The School of the Art Institute kicks off its current Visiting Artists Program with a lecture by Saya Woolfalk tomorrow, Tuesday February 2nd, at 6:00pm. From the Visiting Artist’s Program website:
SAIC alumna Saya Woolfalk (MFA 2004) will present her ongoing project No Place, a multimedia, fictional future that reworks tropes of sexual, racial, and gender difference. The characters and stories in Woolfalk’s constructed reality evoke travel narratives, science fiction, and the rhetoric of anthropology to investigate human possibilities (and impossibilities). Through diverse forms of installation, video, painting, drawing, performance, and sound, she reflects on human life and its future through configurations of biology, sociality, and the environment. Woolfalk’s selected exhibitions include PS1/MoMA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; and Momenta Art. She has been an artist in residence at Skowhegan, Yaddo, Sculpture Space, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Presented in collaboration with SAIC Alumni Relations.
Want to bone up on Woolfalk’s work prior to the lecture? Here are some links to get you started:
Saya Woolfalk Artist’s Page at Zg Gallery, Chicago
Saya Woolfalk Performs No Place: A Ritual of the Empathic at Performa 09
Woolfalk’s lecture will be held at the SAIC Columbus Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Drive.
This round of VAP lectures is especially strong. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for these upcoming SAIC Visiting Artist Program lectures (click here for further details):
Doug Aitken, Monday, February 22nd, 6pm
Amy Franceschini, Thursday, March 11, 6pm
Doris Salcedo, Monday, March 15, 6pm
Matt Keegan, Tuesday, April 6, 6pm
Ryan Trecartin, Wednesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 15 at 6pm
Calling all theory-heads: the Stone Summer Theory Institute launches its 2009 week-long school in contemporary art theory this Sunday with a lecture this Sunday afternoon by James Elkins on this year’s topic, What Do Artists Know? A rundown on the coming week’s public lectures is below; to learn more about the ideas behind the Stone Summer Theory Institute, check out Duncan’s interview with James Elkins on Episode 149 of the podcast here.
What Do Artists Know?
Co-organized by James Elkins and Frances Whitehead
Thinking on the education of artists is divided in an unpromising way among teachers avid for practical tips, administrators interested in the bottom line, educators invested in philosophies of teaching, and artists proposing idiosyncratic solutions. The 2009 SSTI will focus on three themes: the histories of art education; the current content and philosophies of art education around the world and at all levels; and the current state of theorizing on what artists know in society and outside the educational framework.
Tickets are free for SAIC students, faculty, staff, and alumni
Prices for the public vary. For more information please visit www.stonesummertheoryinstitute.org
James Elkins: What Do Artists Know?
Sunday, September 20, 1pm
Morton Auditorium, the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.
Free and open to the public. No pre-registration required
Presented by 2009 SSTI co-organizer James Elkins, this lecture will consider the principal theories of studio art education, including the First Year, the BFA, MFA, and PhD, while comparing practices in different countries. Elkins is the author of Why Art Cannot be Taught: A Handbook for Art Students and the E.C. Chadbourne Chair of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at SAIC.
Sir Christopher Frayling: The Hollywood History of Art
Monday, September 21, 7:30pm
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.
Former Rector of the Royal College of Art, London, Sir Christopher Frayling is a cultural historian specializing in the permeability of high and low culture. He became the first professor of cultural history at the Royal College of Art and has published more than a dozen books. Frayling was knighted for ‘services to art and design education’ in
Roy Sorensen: “Artistic Expertise”
Wednesday, September 23, 7:30 PM
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.
Roy Sorensen is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. While he seldom writes about art, the titles of his books read like a roster of concepts that artists have invoked to describe what they know and how they see: Blindspots (1988), Thought Experiments (1992), Pseudo-Problems (1993), Vagueness and Contradiction (2001), and A Brief History of the Paradox (2003). He has also written a book on perception called Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows (2007).
PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION
“What Do Artists Know?”
Thursday, September 24, 7:30 p.m.
Performance Space, Columbus Drive Building
As many artists transverse the disciplinary boundaries of art, design, science, and other fields, how do we understand the role of knowledge production in hybrid/ trans-diciplinary practices? SAIC faculty with such practices, reflect on these questions and lead an audience discussion on knowledge in practice.
Participating SAIC faculty include: Ellen Grimes, Adelheid Mers, Claire Pentecost, Andy Yang, and Frances Whitehead.
Advanced registration recommended.
Monday, Sept. 21, 9am-noon
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Avenue
Introducing the problematic of the Institute is a three-hour roundtable discussion, which will be taped and published. Panelists include Frances Whitehead, James Elkins, Sir Christopher Frayling, Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, and Roy Sorensen.
Saturday, Sept. 26, 9am-3pm
Price Auditorium, the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.
(Use Michigan Avenue entrance before Museum open hours.)
A five-hour discussion by the Faculty, which will be taped and published. The Closing Roundtable includes a one-hour lunch break, and 90 minutes for audience questions.
The Stone Summer Theory Institute is sponsored by Howard and Donna Stone, longtime friends of the School of the Art Institute. Their innovative patronage supports the understanding of art, in addition to the infrastructure of education or display.
Artist, performer, and director of the School of the Art Institute’s graduate fashion program Nick Cave had a big profile in last Sunday’s New York Times. Cave’s Soundsuits–wearable mixed-media sculptures that incorporate every material imaginable to make sounds unique to each garment–are on view in a large-scale exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from March 28th through July 5th; the show will travel to UCLA’s Fowler Museum in 2010.
In the Times profile, Cave recalls what he was thinking when he made his first Soundsuit out of fallen twigs gathered from Chicago’s Grant Park.
“It was a very hard year for me because of everything that came out of the Rodney King beating,” he said. “I started thinking about myself more and more as a black man – as someone who was discarded, devalued, viewed as less than.”
One day, sitting on a bench in Grant Park in Chicago, he saw twigs on the ground in a new light: they looked forsaken too. He gathered them by the armful and cut them into three-inch sticks. He drilled holes through the sticks, so he could wire them to an undergarment of his own creation, completely covering the fabric.
As soon as the twig sculpture was finished, he said, he realized that he could wear it as a second skin: “I put it on and jumped around and was just amazed. It made this fabulous rustling sound. And because it was so heavy, I had to stand very erect, and that alone brought the idea of dance back into my head.”
Cave, you’ll remember, had a show at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2006. I really wish I’d been living in this city at the time so I could have seen it–Cave’s stuff is blowing my mind, and I need to know more about it, look at it up close and in person, watch the fur fly, so to speak.
My own lack of familiarity with Cave’s work makes me wonder, though: Why is Cave’s show traveling to the Fowler Museum, which is a museum of cultural history, and not an art museum that has an equally strong ability to support and exhibit interdisciplinary art of this nature, like, say, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) or even UCLA’s “other” arts institution, the white-hot Hammer Museum*? From the Fowler’s online mission statement:
The Fowler Museum explores art and material culture primarily from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas, past and present. The Fowler seeks to enhance understanding and appreciation of the diverse peoples, cultures, and religions of the world through highly contextualized interpretive exhibitions, publications, and public programming, informed by interdisciplinary approaches and the perspectives of the cultures represented.
Don’t get me wrong: the Fowler is a fantastic institution and will do a superb job with this show. My quibble is with what seems a questionable location of Cave’s work in terms of “material culture” when it really is better understood in terms of contemporary artistic practice–which is, you know, highly interdisciplinary itself nowadays, and which is why institutions like Yerba Buena’s are an ideal context for it.
The NYT piece notes that in his catalogue essay for the Yerba Buena show, Dan Cameron “cites the ‘social sculpture’ of the artist Joseph Beuys, the legacy of the drag queen Leigh Bowery in the London underground performance scene and the ornate costumes of African-American Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans” as associative touchstones for Cage’s fashion/sculpture/performance mash-up. So why emphasize only the last part of that description?
Cave shows his Soundsuits at Jack Shainman alongside Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems, Michael Snow, Odil Donald Odita, Bob Knox, Tim Bavington–a diverse stable of artists involved in a wide range of practices, some interdisciplinary in nature, some less so. Check out Cage’s bio: He’s had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville and a bunch of other smaller contemporary art venues. That the Los Angeles venue of his biggest exhibition to date will be a cultural history museum rather than a contemporary art center seems a little out of context given where Cage has shown previously.
I’ve sat in the conference rooms where the decisions to greenlight exhibitions are made–the choices are complicated and involve a multitude of factors, and believe me, I know that outside observers (like myself) often have an overly simplistic view of how it all goes down. Maybe it’s as simple as the show wasn’t offered to anyone but the Fowler. But I’ve also witnessed firsthand how certain exhibition proposals get tossed aside with hardly a second glance because it belongs “somewhere else,” often that conveniently located cultural history museum that’s right down the street, practically next door, maybe we can collaborate with them on something or maybe not…whatever, “it’s not for us.”
This is not about the relative value of cultural history museums. It’s about context, the meaning of “culture,” and museological responsibility. Is the Fowler’s role, and by extension the role of other cultural history museums, to pick up the slack and plug up the holes left by the fine arts institutions in their city? I haven’t lived in L.A. for awhile now, so I can’t do more than broach the question. But the institutional journey that Nick Cave’s Soundsuits have taken and will take in the future would seem to provide a provocative case study in what qualifies as “contemporary art,” what’s deemed “material culture,” and why that distinction even matters.
*(Is this the part where I’m supposed to do the “due diligence/ full disclosure” thing and report that I was once an assistant curator at the Hammer? Well, then, consider it done.)
Are re-blogged links the blogger’s version of the sitcom flashback episode? Uh, maybe, but in any case, here’s a partial and purely subjective roundup of the past week in art, culture, etc. in Chicago and beyond, via a whole mess o’ handy links, of course….
*New City art editor Jason Foumberg has a nice recap along with some thoughtful analysis of last week’s “The Invisible Artist: Creators from Chicago’s Southside” panel discussion at the School of the Art Institute. UPDATE 4/4: There is some very interesting, enlightening, and pretty damn sharp back-and-forth going on in the comments section of this article by panel participants and others who strongly disagree with (or have misunderstood) Foumberg’s assessment of the panel and the issues it addressed.
*The mass firings of adjunct fine art faculty at Parsons The New School for Design: blogger Hrag Vartanian’s coverage has been some of the most thorough thus far. Check out his posts here, here and here as a start.
*Time Out Chicago writer Lauren Weinberg has a piece this week on the ways in which Musuems in Chicago and elsewhere are using social media.
*Big yawn: on the Twitter front, an update on @platea’s Twitter happening I blogged about a few weeks ago. UPDATE 4/4: NewCity reported on what happened during the Twitter Island project discussed in that same blog post, here.
*Via C-Monster: The Architecture of the Drug Trade. A fascinating look at the landscape of weed and the architecture of the grow house. Especially loved the comparison of the latter to Max’s bedroom in Where the Wild Things Are.
*Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City writes for The L Magazine on why Jenny Holzer is not the patron saint of Twitter in her review of Holzer’s Protect Protect Project, which originated at the MCA and is now at The Whitney.
*And finally, the hermeneutics of “pin diplomacy”: via Artnet Magazine, Madeleine Albright’s pin collection to be shown at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. Pins weren’t mere jewelry for Albright, they added a subtle layer to her diplomatic efforts. She wore a bee pin when talks were getting pointed, a balloon pin when she felt hopeful, and a snake pin after Sadaam Hussein’s people called her a serpent. I’m so there!