Skip to main content

36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

The Matter of Edges

Alfred Acres1 , Marine Kisiel2

1Georgetown University - Washington (United States), 2Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (France)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Much has been written about the boundaries of pictures and other works of art. Physical frames, manuscript margins, borders, framing devices, and cropping are but a few of the phenomena we explore in this light. Among less formal, more philosophical reflections on the periphery of a work, many will think first of parergon as a supple term of analysis.

Less has been said about material change or elaboration between the core of a work and its limit. This can happen in many ways—sometimes in a transition of one medium or technique to another, sometimes in a switched representational mode, sometimes with mutual infiltrations between internal and external elements. Such changes can be gradual or abrupt, inconspicuous or obtrusive. All of them, however, reveal conscious thought not only about the appearance and meaning of a work, but also its material and conceptual geography; relative distances are gauged both internally and toward—or from—surroundings. Medium, support, technique, display apparatus, and setting are integrated or separated in countless ways.

So what? If all works of art have edges of some kind, might the topic be too general to be useful? Not if we approach it with precise observations, fresh questions, and art from a breadth of places and times not usually considered together. What aims or considerations inform an artist’s formulation of edges? In what ways do those formulations shape emphasis, diffusion, or other vectors of attention? What functions or meanings are served? How can such efforts guide narrative, devotion, persuasion, cogitation, or feeling? When do edges demarcate a difference between subject and surplus, or between something and nothing? Do some works of art obviate the edge as fact or idea? Papers for this panel need not explicitly address these or comparably “meta” questions about edges. Not every paper, in other words, will center the edge per se. Most will instead consider a single work or body of works that articulate edges in novel or otherwise revealing ways. The panel’s approach can thus be fittingly centripetal, with a variety of cases drawing us toward a core of inquiry that might otherwise remain indistinct.