Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

What is a Mask?
international conference

curated by Catherine Malabou

Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Can't I just decide to fly?, Capetown, 2014. Photo: Khanyisile Mbongwa

Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Can’t I just decide to fly?, Capetown, 2014. Photo: Khanyisile Mbongwa

This international conference is part of the 2017 Research Week at the Royal Institute of Art (RIA) in Stockholm, and will conclude the Philosophy in the Context of Art seminar devoted to the issue of symbols. The conference is made in collaboration with Visiting Professor Catherine Malabou and the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London.

What is a mask? Under this title, the conference intends to interrogate precisely the symbolic value of one of the most ancient objects, present in all cultures, and polymorphous in its functions. Hiding and revealing an identity, face covering or face transforming, delusional and authentic, alienating and emancipatory, a warfare or a protective device… All these contradictory characteristics place the mask at the heart of the most urgent political, legal, artistic and philosophical questioning.

Participants in the conference are artists, ethnographers, musicologists, philosophers from different nationalities and cultures. They will develop different approaches to this enigmatic, eternal and contemporary form. There will also be a screening of important films featuring the mystery of masks. From African wooden masks to Greek « persona », from self-transformational practices to the Anonymous movement, from Fanon to The Mask, the conference will take the audience on a fascinating journey.

Here you can download the full programme for RIA Research Week 2017, including the What is a Mask? conference.


Thursday 26 January
09.30–10.00 Registration 
10.00–10.15 Introduction by Catherine Malabou & RIA Vice-Chancellor Peter Geschwind
10.15–11.15 Catherine Malabou – OF PARANOIA AND SCHIZOPHRENIA AS MASKS
11.30-12.30 Peter Szendy – Face Value (the prosopa of Money)
12.30–13.30 Lunch Break
13.30-15.00 Reflecting Memory by Kader Attia – film screening and introduction Nina Möntmann & Petra Bauer
15.00-15.15 Coffee Break 
15.15-16.30 RIA – Philosophy in the Context of Art participants present – Is unmasking possible? – an exploration in collective action: Andreas Hiroui Larsson, Maria Högbacke, Mourad Kouri, Francesca Leonardi, Michele Masucci, Melissa Mc Evilly, Fiona Rafferty, Frida Sandström, Patricia Sequeira Braz
16.30-17.30 General discussion – Moderators: Andrew Bevan & Isabell Dahms

Friday 27 January
09:30-10.00 Registration
10.00–11.00 Howard Caygill – The White Mask: Light and Shadow in Fanon
11.00-12.00 Frédéric Keck – Lévi-Strauss and the anthropology of masks: from the split representation to mythological transformations
12.00–13.00 Lunch Break
13.00–15.00 Érik Bullot – FROM CIRCUS TO CRIME
15.00-15.30 Coffee Break 
15.30-16.30 Wura-Natasha Ogunji – Kissing Strangers and Changing Face
16.30-17.30 General discussion – Moderators: Andrew Bevan & Isabell Dahms


The What is a Mask? conference is generously supported by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond/The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences.

The conference is free and open to the public but requires pre-registration to:
Research Coordinator, Åsa Andersson, asa.andersson@kkh.se


Start Time: 2017-01-26 00:00
End Time: 2017-01-27 00:00

Paper Presentations