Call for proposals

ASAP/12: Frontiers of the Present

Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present

October 15-17, 2020

Hosted by the University of Utah


Proposals for panels and individual presentations accepted until May 1, 2020. Proposals for seminar topics accepted until April 24, 2020.



ASAP/12 invites proposals from scholars, artists, writers, curators, cultural workers, and other practitioners addressing the contemporary arts since the 1960s in all their forms—literary, visual, performing, musical, cinematic, design, digital, and more. We are interested in work across disciplines and media that examines the formal, cultural, social, and political dimensions of the arts today. ASAP/12 will be held in downtown Salt Lake City. The topic of the conference is “Frontiers of the Present,” understood expansively: geographical, social, cultural, racial, etc. We are seeking to reflect on borders and frontiers as points of separation and contact, as political configurations of material and symbolic space, and as objects of cultural representation.

We hope for participants to think as broadly and imaginatively as possible about frontiers in their various senses: the contested and militarized, but also culturally hybrid and vibrant, borderlands between nations; real or perceived boundaries separating disciplines, forms, genres, and media; the permeable lines that divide and bring together scholars, students, art practitioners, and broader publics; the shifting terrain between arts, education, and government institutions; and the leading edge or temporal frontier of art practice that goes by the name “the avant-garde.” Proposals may consider artistic movements, collectives, and local scenes, including those online, or underground. They may discuss any theoretical, intellectual, or aesthetic formations or focus on individual artists, writers, designers, composers, or performers. Panels that consider a range of disciplines and methods and speak across traditional institutional or intellectual divides are especially encouraged. The questions below are reflective of ASAP/12’s interests, methodology, and scope, but topics beyond these questions are welcome.

In keeping with both the conference theme and the host location, proposals drawing on resources, speakers, legacies of, and issues currently facing the American West, formerly known as Northwestern Mexico and the ancestral home of Indigenous, Native and First-Nation peoples displaced and marginalized by various waves of colonialism, are therefore especially welcome. We encourage projects that address local, indigenous, and Latinx cultures, settler colonialism, and Utah’s significance as the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We also seek to acknowledge the region’s significant population of immigrants, and the Church’s complex history of welcoming refugees to Utah. We warmly welcome area professionals in arts policy and advocacy, and encourage projects that think about the interrelation between developing urban centers like Salt Lake City, the region, and broader global considerations.

Panels and papers focused on the following questions would be of particular interest:

  • What are the arts of today’s borderlands and how do they represent, defy, or traverse the militarized frontiers between nations?
  • What constitutes the frontiers of the arts of the present, the boundaries against which today’s artists strain or the lines between media, genres, and forms that artists probe and overleap? How do contemporary artists respect or breach such borders?
  • What are the thresholds where contemporary arts practices and other social institutions, such as universities, philanthropic entities, corporate sponsors, and the state meet?
  • To what extent do ideologies and logics of the American frontier persist? How do the arts of the American West intervene in histories of settler-colonial expansion, genocide, and extractive resource exploitation, as well as in the aesthetic conventions of western art?
  • What are the technological frontiers of contemporary arts practice, and how do developing platforms from digital media distribution to AR and VR undergird the cultural field today?
  • How have arts practitioners and institutions sought to push beyond traditional boundaries of the white cube, mobilizing artistic, community, and political activity outside of traditional arts spaces?
  • What role are the arts playing in social justice and environmental movements around the world, and to what extent have these movements forged solidarity across perceived borders between communities, identity groups, and nations?



We encourage creative and alternative presentational styles, alongside traditional papers and panels. Seminars, workshops, panel debates, artist discussions, films, installations, visual displays, and other session types will be welcomed.

Proposed panels, roundtables, and seminars should include speakers from more than one institution. Advanced graduate students are welcome, but sessions comprised entirely of graduate students are unlikely to be accepted. We encourage panel organizers to seek participants from multiple disciplines and those that feature diverse methods. Diversity of disciplines in the panel will be a criterion of evaluation of proposals and we hope that members of a panel come from at least two different types of academic departments or programs. In addition, we encourage our applicants to look for new co-panelists and avoid being with co-panelists from the past two conferences. Because the number of total speaking and presentation slots is limited, one paper/presentation per registrant is allowed. This means that speakers should normally give a paper on one panel or roundtable, though they may also participate in a seminar if they wish. The program committee may also be able to accommodate requests for chairing/moderating panels.

Seminars normally meet for a single session, and papers are circulated among participants in advance of the conference. All seminars are open to conference attendees, but seminar leaders may designate whether and when audience participation is encouraged and should make appropriate arrangements to incorporate an audience. Seminar leaders are asked to propose topics by April 24, 2020 via email to and to submit the full roster of participants by May 13, 2020.

All non-seminar proposals must be submitted by May 1, 2020.


  • 300-word abstracts for individual presentations, standalone or within larger sessions
  • 700-word abstracts for entire sessions (panels, roundtables, seminars)
  • Speaker’s bio (300 words max per participant)

Submit your proposals to:

Accommodation details and registration costs will be available soon through the conference website. Questions may be addressed to in the meantime.