FRIDAY, APRIL 26
12:30 – 1:45 Performance & Performative Spaces
Moderator: Josh Franco
Persepolis 2530: Viewing the Modern Ruins at Persepolis
Maria Salva, Binghamton University
This paper will explore the place of Persepolis as a modern preserved ruin, itself created as an ancient site within the context of broad modernization, and its displacement in a contemporary art installation by British artist Michael Stevenson at the 2007 Basel Art Fair.
In order to get at some of the problems that Stevenson’s project suggests, I am looking at some of the recent writing on ruins and the idea of ruins in the context of modernity, especially two edited volumes on the topic, by Julia Hell and Brian Dillon, respectively. Ruins embody a set of paradoxes about time and power, that can have political implications. Ruins represent a society or power group that is gone, but by definition, the ruin survives, a presence to remind us of an absence. Ruins show the collapse of a past, but also point forward: like a vanitas image, ruins tell of the ephemerality of power, and suggest that current powers, too, will find themselves in ruination.
Under the Pahlavis in Iran, much of this paradox was overlooked as Persepolis was utilized as a performance space, suggesting a past glory whose revival was already manifest. Following Talinn Grigor, I interpret this unique situation as following from the process by which Persepolis was, itself, created in its modern form, and for its modern uses, by modern excavation, restoration, and building.
Stevenson’s project, Persepolis 2530, consists of an installation at the 2007 Basel Art Fair, and a book, “Celebration at Persepolis,” which documents the ruins of the tents built at Persepolis by the Pahlavis, and the installation of a replica of one of the tents at the Basel Art Fair, and recounts the 1971 celebration at Persepolis for which the tents were built. I will investigate what it means for these ruins to be replicated (and preserved) in photography, replicated and recontextualized in a contemporary arts setting, recreated as more fragile, more temporary, and in effect, more invisible than the original.
Imagibility and Communicability in Archigram’s City Projects
Joo Yun Lee, Stony Brook University
“Primarily we are concerned with the development of ideas, by means of design as a mode of experiment.”1 Peter Cook, one of the founding members of the British experimental collective Archigram, declared their experimental architecture in the anthology Archigram (1973). This simple but dense sentence well explains Archigram’s diverse range of creative practices – journalism, exhibition design, architecture and urban design, education, and public activities. Archigram was made up of young architects concerned with urban environment and life, which engaged with new technologies including transportation systems, cybernetics, information, and multimedia. In this paper, Archigram’s architectural images will be discussed with special focus on how their concern for developing ideas enabled the group to be freed from ‘definitive’ architecture. Also, Archigram’s image design or visualization of the urban environment as a mode of experiment will be closely examined. Archigram is often undermined by negative criticism due to their lack of tangible physical buildings.
I, however, will argue that Archigram delves into the even deeper fundamental of architecture as habitat and environment and more importantly of people’s life in it. Not merely struggling with designing emblematic landmark buildings but raising social, political and technological issues emerging in environment, Archigram tried to communicate with people on their new lives and environments through their architectural images. Furthre, Archigram’s critical concern with the new urban environment with technological transformation became the overarching theme of their different city projects. In this regard, Archigram’s architectural images will be discussed with respect to two different theories (but share significant common ground): architecture theory around “Visionary Architecture” in the 60s and philosopher and media theorist Vilém Flusser’s theory of ‘technical image’ as communication code. For this discussion, Arcghigram’s two city projects, “Living City” exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) (1963) and “Instant City” project (1968-1959) will be closely examined to discuss how their strategy of imagibility and communicability specified certain issues and topics around city and urban life.
1 Peter Cook, ed., Archigram (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973), 2.
Recontextualizing the Atomic Southwest
Deanna Sheward, New York University
On July 13, 2011, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, recommended to the U.S. Congress the creation of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. This tripartite venture would include the preservation and commemoration of three central sites of America’s atomic weapons program during the Second World War: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. If passed, this legislation will provide three new monumental sites that will function alongside the existing monumental obelisk erected in 1965 at the Trinity site in southern New Mexico, where the U.S. military tested the first atomic bomb in 1945. This paper will consider the 2011 intervention as part of a trajectory that includes multiple previous attempts to transform the Trinity site into a public and accessible monument. The desire to convey the import of the spaces that commenced the atomic age at both national and global scales dates back to the early post-World War II years. Shortly after the war, the Trinity site emerged as an essential location for the staging of national heritage. In December of 1945, the National Park Service first proposed monumentalizing the Trinity site for mass audiences, transforming this covert military space into a monumental precinct, which was to include a monument and a museum, thereby recontextualizing this seminal wartime landscape.
By situating these early postwar proposals within the context of mid-century debates about the evolving aesthetic form of monuments, this paper will show how the development of this artistic genre was deeply connected to the continued territorial expansion of the nuclear landscape in the United States. Moreover, this examination of the Trinity monument will reveal some of the ramifications of converting military-controlled spaces into fully accessible public tourist destinations. Since the end of the war, numerous artists have turned to the atomic landscape of the Southwestern United States, appropriating its visual attributes and its significance to the history of nuclear energy, to comment upon the technological and ecological stakes of nuclear science. Keeping this context of art production in mind, this paper will also consider the proposals for the Trinity monument both with regard to these eco-critical artistic dialogues, which often focus on issues of secrecy, surveillance, and accessibility, as well as within the political climates that have informed the ongoing discussion of this monument over the last several decades.
The Aesthetics of Indifference: Andy Warhol’s 1967 Utah ‘Hoax’ as Performance and Self-Portraiture
Scotti Hill, University of Utah
On Monday, October 2, 1967, a highly anticipated Andy Warhol lecture was delivered at the University of Utah. In the hours and days following the presentation, attendees expressed dissatisfaction at the quality of the lecture, which they found lackluster at best and confusing at worst. Rather than attend the four scheduled appearances on his tour of Western colleges, Warhol had sent actor Allen Midgette to perform in his guise.
It is my assertion that the displacement of self via body double is a highly significant act within Warhol’s aesthetic practice. Warhol’s gesture serves as a premeditated self-portrait. As such, this event is best described as performance. For Warhol, self-portraiture disavows the revelatory properties associated with the genre. His self-portraits construct multiple guises rather than reveal the true self. With Alan Midgette as his body double, Warhol elevates detachment over presence. Warhol’s work reveals the opposition between presence and absence, rendering his imagery intangible.
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Media/Text/Countermedia
Moderator: Yuri Chang
Indigenizing Photography: The Conceptions of Zhaoxiang and Sheying in the Late Qing China (1870-1911)
Dengyan Zhou, Binghamton University
This paper examines the cultural significance of the linguistic terms that came to serve as translations for the concept of “photography” as the technology transmitted to and spread in the late imperial Qing China (1860s-1911). Recent studies on the early history of photography in China have delineated a number of meanings of the terms such as xiaozhao (小照, small portrait), zhaoxiang (照像, to illuminate or reflect a portrait or a likeness) as well as sheying (攝影, to take image of, image taking), noting that they convey different meanings than the English word photography.
Investigations however, have limited in two approaches. One has cited the literal meanings of these terms to articulate particular photographs, eliding historical discussion of their relationship. While the other approach has emphasized the pertinence between the concept of photography and Chinese discourses of portrait painting aesthetics, it leaves an unstudied fact that the term sheying had pointed to a clear etymological and institutional demarcation from the context of portraiture before it prevailed over other terms and became a stable reference to the technology at the turn of the century. Taking this point into account, this paper attempts to answer the following questions: How did the term sheying emerge? What were its connotations? Who favored its usage and in what context? How did it come to be preferred over the other competing terms for “photography”?
This paper traces the emergence and circulation of the concept of sheying across three institutional spaces, from Tongwenguan, the first officially established institute for foreign languages and Western learning, to the popular publications in Shanghai and Beijing and the first officially organized national industrial Expo Nanyang quanyehui in 1910. I argue that the concept of sheying symbolized an array of cultural and political investments, in which photographic images imparted Enlightenment appeal on the verge of the collapse of imperial China. Analysis pays attention to the multiple framings of the concept of sheying invested in Chinese intellectual tradition, new institutional practices, new cultural discourses impacted by Protestant introduction of European “scientia” and new intellectual and political attempt to negotiate China’s cultural space in East Asia.
Always There but Never Heard: Border People, Turkey-Syria Conflict and their Representations in Media
Sule Can, Binghamton University
In March 2011, Syria faced an armed rebellion by the opposed group –known as Free Syrian Army- inspired by the Arab Spring to take Ba’ath regime (led by Bashar-al- Assad) down. The war and conflicts in Syria, in other words Syrian uprising, are still ongoing, which makes the issue one of the most important subject matters of current politics in/of Middle East and brings it into the attention of the media. On the other hand, Turkey plays an important role in this process with its 877 km-length border, a complicated history with Syria besides its geopolitical position and power in the Middle East. The recent conflicts over both violations of border treaties and Turkey’s openly taking side of opposed groups against Syrian government escalated the tension and brought two countries to the verge of war. In late September and October 2012, the crisis between Turkey and Syria reached its tipping point when the strife at the border spread and caused deaths and injuries in a Turkish village. Hence, people in Turkey, particularly border cities were caught in an impossible dilemma with an increasing worrisome of their securities.
This paper focuses on media representations and coverage of this particular case considering ethno-religious border communities and their concerns about the conflicts between two countries. Without doubt, media play a fundamental role in “the distribution of ideology … every day, directly and indirectly, by statement and omission, in pictures and words, in entertainment and news and advertisement, the mass media produce fields of definition and association, symbolic and rhetoric, through which ideology becomes manifest and concrete (Dimaggio, 2009:59).
This study analyzes two Turkish newspapers and two Syrian newspapers in order to explore the major ideological underpinnings reinforcing or challenging political discourses of the governments. Representations of war and/or border conflicts also present perception and reflection of hegemonic discourse on social and cultural aspects the war and international borders. In this paper, I will argue that exclusion and inclusion of certain information and the ways in which this conflict represented in Turkish and Syrian newspapers create a discourse promoting a language of “violence” that should be understood from the perspective of identity politics considering politics of intervention. Analyzing mainstream media coverage not only shows us the ideologies behind the “language” of the news but also provides a better understanding of discursive construction and representation of minorities, border cultures and power relations. In a Foucauldian sense, discourse, ideas, political, economic or social phenomena are analyzed at the same level for their common structures and common elements. Thus, this approach reveals materiality of discourse which is an intersection of power and knowledge.
Cadillac Ranch: Monument, Media, Mobility
Patrick Maguire, University of Utah
This paper performs a revaluation of Ant Farm’s iconic Cadillac Ranch (1974), tracing the ways in which the work’s visuality is transmuted and transmitted between sites, media, and different conceptions of American identity. Such displacement of meaning continually undermines the sited autonomy of Cadillac Ranch, whose formal qualities concretize a deeply rooted and uniquely American ambivalence towards the dialectic of mobility and stasis—the potential for physical, social, and aesthetic (dis)placement.
This ambivalence manifests itself in different ways, from innovations in art and technology to the (variously heroic and tragic) histories of the individual and the collectivity. While the automobile serves as a near-universal symbol of freedom and movement, glorifying above all else the journey between here and there, Ant Farm’s serialized interment arrests the westward motion of the Cadillac, suspending it between verticality and horizontality, iconic image and buried metal. In terms of formal placement, Cadillac Ranch lies somewhere between Space Race design aesthetics, minimalist sculpture, and Land art, but the techniques employed by the artists to achieve this idiosyncratic placement are often appropriative of all three fields. The succession of tailfins, neither celebratory nor explicitly critical, in fact marks a narrative of progression and decay that itself functions as an analogue for the shift in the American psyche from the optimism of the 1950s to the material realities of Cold War militarization.
Above all else, Cadillac Ranch is shown to serve as a case study for the displacement and archiving of the image. The proliferation of Cadillac Ranch imagery—sometimes licensed by the artists, often not—is discussed in light of recent scholarship concerning the close link between Land art and media practices. Cadillac Ranch as site (physically relocated only once) has been widely reproduced, on television and in restaurant décor, enjoying a degree of mediated mobility that few artworks enjoy. The work is ultimately shown to be peculiar and solemn type of monument, an edification of the entropic forces that have affected not only its status as an endlessly multi-mediated image, but the lives of postwar Americans in general. Long relegated to the realm of postcards and road trip photo-ops, Cadillac Ranch is a complex site that has solidified primary concerns of the 1970s subculture in which it was conceived and executed.
After the Flood: The Life and Archival Death of a 1960s Counter-Culture Organization
Wylie Schwartz, Binghamton University
The focus of my paper is the Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY, as well as its archive, a collection of media history resources documenting video art and community television as it had evolved in rural and urban New York State and across the U.S. In operation from 1968 to 2011 – or, with a lifespan beginning roughly with the invention of the Sony Portapak and ending with the advent of the mobile phone – the Experimental Television Center’s archive was a reflection of the way the media arts developed from the late 1960s to the present. In 2011, Hurricane Lee came crashing through the Southern Tier, leaving 90 percent of the Village of Owego under water. While the archive survived the flood unharmed, the Center’s directors viewed it as a sign. In 2012, the archive was relocated to Cornell University to become part of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art. What follows, in an attempt to preserve its history, is what might be viewed as its systematic destruction. Was the only way to save it to destroy it? The question to explore here is what happens when a counter institution becomes archived? Following this line of inquiry, my paper is divided into four sections. The first section looks at the history of the Center and the role it played within the broader historical context of the late 1960s and early 1970s ‘counter-culture revolution.’ Section two describes the anatomy of the archive and its archival machinery. The third section examines the death of the Center and the eternal life of the institutional library: Archive archived as artifact. In the final section, I consider the institutional library’s archival apparatus as it acquires, resorts, and catalogues the objects it harbors, analyzing the process through the lens of Michel Foucault, Susan Stewart and Allan Sekula, to test what they might reveal about how the archive is operating in its new home. Having been dismantled, dismembered, re-categorized and re-contextualized, in its new institutional setting, the experimental milieu of the counter-culture organization and its ‘wild’ archival machinery becomes lost. Detached from its original function, the archive moves to a new place, which results in a loss of context, as the original meaning becomes available for resorting and recoding. Upon closer analysis, it appears that somewhere in the process, its preservation became its destruction.
3:30 – 5:15 A Conversation Between John Tagg and Ariella Azoulay
5:30 – 7:00 Faculty Keynote, Allegory/Archipelago: Crossing Berlin’s Boundaries
Dr. Julia Walker, Binghamton University.
Read abstract here.
SATURDAY, APRIL 27
9:15 – 10:30 Museological Practice
Moderator: Jasmine Burns
Designing Utility: Material Culture and the Museum
Andrea Osgood, Binghamton University
In recent years, material culture theorists have begun to consider the ways in which museums affect our understanding of objects. For many, the museum is the only venue in which to view certain objects and some scholars argue that museum displays, by focusing on aesthetics and design, have a tendency to obscure a more comprehensive understanding of the object, a point that is articulated by Sarah Pennell who argues that the ceramics displays at the V&A, in omitting broken or cracked pieces of ceramics, detracts from our understanding and appreciation of these objects as both utilitarian and aesthetic pieces. Pennell and other scholars who argue against the museum are known as “museum skeptics” and they believe that once an object is removed from its original context, it is divested from its value and can no longer function as a work of art. This paper will examine the concept of museum skepticism in relation to eighteenth century English ceramics. Ceramics were fundamental components of the formation of a variety of social practices in eighteenth century England and when placed in the museum, their value has been shifted from this functional value towards design. I will explore the approaches that a study of ceramics can take, aesthetic versus utilitarian, and instead of arguing that the placement of ceramics in the museum minimizes from their overall significance, I will suggest that ceramics’ position within the museum is a mere re-contextualization since, due to their ubiquity in the eighteenth century, they are already associated with a variety of contexts.
Museums of Innocence and Shame: Moralizing Politics Out of History in Contemporary Turkey
Hande Sarikuzu, Binghamton University
This essay starts from Wendy Brown’s forceful critique of contemporary “moralizing politics” in order to analyze two recent museums in Turkey from a comparative perspective. At first glance, there seems to be little common ground for comparison between the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul and the Ulucanlar Prison Museum, referred colloquially as the “Museum of Shame,” in Ankara. On the one hand, Nobel Laurate novelist Orban Pamuk’s Museum of innocence is a significant and exciting contribution to the experimental moment in museum-making and seeks to provide an alternative representation of Turkey’s struggles with modernization. On the other hand, Ulucanlar Prison Museum seems to mark and important moment in coming to terms with the past and seeks to provide intimate representations of Turkey’s struggles with democratization. A comparative approach enables us to ask what the narratives of each museum exclude, based on what kind of ideologies, and to what effect: Although they both narrate the stories of Turkey in the latter part of twentieth century and exhibit similar modes of museum-making, Museum of Innocence stubbornly excludes radical politics, while Ulucanlar Prison Museum erases narratives of resistance to oppression and state terror, flattening out differences between the bolitical dissidents inthe meantime. Taken together, these have the effect of moralizing the past as–either a nostalgic or a violent–bygone era, thereby erasing its traces in the present. As a result of this representation of a radical break with the past, the moralized subject positions that the audience is invited to take, of “innocemce” and “shame” from politics in the past, foreclose the possibility of genuine diologue in the present moment. Finally, the curious practice of museumizing the “innocence” and “shame” of the past is evidently a specific outcome of how the global human rights discourses and memory culture play out the particular context of Turkey’s current political environment and the local political struggles in Istanbul and Ankara. In other words, problems associated with each museum are not limited to their local context but exemplify global dilemmas of contemporary museum-making today.
At Home in the Museum: The H. O. Havemeyer Collection from Mansion to Metropolitan
Christine Olson, NYU
In this paper, I trace the display of the H. O. Havemeyer collection from the decorative interior of the Havemeyer’s Fifth Avenue mansion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
elucidating the assumptions and modes of appreciation engendered in each setting. Drawing on scholarship from social history, art history, sociology and material culture studies, I will compare the physical, visual and conceptual conditions inherent in each context of display, illuminating their attendant ideological and aesthetic considerations along the way. In doing so, I hope to show that these considerations are not only institutionally but historically contingent and as much a part of the collection’s “meaning” as the works contained therein. I ultimately argue that museological segregation obfuscates important elements of a collection’s internal logic and
historical importance that are only apparent when the collection is viewed in its historical unity and setting.
Because of the paradigmatic nature of the collection – its history and composition – and the continued influence of the Metropolitan on American museological and art historical practices, it serves as a paradigmatic case study. This analysis is intended to double as both an elucidation of the impact of context on interpretation and a claim for the value of the historical integrity of the collection and its domestic setting. Therefore, I will close with a discussion of possible museum strategies for reconstituting what is lost in the current segregation of the collection. In each proposal, I will address not only its merits as a “solution,” but will also evaluate similar past and current exhibitionary strategies and identify potential limitations. In making these proposals, I hope to show that the Metropolitan can give its audience a fuller view of its own history, the history of its collections, and the intellectual history of art appreciation while still upholding the rigorous and mainstream scholarly and museological standards that lend it its reputation as one of the world’s preeminent art museums.
Michael Asher and the Displacements of a Work in Movement
Ionit Behar, School of Art Institute, Chicago
Michael Asher (1943 – 2012, Los Angeles) has been the pioneer of a shift in attitude towards exhibitions that helped establish the paradigms of site-specificity. Since the mid-1960s, Asher has worked through processes of subtraction, displacement, reemphasis, and replacement. He has used objects, architectural elements, and relations that pertain to the institutional sites (museums and galleries) that have commissioned work from him. Asher’s site-specific installations have ranged from material gallery interventions to institutional displacements; from highlighting social relations to archival surveys. My paper focuses on Asher’s strategies of displacement and question how they address the ideological debates that surround and influence current museological and curatorial practices. I argue that Asher’s projects in Chicago from 1979, at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute, are critical moments in the history of museums collecting contemporary art. I will prove so, first, through a historical trajectory of museums’ exhibitions and collections, and secondly, through an analysis of Asher’s strategy of displacement as site specific practice.
Asher uses museological practices to confront the ways that museums rewrite history through the politics of presentation. By Asher’s “strategy of displacement” I refer to the artist’s choice to change, transform, contradict and transcend the viewer’s expectations by physically moving the aesthetic displays. “Displacement” is a key word for this thesis that refers to the process of reinterpretation and reformulation. Namely, since Marcel Duchamp signed an ordinary urinal, Fountain (1917), the uneasy relationship between art and its contextual frame has been a distinct subject matter for artists. Duchamp attempted a broad critique of the institution or the social “frame” that makes art “Art.”
Asher’s particular site-specific practice proceeds through displacement, in which elements from the permanent collection are either moved or removed from the “original” context so that their contradictions can be examined. This paper highlights the internal contradictions within the institutions by demonstrating that museums are not monolithic sites, but rather complicated entities with conflicting ideologies and practices.
10:45 – 12:00 The Fragmented Body
Moderator: Angelique Szymanek
Intimacy at Work: Nan Goldin and Rineke Dijkstra
Alison Dean, Simon Fraser University
How do the discursive frames surrounding photography actually give rise to the types of photographs that are made – and how do they inform (how are they informed by) the various procedures and attitudes used to make them? This paper focuses on work by photographers Nan Goldin (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency) and Rineke Dijkstra (Portraits); I am questioning the role of intimacy and process in their work, considering the interactions between photographer and subject – particularly the techniques they use to navigate “the pose” in their portraits. In order to articulate the discursive frames that give rise to their photographic performances, I also take into account the blurred boundaries between documentary and art, the rehearsal of ethical debates, the role of biography in criticism, and the politics of representation and subjectivity that become entwined in the definition, production and dissemination of portrait photography. Goldin’s camera is described (by her subjects and by Goldin herself) as a natural extension of her body. Her strikingly personal photography documents otherwise private moments – every day life, intimate relationships, illness, and death – as they are performed through and before her camera lens. The camera is a tool through which she creates intimacy with others and mediates her own experiences. Djikstra’s portraits seek moments of exhaustion, or (subtle or dramatic) transition within her subjects, as opposed to photographing what one might assume to be the ‘main event.’ What are the ways in which is intimacy navigated and defined with respect to the relationship between photographer, subject, and viewer – particularly when the camera is placed within private spaces, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or delivery room? How does the response – or resistance – to generic conventions appear in the depictions of shared experiences, exposed bodies, and bare(d) faces? What does it mean to constitute political work within the vocabulary of art? I am interested in the difference between Goldin’s photography exhibitions, which often take the form of timed slide shows, and the large-scale photographs Dijkstra generally employs. What is at stake when moments of vulnerability and intimacy are performed, recorded, re-placed, and re-formatted to fit within the institutional and commercial spaces (both physical and temporal) of the art book, museum exhibit, or gallery wall?
Cannibal Aesthetics: Cultural Appropriation in the Work of Marta María Pérez Bravo
Rebecca Maksym, University of Utah
In her series Para concebir (To Conceive, 1985-86), Cuban artist Marta María Pérez Bravo posed in different scenes simultaneously referencing Afro-Cuban mythology and taboos surrounding femininity and maternity. This is most evident in her image No matar ni ver matar animales (Neither to Kill nor Watch Animals Being Killed, 1986) in which the artist’s body is shown in profile as she wields a butcher knife above her pregnant abdomen. Through this gesture, the artist uses her body to locate her identity at the interstices of two worlds: the sacred and the profane. For Pérez Bravo, the use of symbolism from Afro-Cuban mythology relates to beliefs about conception that subvert traditional images of maternity often depicted in the western canon.
Using this black and white photograph from Pérez Bravo’s series Para concebir as a case study, this paper explores how the appropriation of Afro-Cuban spirituality and mythology in visual culture construct a hybridized Cuban identity. Pérez Bravo critically appropriates symbols associated with Santería to uncover why hybridity does not constitute a fixed subjectivity, but rather a cultural identity that is always in flux. This is further evident in her use of photography, which straddles the ambiguous line between performance and documentation.
Drawing on Oswald de Andrade’s “Cannibal Manifesto” (1928), this paper concludes by discussing how Pérez Bravo’s photograph connects to the postcolonial trope of cultural cannibalism. Pérez Bravo figuratively “cannibalizes” Cuban mythologies in a way that destabilizes—and alternately displaces—patriarchal and Eurocentric constructs of the maternal woman. Pérez Bravo’s photographic performance reveals how motherhood and femininity within the context of Caribbean traditions functions within a cannibal aesthetic that is also embedded in matriarchal values.
The Living Specimen and ‘The Museum of Horrors’: Amputation, American Civil War Medicine & the U.S. Army Medical Museum
Naomi Slipp, Boston University
What is a sense of place in relation to corporeal subjectivity? If an amputee leaves limb in one place and occupies body in another, how do we define place as rooted by personal location? Likewise if a nation is divided in two by war, what does it mean for a medical museum to display fragments of the bodies of honorable combatants and amputees? How does a museum shape our sense of self, our ideas about nationhood and place, and aid in collective mourning? In “Honorable Amputation: The American Civil War, the Body as Fragment, and the United States Army Medical Museum as National Reliquary,” I argue that the U.S. Army Medical Museum, founded in 1862 during the American Civil War, represented parts of the human body through practices of institutional display and within the pages of sponsored medical publications as both aesthetic objects and medically educational tools. By combining the goals of medical and artistic representation within one institutional space, I contend that the museum carved out a place for mourning within the contentious post-War period.
The museum offered a space for mourning in lieu of the anonymous or mass gravesite while also exhibiting the advances made in medicine during the war, thus heroicizing the national struggle and effectively arguing for its value in furthering medical science. In so doing, the museum operated as a complicated national reliquary that attempted to assuage post-Civil War corporeal and national fracture in both the North and the South. Augmenting this study of the institutional place of mourning, I also
engage representations of the fractured medical body in the writings of S. Weir Mitchell and in period photography, lithography, and the field sketches of Winslow Homer. By combining these visual and literary sources on Civil War amputation with a study of the U.S. Army Medical Museum as institution, this paper argues that corporeal fracture complicates fixed notions about placement and displacement during and after the American Civil War. Operating between medical science and memory, gravesite and specimen jar, the museum – which averaged 30,000 visitors a year during the
Reconstruction era – was a potent marker of American memorialization, medical
progress, and physical and corporeal displacement.
Between Spectacle and Invisibility: Transport, Confinement and Massacre at the Hôspital de la Salpêtrière
Alena Veller, Stony Brook University
The Salpêtrière Hospital, established by French king Louis XIV in 1656 as part of the infamous Hôpital Général, was defined from its inception as the domain of women and became synonymous by the end of the early modern period with female confinement outside the home. The institution reached the apex of both its occupancy and influence in the eighteenth century when it became home not only to mentally ill, homeless and criminal women, but also to prostitutes and women who were confined for indeterminate periods of time under the royally mandated lettres de cachet. This conglomeration of women was overseen and held in check by three types of authority, that of the monarch, the judicial system and the Catholic Church, which though through often different methods of “treatment” and “punishment” all had the similar goals of neutralizing any real or perceived moral or social deviancy as manifested through the refusal, reversal or revision of a woman’s culturally established role not only in a particular family, but equally, and by direct association, the nation as a whole.
This paper will discuss eighteenth century images of the Salpêtrière in comparison with accounts and descriptions of the hospital/prison in the aims of understanding its place within the cultural imaginary of the time. Through a Foucauldian framework as well as a gender centered reading, this study aims to use the limited imagery available to understand the role played by the Salpêtrière in French society, the image of the women who were confined there and the context which led to its most significant eighteenth century event- the rape of hundreds, and massacre of forty-one of the Salpêtrière prisoners during the French Revolution. Focusing on Etienne Jeaurat’s 1754 painting, La conduite des filles de joie a la Salpêtrière, the architecture of the Chapelle Saint-Louis of the Salpêtrière and a 1792 print of the massacre, this paper will engage with the Salpêtrière as both a physical and discursive space, alternately considering it as architecture of confinement and a social construct of restriction. Particularly, it seeks to understand how elements of visibility and invisibility coexisted within in the real prison environment and how they consequently appeared in art in ways that encouraged and allowed for the internalization of the panoptic system used within the Salpêtrière by free citizens of Paris.
12:45– 2:00 In Ruins
Moderator: Melissa Fitzmaurice
Modern Expressionism: Street Art in Exarcheia after the 2008 Riots
Jenna Febrizio, Binghamton University
In December 2008, violent riots began in Exarcheia, an anarchist neighborhood in Athens, Greece. The riots were sparked by the murder of a fifteen-year old student Alexandros Grigoropoulous. For over a month, Exarcheia was the center of protest against police and authorities. As an act of destruction against the urban environment, the walls of Exarcheia have been covered with text and images in response to the riots. Analysis of graffiti in Exarcheia through a multidisciplinary lens indicates the complexities of both the images created and the symbolic act. Just as Expressionism in Germany marked the madness of the growingly industrialized society in the early twentieth century, graffiti has become a modern form of expression of the problems in today’s urban society as well as a means of coping with trauma. This project explores the conditions existing in Exarcheia in addition to the role of graffiti after the riots as a unifying agent, a form of expression of collective trauma, and an attempt to reclaim the urban space from Greek authorities in the name of the lawless masses.
Desire Lines: The Nomadic Maps of Fernand Deligny
Seyma Bayram, Binghamton University
In 1965, writer, filmmaker, and pedagogue Fernand Deligny and his group, including a child with autism named Yves, arrived at the clinic of La Borde from the Cévennes, seeking refuge from financial constraints. Deligny hoped to continue his experimental drawing sessions with his patients at La Borde, where he was given a drawing workshop to oversee, and where Felix Guattari was by then a main fixture. Guattari praised the new graphic language presented in the drawings made by Deligny’s patients, and the profound influence that these drawings would have on Guattari (and subsequently Gilles Deleuze, whom Guattari met in 1969) would manifest itself several years later in the publication of Deleuze and Guattari’s Rhizome in 1976. This paper attempts to situate the ligne d’erre (wandering line) drawings made by children with autism under the care of Deligny within developments in the philosophies of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as the larger antipsychiatric and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s in France.
The Corporeal In Between
Ryan Conrath, University of Rochester
For his first major retrospective, held at the Chicago Institute of Art, Steve McQueen exhibited theree of his early black and while films in a most peculiar way. In Regenstein Hall’s largest room, McQueen and his collaborators constructed a three-sided wall, which stood like some phantasmatic column, only faintly illuminating the cavelike darkness in which it nested. The “column” itself was triangular, and projected on its three sides were Five Easy Pieces (1995), Just Above My Head (1996), and Bear (1993). In the past, McQueen projected each of the pieces independently, typically in separate spaces (the projections taking up the entirety of one wall). But here, for the first time, these individual works were dis/placed onto a single projection structure, around which viewers must walk in order to view all three films. Beyond the many new insights into its objects that such a mode of projection might offer, what ultimately seemed to be on “display” here is a new form of montage. Part of what makes this mode of cutting novel, I believe, is the extent to which it becomes a corporeal operation: becomes indissolubly tied up as it is with both the human figures that inhabit the projections themselves (the bodies on view), as well as with the bodies within the space of the exhibition (the viewing bodies). In the first place, each of the three films projected onto this object put a great deal of emphasis on the human figure, and I will argue that the editing in each film works to shape and dissolve these figures, to bring them together and apart, in a multitude of ways and towards various ends. Indeed, in each of these films, cutting itself even seems to take on a physical, corporeal quality. But the human body and montage are linked on yet another level. That is, in displacing three otherwise separate works onto a single body, this projection mode entrusts each individual film (and the human figures that inhibit them) to an open-ended “sequence.” It is as if this projection structure has cuts of its own, for upon facing one of the edges of this structure where two given projection planes (or films) converge, the viewer enacts a “cut” through the position of their body in space. With this paper, I will argue for the corporeality of montage, viewing it as a movement that works on, with, and for various form and expressions of the human body. I will do so initially through a reading of this particular object from McQueen’s retrospective, ending with a close analysis of a series of cuts in McQueen’s first feature film, Hunger (2008).
On the Edge: The Spaces of Pixação
Debora Faccion, Binghamton University
In 2008 a group of young people entered the XXVIII Biennial of Sāo Paulo and wrote messages of protest on the walls of the Biennial Pavilion. Identified as pixadores, they are part of an enormous group of people that leave their marks at the city of Sāo Paulo (Brazil) through specific symbols and characters written in black ink. As a form of expression that happens specifically in Sāo Paulo, such marginalized practice, called pixaçāo, has particular aesthetic features and is strictly related with the dynamics of the city and the Brazilian historical context. After the invasion of the XXVIII Biennial of Sāo Paulo, some pixadores were invited to present their work at the XXIX Biennial, in 2010 – an invitation that they denied, arguing that pixaçāo could not be done outside the context of social protest. Later, in 2012, the same pixadores were invited to do a workshop at the VII Biennial of Berlin. This time, they accepted the invitation, but denied the formats of the workshop. Instead of showing the pixaçāo in the art boards assembled by the organization of the event, they climbed the walls of the church where the workshop was happening and did the pixaçāo in its proper ‘prohibited-way’ on the walls of the church. This paper investigates how the relation with art events further problematized the paradigms of pixaçāo and the limits of the art worlds constituted by these Biennials.
2:15– 3:15 Interior/Exterior
Moderator: Christopher Balsiger
Graffiti in the Mediated Realm: Criticality and Complicity in Flavor Paper’s “Brooklyn Bridge Wall” Wallpaper
Amanda Beardsley, Binghamton University
A crumbling wall pockmarked with a latticework of holes, vertical gashes and random tags of graffiti would hardly seem the appropriate décor for the interior of a house. Yet this is the exact image of urban ruin photographically reproduced in the wallpaper motif “Brooklyn Bridge Wall” by design team Jon Speed and Boone Sherman for the company Flavor Paper. In a closely-cropped detail from an obscure section of the Brooklyn Bridge, the wallpaper features a portion of the structure in decay. Rust from iodized metal oozes from crevices; cracks emerge, searing the wall; paint peels in layers exposing a mosaic of fragile acrylic petals flaking off limestone and cement. Concerned with the effect of the wallpaper, the designers make an attempt to “bring the outside inside.” Consequently, Boone and Sherman unwittingly reinforce the authentic nature of a simulated experience. By “bringing the outside inside,” Flavor Paper’s adaptation of graffiti as a decorative trope undermines traditional uses of graffiti as a means of protest or social critique. That is not to say the commercialization of such a marginal practice is anything new; as Hal Foster pointed out years ago, the inherent rawness of graffiti has become a mediated entity of cultural institutions where street-artists have become celebrities. However, “Brooklyn Bridge Wall” does not seem to fit into Foster’s critique. Instead, the celebrity-artist recedes behind the mask of a mass produced screen; a symbol of status, which only incorporates the mark-making of graffiti as part of a “bill of goods.” With its fragmentation and further recontextualization within the private realm of the home, “Brooklyn Bridge Wall” displaces its site, reducing it to a title. As a milieu signifying urban blight, it becomes a flattened and domesticated symbol of sophisticated urban taste; or what Harold Rosenberg moralizes as “Apocalyptic Wallpaper.”
Towards an Archaeology of Decolonization
Rui Gomes Coelho, Binghamton University
The fall of the European and Mediterranean empires over the 20th century forced massive migratory flows either from the former colonies to the old metropolis, or between colonized regions. Some major examples are the relocation of French-descent settlers from Algeria to Europe after Algerian independence in 1962, or the exchange of Turks and Greeks through the Aegean Sea in the 1920s. These experiences, traumatic for the erstwhile colonials, eventually led to the reproduction of imperial imaginaries in the old metropolises, nostalgically conjuring lost colonies. Such longings were materialized in different ways and their social and political implications are still major issues in former colonizing societies. In this paper I will discuss how the Portuguese decolonization process is reflected in Lisbon’s urban landscape, and specifically in drinking and eating places. Cafés, restaurants and cake shops can be understood as social spaces where imperial characteristics are internalized, becoming then not only places of memory but spaces where an imperial ideology may become intimate through the contours of a physical environment. My paper critically engages the materialization of these sensibilities and the politics of loss that they sustain.
Relocating Power and Bodies in the Uffizi
James Shoemaker, Binghamton University
In 1560, a proclamation was issued by Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici of Florence which demanded that the guilds of the city, de facto economic unions, construct offices in a new building housing the state bureaucracy. Archival evidence shows tremendous resistance to this proclamation; guild leaders implored the Duke to consider the cost of this literal displacement of administrative function from one part of the city to another. Unsuccessful in their dissuasion, the guilds had to sell properties, tax their members, and raise prices to accommodate the cost of their new offices, which were completely constructed by the late 1560s. The offices were identical, ignorant of the needs of their occupants, and constituted the ground floor of what is today known as the Uffizi gallery in Florence.
This paper seeks to do two things: to examine the moment in 1560 when the guilds relocated some of their administrative functions to the Uffizi, and to determine how exactly state centralization mirrored a larger trend in sovereign power traced by post-modern historians, such as Michel Foucault. Foucault writes that sovereignty was cast differently within theories of government as Europe approached the age of (what is generally considered) modernity. Essentially, this meant that unchecked autocratic power was no longer a viable ruling type in an era of burgeoning state identity. In Florence, one sees how the massive territorial gains of the 16th century created a unified state that could not be properly administered by previous governmental types. Many scholars note that Duke Cosimo shrewdly ceded his own autocratic power to autonomous agencies responsible for governing the larger territory, but he also restricted their mobility by forcing them, along with the guilds, under the roof of the Uffizi.
So in 1560 one can see two types of dislocation or displacement. In the first instance, the guilds of Florence were set into a governmental setting to perform their functions as satellite members of the new state. However, a more conceptual dislocation occurred with the ceding of sovereign power to the bureaucracies of the larger state. Cosimo’s autocratic power found new meaning within a new government. The Uffizi, then, is a location of dislocation
3:30– 4:45 Archival Apparatuses
Moderator: Debora Faccion
Cultural Memory: The Pile as Archival Residue
Sophie Quick, University of Western Ontario
Ilya Kabakov’s installation The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away features a fictional hoarder that is unable to distinguish what should be saved and what should be discarded, what is important and what is insignificant. The fictional hoarder asks, “Is it possible when a person honestly doesn’t know which of these papers is important and which is not, why one principle of selection is better than another, and what distinguishes a pile of necessary papers from a pile of garbage?”
This paper, like Kabakov’s hoarder, examines the grounds on which we decide what is significant and what is disposable. Specifically, how the archive distinguishes between what is necessary and what is not. I address the documents excluded from the archive as archival residue and propose that the form of the pile provides archival residue a place in visual representation. The pile as archival residue is evident in Marina Abramovic’s Balkan Baroque, Christian Boltanski’s Personnes, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled, and Doris Salcedo’s Untitled. The sheer materiality, mass and visibility of these works counteract the order of the archive and produce a space for the articulation of archival residue.
The Institution as Archive: Constructing Categories of Mental Illness
Steven Warech, Binghamton University
This talk looks at both the archiving functions of the Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière and the institutional structure itself. I will look at the way that photography situates itself in relation to the classification and differentiation of diseases by focusing on its earliest application in the diagnosis and treatment of hysteria. I will analyze the ways that knowledge and meaning was produced to unify the chaos of symptoms of hysteria into a generalizable theory. I will frame the structure of the Salpêtrière hospital for women as a museum, what Jean-Martin Charcot called “the museum of living pathology” in order to situate both 19th century technologies of surveillance and archiving machines utilized to produce knowledge that could be codified, transmitted, and used by doctors around the world. The shifts and transformations of the uses of this site in Paris are particularly impotent and speak pages about the modus operandi of the site itself. Prior to the hospital’s modernization it was a dumping ground to section off undesirable groups from Paris’ general population. Soon after, it found its first usage as a woman’s hospital where it was populated with those who did not fit in or easily conform to the social order. Being mad, pregnant, unmarried, old, or poor became reasons for internment. In the 1680s Louis XIV ordered the construction of La Force prison for female convicts to be held before transfer elsewhere. For three centuries the Salpêtrière was used as a space of confinement, preventing the mixing of those deemed undesirable and the general population.
At the Salpêtrière the image became a stand-in for the whole. Once the concept was created a self-fulfilling prophecy was set in motion. The patient would orient herself in such a way to exemplify and embody the concept. Charcot’s lectures created something of a stage, where he would flaunt his most archetypal examples of the illness, which in turn created a desire in his patients to be the body that was exhibited. If discipline normally functions to establish a law abiding and sane social body, at the Salpêtrière it worked in a peculiar way where some bodies were disciplined to fit into the archetype of madness. The paper will conclude by applying these findings to contemporary systems of classifying and “archiving” mental illness engaging with and going beyond the recent work of Asti Hustvedt, Ian Hacking, and Lisa Appignane
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana: Knowledge, Power and the Archive
Justin Norman, Binghamton University
Michelangelo’s Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana has been understood and discussed within an aesthetically rooted lexicon. Since divorced from its contents, and therein its original function, the Laurentian Library is seen purely as a definitive example of Renaissance architecture. As result, the contents of its archive have since become displaced from their function within a space intrinsically inseparable from the collection of texts housed within the library. By marrying the contents of the Medicean book collection to the physical architecture, I intend to situate this space as an integral instrument of Medici statecraft. In 1571, on behalf of Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici I, the library and the contents of its archive became open to the public (or a public). This marks a conscious move by the Tuscan Grand Duchy of the Medici to subversively enact modern methods of power within state and governance.
This paper aims at negotiating a dialogue between the physical architecture and the relationship to its archive. Looking to the subjects occupying the space within the archive we see the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana as a machine of knowledge production–a knowledge reflective of an ethos dictated and controlled by the Grand Duchy. It is my claim that the Laurentian Library–when discussed in a context of its architecture, archive, and the subjects contained within–can be understood as an instrument in the formation of the thoroughly modern Grand Duchy state.
“We must inundate the Jewish Public with Slogans and Pictures”: In and Through the Jewish National Fund Archive
Rotem Rozental, Binghamton University
This research focuses on the photographic archive established by the Propaganda department of the Jewish National Fund (Hakeren Hakayemet Le’Israel, abbreviated KKL in Hebrew, JNF in English) in the first decades of the 20th century. The archive is seen as a crucial site of power and disciplinary political functions, as a machine of homogenizing and a space of fantasy of mastery and control. The JNF archive is an apparatus of ordering, of discipline, created to show there is a body that needs a state. As a vehicle of authority, the archive is utilized to develop the visual language of Zionism, to record, collect and recover it.
The archive surfaces from a broader economic model of fundraising, purchasing of land and preparing infrastructure for Jewish settlers across Palestine. This research traces particular moments in the past and present of this archive: its emergence in the 1920s, the techniques and operations established by the propaganda department in the 1930s and the shift occurred within this system when Israel declared independence in 1948. The end point of this research is marked in the here and now, as the archive currently exists in a website and its images aim to foreground their visual narrative as the indisputable history of the land.
5:00 – 6:45 Keynote Address
Revolution: A Language Learnt in the Body and written in Pictures
Dr. Ariella Azoulay, Brown University.
Read the abstract here.