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Artists and Collections CPD: Expanding Practices

Curator seminar exploring histories of trauma and the representation of violence in collections

The Madonna of the Cat, after Barocci (2022) by Ali Cherri - a sculpture of a white, Classical-style hand pressing down on a taxidermied goldfinch, positioned as if trying to escape. The sculpture is contained within a wood and glass cabinet.

Drawing on themes highlighted in Ali Cherri's exhibition, 'If you prick us, do we not bleed?', this Continuing Professional Development seminar is for curators of the Subject Specialist Networks of Contemporary Art and European Paintings Pre-1900, organised by the Contemporary Art Society and the National Gallery.

It will focus on using historical and contemporary collections to explore how themes of trauma and violence are received through objects, displays and programmes.

In the first part of the seminar there will be presentations by researchers Dr Claire Launchbury (Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL) and Jannane Al Ani (London College of Communication). The second part is designed to be more participatory, and curators attending are asked to look at the reading list below and send an example in their collection that they would like to discuss in the afternoon. 

Topics can include any of the following questions:

  • To what extent are different manifestations of violence interrelated?
  • How can art be useful as a tool for working through experiences or histories of trauma and violence (representations of war)?
  • How do we interpret representations of violence in collections or artworks?
  • How can we display and communicate sensitive subjects matters?

Reading list

Crossing Over: Museums as Spaces of Violence - Amy K Levin 

Regarding torture at the Berlin Biennale - Artforum International

Connecting Museums, Modern Art, Colonialism, and Violence

Confirm your attendance

Please RSVP by emailing with a few lines about what you would like to discuss. The RSVP deadline is 4pm on Monday 5 December.

Travel bursaries are available. The deadline to apply for a bursary is 5pm on Monday 28 November.

Event schedule

10.00 – 10.45 - Self tour of Coventry Cathedral

11.00 – 11.05 - Welcome from Martin Roberts, Herbert Art Gallery

11.05 – 11.25 - Dr Claire Launchbury, Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London

11.25 – 11. 45 - Jannane Al Ani Artist, Researcher and Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, London College of Communication

11.45 – 11.50 Short break

11.55 – 12.30 Moderated discussion

12.30 – 14.00 Lunch and visit to Ali Cherri’s exhibition and the Peace and Reconciliation gallery

14.00 – 15.30 Discussion in breakout groups

15.30 – 16.00 End notes

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