[-empyre-] -empyre- June 2011:Welcome Isak Berbic and Jolene Rickard

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Wed Jun 8 01:37:46 EST 2011

Welcome to summer from a sunny and not too hot Ithaca New York 
(following 4 weeks of solid rain).  To usher in the summer art 
season, which begins this year with the opening of the Venice 
Biennale, we thought it would be interesting to spend a month 
reflecting on Biennales ( "the good, the bad, the ugly?").

While the Venice Biennale, like its sister festivals, generates 
significant excitement and interest, it always does so while 
enveloped in the cloak of important paradigms of nation, genius, 
capital, legitimation, which, to be fair, are often complicated if 
not critiqued by its many participants and curators.   What we hope 
will be interesting to note is the additional contribution to 
'thinking the biennales' made by digital art, interactive/digital 
culture, online communities like ours, and the broader international 
network of artistic and cultural workers and thinkers whose voices 
may not be represented by the biennale paradigm.

To usher in our discussion, we will be joined this week by two voices 
from different locations of the world, Isak Berbic from Sharjah, UAE, 
and Jolene Rickard of the Tuscarora nation, North America.

  Isak Berbic (UAE) joined us earlier in the year as a featured guest 
and recently curated a significant "outsider" exhibition, "Brief 
Histories," which took place in Sharjah, UAE, at the same time as the 
Sharjah Biennale (whose turmoil this year we may end up discussing on 
the list).  Isak is an artist, writer and lecturer born in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina, at that time called Yugoslavia. In 1992 as Yugoslavia 
dissolved and Bosnia was under attack, he and his family became 
refugees, moving from Croatia,
through the Czech Republic to a refugee camp in Denmark, and lastly 
to the United States.  He studied Photography, Film and Electronic 
Media at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  In Chicago, he 
practiced art, worked in theater, and was art director of a political 
monthly journal.  In 2007 he moved to the Middle East; United Arab 
Emirates, where he currently teaches media at the College of Fine 
Arts and Design, University of Sharjah.

  Jolene Rickard, is a member of the Tuscarora nation and our friend 
and colleague at Cornell University, where we spent last year 
conversing about "global asethetics" while Jolene was a residential 
fellow at the Society for the Humanities.  She has served as Acting 
Chair of the Cornell Department of Art and just signed on  as 
Director of Cornell's American Indian Program.  Jolene is a visual 
historian, artist, and curator interested in the issues of 
Indigeneity within a global context.    Under the auspices of a Ford 
Foundation Research Grant, she is conducting research in the 
Americas, Europe, New Zealand and Australia culminating in a new 
journal on Indigenous aesthetics, and has a forthcoming book on 
Visualizing Sovereignty.  Widely curated, she  has exhibited at the 
Denver Art Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Quebec, (Rez 
X), Barbican Art Center in London, England, (Native Nations), Joseph 
Gross Gallery at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ansel AdamsCenter 
For Photography, San Francisco, the Houston Center for Photography, 
C.E.P.A, Buffalo, Light Works, Syracuse, Exit Art, New York City. 
among others.  Among her curatorial work, she was guest curator for 
the  Smithsonian Museum's "The National Museum of the American 
Indian," in Washington D. C.

We are very much looking forward to learning from the perspectives of 
Isak and Jolene, and we look forward to an active discussion with 
-empyre- members this month.

Welcome to Isak and Jolene.


Timothy Murray
Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
27 East Avenue
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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