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On Art and Resistance:
Book Launch NO Rhetoric(s)

Keynote by Mieke Bal and Roundtable
16:15h March 8, 2024

Campus Unitobler
University of Bern, Switzerland


Several locations, Ireland. October 2017.

Photograph by Brian Hanlon.

Courtesy a/political - Estudio Santiago Sierra.



Beyond a politicization of art and an aesthetization of politics, we would like to reflect on the intersections between the artistic and the political, but also on their points of resistance. Especially in terms of a discourse of resistance so fashionable today, it is necessary to ask to what extent are political or artistic practices really resistant? How is the discourse divided between rhetoric of ‘no’ and one of ‘no’ to rhetoric?

The book NO Rhetoric(s). Versions and Subversions of Resistance in Contemporary Global Art, edited by Sara Alonso Gómez, Isabel Piniella, Nadia Radwan and Elena Rosauro (Diaphanes, 2023) contributes to a deeper understanding of the different logics of resistance at play between art and the political. It offers a variety of voices and essays from academia and the arts, presenting both theoretical approaches and case studies on sexual dissidence, the Anthropocene, geopolitics of the digital age, and institutional critique.

Link to the OA publication on the publisher's website HERE.

Keynote Speakers
Mieke Bal.jpg


Mieke Bal has a wide range of areas of interest, from biblical and classical antiquity to 17th century and contemporary art and modern literature, feminism and migratory culture. Her many publications include A Mieke Bal Reader (2006), Travelling Concepts in the Humanities (2002) and Narratology (4th edition 2017). Her view of interdisciplinary analysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences is expressed in the profile of what she has termed "cultural analysis", the basis of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis. (ASCA).​ Mieke is also a video artist, her internationally exhibited documentaries on migration are part of the Cinema Suitcase collective. With Michelle Williams Gamaker she made the feature film A Long History of Madness, a theoretical fiction about madness, and related exhibitions (2012). Her following project Madame B: Explorations in Emotional Capitalism, also with Michelle, has been exhibited worldwide. Occasionally she acts as an independent curator, as in the exhibition 2MOVE, which has travelled to four countries.



16:15h 1/2 Keynote by Mieke Bal: Art and/as Thought: Image-Thinking for Art’s Political Relevance


Regarding the critique of the concept and practice of “artistic research”, it is neccesary to consider how to resist the imposition of research on art-making and the simplification of thought. To make art politically relevant, the resistance to the indifference to the world is crucial, so that viewers can become witnesses instead of passive contemplators. The search is not for defining images as visual moving or still objects. It is not enough to deploy the imagination, albeit indispensable, but also, to coin a new verb, we must image what we imagine.

16:30h It’s About Time! Reflections on Time and Urgency (2020)

“The film’s title is willfully ambiguous: the film is a theoretical fiction about time in history, around my concept of pre-posterous history that I had developed in my book on Caravaggio and contemporary art. But with exclamation mark also refers to the other meaning: it’s about time we do something about the world!” (Mieke Bal)

17h 2/2 Keynote by Mieke Bal: Art and/as Thought: Image-Thinking for Art’s Political Relevance

17:15h Thinking Through Contemporary Global Art: A Roundtable

   Moderator: Elena Rosauro

Sara Alonso Gómez is Assistant Professor of History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the University of Aix-Marseille and member of the Laboratoire d'études en Sciences de l'art (LESA). For more than a decade, she has been developing bridges between research, teaching and curatorial practice at the intersection of three continents (America, Europe, Africa). Her research on the heuristic tool of "artistic disobedience" enables a better understanding of the relationship between art and politics at the dawn of the new millennium. She was co-curator of Yango II, Biennial of Contemporary Art in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kendell Geers is an artist of our time who understands the contradictions of an era characterized by extremes. He was born into an Afrikaans working class family at the height of apartheid and ran away from home at the tender age of 15 to join Nelson Mandela's liberation movement. He describes himself as an AniMystikAKtivist, is the quintessence of a bridge between the European and African art traditions, an animist and at the same time an alchemist and mystic who believes in the power of art to address the global crisis of climate change.

Charlotte Matter is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Art History of the University of Zurich, in which she coordinates the specialized Master's program in Art History in a Global Context. Her doctoral thesis entitled "The Politics of Plastics: Feminist Approaches to New Materials in Art, 1960s and 1970s", explored how women artists and critics challenged sexist discourses in art and demanded plastics as feminist substances. She is co-initiator of the research project "Rethinking Art History through Disability" and member of CARAH - Collective for Antiracist Art History.

Isabel J. Piniella Grillet is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent in Paris and an associate researcher at the Center for Global Studies at the University of Bern. Her current research focuses on Latin American art, official and dissident discourses, memory and affect. She previously completed her PhD at the Institute of History of the University of Bern within the Global Studies Program with a thesis on political engagement in the cultural production of Venezuelan actors in the 1960s. She develops her own artistic and curatorial practice with an interdisciplinary approach mainly in Switzerland.

Nadia Radwan is an art historian specialized in visual arts in the Middle East. She was Assistant Professor of World Art History at the University of Bern until 2023. Her research focuses on Middle Eastern art and architecture (19th-20th centuries), non-Western modernisms, curatorial processes and the global museum. Radwan is one of the founders of Manazir, a Swiss platform for the study of visual arts, architecture and heritage in the MENA region. She is currently working on her second book on hidden visibilities and the politics of abstraction in the Middle East.

17:55h Q&A


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