Temporalities - PhD course at Sandbjerg Estate

How long does it take to experience Olafur Eliasson’s immersive installation Your Atmospheric Colour Atlas (2009), a misty room in changing colours? How to calculate the durational experience and temporal materiality of interactive art, performance or video art, like Buzy Man’s Wasting Time, a year-long study of emotions in music? What is the temporal relation between history and memory in historical re-enactments, or novels or movies that engage historical events? What is the dramaturgical time of a renaissance drama? How to historicize art, literature, drama and music beside traditional forms of periodization and historicist methodologies? And, how do we know what times and temporalities we are living and working within?

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in temporality across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. While some see this “temporal turn” as a reaction to the “spatial turn” of the 20th century, the bourgeoning interest in time does not cohere easily into a narrative of theoretical progression. The spatial turn was connected with the avant-garde, in its modernist and postmodernist variations, characterized by inventive experimentation with different forms of spatialisation, collage-techniques, network-based relations and anti-narrative forms. Instead of an artistic nacheinander there was an experimentation with nebeneinander. But turning toward time does not necessarily mean leaving spatial discussions behind. Rather it might mean examining the “inter(in)animation” (Moten) of temporality and spatiality.

The interest in temporality has emerged in a range of fields. World literature, world art, and world music question traditional historiography and its Western focus on progress and modernity. It is difficult to historicize the unequal movements of art on a global scale. It has been argued that instead of a teleological history, we should work with the presence of the past (Gumbrecht), different emergent histories (Godzich), palimpsestic time (Huyssen) or the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous (Sangari). A new interest has been spurred in the contemporaneity of the contemporary period (Christine Ross, Agamben). And new experimental historiographical approaches to earlier times have become dominant, for instance the interest in medievalism (Matthews) or in reverse-chronological history (Neubaer/Cornis-Pope).

In the field of art history, scholars such as Mieke Bal, Georges Didi-Huberman, Alexander Nagel and Christopher S. Wood have in different ways suggested methodological approaches that value “anachronistic” or “anachronic” time. Drawing on anthropologists such as Fabian’s focus on the importance of temporal “coevalness”, these scholars have developed frameworks for attending to the presence of the past in the present. Queer and feminist scholars including Jack Halberstam, Valery Rohy, José Esteban Muñoz, Madhavi Menon, Lee Edelman, and Rebecca Schneider have suggested the importance of considering “queer temporalities”, for instance to analyze modes of being in time that “challenge conventional logics of development, maturity, adulthood, and responsibility” (Halberstam). Moreover Queer, Black, Decolonial and Indigenous Studies have in similar veins examined the imbrication of time in the biopolitics of race and religion. Scholars such as Fred Moten, Christina Sharpe, Lauren Berlant, Mark Rifkin, Elizabeth Freeman, and Tavia Nyong’o have worked on developing conceptual vocabularies that can grasp a political present characterized by temporalities of the chronic as much as crisis, of the endemic as much as the epidemic, of slow death as much as spectacular ends. This interest in lateral gestures of ongoingness – of both subsistence and resistance – challenge dominant economies of political attention. For instance, the necropolitical temporalities of the refugee camp and asylum center (Shakhsari), the suspended future of lives in the prison industrial complex, and precarious lives positioned to live in a constant state of “the wake” (Sharpe).

In addition to these multiple forms of time, the future has also increasingly been transformed into an object for management. A range of new futurologies have emerged in the work of e.g. Louise Amoore, Joseph Vogl, Stefan Willer, Brian Massumi, Richard Grusin and others. Concepts such as possibility, potentiality, preemption and premediation have been coined or reimagined to capture broader attempts within finance, warfare, and security to organize and domesticate the future thereby folding it increasingly into the present. At the same time the future has a long history. In the history of knowledge from astronomy to the utopian novel, art works and the sciences have organized, represented, and imagined the future in specific ways. In a sense, time has both become bigger and smaller. A new awareness of the longue durée has grown in light of the critique of European dominance in art history and in light of new awareness of the evaluation of literary and artistic forms over time (Chow, Dimock). The introduction of Big Data and digital methodology requires an enlargement of scales and dimensions of historical methodology. The incorporation of data across time may question the usefulness of periodization, (English, Underwood). At the same time, there is a growing interest in microhistories (Ginzburg), the phenomenology of time in close encounters or affect (Wetherell) or subjective time
in interactive and performance art. In this graduate seminar we invite papers on time, temporality, history and historicities. The idea is to raise critical discussions about the understanding of time in art works of different kinds and periods and of the time in our historical methodology.

List of possible topics include but are not limited to:
• Temporality of artworks

• Time as a functional device in different artworks

• Phenomenological time

• The time of the reception of artworks

• Historiography, including periodization, canon, longue durée vs. microhistories, counterhistory etc.

• The politics of time

• Historical artworks

• Imagined futures

• Utopianism

• The relation between memory and history

• The time of materiality

• Subjective time

• Queer and trans temporalities

• Biopolitical and necropolitical conditions of time

• Spectral time and historical hauntings

• Multitemporality, anachronism, simultaneities, contemporaneity

• Decolonialization and provincialization of temporal regimes

This graduate seminar is co-organized by graduate schools in literature, art and cultural studies at the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University. Paper proposals (abstracts) of 200-300 words should be sent before February 1st to Karen-Margrethe Simonsen (litkms@cc.au.dk), Anders Engberg-Pedersen, (engberg@sdu.dk), and to Mathias Danbolt (danbolt@hum.ku.dk).