About the event

The 13th International Conference of the International Word and Image Association (IAWIS/AIERTI) will focus on the concept of Sedimentation in word-image studies. The term, in its literal and metaphorical sense, will allow us to examine historical, theoretical and thematic issues that cross cultural, literary and artistic productions, and to consider the tensions, articulations, oscillations that intertwine the word and the image.

This choice of theme stems not only from its relevance to the studies of Word & Image, but it is also closely related to the geographic space that will host the event. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - UFMG (https://ufmg.br/) is located in the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais, well-known for its rich historical and artistic traditions. As its name implies, this region is known for its gold mines, deposits of minerals and precious stones, whose exploration allowed the construction of a large number of cities in the context of colonial Brazil, such as Ouro Preto and Diamantina, where a number of the most representative works of the so-called Minas Gerais baroque, whether architecture, sculpture or painting, are found. Nevertheless, mineral extraction has left traumatic marks in this territory. The recent dam failures in Mariana (2015) and Brumadinho (2019), causing hundreds of deaths and responsible for the contamination of lands and rivers in the region, represent the greatest environmental tragedies in the country.

Close to the baroque culture of the historic cities, the current state capital, Belo Horizonte, was built at the end of the 19th century. With its population growth and the hectic urban expansion, nowadays the city is home to contrasting and eclectic styles, along with the world-renowned modernist architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, so that anyone who visits or walks through the streets may have the impression of crossing different temporalities.

Also noteworthy is the coexistence of different historical moments and a prolific cultural range as we approach the outskirts of Belo Horizonte: from the Inhotim Institute, possibly the largest open-air contemporary art museum in the world, to the prehistory of the archaeological site of Lagoa Santa, where the Danish paleontologist Peter Lund did his research in the 19th century; as well as the Indigenous groups of different ethnicities who live in Minas Gerais, such as the Krenak, Xacriabás and Maxacalis peoples.

The temporal strata observed in this single region of a country of continental dimensions mirrors the gigantic palimpsest that constitutes Brazilian culture, characterized by miscegenation, but also by structural racism arising from a long process of enslavement of African origin peoples, through constant movements of “critical swallowing” (deglutição in Oswald de Andrade’s words) of the past to bring out the new. This specific spatial framework, marked by its geological richness, a vector of modernization and destruction, seems apt to reflect on the idea of sedimentation in a broader way, as a dynamic process, ebb and flow, as the intertwining of eras, always from the perspective of word and image. In the current historical moment, when the notions of time and space are "telescoped", to use a term from Walter Benjamin, when ubiquity has become virtually possible, and when it becomes necessary to open its "compass in the dimension of planet", as suggested by Michel Butor, how do cultural, artistic and literary manifestations perceive and translate time in its impure and anachronistic dimension?


This initial inquiry indicates the following possible directions to be explored within the sessions:


  • Word and image archaeology: from the ideogram to new technologies; from prehistory to the digital age; from ut pictura poesis to intermediality.
  • Crossing space and time: transits between the Old and the New World; past and present travel narratives; utopias, heterotopias, dystopias.
  • Palimpsests, residues, humus: representations and metaphors of excavation, of archive, and of memory.
  • "Tupi, or not tupi that is the question" (O. de Andrade): anthropophagy, appropriation, collage, miscegenation/hybridity.
  • Ecocritical perspectives in word and image: intermedial ecocriticism; modernization and destruction of the natural landscape; relationships between species; ecofeminism.
  • Decolonization of art, literature and word-image relations: decolonial criticism; Indigenous and Afro-descendant art and literature.

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Av. Antônio Carlos, 6627 Pampulha - Belo Horizonte/MG - CEP: 31270-901
(31) 3409-5101 dir@letras.ufmg.br

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