Tag Archives: UChicago

Art Stolen, Art Broken

Last month I visited the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago for a panel on archeological looting with Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute, and Lawrence Rothfield, professor of English at the University of Chicago. “The Past for Sale” is an ongoing research project facilitated by the Collegium, and its goal is to better understand the black market of looted items. In addition, there is the problem of the deliberate destruction of historical artifacts by ISIS.

[Left:] Jeff Koons, Red Balloon Dog Ed. 51/66; [Right:] Description of item and its damage

[Left:] Jeff Koons, Red Balloon Dog Ed. 51/66 (1995); [Right:] Description of item and its damage

After the panel I visited the Collegium’s gallery, which was hosting the Salvage Art Institute’s exhibition No Longer Art. The show consisted of damaged pieces of art which were no longer considered worthy of being shown normally. Given the status of the works, the viewers were allowed to touch them, but it still felt too strange to break that taboo. The damage to these items changed them, and yet they were still products from respected artists. Presented informally as catalogued damage they take on a different appearance. Their inscrutable veneer of a finished product is lost and their materials become more apparent.

[Left:] Robert Rauschenberg, Soviet American Array IV, 12/55; [Right:] Description of item and its damage

[Left:] Robert Rauschenberg, Soviet American Array IV, 12/55 (1988-89); [Right:] Description of item and its damage

Fredric Jameson on Narrative at UChicago

Fredric Jameson onstage with Leela Gandhi

Fredric Jameson onstage with Leela Gandhi

A few days ago I visited my old neighborhood of Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago. While walking I happened to recognize an acquaintance who asked if I’d be going to see Fredric Jameson talk in mere minutes. Shocked that I hadn’t known about this earlier, I decided that I really had no choice but to go see one of the greatest thinkers alive today.

Jameson, among others, had been invited to the University of Chicago for the multi-day conference “Forms of Fiction: The Novel in English.” The main focus of the conference was an examination of four novels: Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Having not read all of them, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to follow all of Jameson’s talk, which turned out to be on Ulysses among other ideas, but my worry was assuaged by his handling of the material. Jameson unknowingly had made a case for me to read Ulysses along with giving me a bit more faith in the novel as a worthwhile form of reflection of the world.

Some Recent Art Shows

Work by Laura Hart Newlon. Photo from her site.

Work by Laura Hart Newlon. Photo from her site.

A couple weeks ago I went to the SAIC MFA show, where probably over 100 artists were featured. I don’t remember many to be honest, but I do remember a few prints of photographs by Laura Hart Newlon. I think I was drawn to the pieces on display due their underlying tension caused by the flatness of the medium itself and the digital layering of the elements in some of the prints. Those elements differed in their own particular flatness. The image above includes flattened fabric, covered partially by a wooden circle. One of the works had fabric itself attached to the photograph, running over the side of the print.

Robert Morris, "Untitled (Pink Felt," 1970. Photo from  the Guggenheim.

Robert Morris, “Untitled (Pink Felt)”, 1970. Photo from the Guggenheim.

Newlon’s use of fabric is a nice touch in this sense, because it’s a medium that was used by artists like Robert Morris to argue against the primacy of flatness in art, who even invoked the critique of Clement Greenberg, the priest of flat modernist painting. Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed” (1955) is another piece that comes to mind, in which the high modern techniques of abstract expressionism are challenged by the relatively ignored arts of weaving.

On April 19th, UChicago hosted a portion of the work of their MFA students. Mark Beasley’s work is certainly impressive, and from what he’s told me, we’ll be able to see it on his website soon. It was an interactive video-panorama of a room including most of his recent work. Using your hands, you could zoom in on each piece in the room to get a better view. I haven’t known him for long, but it seems like some of his recent stuff has become more performative and conceptual. Not that those themes weren’t in previous work, but rather, there are times where a concern with computer interfaces is cast off, and he digs into the act of interfacing itself.

Nick Bastis‘s installation/environment seemed to be a hit. At one point people packed into the room within a room to read or listen to messages displayed on different screens. It was an interesting experience in that the work was an amalgamation of architecture, furniture, reading, listening, etc.

Robyn O'Neil, "Miserable Hawaii". Image from the Western Exhibitions site.

Robyn O’Neil, “Miserable Hawaii”. Image from the Western Exhibitions site.

Last Friday I went over to Western Exhibitions to see some paintings by Robyn O’Neil. If anyone knows about my thoughts on art, they know I love Mark Rothko’s paintings. And so, yes, O’Neil’s paintings reminded me of his work, specifically his later paintings, like the work he did for the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX. The subtlety of the darkness in O’Neil’s paintings reminded me of a moment in art historian Simon Schama’s documentary on Rothko, where Schama remarks, “it’s almost as though he’s painting to see how dark he can make the light.”

From Western Exhibitions I went over to Las Manos Gallery for the opening reception of some other photographers. My favorite work there was probably that of Jaun Fernandez—a choice which is probably based on being a fan of the New Topographics style of photographers like Robert Adams and Joe Deal.

I’m glad to finally be getting out to shows now. I’m not sure what was keeping me, before. Now that it’s the end of the school year, I think there will probably a lot of great stuff to see in the next few days too.

Object-Oriented Ontologies Roundtable, follow up

Yesterday the Objects Cultures Project hosted the Object-Oriented Ontologies Roundtable, for which I presented. I think the entire discussion went very well, and I was happy to be a part of it. I think it’s a good sign that I left the discussion with the intent to read a few authors I hadn’t heard of beforehand.

Upcoming Roundtable for the Object Cultures Project

click for larger view

click for larger view

The Object Cultures Project at UChicago will be hosting a roundtable discussion on object-oriented ontology, specifically with regard to material culture. The roundtable is coming out of a previous discussion on Graham Harman’s Guerrilla Metaphysics, but there was also mention of Speculative Realism (or Materialism) in the discussion.

I’m going to be presenting on the recent history of materialist philosophy, and the odd metaphysical strains in it.

The details on the roundtable:

It will take place at The Franke Institute for the Humanities [1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637] on Friday, February 1st 2013 at 4:30pm. Contact Amanda Davis at aleighdavis@uchicago.edu to RSVP.

T. J. Clark’s Lecture Today at UChicago

T. J. Clark at UChicago

I just attended art historian T. J. Clark’s lecture, “Capitalism without Images,” at UChicago’s Logan Center, as a part of the Art History Department’s Smart Lecture Series. The picture above is from my view, where I sat on the floor due to the room being completely full. It was a great lecture, and I wish he’d visit the university more, because there was clearly a sense that his lecture was merely scratching the surface of his thesis–which argues that images are used to prop up the gap between the desired life and reality under capitalism.