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In contemporary art and theory, there is renewed interest in the concepts of history, archiving, and cultural memory. This is described by Dieter Roelstraete as the “historiographic turn,” in which artists, exhibition makers, and critics adopt an archaeological modus operandi, meticulously examining the traces of the past. Does this obsession with history indicate an inability to look at the future? Should we and can we jettison the concept of “history” so that we can look at the future once again?

One question that presents itself is whether this sort of attempt to sideline history does not essentially imply a return to the postmodern thinking of Francis Fukuyama and Arthur C. Danto. At the end of the 20th century, they explained that we are living in a post-historic age. This is allegedly a time in which only contemporary matters and the future are important; in a sense, it’s the end of the line in which history no longer exists. Is this conceptual model, an early version of Facing Forward, still relevant to our time, or can we focus on the future in a different way? In other words, how does Facing Forward 2.0 look in relation to the past?


AMELIA JONES is Professor and Grierson Chair in Visual Culture at McGill University in Montréal. Her recent publications include major essays on Marina Abramović (in TDR), on feminist art and curating, and on performance art histories, as well as the edited volume Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (2003; new edition 2010).
Her most recent book, Self Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject (2006), will be followed in 2012 by Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification in the Visual Arts and her major volume, Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History, co-edited with Adrian Heathfield, is also due out in 2012.

DAVID SUMMERS is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the History of Art in the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia. He received his B. A. degree from Brown University and his M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1969) from Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, among which Michelangelo and the Language of Art (1981); The Judgment of Sense. Renaissance Naturalism and the Rise of Aesthetics (1987); Real Spaces. World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism. (2003); and Vision, Reflection and Desire in Western Painting (2007). He is currently completing the manuscript of a book to be entitled Pathos, Sympathy, Empathy. Essays in the History of Art and Ideas. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.


KATHRYN BROWN holds a D.Phil in French from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Art History from the University of London. She is Assistant Professor of Art History at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. She is a Rhodes Scholar and has taught and held visiting fellowships at the University of Kent (United Kingdom), the University of British Columbia (Canada), and Tulane University (USA). Her research interests and publications span a range of areas including nineteenth-century French painting and literature, aesthetics, and contemporary art. Her most recent articles have been published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and American Art. Her book, Women Readers in French Painting 1870-1890, is forthcoming with Ashgate Publishing. She is currently editing and contributing a chapter to a multi-author volume entitled The Art Book Tradition in Twentieth-Century Europe (Ashgate Publishing). Prior to becoming an art historian, Kathryn Brown was a partner in an international law firm in the City of London. She practised corporate law in London for fourteen years.

With an
introduction by:

STEVEN TEN THIJE is a research curator, working on a PhD at the University in Hildesheim supported by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. His subject is a genealogy of the modern curator. As curator he is currently working on Spirits of Internationalism (opening Jan 2012), part of L’Internationale and was part of the team that organized Play Van Abbe (2009 till 2011). In addition, he is coordinator of The Autonomy Project and has published various articles and reviews, among others in Exhibiting the New Art, ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969, (2010). He has studied art history and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.


13 January 2012
Amelia Jones
David Summers
Language: English

LOCATION: Oude Lutherse Kerk,
Aula of University of Amsterdam,
Singel 411, Amsterdam
TIME: 8–10.30 p.m.
TICKETS: It is required to buy your ticket in advance.