CFP: Molds as Cultural and Material Mediators

College Art Association Annual Conference, 21 February to 24 February, Los Angeles Convention Center, USA

Molds, used in a variety of artistic and artisanal practices, are understood as a means of creating an exact likeness. Through the use of the mold the maker is able to pull forth an (supposedly) unmediated image of a subject that already exists — the wrinkled face of a deceased person, the scales of a lizard, or the ornament of an ancient monument. But beyond the transmission of the form mediated by the mold, the touch of the mold to the subject it imprints has been seen in different historical moments as having particularly potent social power in not only capturing the subject’s likeness, but also its interior qualities. In the case of death masks, for instance, the mold that imprinted the face was also seen to facilitate the transfer of their essence into the cast positive, thereby making the absent person present. By freezing the fleeting subject, the mold thus creates temporal stasis. It is due to molds that we are able to study plaster casts of ancient monuments that have since been destroyed or worn away by time. Considering molds’ social, and not simply practical, function therefore opens up broader questions about mimesis, temporality, memory, and presence, as well as the influence of likeness and creativity upon them. This session seeks papers that explore the mold as more than a tool, but instead a means of making that is integral to the way in which the objects that result from it functioned and were understood.

Deadling for proposals is 14 August 2021 by email to Hannah Wirta Kinney, University of Oxford ([email protected]) and Emily Knight, University of Oxford ([email protected])

Full instructions on the submission process can be found here:

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