[-empyre-] Thanks Isak and Jolene; welcome Linda Carroli, Manuela de Barros, Kimberly Lamm,

Kimberly Lamm kimberly.lamm at gmail.com
Tue Jun 21 07:22:57 EST 2011

Hi everyone. I am very happy to be part of the list-serv. Just a few
words about my work: After participating in the Whitney Museum’s
Independent Study Program, my research interests turned increasingly
to contemporary art. I have written art criticism for The Brooklyn
Rail, composed catalog essays for artists Matthew Buckingham and
Sharon Hayes, and curated an exhibition entitled “Imaginary Arsenals”
for the ten-year anniversary of the LMCC’s artist residency program.

 Right now I am investigating the work of feminist artists from the
1970s to the present who have created what Mary Kelly describes as
“scriptovisual” scenarios in which the immaterial and affective labor
assigned to and thereby associated with women can come into view. (The
artists I am interested in include: Mary Kelly, Laura Mulvey, Carrie
Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Mona Hatoum, Therea Hak Kyung Cha, Silvia
Kolbowski, Patty Chang). My interest in feminist art as a practice and
a category, as well as its relationship to what is known as feminism’s
second wave, was bolstered by the numerous exhibitions that appeared
in 2007 that were devoted to displaying feminist art, narrating
stories of its emergence, and speculating about its futures. Wack! Art
and the Feminist Revolution and Global Feminisms: New Directions in
Contemporary Art were two of the most prominent exhibitions of 2007,
and to some degree qualify as “mega-exhibitions”: they were curated to
fill large museum spaces, received mainstream press coverage, and
traveled to multiple North American cities. In different ways and to
different degrees, both exhibitions reflected the impact of
antiracist, postcolonial, and transnational feminism and feminist
theory, and therefore, with debatable success, sought to unsettle the
assumption that feminist art belongs to the Euro-American 1970s. Much
of the artwork included in these exhibitions called attention to the
immaterial and affective work associated with women and how women’s
production of themselves as images, in the words of Kathi Weeks, is an
“activity that produces society itself, including the networks of
sociality and the subjects they sustain” (Constituting Feminist
Subjects, 1998, 6).

 Though it may seem quaint to narrow in on artwork that defamiliarizes
the relationship between language and image, I see it in relation
to—but certainly not subsumed by—the legacies of conceptual art.
Furthermore, feminist artists’ work de-suturing language and images is
pertinent to our present digital moment in which, according to
Friedrich Kittler, “sound and image, voice and text have become mere
effects on the surface, or to put it better, the interface for the
consumer” (Kittler, 1987). What Kittler is describing here is the
spectacle’s ability to flatten and erase worlds of work into images to
be consumed. Building upon Guy Debord’s still productive notion of
spectacle, Peter Wollen offered useful insights about spectacle in
Visual Display: Culture Beyond Appearances (1995). He writes that the
excess of display has “the effect of concealing the truth of the
society that produces it, providing the viewer with an unending stream
of images that might best be understood, not simply detached from a
real world of things, as Debord implied, but as effacing any trace of
the symbolic, condemning the viewer to a world in which we can see
everything but understand nothing—allowing us viewer-victims, in
Debord’s phrase, only ‘a random choice of ephemera’”(1995). Whether
contemporary art contributes to, is complicit with, or undermines the
spectacle of consumption is a nagging but necessary question.
Following Okwui Enwezor’s emphasis on the possibility of the
“counter-hegemonic” within the global spectacle in his 2010 essay
“Mega-Exhibitions and the Antinomies,” I am interested in the ways in
which contemporary feminist artists use language to re-trace the
symbolic within spectacle (444).

Thinking about contemporary art in relation to feminism requires
discussing affective and immaterial labor and their relationship to
the production of images. I have recently been reading Enzo di
Martino’s History of the Venice Biennale, 1895-2005. Di Martino makes
it clear that the Biennale was conceived to recuperate the economy and
myth of Venice: “On its last legs both socially and economically,
Venice needed to be set on its feet again…Thus in 1887, as other
Italian cities had already done, Venice too organized a great
exhibition but whereas the other cities focused on their regional
craftsmanship, Venice instead decided on a national exhibition of
painting and sculpture that numbered over a thousand works” (8-9). Can
we think about this strategic turn to art for economic and cultural
viability and its continuance into twentieth- and twenty-first century
“mega-exhibitions” as a reflection of the increased emphasis on
affective and immaterial labor in the global marketplace? In Multitude
(2004), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri make the necessity to produce
“images” an example of “immaterial labor,” how might Biennales deepen
our understanding of the roles the production of images play in the
global economy (108)? Finally, given that the “mega-exhibitions” now
operate at the pivot of the national and the transnational, how could
they contribute to the development of collaborative transnational
feminist imaginaries?

Thank you! Kimberly Lamm

On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 12:01 AM, Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:
> Thanks so much to Isak Berbic and Jolene Rickard for providing us with a stimulating beginning to our June discussion of Biennale Plus or Minus.  This week's guests promise to extend the discussion in even more directions.  Welcome to Linda Carroli (Aus), Manuela de Barros (France), Kimberly Lamm (US).  We're looking forward to hearing your perspectives.  Best,  Renate and Tim
> Linda Carroli is a Brisbane based writer who blogs for [co]design studio, a
> non-profit, multi-disciplinary community oriented design organisation, and
> writes a regular feature about urban innovation and creativity for Arts Hub.
> She is an associate with Harbinger Consultants, working in community,
> cultural and communications contexts. She has had significant involvements
> in the art, science and technology field including fineArt forum and the
> Australian Network for Art and Technology. She is currently working on two
> blog-based writing and publishing projects: Changescaping (changing
> practice/practicing change) and Placing (writing place/place writing), both
> at http://placing.wordpress.com
> Manuela de Barros (France) is a French
> philosopher and theoretician of art who teaches in
> the Department of Arts, Philosophie, Esthétique
> at the Université de Paris, 8 (St. Denis), and in
> the Ecole Médias Arts, Chalon sur Saone in
> France.  Emphasizing the relations of art,
> science, and technology, Manuela is the author of
> L'Art à l'époque du virtuel (2003, L'Harmatton),
> and L'Art a-t-il besoin du numérique" (Colloque
> de Cerisy) (200, Hermès Lavoisier).
> Kimberly Lamm (US)  is Assistant Professor of
> Women's Studies at Duke University.  Her research
> moves within the fields of feminist theory,
> American Studies, literature, and visual art, but
> I consistently pursues moments in which seamless
> identifications between language and the image
> are interrupted. Her essays ranging from
> African-American visual culture to American
> poetry's relationship to feminist theory have
> appeared in Callaloo, Michigan Feminist Studies,
> American Quarterly, and the anthology Unmaking
> Race, Remaking Soul. She is  working on two book
> projects: "Inadequacies and Interruptions:
> Language and Feminist Reading Practices in
> Contemporary Art" and "The Poetics of Reciprocity
> in Contemporary Women's Writing."
> --
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
> Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
>       http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
> Art Editor, diacritics
> http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dia/
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