The Power Institute and Discipline journal are pleased to present IMAGE COMPLEX: Art, Visuality and Power in the United States, an online lecture series on the history of the visual infrastructures that have shaped the United States, and the practices that resist them.

Upcoming Events

Jennifer González | On fearless speech: radical feminist art and war
Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz

Nicole Fleetwood | On art in the age of mass incarceration
Professor of American Studies and Art History, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Past Events


Lisa Lowe | On migration, materiality and memory
Samuel Knight Professor of American Studies, Yale University
Friday, 30 October 2020
10-11:30am (AEST)
Watch online here

Jolene Rickard |On Indigenous visual sovereignty
Associate Professor, Department of The History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University
11 September 2020
Watch online here

About the Series

Today, as we fret about the forces that underpin our screen-based lives, we are reminded once again that vision is not a timeless faculty, but a deeply historical and political construction.  Images and artworks exist not simply as objects to be admired or interpreted, but as part of a vast visual infrastructure that governs our lives, shaping what we see, who we are, and what we can do.  This infrastructure is what Meg McLagan and Yates McKee call the “image complex”.

In recent years and months, the image complex has become an increasingly intense site of contestation in the United States.  At Standing Rock, and on Instagram, and on the streets of Minneapolis, governments, corporations, and citizens have battled to control images: their meaning and circulation, the technologies that produce them, and the types of experience they make possible.

Yet such struggles have long contoured life in the United States.

This online lecture series introduces four leading scholars whose work cracks open the history of the US image complex, and its imbrication with processes of capitalism, imperialism, racialisation, and militarism. Their research also illuminates the practices and visual regimes that have long resisted these processes, including by artists, incarcerated people, communities of colour, and Indigenous people.

The series will take place entirely online, with each presenter introducing us to recent research, focusing their discussion through a single, key image.  The aim is not to create a new canon of images.  Instead, the series will use our embeddedness in the image complex to workshop new ways of looking at images complexly, and thus suggest new avenues for image practice and research.

Check back here for regular updates on upcoming lectures.

Design by Robert Milne.