Center for Icon Studies’ Third International Conference
The Visual Culture of Iconoclasm and Atheism
JUNE 10 – 11, 2022
In the December 1905 issue of Novaia zhizn’, the Bolshevik daily newspaper, Vladimir Lenin wrote: “The proletariat of today takes the side of socialism, which enlists science in the battle against the fog of religion, and frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on earth.” In the years following the 1917 Revolution, the Soviet regime launched an aggressive campaign against religion, hoping to lift the “fog” identified by Lenin. Through powerful and sometimes disturbing imagery, targeted poster campaigns warned people of the dangers of religion and ultimately, the dangers of living in the past. Soviet iconoclasm paved the way for the destruction, not only of religious images, but of an entire political, social, and cultural system.
Organized and sponsored by the Museum of Russian Icons, in Clinton, MA (USA), the conference is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Images of Atheism: The Soviet Assault on Religion, curated by conference chair Dr. Wendy Salmond.
Using the lens of visual and material culture, submissions might explore the themes of iconoclasm, atheism, or the implications of state- and church-sponsored dogma in Soviet Russia. Some questions to consider: Can we compare iconoclastic practices in the Byzantine era to the Soviet Union? Can we consider intra-Orthodox discord on image veneration as iconoclasm? What are the socio-political repercussions of iconoclasm in the service of atheism? How are visual conventions and strategies used by church or state to communicate to the masses? How do the faithful continue their faith traditions in secret? How and in what form are their sacred images preserved?
The Museum welcomes papers from scholars at any career stage. Please send a CV as well as a 300-word abstract with at least one image to Amy Consalvi at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31, 2022. Selected speakers will be notified by April 15, 2022. The virtual conference is scheduled for June 10 and 11, 2022. Interested presenters will be invited to have their papers peer-reviewed for possible publication in the 2023 issue of the Journal of Icon Studies.