CONF Taking up Space – Postgrad Conference, Goldsmiths, University of London. 25-26.6.2012

Centre for Cultural Studies
Goldsmiths, University of London

25-26 June, 2012

This is a one / two day conference exploring the meaning and understanding of space in its physical manifestations as well as in its discursive forms; through which identity, meaning, value and authority can be mapped in particular ways.

We cannot avoid space. It is inevitable. The ways in which we understand ourselves, others and the world around us implies some notion of space. Our sense of self and society is worked through and is contained in space: culture does not only take place, but also creates it “making symbolic use of its objects” (Lefebvre).

To what degree does our conception of space change when we understand ourselves as self-enclosed or permeable beings? Can art and performance therefore mediate the relationship between the self, objects and environment? “The activities of travel, journey and navigation fabricate the social world as well as reveal it” (Caroline Knowles).

The space of the streets has become the site of dis-order and territory has become a prime issue for understanding contemporary social tensions. The recent riots in the UK brought into the forefront questions such as who owns space, how we can use this as a place for resistance and what notions of space are currently active in shaping and operating the socially constructed body. The possession of a categorized space can be considered
in line with homelessness as a dislocation of the public and private, attesting to the multi-dimensionality of space and both the potentials and restrictions embodied in it.

The upcoming Olympics also signify the difficulties facing spaces contesting belonging and struggle. Questions of locality and identity are important, inciting questions of nationalism and tourism, paramount to the formation of cultural identity. In turn, the Occupy movement and one year anniversary ofTahrir Squarereinstates the need to define sacred and everyday space and the potentials in multiple usages of place. This conference will ask how can we negotiate the historicisation of memory? The aim of this conference is to rethink how space is interacted with and reconfigured in different mediums as a site for action as well as containment. If we cannot avoid space how can this be used to further an understanding of self or curtail ideas of autonomy? How are we embodied by space and embodying it at the same time? In what ways can space be used as a site for artistic and political development and how does the contemporary world and being become through the spatial? We welcome proposals for papers, discussions, short film, dance, performances, workshops and other engagements and activities engaging among others with the different ways of being in space.

Topics, experiences, understandings and possibilities might include but are
not restricted to:
• Temporality and embodiment
• Knowledge and materiality
• Interaction between objects and self
• Memory/ history/ time
• Bodies and public and private
• Restrictions and exclusions
• Performance / realm of aesthetics
• Identity/ territory / alienation
• Subversive potential – resistance / containment

Sophie Fuggle
Lecturer, Cultural Studies
Goldsmiths, University of London