Gradual Contemporary: Ariella Azoulay
May
7
5:00 PM17:00

Gradual Contemporary: Ariella Azoulay

THE IMPERIAL ORIGINS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
ARIELLA AZOULAY

Imagine that the origin of photography goes back to 1492. What could this mean? In this lecture, Ariella Azoulay will depart from the common theories and histories that present photography as a sui-generis practice and locate its moment of emergence in the midst 19th century around technological development and male inventors. Instead she would rather propose to locate the origins of photography in the “new world,” at the earlier phases of European colonialism and study photographs alongside early accounts of imperial expeditions. Obviously there are no photos from the mass destruction of the late 15th century, but viewing later images of destruction in the context of early expeditions, unravel the premises of what is called documentary and its role in minimizing the scale of the enterprise of destruction. Photography was institutionalized as a visual and communicative practice in a world that had already been colonized and enabled the reproduction of imperial divisions and imperial rights. It nailed down in images what Azoulay conceives as the right to destroy, to accumulate, to appropriate, to differentiate, to record what has been destroyed or appropriated, to study, rescue, salvage, and exhibit it. Interpreting these imperial rights as constitutive of the practice of the documentary, is key in understanding the power accumulated in the hands of image banks and corporations such as Getty or FB.

Ariella Azoulay is Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and author of Aïm Deüelle Lüski and Horizontal Photography  (Leuven University Press and Cornell University Press, 2013), From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950 (Pluto Press, 2011), Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (Verso, 2012) and The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008), co-authored with Adi Ophir, The One State Condition: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River (Stanford University Press, 2012).

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Homi Bhabha, Fred Wilson, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed: A Conversation on Cultural Appropriation, Representation and Free Speech in America
May
2
6:30 PM18:30

Homi Bhabha, Fred Wilson, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed: A Conversation on Cultural Appropriation, Representation and Free Speech in America

BHABHA / WILSON / RASHEED: A CONVERSATION ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION, REPRESENTATION, AND FREE SPEECH IN AMERICA

6:30 – 8:00 PM
METCALF AUDITORIUM, RISD MUSEUM

Please join postcolonial scholar and Harvard professor Homi Bhabha, and American artists Fred Wilson and Kameelah Janan Rasheed for a panel discussion on the ethics and aesthetics of cultural appropriation, the ideals and limits of free speech, and the politics of representation. Please submit questions, concerns or issues that you would like raised during the conversation to lmaltzle@risd.edu by April 25, 2018.

Discussion will be moderated by Leora Maltz-Leca.

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Art History Colloquium: Keynote Address
Apr
26
6:30 PM18:30

Art History Colloquium: Keynote Address

GLOBAL VORKURS: REASSEMBLING THE HISTORY OF THE BAUHAUS FROM THE GLOBAL SOUTH

JOAQUÍN BARRIENDOS
INSTITUTE OF AESTHETIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF MEXICO

In 2019, Germany will be celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of the inauguration of the Bauhaus. In order to celebrate the legacy of this influential school and aesthetic idea, Germany will relocate different Bauhaus archives in three new museums. In addition, a number of exhibitions and seminars around the globe will be discussing the presence of the Bauhaus worldwide. The centenary of the Bauhaus is the perfect arena for discussing the latest epistemological and geopolitical foundations that are encouraging art historical visions and museum imaginaries in Europe to become global. In this keynote address, Joaquín Barriendos focuses on the relationship between the Bauhaus and Latin America, with an emphasis on Mexico and the intense connection this country “south the border” had with several of the members of the Bauhaus.

Joaquín Barriendos is a Research Fellow at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Autónoma de México in Oaxaca, México and an Associated Academic Curator at Tlatelolco University Cultural Center, Barriendos has published extensively on the globalization of Latin American contemporary art as well as the theorization of global art circuits and institutions. He has served as Latin American Cultural Studies Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Visiting Professor at the Universitat de Barcelona, and Research Fellow at the Institute National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris. Barriendos’s is the authore of Geoestética y Transculturalidad: Globalización de la Diversidad Cultural, Políticas de Representación y Nuevo Internacionalismo del Arte Contemporáneo (Girona, Fundaciò Espais [Premio Espais a la Crítica de Arte]), and his writings have appeared in Javier Guerrero’s Visual Objects (Princeton University Press, 2018), James Elkins’s Art and Globalization (Penn State University Press, 2011), Mieke Bal’s Migratory Politics: Technology, Time, Performativity (Amsterdam, 2011), and Hans Belting’s The Global Art World: Audiences, Markets and Museums(Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2009).

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Gradual Contemporary: Claire Bishop
Apr
25
6:00 PM18:00

Gradual Contemporary: Claire Bishop

INFORMATION OVERLOAD: RESEARCH-BASED ART AND THE POLITICS OF ATTENTION
CLAIRE BISHOP

Bishop’s lecture looks at the rise of research-based art since the early 1990s and its relationship to the changing status of knowledge as a result of digital technology.

Claire Bishop is an art historian and critic based at CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Radical Museology, or What's Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship and Installation Art: A Critical History.

This event is free and open to the public.

Registration required: REGISTER HERE

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Gradual Contemporary: Rachel Haidu
Apr
23
5:00 PM17:00

Gradual Contemporary: Rachel Haidu

THE TRAGICOMIC SELF: AMY SILLMAN AND PHILIP GUSTON
RACHEL HAIDU

Both Amy Sillman and Philip Guston make painting, in their different historical moments (respectively, the present and the 1960s-70s), into a tragicomic enterprise. This talk examines the role that shape plays in that enterprise, when it is seen not as a formal or compositional element but as key to both the tragic aspect of a painting's historical reflection and its comic operations—its funniness. Tragicomic shape is the means that painting has at its disposal for exploring selfhood, a concept that Haidu develops in relation to not only painting but also video and dance in her new book.

Rachel Haidu is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. She is the author of The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964-1976 (October Books: MIT Press, 2013).

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Gradual Contemporary: Ara H. Merjian
Apr
9
5:00 PM17:00

Gradual Contemporary: Ara H. Merjian

‘AT THE SAME TIME’: TOWARD AN ETHICS AND AESTHETICS OF (IN)VISIBILITY
ARA H. MERJIAN

Diderot’s famous Letter on the Blind, for the Use of Those Who See (1749) improbably names moral apathy as the natural inclination of the blind, whose inability to see leads Diderot to "suspect them of being, in general, unfeeling toward their fellow men." To what extent have twentieth- and twenty-first-century aesthetics elaborated strategies of representing connections to bodies unseen or unacknowledged? What, in artistic terms, might constitute a phenomenology of distance and implication, as it relates to the witnessing of history or micro-history? And how do the visual arts—whose domain is sight itself—potentially shore up such distance, or else render intelligible its effects? This paper ventures some tentative answers in the light of specific efforts by European and American artists, from both before and after the late twentieth-century digital revolution: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Renato Guttuso, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Martha Rosler, Eric Fischl, and Francesco Arena.  It explores the extent to which an ostensibly interconnected globalization might belie an indifference which, as Carlo Ginzburg writes, "already implies a form of complicity."

Ara H. Merjian is Associate Professor of Italian at New York University and author of Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Modernism, Paris (Yale University Press, 2014).

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Gradual Contemporary: Alexander Alberro
Apr
4
6:30 PM18:30

Gradual Contemporary: Alexander Alberro

CONTEMPORARY ART AND THE GLOBAL TURN
ALEXANDER ALBERRO

A newly-formed transnational web of individuals and institutions has in the past three decades fundamentally changed the nature of contemporary art. Highlighting artworks and projects that have sought to make visible, analyzable and contestable the new forms of exchange, "Contemporary Art and the Global Turn" probes not only what has led to this complex transformation but also the impact it has had on the current conditions of artistic practice. In what ways is recent art distinct from previous modes of contemporary art? What are the conventions that contemporary artists face today? Where are they shaped? What precipitates them?

Alexander Alberro is Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History at Barnard College. He is the author of Abstraction in Reverse: The Reconfigured Spectator in Mid-Twentieth Century Latin American Art (University of Chicago Press, 2017); Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity (MIT, 2003), and has edited books on contemporary art including Working Conditions: The Writings of Hans Haacke (MIT, 2016), Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists Writings; Art After Conceptual Art (MIT, 2009); Museum Highlights (MIT, 2005), Recording Conceptual Art (University of California, 2001), Two-Way Mirror Power (MIT 1999); and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (MIT, 1999).

Alberro is also the founding editor of the University of California Press’ book series “Studies on Latin American Art,” which commissions publications of art history and cultural practices emerging from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Latin American diaspora in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Art History Colloquium: Hanan Toukan
Apr
3
10:15 AM10:15

Art History Colloquium: Hanan Toukan

  • Danforth Lecture Hall, RISD Museum (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

FROM PLO TO NGO: ARTS, LETTERS
AND THE DISSONANCE OF DISSENT AFTER THE COLD WAR
HANAN TOUKAN

Since the start of the Arab revolutionary process and the violence that has accompanied it, the arts have come to play an ever more crucial role as mobilizer, witness and archivist of historical events. As a result the domain has enjoyed an exponential growth in the technical and financial support it receives from US and EU funding bodies. This growth has provoked intense debates within policy circles and a plethora of academic literature on what the role of visual and cultural practices are and should be in violent warfare, political change and the study of politics and culture in the region. This talk will historicize and contextualize this phenomenon as its focus predates 2011 and grapples with it from its first appearance in the 1990s and until its consolidation in the aftermath of 9/11.  Specifically the talk examines the ways in which transnational circuits of visual cultural production are related to how society makes, sees and experiences the political in art and its relevance to the wider publics in Jordan, Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The talk addresses prevalent debates about the nature of the political in art as well as the role of art and the intellectual in political change. It shows that both are part and parcel of shifting structural dynamics in local and international politics that directly impact the production of culture and how different generations practice them, perceive them and process them.  Hence the talk is not is not so much about “art”, as much as it is about the “artworld” from a local perspective, and how culture in it is produced in a global world.

Hanan Toukan is Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies and Visual Arts at Brown University. Before joining Brown, Professor Toukan taught at the Freie Universität Berlin as well as at SOAS, University of London. She has also been a guest lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London in art history and visual cultures as well as Campus in Camps in Palestine. Professor Toukan was an EUME Postdoctoral Fellow in Berlin in 2012–2013, a Freie Universität Postdoctoral Fellow between 2014 and 2016 and a Kenyon Institute Visiting Scholar in East Jerusalem in 2012. Toukan is currently working on her manuscript based on her award winning Ph.D. titled "A Global Political: Art, Dissent and Diplomacy in the Arab World" under contract with Stanford University Press. Her articles have appeared in Arab Studies Journal, Cultural Politics, Journal for Palestine Studies, Review of Middle East Studies, Jerusalem Quarterly, SCTIW Review, Jadaliyya and Ibraaz amongst others. She has also contributed chapters to Narrating Conflict in the Middle East: Discourse, Image and Communication Practices in Lebanon and Palestine (2013, edited by Dina Matar and Zahera Harb), to Commitment and Beyond: Locating the Political in Arabic Literature since the 1940s (2015, edited by Frederike Pannewick and Georges Khalil) and Histories of Arab Documentary (edited by Viola Shafik).

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Gradual Contemporary: Matthew Jesse Jackson on Our Literal Speed
Apr
2
5:00 PM17:00

Gradual Contemporary: Matthew Jesse Jackson on Our Literal Speed

OUR LITERAL SPEED PRESENTS EVERYTHINGISM
MATTHEW JESSE JACKSON

It could be argued that the most compelling art is no longer defined by particular media (painting, sculpture, photography, video), or by particular subjects (portraiture, landscape, still life, devotional image), or by particular strategies of representation (Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Appropriation); instead, the true art of our time might best be described as being distinguished by activities that employ everything to evoke everything by means of everything.

Matthew Jesse Jackson is Associate Professor of Art History, Visual Arts, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and co-author and co-curator of the book/exhibition Vision and Communism (September 2011 – January 12) at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago.

Our Literal Speed is a text and art undertaking located in Selma, Alabama.

For more information on Our Literal Speed please visit their website here: Our Literal Speed

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Art History Colloquium: Sean Nesselrode Moncada
Mar
20
10:15 AM10:15

Art History Colloquium: Sean Nesselrode Moncada

  • Danforth Lecture Hall, RISD Museum (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

THE MUTABILITY OF MAGMA: EL TECHO DE LA BALLENA AND THE VENEZUELAN PETROSTATE
SEAN NESSELRODE MONCADA

At a moment of political turmoil in Venezuela, the radical artist collective El Techo de la Ballena [The Roof of the Whale] produced a series of polemical exhibitions, publications, and documentary films that disrupted a modernist narrative of progress. Active between 1961 and 1969, the group was stylistically promiscuous and deliberately multidisciplinary, its activities unified only by a theory of "magma." A formless, subterranean base material that serves as a thinly veiled metaphor for crude oil, this magma manifested in the group’s consistent preference for material confusion, visual flux, and narrative instability. By advancing a dissident view that Venezuelan modernism was little more than a Faustian bargain, El Techo’s heterogeneous practice challenged the dominance of kinetic abstraction while questioning the logic of the developmentalist petrostate, revealing an underbelly to the modernism that had long been obscured by a national push to "sow the oil."

Sean Nesselrode Moncada is assistant professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at RISD, where he teaches courses on Latin American and Latinx art. He holds an MA and PhD in Art History and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and a BA in Art History and English Literature from Swarthmore College. His research examines the contested development of modernism in the Americas and its uneven reception and implementation across the hemisphere. His current book project focuses on the artistic, architectural and theoretical development of Venezuelan modernism(s) at the height of the 20th-century oil boom, looking to the relationship between industry and patronage as well as the broader ideological stakes of visuality under an emergent petrostate. His research has been published in journals such as Architecture Theory ReviewCaiana: Revista de Historia del Arte y Cultura Visual del Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte, and Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas. He is coordinator of the Providence and Rhode Island–area ACRAH Reading Group.

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Gradual Contemporary: Glenn Adamson
Mar
1
1:30 PM13:30

Gradual Contemporary: Glenn Adamson

MAKE OR BREAK: ON ARTISTIC EPIPHANY
GLENN ADAMSON

It's one of the oldest stereotypes about art: the flash of insight, the "Eureka" moment, when everything comes together for an artist and the work leaps into new territory. What actually happens in these moments? And what had to happen first, before they arrive? In this talk, Glenn Adamson will journey into the studio and the life of artists, to explore the nature of creative revelation. He will concentrate particularly on two figures from his current and recent research: the ceramic sculptor Peter Voulkos and the fiber artist Lenore Tawney. Though working on opposite coasts and in different media, they had simultaneous breakthroughs in the late 1950s which reshaped not only their own careers but their entire disciplines. Through close examination of these two case studies, Adamson will offer a model of what goes into such decisive imaginative leaps.

Glenn Adamson is a curator and historian based in Brooklyn and the author of The Craft ReaderThinking Through Craft, and The Invention of Craft.

This event is co-sponsored by the Ceramics Department.

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Art History Colloquium: Foad Torshizi
Feb
27
10:15 AM10:15

Art History Colloquium: Foad Torshizi

  • Danforth Lecture Hall, RISD Museum (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

THE WORLD BETWEEN MY FINGERS: LOCATED WORLDLINESS IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF MEHRAN MOHAJER
FOAD TORSHIZI

"The World Between My Fingers: Located Worldliness in the Photography of Mehran Mohajer" examines the ways in which Mohajer's photography enables a "worldliness" that is deeply rooted in the visual and literary traditions to which he, as an Iranian artist, belongs as well as in the history of photography. This rootedness allows Mohajer to effectively resist the widespread demand of Western art institutions that the aesthetic economies of non-Western artworks align with Euro-American understandings of meaning, value, aspiration and desire. "The World Between My Fingers..." is part of a chapter in a manuscript Torshizi is currently working on, entitled "The Clarity of Meaning": Contemporary Iranian Art and the Cosmopolitan Ethics of Reading in Art History.

Foad Torshizi is assistant professor of Art of the Islamic World at RISD. He holds degrees in Comparative Literature and Society and Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (PhD and MPhil, Columbia University), Art History (MA, University of Minnesota) and Photography (MFA, Honar University of Tehran). Prior to joining the RISD faculty in 2017, he taught graduate students at Tehran University, advanced undergraduates and graduate students at the Università degli Studi di Milano in Italy as well as undergraduate students at Columbia University’s Core Curriculum. His research interests are in the areas of global contemporary art, contemporary Iranian and Middle Eastern art, postcolonial theory, ethics of readership, theories of globalization and cosmopolitanism, comparative literature and politics of translation and interpretation. Torshizi's research has appeared in academic journals both in the US and Iran. Most recently he has published an article in Herfeh: Honarmand on the works of the prolific Iranian artist Barbad Golshiri.

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