The Department of Sociology at the University of Manchester and the Collège International de Philosophie
are pleased to announce a one-day interdisciplinary conference focusing on the
representation of social classes in contemporary art and visual culture.
It is one of the paradoxes of our time that, while statistical data reveals how societies are
marked by social discriminations and staggering inequalities, the idea of class has virtually
lost the political dimension that used to inform it. If the concept is not dismissed outright as
obsolete, it is too often reduced to being merely descriptive and ideologically neutral. This is
not only true for the notion of “working class”, but also, and perhaps more surprising, for the
notion of “bourgeoisie”, a category that not long ago seemed indispensable for social and
Visualising Class seeks to explore the way in which contemporary visual artists (in the
broadest sense: performers, photographers, filmmakers, architects, designers, etc.) have
engaged with the issue of class. The conference invites scholars from various disciplines
(sociology, anthropology, art history, visual studies, etc.) to examine figures and icons that
have emerged over the past forty years in order to problematise the vanishing, persistence or
mutation of classes.
10-10.15am Welcome speech and opening remarks.
Jacopo Galimberti (University of Manchester)
Session I. Women, Migrant Workers and the Limits of Intersectionality
Chair: Nicholas Thoburn (University of Manchester)
Angela Dimitrakaki (University of Edinburgh) – Women, Work and the Class Relation:
A Note on the Political Imaginary of Feminist Art History Today
Klara Kemp-Welch (The Courtauld Institute of Art) – Visualising ‘Skill’: Contemporary Art
and Labour Migration in the EU
Marina Vishmidt (Goldsmiths) – Between Equal Rights, Seeing Decide? Class and Other
Struggles in the Image Field.
Session II. The People, the Bourgeois and the Mask
Chair: Jacopo Galimberti (University of Manchester)
Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute of Art) – The Image of the People in Street Art?
Stefan Jonsson (Linköping University) – Masked Collectivities: Imaging Protest between
Representation and Performativity
Jörg Probst (Independent Scholar) – After the Middle Class? The German Wutbürger and the
Iconology of the Bourgeoisie.
3. 45pm-4.15pm Coffee break
Session III. Rethinking Class and its Materiality.
Chair: Elisa Pieri (University of Manchester).
Nicholas Thoburn (University of Manchester) – Materialising Class at Robin Hood Gardens
Danielle Child (Manchester School of Art) – Unattractive Materials: Contemporary British Art
and the Visibility of Class
Jérôme Bazin (Université Paris-Est Créteil) – The Constant Heterogeneity of the