Russische en Slavische Studies - activiteiten

imperfections conference

March 2019, 11-12, Noordwijk aan Zee & Amsterdam

NB Guests are welcome to join both the public events and (part or all of) the conference
panels. To register, please email Yegor Osipov via

In recent decades, the trend to present the notion of imperfection as a plus rather than a
problem has resonated across a scala of social and creative disciplines and a range of world
localities. Design professionals present ‘imperfect’ or wonky forms as counterresponse to hitech
perfection (Ramakers; Jongerius). ‘Perfectly imperfect’ (TESCO) and related labels book
unprecedented successes in fruit and vegetable marketing (De Hooge). Psychologists point at
the social and mental downsides of perfectionism (Hill). Artists and musicians frame glitches
and dirt as ‘traces of imperfection’ (Menkman) that merit praise rather than correction
(Kelly). At the same time, scholars in fields varying from disability studies to tourism warn
against fetishizing imperfection and poverty (Clare, Radulescu), and against projecting feelgood
stories onto the frail and the distorted.

What motivates today’s transdisciplinary and transnational preoccupation with imperfection?
How does the habit of framing the imperfect as benefit operate across various disciplines ?
And how does it circulate across and in different world regions? Which historical discourses
and aesthetic trends feed this present-day habit? And how can we use the desire for
imperfection in times of economic and ecologic crisis?

Imperfections is a 2-day event consisting of a conference, public round table, and
performances. The event is concept- rather than discipline-driven: it unites 19 imperfection
experts and practitioners in cultural and critical analysis, history, literary studies, marketing,
design, philosophy, music, art, linguistics, and area studies. The meeting, which brings
together specialists from Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the United States,
and New Zealand marks the conclusion of Sublime Imperfections – a research project
facilitated by the Netherlands Scientific Organization and the University of Amsterdam.
Sublime Imperfections aims to synthesize the growing but fragmented critical reflection on
the notion into the first transdisciplinary, transnational theory of imperfection.

At the conference, speakers share 10-15 minute papers which build on their draft papers;
each panel ends with a discussant response. This set-up leaves us with 30 minutes for
discussion in panels with 2 papers, and 45 in panels with 3 speakers.

The organizers will publish a selection of conference outcomes in the shape of an edited
volume. MIT Press and Yale University Press have expressed interest in the collection.

Conference accommodation: Hotel van Oranje Noordwijk
Round table & performances: Sexyland, NDSM Wharf Amsterdam
Accommodation last night: DoubleTree Hilton Hotel (near Sexyland)

This meeting’s speakers all have a long-term professional interest in the notion of
imperfection. Publications by invitees include Saito, ‘Japanese Aesthetics of Imperfection &
Insufficiency’ (Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism 55/4 (1997)), Taylor et al., ‘“Imperfect
Children” in Historical Perspective’ (Social History of Medicine 30/4 (2017)), Pisters, ‘”I Just
Want to Be Perfect”: Affective Compulsive Disorder in Black Swan’ (The Cine-Files 10 (2016)).

March 10, Hotel van Oranje Noordwijk
20.30 Welcome drinks, Lobby Bar

Day 1, March 11, Hotel van Oranje Noordwijk

9.00-9.15 Introduction

Ellen Rutten (Amsterdam U)

9.15-10.15 Strategies of Imperfection

Yuriko Saito (Rhode Island School of Design), Mieke Bal (Amsterdam U),
Discussant: Linor Goralik (Tel Aviv/Moscow)

10.15-10.45 Tea/coffee

10.45-12.15 Imperfect Pasts

Steven Taylor (Leicester U), Ernst van Alphen (Leiden U), Domnica Radulescu
(Washington/Lee U)
Discussant: Tingting Hui (Leiden U)

12.15-14.15 Lunch

14.15-15.45 Imperfect Art

Tingting Hui (Leiden U), Yngvar Steinholt (Tromso U), Oscar Verkaaik (Amsterdam U)
Discussant: Fabienne Rachmadiev (PhD at Sublime Imperfections, Amsterdam U)

15.45-16.15 Tea/coffee

16.15-18.00 Screening Madame B (director: Mieke Bal)

19.00 Dinner at Beach Pavillion De Zeemeeuw

Day 2, March 12, Hotel van Oranje Noordwijk & Sexyland Amsterdam

9.00-10.30 Imperfect Selves

Linor Goralik (writer/designer, Moscow/Tel Aviv), Patricia Pisters (Amsterdam U), Martin
Smith (York St John U)
Discussant: Joanna van der Zanden (Curator/initiator Repair Society, Amsterdam) 10.30-11.00 Tea/coffee

11.00-12.00 Imperfect Sounds

Caleb Kelly (U New South Wales), Melle Kromhout (Cambridge U)
Discussant: Jakko Kemper (PhD at Sublime Imperfections, Amsterdam U)

12.00-14.00 Lunch / Closing Session

Moderators: Jakko Kemper, Fabienne Rachmadiev, Ellen Rutten

14.15 Minibus transfer to NDSM Wharf, Amsterdam (lunch packages offered)

16.00 Soup & salad at Noorderlicht, NDSM Wharf, Amsterdam

18.00-20.00 Imperfections round table (Sexyland, NDSM Wharf)

Mieke Bal (Amsterdam U), Linor Goralik (Moscow/Tel Aviv), Joanna van der Zanden
(Curator/initiator Repair Society, Amsterdam), Yuriko Saito (Rhode Island School of Design)
Moderator: Patricia Pisters (Amsterdam U), Introduction: Ellen Rutten (Amsterdam U)

20.00-23.00 Imperfections: Public Performances (Sexyland, NDSM Wharf)

Curator: Caleb Kelly, Performers: Trish Trash, Graham Dunning, Glice

Register HERE for the conference as a guest.