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Autumn Art Lectures Art in the Time of COVID-19: Episodes and Contexts

Festival of Ideas

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This year’s Autumn Art Lectures – brought to you by the University of Bristol Faculty of Arts in partnership with Bristol Ideas – are themed around ‘Art in the Time of COVID-19’.

This series of lectures brings together contemporary artists, scholars and museum professionals to reflect on the impact of pandemics – both in the past and in the present – on the ways in which we create, engage with, and think about art and art-making. During the series, we will consider the longer history of art and diseases, the ways in which contemporary artists have reckoned with and worked through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications and new possibilities that opened up as we were forced to reimagine the form and function of our public collections amid lockdowns and enforced closures. We will look to the past – from the Black Death to the Third Plague – to provide context to our present as we begin to imagine what the future might look like for artists, collections and the publics that they serve.

In our opening session, we will be joined by Professor Christos Lynteris and Professor Fabrizio Nevola who will introduce key episodes in the intersections of visual culture and pandemics, from the Black Death to the Third Plague.

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Christos Lynteris is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of St Andrews (UK), holding the first Chair on the subject in the history of the University. His research focuses on the anthropological and historical examination of zoonosis, epidemiological epistemology, medical visual culture, colonial medicine, and pandemics as events posing an existential risk to humanity. He was the Principal Investigator of the five-year ERC project ‘Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic’ at the University of Cambridge, and is currently the Principal Investigator of the Wellcome-funded five-year project ‘The Global War Against the Rat and the Epistemic Emergence of Zoonosis’. He has published ten books, the latest of which is a monograph titled Visual Plague: The Emergence of Epidemic Photography that will be published by MIT Press in 2022.

Fabrizio Nevola is Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter (UK). His research focuses on urban and architectural history of early modern cities, with a particular attention on public spaces in Italy on which he has written and published extensively. His most recent book, Street Life in Renaissance Italy (Yale UP, 2020) accompanies several edited collections involving comparative work on urban space. His first book, Siena: Constructing the Renaissance City (Yale UP, 2007) was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects Sir Nikolaus Pevsner International Book Award for Architecture. Through several grant-funded research projects, including the ‘Hidden Florence’ and ‘Hidden Cities’ apps and the new Florence4D website, he has developed digital humanities spatial approaches using geospatial, 3D modelling and GPS technologies.

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