Annual Bilderfahrzeuge Conference 2023: “Disincarnate: Art Histories of Nationhood Past, Present, and Future” 

The Internet 2003, The Opte Project (

Thursday 9th & Friday 10th March 2023
Woburn Suite, Senate House, University of London

Please register in advance via the Warburg Institute Events pages.

The programme is available for download here.

Long-standing metaphors of embodiment lie at the heart of the relation between visual art and national identity. Artworks of all kinds—from ephemeral prints to grand buildings—help form, define, and reinforce the so-called bodies of many nations. The pervasive positive work of this metaphorical construction, however, is often accompanied by a disturbing underbelly: the overlooked and oppressed bodies, the other bodies, fundamental to forms of colonialism, negligence, and persecution.  Seeking to query the positive, negative, and ambiguous legacies of the body as a metaphor in the art history of nationhood, this conference revisits abiding questions: what is the relation between visual art, metaphorical bodies, and recognized nations? Or, for that matter, the relation between unrecognized bodies, real nations, and visual art?

To further interrogate these questions, the conference is subdivided into sessions organized around the categories of pasts, presents, and futures. In so doing, we seek to examine the historical transformation of the interrelations between visual art, embodiment, and national identity as well as to highlight the temporally entangled place of these metaphors in culture today.  Has there been a marked change in how visual art functions in the process of nation building and identity formation over the longue durée? Can we claim that specific nations or cultures, either in or outside of Europe, are more bound to these metaphors than others?  How should we as historians play a role in the imaginative transformation of such processes in the present and into the future? And is it possible for us to form national traditions—of art and history—without bodily metaphors at all?

Organised by the members of the sub group Art & Nationhood of the Bilderfahrzeuge project, Andreas Beyer (Basel), Alexandra Marraccini (London), C. Oliver O’Donnell (London) and Judith Rottenburg (Berlin).

With further contributions by Indie A. Choudhury (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Jennifer Chuong (Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.), Ambra D’Antone (Bilderfahrzeuge, London), Will Jennings (UCL Bartlett School, London), Fred Scharmen (Morgan State University, Baltimore), Hannah Spahn (FU Berlin), Elvan Zabunyan (Université de Rennes), Martin Zimmermann (LMU, München) and keynote by Tim Barringer (Yale University, New Haven, Conn.).

Cite this blog post
Stuart Moss (2023, January 20). Annual Bilderfahrzeuge Conference 2023: “Disincarnate: Art Histories of Nationhood Past, Present, and Future” . BILDERFAHRZEUGE. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from

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