Activity: Participating in or organising an academic or articstic eventConferencesResearch

Joanna Fiduccia - Organiser

Jordan Troeller - Organiser

“Surrogates: Embodied Histories of Sculpture in the Short Twentieth Century” is an international symposium which will be hosted by Yale University’s Department of the History of Art from September 29 to October 1, 2022.

This symposium aims to reconsider the relevance of the human and humanism for the history of twentieth-century sculpture. Our focus will be the decades between 1914 and 1989 (Eric Hobsbawm’s “short century”), an interval when competing definitions of humanity emerged from global warfare, feminist activism and theory, postcolonial nationalisms, the Civil Rights movement, and post-Bandung internationalism. During this same period, sculpture, which had long served as the repository for idealized representations of humankind, began to remake the contours of the body: not as copy or exemplar, but as functioning model, prosthesis, and surrogate. Reclaimed for projects of political representation by some artists and disavowed by others, the human figure served as a staging-ground for upheavals in the category of the human itself.

Looking back on sculpture’s address to this emergent subject, this symposium questions whether this history can continue to be captured by prevailing accounts of twentieth-century sculpture, which describe its shift from autonomous and intentional form to models of intersubjective and environmentally contingent experience. What would it look like instead to understand a history of sculpture shaped by Aimé Césaire’s “humanism made to the measure of the world”— one that remains alive to what sculpture might tell us about being human in relation to the non-human, “less than human,” and natural world?

This symposium is generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Yale MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Organized by Joanna Fiduccia (Yale University) and Jordan Troeller (Freie Universität Berlin).


Surrogates: Embodied Histories of Sculpture in the Short 20th Century


Yale, Connecticut, United States

Event: Other