Queering the Visual: Visual Studies Conference to be held in November 2004

In the fall of 2004, CLAGS will host a conference titled “Intersexions: Queer Visual Culture at the
Crossroads,” to be held at the The Graduate Center, CUNY on Friday and Saturday, November 12-13,
2004. The event, cosponsored by the Queer Caucus for Art of the College Art Association, in
cooperation with CUNY’s Ph.D. Program in Art History, will bring together visual artists, historians, critics
and curators with an interest in queer arts, from a wide geographic and cultural spectrum.
Conference co-chair Maura Reilly (Sackler Curator of Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum) anticipates that
the gathering “will provide a forum for the voices and images of contemporary practitioners in all media,
and will spotlight contemporary developments in art-historical research, criticism and theory, museums
and galleries.” The conference will also feature performance events and artists’ talks. “InterseXions” is
intended to foster exchange of ideas about historical and contemporary visual culture among scholars,
artists, curators, and other arts personnel, and to encourage cross-fertilization among disciplines and
between writers and artists, theory and practice. Co-chair James M. Saslow (CUNY Professor of Art
History and Theatre) notes the timeliness of the event’s focus: “The artistic and historical culture of the
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer communities once again finds itself at a crossroads: established
paths are worn away or petering out, while new challenges and contexts have opened up, and new
directions must be charted.”
The conference is spearheaded by a group of prominent artists, critics, and scholars in art history and
related disciplines at CUNY and nationwide who bring a diversity of individual perspectives in personal
background and critical methodologies. Panels they are currently planning include queer artists under
30, Puerto Rican gay male artists, making queer theory (and its history) visual, and ancient Greek and
Roman models for picturing queer desire. In addition, an evening of performance art will feature such
artists as Carmelita Tropicana.
The committee is now soliciting suggestions for individual papers, group panels, workshops,
performance, and other forms of presentation. While inquiries into all areas of LGBTQ visual culture are
welcome, organizers are especially interested in proposals that consider the current state of the field’s
methods, definitions, and assumptions, and those that engage the past and/or the present in relationship
to the wider political and social contexts in which we operate. Proposals should address some aspect(s)
of the following questions:
What are the pleasures, perils, and politics attending queer
visual cultures today? From some angles, it may seem, we’ve
moved on. Several decades of making, thinking, and writing have
helped both to enable work beyond the area traditionally delimited
as “art” and to reimagine work within the canon. Meanwhile, queer
visibility has gone mainstream in some contemporary contexts. Yet
visibility sometimes serves to obscure as much as to challenge
injustices, and to perpetuate exclusions and oppressions among
people whose erotic and political lives might be considered queer.
What now? How might we continue to foster critical and
challenging work? How do we deal with the ways in which
representations of queerness often abet the prerogatives of
privileged groups, while at other times “queer” is so widely
adopted that it becomes little more than an umbrella term for
amorphous ambiguity? How can queer approaches make a
compelling critique of, or a difference about, such matters as racial
and ethnic discrimination, the intersexed body, transgender
practices, feminist work, consumption, and geographic differentiation?
How can we claim/enjoy/study sex, perversities, and pleasures
as key features of the work that we do? What traditional forms and
objects can bear new queer perspectives? Are there other forms
(ephemera, performance, the digital) that might be seen as queer
or seen queerly?
To submit a proposal, send an individual abstract, session roster
with names and titles, or other appropriate description of no more
than 600 words. For history/theory papers and sessions, send to
James M. Saslow, ; for presentations by
visual/performance artists, to Susan Aberth, .
Send in electronic form, accompanied by a short c.v. of the
applicant (or, for a group proposal, of each participant). Readers
who do not receive this mailing before the original deadline (mid-
June) should submimt as soon as possible and request an extension.
For further information about the conference, including
advance registration, please visit the CLAGS website at
http://clags.org. For information about the Queer Caucus for
Art, visit their site, www.artcataloging.net/glc/glcn.html.