This exhibition features the work of 15 seniors in the Visual & Critical Studies Department. Ranging from multi-screen videos and mixed media installations to paintings and prints, the pieces engage a variety of contemporary themes in divergent ways: some works materialized from actual dialogues (verbal and written); others seek to break down assumptions and invite a critical exchange of ideas, encouraging dialogue in response. The topics addressed by the works express current concerns and include censorship, personal and cultural identity, gaming strategy, memory and forgetting, dreams, and the aerial. The show exemplifies the diversity of aesthetic and theoretical approaches associated with this department and challenges viewers to think broadly and critically just as the program requires the students to do.
Contemporary cultural practices increasingly use the space of art to engage in social, political, and cultural modeling, as well as activism. Such practices have been significantly embraced—one can now get their degree in social and critical practices. Governmental and cultural institutions also seem to hope that artistic and art-activist endeavors will generate new responses to issues arising from our urban and economic crisis, such as the dissolution of social and cultural bonds, global migration, and the search for a sustainable lifestyle. Given these conditions and Walter Benjamin’s maxim concerning how fascism aestheticizes politics, the question that these activities raise is: Are these emergent social practices best expressed by circumscribing themselves theoretically and institutionally by the term ‘Art’? This panel will address both the pros and cons regarding whether these practices would have greater cultural and social impact if they cut the golden umbilical cord of institutional support and jettisoned the baggage that comes with these activities being identified as art.
Saul Ostrow is an independent critic, curator and Art Editor at Large, Bomb Magazine. He recently founded Critical Voices; a program of exhibitions and roundtable discussions. His writings have appeared in numerous art magazines, journals, catalogues, and books in the USA and Europe. Since 1987, he has curated over 70 exhibition in the US and abroad. He is presently working on the curatorial project: The Gravity of Sculpture (Dorsky Projects, May, 2013.) Prof. Ostrow was Chair of VisualArts and Technologies at the Cleveland Institute of Art (2002-12), and presently serves on the board of directors of the College Art Association.
Stephen Duncombe, is Associate Professor at the Gallatin School and the Department of Media, Culture and Communications of New York University, where he teaches the history and politics of media. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture, and co-author of The Bobbed Haired Bandit: Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York. Duncombe is the editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader and co-editor of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race. Duncombe is a life-long political activist, co-founding a community based advocacy group in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and working as an organizer for the NYC chapter of the international direct action group, Reclaim the Streets.
Maureen Connor’s work combines installation, video, interior design, ethnography, human resources, feminism, and social justice. Personnel, her project about the workplace (since 2000), and the collective the Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWT) (since 2008) both produce interventions that explore the attitudes and needs of individuals and institutions. Venues have included Momenta Art, Brooklyn; Austrian Cultural Institute, NY; Akbank, Istanbul; Wyspa Art Institute, Gdansk, Poland; IASPIS, Stockholm; Tapies Foundation, Barcelona; and the Queens Museum of Art, NY, among others. The Institute for Wishful Thinking, currently Artist in Residence for the U S Government (self declared.) is working to place artists in residence in as many government agencies and departments as possible.
Sara Reisman is the Director of New York City's Percent for Art program that commissions permanent public artworks for newly constructed and renovated city-owned spaces. Recently commissioned artists include Mary Mattingly, Duke Riley, Roxy Paine, Odili Donald Odita, Julianne Swartz, Terence Gower, and Karyn Olivier, among others. Reisman has curated more than forty exhibitions and projects for numerous institutions, non-profits, and other art spaces including The Cooper Union School of Art, New York; Smack Mellon, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Republic of Srpska, Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, among others. She was the 2011 critic-in-residence at Art Omi, an international visual artist residency in upstate New York.
Damon Rich, is a designer and artist, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy and Artists in Residence for the Newark Waterfront. In his exhibitions, graphic works, and events, Rich creates fantastical spaces for imagining the physical and social transformation of the world. His work represented the United States at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, and has been exhibited at PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Netherlands Architecture Institute. In 1997, he founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a nonprofit that uses design and art to improve civic engagement.
We have not ceased to be Romantics. For all the irony, cynicism, and calculation that govern the making and selling of art today, we still want to discover the mantis, the pure human vessel through which something uncanny passes to us from beyond. Our celebration of outsider art, including the work of the autistic and mentally ill, reflects this resilient urge. But where does the urge itself come from? This lecture explores our attraction to aesthetic innocence and its roots in primitive religion, ancient philosophy, Saint Paul and more.
Mark Lilla, Professor of Humanities at Columbia University, specializes in intellectual history, with a particular focus on Western political and religious thought. He taught in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and at New York University. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is the author of The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (2007), The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (2001),and G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (1993). He has also edited The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (2001) with Ronald Dworkin and Robert Silvers, and The Public Face of Architecture (1987) with Nathan Glazer. He is currently writing a book titled Ignorance and Bliss, and another on the history of the idea of conversion.
Aristotle considered tragedy central to the engaging claim that great verbal art has on us. Nietzsche, Freud and many others have recognized tragedy as opening usefully—enjoyably, distressingly, puzzlingly and safely—to the mysteries and fascinations of persons, families, politics and culture. Closely examining Shakespeare’s tragedies Romeo and Juliet and King Lear, Schwaber will discuss their continuing hold on us and what they may tell us both of art and of ourselves.
Paul Schwaber is Professor of Letters at Wes- leyan University and a practicing psychoanalyst. He has published extensively on the relations of imaginative literature and psychoanalysis. He co-edited Of Poetry and Power: Poems Occasioned by the Presidency and by the Death of John F. Kennedy (Basic Books) and is the author of The Cast of Charac- ters: A Reading of Ulysses (Yale University Press).
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that 1,650,000 undergradu- ate degrees were granted in 2010 in the United States. Approximately 95,000 of these students received a BFA in Visual and Performing Arts—that is a lot of graduates annually in a field where notions of success are complex, and sur- vival difficult. This panel discussion, moderated by fine artist and SVA faculty member Peter Hristoff, examines the many challenges that post-BFA art school graduates face.
Participants Timothy Bergstrom, Sophia Dawson, Elan Jurado, Cassandra Levine, and Kenneth Rivero discuss issues such as: the “MFA dilemma” — to apply and attend immediately after receiving a BFA or to wait a couple of years? To go at all?; survival tactics after graduation: how does the young artist pay off student loans, rent a studio, manage living expenses in this, or any economic climate and have the time to create?; the undergraduate/graduate experience and strategizing a career. Each participant will give a brief presentation of recent work, and discuss how these concerns affect their artistic practice.