Conference and Micro commissions call

CFP for conference and artist micro-commissions: 

‘Art and the Rural Imagination’

25 March 2020 

Location: New Forest

Arts University Bournemouth & More Than Ponies (MTP)

‘The rural’ has become a central concern in contemporary art practice and discourse. Artists today frequently make work in or about rural locations, producing startling visions and radical conceptions of life and space beyond the urban centres. But ‘the rural’ nevertheless remains an undefined term within contemporary art, often serving as a broad backdrop for alternative social practices and forms (the ‘commons’, motifs of feminism and witchcraft) or investigations into pressing socio-political issues rooted in the land (privatisation, pollution, postcolonial terrains). This conference will approach ‘the rural’ by exploring relations between people and places, including the visible and invisible inhabitants (human and non-human) that populate or traverse it. What is the lure of ‘the rural imagination’ as a site for potential alterity or a space of existing power relations? How might critical art discourse and practices reimagine or reinvent the rural for our present moment?

The conference will be held at a ‘rural’ venue within the New Forest, a national park in the south of England, providing a suitable backdrop for the extrapolation of key themes. The New Forest is an area that allows for the exploration of concerns related to the ethics of the cultural consumption of landscapes, tourism, ecological change, land ownership, access, animal ethics, ecological justice, and related issues. The conference is linked with More than Ponies, an arts programme that seeks to reinvigorate the New Forest as a site for contemporary art engagement, discourse and practice.

We solicit abstracts for papers and artist micro-commissions that relate or respond to, but by no means are restricted to, the following areas:

  • Transient rural populations, from tourists to precarious workers.
  • Images of the rural and their publics
  • National and/or postcolonial identities.
  • Socially engaged art and the rural.
  • Alterities of the rural imagination.
  • Visible/invisible populations of the landscape.
  • The politics of food. 
  • Labour and work. 
  • Recreation, tourism and parkland.
  • Technologies of the rural. 
  • Metaphors of the rural for contemporary living.
  • Access, rights, management and ownership of the land.
  • Impact of climate change on rural communities.
  • Practices of navigating and mapping terrains.
  • Animals and their relations to environments and people.
  • Sensory, haptic or aural explorations of the rural.

The conference will consist of academic presentations alongside debates from industry professionals (artists and curators) and artist commissions.


We are seeking expressions of interest from artists to present works or projects that suit the nature of a conference, for example short performances, videos for monitors, interventions or interactive works. The venue also offers the opportunity for work to be shown outdoors in an area that includes woodland and a campfire area. We would like to encourage expressions of interests by artists who are critically engaged with ideas expressed within the brief and encourage experimental and unexpected responses. 


We are interest in widening this opportunity to include those operating outside of institutions. We therefore are able to offer a small fee and travel bursary to independent practitioners. Please state in your application if required. 


Please submit proposals and expressions of interest to Dr Colin Perry (Senior Lecturer, Fine Art Theory, Arts University Bournemouth)

Deadline: 12:00, 4 December 2019.

Please provide an abstract/ expression of interest (250 words) and short biography (200 words).

When expressing an interest in artist micro-commissions please state if the work has been shown elsewhere before.

Full programme announced and tickets available January 2020

Conference website:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: