Organized by the Art History graduate students, UIUC.

For more information about The Confessional, please visit:


Featuring a keynote address by Hannah Feldman (Art History, Northwestern)

5:30pm Friday, March 1, 62 Krannert Art Museum

The construction of a counternarrative can be a strategy for political resistance, revealing power structures by articulating a perspective on social reality alternative to the dominant or norm. Yet, alternative realities are not always positive or emancipatory, as demonstrated by the proliferation of claims of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” When multiple narratives collide into each other, they create friction at their edges. In that friction, we might find new perspectives and possibilities. As Jacques Rancière has argued in The Politics of Aesthetics, “Politics and art, like forms of knowledge, construct ‘fictions,’ that is to say material rearrangements of signs and images, relationships between what is seen and what is said, between what is done and what can be done”. This symposium will focus on narrative edges in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of the way that visual and performative fictions function politically. 

The symposium is not defined by any fixed period or geographic region but by several research questions: In what cases and for whom are the politics of narrative and counternarrative emancipatory (and/or oppressive)? How do narrative and performative fictions intervene in politics, disrupting and/or maintaining the status quo? How have artists, activists, and scholars tactically used “fictions” and “narratives” to create interventions? Following Rancière, how can we distinguish between fiction and falsity? Do fictions still have power to challenge us to imagine and enact alternative possibilities and experiences? What other modes might enable such alternatives?

Fictions and Frictions is a two-weekend long event with multiple iterations, including the series

Co-constructing Truths, wherein five artist-pedagogues engage within the conceptual and physical constraints of The Confessional (a mobile gallery space run by Angela Baldus that aims to move, become, and imagine truths amongst and between difference). The following weekend, on March 8-9, an exhibition curated by Hayan Kim will be on display in the Hood Classroom at the Krannert Art Museum. 

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