, War and Conflict,” this symposium uses Alpers’s phrase as prompt for considering ways in which artists, beholders and even objects variously displace or placidly conceal violence. Borrowing our title from Soundings from the Atlantic, Oliver Wendell Holmes’s classic meditation on photography, the symposium poses the painterly pacific between mood and place, between medium and liquid geography.