Call for Papers : VAS 2017

Visual Arts Symposium 2017
Call for Papers


The Black Mark Collective is proud to announce its second Visual Arts Symposium to be held from the 15th to 17th September 2017 at the Market Photo Workshop’s new premises in Newtown, Johannesburg. This is the second edition of the biannual symposium following its successful launch in 2015 hosted by the Visual Arts Department at the Walter Sisulu University in eMonti. In its continued effort to creating space for critical engagement around the work of Black practitioners in South Africa, this year’s focus is to attract more artists and arts practitioners in order to expand the understanding of practice and theory. Focusing on the theme Urgency And Agency-Strategies And Contingencies, this year’s symposium seeks to explore art practices and discourses that resonate with the ever-changing conditions of creative production.

This concept has been framed around the following propositions:

In recent years bloggers have assumed a more prominent role in the space of art discourse, artists are traversing across the traditional categories between those that have been initiated through the gallery system; and those who have inhabited other creative spaces. Smartphones have made everyone a photographer. Social media has made it possible for file sharing and collaborations to mushroom. The authorial voice of the mandarins of culture have ostensibly been curtailed. Independent art and music venues are on the increase. At its extreme, it seems the consequence of this approach is that one can become an artist, critic, film-maker today and be completely something else tomorrow, a phenomenon captured by the term “slasher generation”.

Corollary developments include an increase and greater visibility of art collectives and collaborations, art in the public sphere both temporary installations and performances, as well as virtually oriented art all of which are pointing towards the emergence of new missions and responses to the now. More and more we see cross disciplinary approaches being adopted, where fashionistas, and writers of fiction are engaging in the visual arts. These cross-disciplinary approaches are indicative of a growing awareness of the importance of art spaces. However, the downside to this rapidly growing interest in the art world is that stars are born overnight and disappear just as quickly. How do we reflect on the time that we are in? Perhaps it is too early to theorise these moments but there is a need to reflect and document them in order to archive these developments.

Some pertinent questions include:

  • How do these practices fundamentally alter the established lines of proportioning value?
  • How do they impact on institutional culture, systems and policies?
  • How do they operate in relation to capital and funding?
  • What are the long-term implications for archiving and historicising Black cultural production?

We invite expressions of interest.

The deadline is 15 June 2017

Application must include the following:

       an abstract with a (tentative) title of the paper (maximum 350 – 500 words)

–     a short biography

*If you have a blog, website, soundcloud, youtube URL that features or profiles your writing please include as part of your biography (optional)

Submissions must be emailed to

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