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When Theory Becomes Practice

Comité international d’histoire de l’art 2024

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Published on Thursday, June 29, 2023


The thirty-sixth Comité international d’histoire de l’art congress will host more than ninety parallel sessions over the four days of conferences. This session “When Theory becomes Practice – New Materialism, Object-Oriented Ontology and Perspectivism in Contemporary Art” will endeavour to understand the impact of new philosophical and anthropological approaches on art-making.



Session of CIHA LYON 2024 - When Theory becomes Practice – New Materialism, Object-Oriented Ontology and Perspectivism in Contemporary Art

The 36th CIHA Congress Lyon 2024 will host more than 90 parallel sessions over the 4 days of conferences, from 23 to 28 June 2024. The sessions were selected thanks to the expertise and important work of the Advisory Committee of the Congress.

Recent decades have witnessed the emergence of new approaches to matter and materiality in contemporary art. The materials constituting the artwork, its realization and its conservation have become all-important – to the point where it is often forgotten that the material turn, as it is called, has philosophical and theoretical underpinnings that are reshaping and transforming the practices of a growing number of artists. Taking their cue from philosophical movements such as new materialism and object-oriented ontology (OOO), and scholars such as Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Graham Harman, Tim Ingold, Timothy Morton and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, these artists are investigating the agency of matter and objects, their liveliness, their relation to other objects or materials, and their ability to decentre the human.

Even though these artistic forays into philosophy and anthropology have thus far attracted less attention than issues relating to material culture as such, they have nonetheless been taken up by a number of publications and exhibitions. Publications that explore the philosophical underpinnings of matter and objects and their impact on art include Realism Materialism Art (eds. Cox, Jaskey, Malik, Sternberg Press 2015) and Power of Material/Politics of Materiality (eds. Witzgall, Stakemeier, The University of Chicago Press 2018) , while Art + Objects (Graham Harman, Polity Press 2020) and The Power of Wonder: New Materialisms in Contemporary Art (ed. Heinzelmann, DCV 2022) are more recent investigations of some of these developments. Whereas exhibitions such as Magiciens de la Terre (Centre Pompidou/Grande Halle de la Villette 1989) opened up new non-Western perspectives for art, dOCUMENTA (13) (Kassel 2012), Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere (MIT List Visual Arts Center 2022-23) and We are all Lichens (Musée d'art contemporain de Rochechouart 2022) have featured artists who specifically engage with notions such as materiality, objecthood and non-human agency in their work, such as Pierre Huyghe, Candice Lin, Michael E. Smith, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Jenna Sutela, or Annicka Yi.

However a more systematic approach is required if we are to account for the impact of the new philosophical and anthropological approaches on art-making. This session will endeavour to lay the foundations for such an account by asking the following questions, among others: how do artists and exhibition curators apply theories such as perspectivism, new materialism and object-oriented ontology to art and are there commonalities between their approaches? Can one construct a coherent art-historical lineage for new materialist and OOO-inspired art, starting with process art or the ready-made and continuing through to contemporary bio-art, in which nonhuman agency is preeminent? What is the impact on artistic practice of post- human theories such as new materialism and OOO that question art history's humanist outlook by decentering the human? To what extent do new materialist, perspectivist and OOO- inspired art overcome the oppositions between form, idea, matter and object? The session will comprise up to five 20-minute papers, each followed by a 10-minute Q and A. Global perspectives are welcome, as are proposals that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Proposal submission

  • Deadline : 15 September 2023

  • Proposals must be submitted on the submission platform only: Submit your paper proposal
  • To submit your proposal, consult the texts of the calls for papers below. An index of the names of the session chairs is included at the end of the document. Download the list of calls for papers
  • Papers will be presented in person in Lyon at the Centre de Congrès - Cité internationale, from 23 to 28 June 2024.

The CIHA conference is open to researchers from all professional backgrounds in the broad field of art history. Proposals from young researchers are welcome.

Language : Submissions should be written in English or French. Papers may be presented in either language

Presidence of the session

The proposal will be evaluated by the presidents of the session :

  • Rahma Khazam Institut Acte, Sorbonne Paris 1 - Paris (France)
  • Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira, Universität Zürich (Switzerland)

Practical information

  • Speakers are responsible for their own registration, travel and accommodation fees.
  • We invite you to get in touch with your institutions of affiliation to find out how to finance your participation in the Congress.
  • The organising committee is actively seeking support for the mobility of researchers. Please check regularly the the "Call for Grants" section of the website.


  • Lyon, France (69)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Friday, September 15, 2023


  • art, matérialité, philosophie, perspectivisme


  • Rahma Khazam
    courriel : rahmak [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Rahma Khazam
    courriel : rahmak [at] wanadoo [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« When Theory Becomes Practice », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, June 29, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1bi1

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