This session will be devoted to exploring the face in modern and contemporary art practice as a sort of hinge between the sensual and the affective.
The face is the cradle of all the major sense organs: sight, sound, taste and smell and to a lesser extent touch. Through these organs, subjects sense their environment becoming attuned to subtle changes that occur constantly in it. Responding to these stimuli one might squint or grow wide-eyed; wrinkle the nose or purse the lips; one’s cheeks might blush or we might crane the neck to hear a faint sound. The face is also the cradle of identity—facial recognition technology has been around in the form of identity cards for nearly a century and beyond that it is quite simply through the face that others most commonly recognize us. The face can nonetheless give away very personal information; it is where affective and emotional states are registered and made visible sometimes even before they are named and known. Therefore, in the face reading and decoding, intuiting and apprehending are distinctly corporeal. One might use the sense organs of the face to take stock of their environment (which includes the facial expressions of those around them), or use these same parts to take stock of the self. This session will be devoted to exploring the face in modern and contemporary art practice as a sort of hinge between the sensual and the affective. How do sensual and affective registers relate to one another? At what point does a sensed experience become a shared experience and what role does the face play? How can re-thinking the face, lead to new conceptualizations of identity and the social commons? The face is a nexus of the personal and the public—involving performance and dissimulation as much as truth and transparency. Is the facial ‘expression’ an embodied instance of promised connection and meaning or the risk of disconnect?