Our annual graduate conference is proud to host an undergraduate panel, launching the 21st edition of Crossing the Boundaries.
Please join us in hearing the work of three of Binghamton University’s own Art History undergraduate majors and members of the Undergraduate Art History Association. This year, the panel will be held in the art museum. The panel members will each present 10-15 minute papers followed by a question and answer session.
11:00 – 12:00
Moderator: Katerina Acuna
The Naturally Lit Cube: Dia:Beacon’s Natural Light and Perceptual Experience
The Dia:Beacon is a museum unlike most others, in that it uses almost entirely natural light when displaying its collection. The work within this museum environment is supposedly one without frames, pedestals, or wall texts. However, despite this, the museum still contextually frames the art. Looking to three case studies within the museum, I examine how the art exists not at a distance from the visitor, but rather in the same space. Dan Flavin’s untitled red and blue light sculpture is situated in front of a large window, which creates a fascinating juxtaposition of artificial and natural light.
Gerhard Richter’s Six Grey Mirrors was commissioned specifically for the space, and makes use of clerestory windows in creating a reflective surface, and in fusing art and architecture. Louise Bourgeois’ work occupies Dia:Beacon’s attic, marginally removed from and significantly darker than the rest of the gallery; the fact that it is in a dark space augments the mysteriousness and ambiguity of her work. The fact that each of these each artists’ works at Dia:Beacon uses natural light differently creates a unique and distinctive perceptual experience for all of them.
The Dia:Beacon’s collection is primarily of art from the 1960s and beyond, which reflects a time when modernism was being pushed to its limits and challenged, and artists were turning away from traditional mediums of painting and sculpture and towards industrial materials and serial forms. In this paper, I examine why the Dia: Beacon’s space is appropriate to display art from this period, and why displaying it in such a space would have been conducive to the artists’ ideals. This paper explores the phenomenological aspects of the Dia:Beacon’s space. This modern museum and its use of light and space reflect the changing conventions of what a museum is, and the ways in which we encounter and experience art.
Openings and Closures, Doorways to Expression in State Mediated China. Zhang Dali’s Dialogue
Graffiti, a denounced medium of artistic expression that operates on two seemingly contradictory terms; one, to be produced in complete anonymity, and two, to capture the gazes of the masses in its fruition. Often employing eye-catching visuals, graffiti alters if not disrupts the modern city imaging of moral purity. It draws one’s gaze away from the moral clarity implied by the glass skyscraper and instead, it points to if not reveals the ruinous urban decay tucked beneath. Graffiti is after all, as art historian Rosalind Krauss states, “the smearing of the white walls.”
In 1995, an outcropping of bald-headed figures depicted in side profile view began to shroud the city of Beijing. Painted amidst the night with nothing more than a can of black spray paint and a bicycle, the graffiti artist during the day lurks in alleyways, waiting to photograph the thoughts and emotions of unsuspecting passerbys. Terrorizing local Beijingers with its some two thousand heads, the infamous graffiti series is known today as Dialogue by Zhang Dali. Implicitly subversive, Dialogue’s graphic heads present counterpoints to state glorified slogans empowering modernizing Beijing. In a city that marketed urban construction for public gain, Dialogue instead pointed to and revealed sites of urban destruction, and public displacement in the wake of modernizing Beijing. Implicating the other to state held morality and ideals, Dialogue interestingly evades state censorship despite its inherently subversive qualities and its public provocations as the work of a vandal, punk, or gang member. Moreover, as the first graffiti series in China, not only does Dialogue evade state censorship, graffiti blossoms as a medium after Dialogue, inspiring student copycats and other graffitists. Under these considerations, it is of interest to address how Dialogue as a series expands public space, voice, and interpretation, rather than limit public expression in China despite the subversive gestures inherent to both the medium and series. A critical discussion of state slogans, and antithetical traditional doorway couplets and Dialogue as a series would follow.
The Necessity of Thought: Thomas Hirschhorn’s Bataille Monument
Museums and education contain an inherent reliance upon one another, the first a place of cultural and ideological storage, the latter dependant upon this storage of foundational paradigms for further exploration, causing new and expanded notions that eventually add to the storage. This inevitable reliance, combined with a Beuysian ideology of Social Sculpture, is exemplified within Thomas Hirschhorn’s 2002, Bataille Monument. Joesph Beuys’ notorious quote, “everyone is an artist” does not simply insinuate artistic ability, but presents the notion that all have an inherent capability waiting to be discovered. This recognition is brought about through education, and the Montessori educational methodology used within the Monument further embodies Beuysian thought. Hirschhorn granted attendees a freedom to choose which elements of the work to view and participate in, allowing a focus on aspects that were most appealing. The Monument was to be a place of dialogue, where ideas could be constructed and shared. Promoting and encouraging the Monument to varying social strata, Hirschhorn attempted to formulate a work exceeding the hierarchical scale typically favoring those situated within the art sphere. It was this notion that allowed his work to be assessable by all, without discrimination. The activation of the viewer to cognitively consider the information presented within the work was the key in developing an expanded field of knowledge. Faith in the human capacity for growth went beyond societal boundaries in the hopes of a democratically codified social structure. The Monument grants the viewer a mode which enables them to look outside of the world they are placed with new awareness and, ideally, formulate a change within themselves, leading to a more influential and functional individual within society.