French Connection: New Perspectives on French Contemporary Art Across Disciplines

Co-organized with Olga Smith
July 24-26, 2008
Trinity College, University of Cambridge, UK

French Connection: New Perspectives on French Contemporary Art Across Disciplines

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, to think of modern art was to think of modern French art” (Harrison and Wood: 2005). This claim is startling in comparison to the relative absence of contemporary French art in today’s international art scene. Recently, multiple initiatives serving to promote contemporary French art both within France and abroad mark a wave of renewed interest.

The French Connection: New Perspectives on French Contemporary Art Across Disciplines takes advantage of this unique cultural moment; it provides an international forum for discussion across disciplines by bringing together artists, art historians, critics, philosophers, sociologists, curators, and filmmakers. Following the ‘promotional’ spirit of initiatives like Paris Calling, it will increase the awareness of French contemporary art and film in the UK while also offering a critical platform for conversation and debate. Topics include both the specificity of the French art scene as well as the inherent problems of decrying a ‘national’ art in a historical period that is routinely characterized by globalization and cultural hybridity. When discussing French art, to what idea of France do we refer? How does an art scene noted for its extreme heterogeneity reflect the cultural, social, philosophical, and political context in which this art is made? By questioning what qualifies as artwork and who is qualified to designate it as such, this conference raises broader concerns that lie beyond its specific geographical focus. The French Connection offers a timely opportunity to re-evaluate these and related issues which have become increasingly pressing with the rise of intermediate approaches in art production.