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Sculpture & Poetry



Conference dates
Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 February 2022

Keynote speakers
Olaf Nicolai (German conceptual artist and literary scholar)
Slavs and Tatars (Berlin-based art and publishing collective)

Conference outline

Medium-specific designations can seem anachronistic, even incoherent within the post-medium, post-digital, hybrid nature of both contemporary art and literature. Nonetheless, both sculpture and poetry have specific genealogies of practice and reception, and both are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Why and how, at the present moment, might two of the oldest art forms have become the locus for some of the most radical practices?

Surprisingly little scholarship has been done to survey the overlap between sculpture and poetry, in theory or history, yet poets and sculptors are consistently drawn to one another. This international two-day conference invites papers that go beyond the obvious connections to instead ask, what happens when the two art forms merge or collide, and what frameworks for practice and criticism have been developed to explore their entanglements?

We welcome proposals for papers from any related field, including art history and theory, literary studies and theory, comparative literature, media studies and theory, curatorial and museum studies, editorial and publishing studies, philosophy, and linguistics. We especially encourage trans- or inter-disciplinary approaches to this topic, particularly those that actively resist rigid disciplinary lines traditionally drawn between art forms via their scholarship, teaching and learning. We actively encourage perspectives and case studies that disturb Western norms of practice and criticism. While the language of discussion at the conference will be English, we also encourage papers that explore translation, transliteration and multi-lingual subject matter.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Hybrid practices: poets who make/made sculpture, and vice versa; sculptors involved with editing and publishing poetry; poets involved with curatorial and art-historical work; critics and curators who focus on both
  • Support structures for the production and reception of hybrid sculpture-poetry practices, including artist-led, small-press and DIY cultures, and from perspectives including publishing history and exhibitions history
  • Translation and multi-lingual issues in the study and reception of such practices, including from curatorial and editorial perspectives
  • Global Englishes and the notion of a lingua franca
  • Sculpture-poetry hybrid practices and their reception beyond Euro-American contexts
  • The impact of technological changes on hybrid practices and their reproduction or fabrication 
  • Histories of critical and theoretical innovations connecting poetics and sculpture studies
  • Histories of innovative pedagogic and research projects (academic or extra-academic) that combined sculpture and poetry study.

This conference, organised by Nick Thurston (Associate Professor of Fine Art, University of Leeds) in collaboration with the Henry Moore Institute, will form the closing event of the Sculpture & Poetry research season. Speakers will have the opportunity for their presentations to be publicly archived on a bespoke microsite and there will be the possibility of publishing proceedings.


We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers. Please email paper proposals of no more than 300 words, along with a 150-word biographical note, by Friday 26 November 2021.

We request that potential speakers also indicate if they would like their presentation to be recorded and contribute to the Sculpture & Poetry microsite.

Proposals should be emailed to with the email subject ‘Sculpture & Poetry Paper Proposal’.

Booking for the conference

Tickets to the Sculpture & Poety conference are free, and are open for booking now. The conference will take place online via Zoom on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 February 2022.

Find out more and book your free place