Eye and Mind

Eye and Mind: Interdisciplinary Research Forum

Eye and Mind: Interdisciplinary Research Forum

Eye and Mind is an interdisciplinary research forum involving those working in different departments at University College Cork, as well as artists, curators, poets and independent scholars from outside the university community. It is focused upon the subject of art, vision and visual culture, broadly described. Those participating include scholars working in Fine Art, Art History, Philosophy, History, Literature, Film Studies, German, Italian, French, Architecture, Theatre, and Applied Psychology. The forum offers a space for rigorous and imaginative intellectual interchange, as well as for the development of connections between individuals involved in the intellectual and cultural life of Cork. The sessions take place on the UCC campus (specific room may vary - details can be found below).



Tamar Garb (Professor of History of Art, University College London): 'Retrotopia: Secretly I Will Love you More'

The lecture will juxtapose the documentary photography of David Goldblatt, a fanciful video portrait by Andrew Putter, and a novel by the renowned Afrikaans writer Marlene van Niekerk, to imagine a past that never was and a future that is still being dreamt of.

This lecture will take place on Wednesday 6th May, 6-8pm in West Wing 9. All are welcome.


About the Speaker:

Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at UCL. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA (Art) in 1978, before moving to the UK and completing a PhD at the Courtauld Institute, which was awarded in 1991. She was appointed as Lecturer at UCL in 1989, and was promoted to professor in 2001. Her research interests have focused on questions of gender and sexuality, the woman artist and the body in nineteenth and early twentieth century French art ,and she has published extensively in this field. Key publications include Sisters of the Brush: Women’s Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth Century Paris (Yale University Press, 1994); Bodies of Modernity: Figure and Flesh in Fin de Siecle France, (Thames & Hudson, 1998) and The Painted Face, Portraits of Women in France 1814 -1914 (Yale University Press, 2007).  Her latest publication in this area is The Body in Time: Figures of Femininity in Late Nineteenth-Century France, (University of Washington Press, 2008). She has also published on questions of race and representation and in 1995 she collaborated with Linda Nochlin on a volume of essays entitled The Jew in the Text; Modernity and the Construction of Identity (T&H). Her interests have turned recently to post-apartheid culture and art as well as the history of photographic practices in Southern Africa.  In 2008 she curated an exhibition on Landscape and Language in South African Art entitled Land Marks/Home Lands; Contemporary Art from South Africa at Haunch of Venison Gallery in London. In April 2011, her exhibition Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The show was nominated for a Lucie award in Curating. In 2014 Prof. Garb was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy.


Nicholas Alfrey: Land art in Britain: Nancy Holt and Richard Long in the West Country

This talk explores what happens when a radical art practice is conducted in a rural location. The work made by Nancy Holt and Richard Long in the British landscape in the late 1960s and early 1970s may be seen as part of the history of Land art, but Land art in Britain occupies some fairly ambiguous territory. It was presented in the wider context of conceptual art, for example, yet some critics took it to be a continuation of the Romantic tradition. And while new artistic practices such as walking challenged conventional ideas about what a work of art might be, the relationship between walking as art and walking as a recreational activity was not altogether clear cut. The work by Holt and Long considered here enables us to compare the approach to the West Country landscape by a visitor and an insider, and perhaps to unsettle some of the usual distinctions made between American and British land artists.

Nicholas Alfrey is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham. Professor Alfrey's research is focused upon the visual culture of landscape since 1800, and he was the curator of the 2004 Tate Britain show, Art of the Garden, as well as the recent touring exhibition, Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain, 1966-1979.

This talk will be held in Kane Room G7, UCC, at 6pm on Thursday 13th November.

All are welcome!

Alice Maher: My Empire of Dirt

 Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists, recognized for her experimental use of non-traditional and vernacular materials; her explorations of embodiment and identity, of beauty and repulsion; and her incorporation of a range of literary, folkloric, mythical and art historical material together with various kinds of ‘low’ and frequently despised contents. Her work is held in numerous national and international collections, and she was the subject of a recent retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Alice Maher: Becoming, 2012). Maher is represented by Green on Red Gallery, Dublin.


This talk will held in West Wing 5, UCC, at 6pm on Tuesday 2nd December.


All are welcome!

Dr. Sarah Hayden (School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, UCC)

'Jockey God, Fat Christ and the Spirit [ ] Impaled upon the Phallus: Embodiments of the Anti-Christ in Dada’s Anti-Art'

In Paris and New York in the decade spanning 1915-1925, Francis Picabia, Mina Loy and the Baronesss Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven styled themselves vectors of the pan-national Dada contagion. Deploying disparate aesthetics and working across plastic and textual media, they antagonized their audiences, agitated for the sublation of art and life and engaged with the problematics of Anti-Art. Beyond this common cause, inter-artist affinities abound. All three were given to asserting (and unprudishly celebrating) the fleshy facts of embodied existence. Their works from this period register parallel preoccupations with denigrating religious icons and institutions. The concept of artistic making as [quasi] divine creation is a figure that haunts each of their distinctly irreverent oeuvres—a problem to which their practices supply markedly divergent solutions. Opening with an exploration of these shared concerns as they manifest in texts, objects and drawings by Loy, Picabia and the Baroness, this lecture will focus its analysis on the Anti-Art processing of Nietzschean Anti-Deism in Picabia’s Jésus-Christ Rastaquouère.

This lecture will take place in the Geography Lecture Theatre, UCC, 6.00-7.30pm on Monday 15th July. All are welcome!

Dr. Jody Patterson (Art and Visual History, Plymouth University) 

'"Operation Crossroads": Artistic Responses to the Nuclear Age'

Following the unleashing of the atom bomb at the end of the Second World War artists responded to the dawn of the Nuclear Age in a variety of ways. While some artists endeavoured to picture the atomic blast and its cataclysmic effects, others felt that literal transcription was no longer adequate and chose instead to evoke the bomb’s destruction and devastation through the use of an abstract visual vocabulary. This lecture will explore a range of artistic engagements with the bomb in the years immediately following the first detonations in 1945. In particular it will examine the work of American painter Ralston Crawford, who was commissioned by Fortune magazine to record his impressions of ‘Operation Crossroads,’ the US government’s highly controversial nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific in the summer of 1946. 

This talk will take place in West Wing 5, UCC, from 6-8 on Wednesday 5 June 2013.

All are welcome!

Dr. Barnaby Haran (History of Art, Bristol University) 

'Performing “Red Hashar”: Louis Lozowick’s Representations of the Sovietization of Central Asia in the 1930s'

In 1931 Louis Lozowick travelled with a party of members of the International Union of Revolutionary Writers to Tajikistan, one of the newly formed Central Asian republics of the USSR. Born in Russia but considering himself an American artist, Lozowick was America’s foremost expert of Soviet art, an editor of the leftist magazine New Masses, and one of the leading artists and illustrators working in the style historically termed machine art or Precisionism. In Tajikistan, Lozowick witnessed the ‘sovietization’ of the region, in particular the collectivization of agriculture, whereby the Soviet authorities were attempting to modernize a largely feudal society with a strongly traditional culture. Lozowick produced many drawings of sovietization in action, which he subsequently reworked as lithographs, and wrote several articles about his experiences and impressions of the region. In general, his responses were celebratory and he cited the term “red hasher” to refer to a Soviet update of a longstanding custom of neighborly cooperation- as Lozowick put it ‘a good illustration of the way in which the Soviet system utilizes old customs and institutions by transforming them to meet new needs’.

In this paper I examine Lozowick’s written accounts and pictorial representations of Central Asia in the context of a selective Soviet Grand Tour. For communist ideologues, sovietization would simultaneously modernize and enlighten an apparently backward populace. However, the Basmachi (meaning ‘brigand’, but constituting anti-Soviet forces), who resented the violation of traditional religious and gender mores, especially in relation to the paranja, or veil, worn by Muslim women, fiercely resisted these measures. Lozowick’s images show unveiling as literal enlightenment, and present the liberation of women as analogous to Soviet modernization. I argue that his representations of male Tajiks display profound tensions in the process of sovietization, and are less successful in the attempt to communicate the transition from warrior tribesman to a new proletarian identity. Importantly, as an artist Lozowick himself wrestled with the imposition of proletarianism, as critiques and his subsequent defence of his work in the communist press of the period attest.

Many of these contradictions are discernible in the images themselves, which make an uneasy amalgam of precisionist tropes and more traditional idioms, such as landscape conventions, and do not satisfactorily cohere despite (or indeed because of) the overriding tone of jollity. Was this a faltering performance of “red hashar”, and were the images signifiers of the irreconcilability of sedimentary tradition and imposed modernity, thereby constituting an ideological masking of civil war?

The session will run from 6.10-7.30pm, Tuesday 26 March in West Wing 5, UCC.

All are welcome!

Maria O'Sullivan (Department of French, UCC) 

'Framing Gestures, or Barthes and the Automaton'

An interest in the act of framing and in framed spaces runs throughout the work of Roland Barthes. Although the immobility of the framed image inevitably features in his well-known work on photography, Camera Lucida (1980), the concept of an immobilising frame can also be seen to inform his theatre criticism of the 1950s and early 1960s. This paper will look at the frame’s relationship both to that which it contains and to that which lies outside it and is adjacent or contiguous with it. This is of particular interest in Barthes’s account of durative art forms, such as theatre and cinema, and his treatment of the photogram or still image in his analysis of the latter.

The lecture and discussion will take place from 6.00-7.30 in the Geography Lecture Theatre, UCC, on 6 March 2013.

All are welcome.

Kirstie North (Unversity College Cork)

'Repetitions and Reproductions in Jeremy Millar’s "The Man Who Looked Back" (2010)' 

British artist Jeremy Millar’s archival work, The Man Who Looked Back, 2010,examines the legacy of art historian Aby Warburg by re-staging his Mnemosyne Atlas, 1925-29. For Warburg, art gains its force by way of a dialogue with its own past, a dialogue which Millar stages with particular complexity and self-reflexivity here. Making reference to Warburg’s own archive, The Man Who Looked Back is made up of reproductions of artworks with specific emphasis upon the physical gesture of looking back in images ranging from classical antiquity to Chris Marker’s seminal film La Jetée, 1962. Warburg’s Atlas was conceived at a time when the effects of mechanical reproduction on the status of the artwork were first being theorised. This paper will argue that Millar’s work not only re-stages Warburg’s project, but also reengages those early debates concerning the relationship of art to technology, probing their significance for our current digital age.

This lecture will take place in West Wing 5, UCC, 6-8pm. All are welcome.

Prof. Esther Leslie (Prof of Political Aesthetics, Birbeck, University of London) 

'Animation's Petrified Unrest'

This paper considers animation as a form of production-consumption that oscillates between stillness and movement, stasis and agitation, starting and stopping. It is a mode of madeness that, historically, meets a particular understanding of the mechanisms of seeing, as evinced in scientific contexts and in art history. Worked through in the theories of visual perception devised by art historians are notions, such as empathetic projection and kinaesthetic vision, which segue with the new experiences brought into being by optical technologies of leisure. Furthermore, the phrase ‘petrified unrest’ (which stems, via Gottfried Keller, from Walter Benjamin and his description of mid-to late nineteenth-century cultural and critical formations in Baudelaire and Blanqui) is here deployed in relation to early animated culture, such as the optical inventions of Reynaud, and to scientific researchers, such as Marey, in order to suggest that there are social and political overtones to notions of stop-starting. Stop-starting is explored as a type of flow and punctuation, which are figures that come to play a key role in the analytics of labour from Karl Marx to the Gilbreths. To what extent is the labor world of flowing and punctuation, or stopping and starting, taken up or worked through in the animated culture of the early years of twentieth century? In what ways do the developments of the early optical forms set in train the rendering of something like reality? Animation’s petrified unrest is a formal sign of its ambivalent renderings of the real - it is stuck in a form of life and world simulation, which can be read symptomatically - or critically - as an inability to move on socially, to sketch out new lives and worlds.

This lecture will take place in West Wing 5, UCC, at 6pm on Wednesday 24th October.

All are welcome!

Rachel Warriner

'“Then art will change. This is the future.”: Nancy Spero’s Manifestary Practice.'

Nancy Spero’s Notes in Time on Women (1976-79) has been described by Jon Bird as a work of “historical significance.” Two hundred and fifteen foot in length and twenty-four panels long, it is a forceful and affecting work examining the conditions lived by women under patriarchy. This paper will argue against the critical consensus that Spero’s practice is one that resists fixity and proliferates meanings, and instead proposes that her works can be seen as examples of visual art manifestos. Employing terms outlined by literary scholars of the manifesto form, this paper will demonstrate the ways in which Spero determinedly puts forward her manifestary message, manipulating signs and transforming sources in order to create a powerful polemic designed to persuade her audience of its political urgency. 

This paper will be presented in West Wing 5, UCC, on Thursday 4th October at 6pm.

All are welcome!

Ian Hunter (LITTORAL and The Merzbarn Project, UK)

'The Merz Barn and the Legacy of Kurt Schwitters in England'

Robert Derr (Associate Professor of Art, Ohio State University)

'Life is a Performance'

The works of artist Robert Ladislas Derr center on a barrage of questions about life and art. To watch life flow, recognizable patterns and responses are visible. Life captures us in constant performance as we negotiate second by second stimuli. It is this natural corporeal desire to act and react that compels Derr to bust his head through a wall. This physical action from a cathartic impulse produces an art product of activity. Approaching the product, you see either a white wall or his head busting through, and instinctually, you walk around to see the other side, where you find the back of his head thrusting back and forth against the wall. Joining the life flow, Derr adorns a suit with mirrors and video cameras, creating a spectacle, drawing your attention from your routine. You have become the actor in the art product, while the visitor of the product stands immersed in the performance. At the center of four life-size video projections forming a square, the stimuli instigate further actions and reactions. In My Shoes on view February 16 - March 1, 2012, at the Centre for Creative Practices (Dublin, Ireland), has him at the center of an existential dilemma of recalling others' memories as he walks in their shoes. Projected on the floor, the video projection of his perambulation in the shoes seems to stride across the room. These constructions that beseech inquisitiveness, the primal urges, the stimuli that naturally entice, influence his making.

Derr has exhibited and performed worldwide at such venues as the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (Athens, GA, 2011), The School of Visual Arts (New York, NY, 2011), Schneider Museum of Art (Ashland, OR, 2010), Athens Video Art Festival (Athens, Greece, 2010 and 2007), Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, Germany, 2009), Jack the Pelican Presents (Brooklyn, NY, 2009 and 2007), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH, 2008),Independent Museum of Contemporary Art (Limassol, Cyprus, 2008), LIVE Performance Art Biennale (Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2007), Photographic Resource Center (Boston, MA, 2006), American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy, 2006), Art Interactive (Cambridge, MA, 2006), DiVA Festival (New York, NY, 2005), and Irish Film Institute (Dublin, Ireland, 2004). Awards for his work include the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Ohio Arts Council, among others. Derr has an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and he is an associate professor of art at The Ohio State University.



Dr. Simon Knowles (Department of History of Art, University College Cork) 

'Authenticity, anonymity and the poor: Paul Maitland’s paintings of Cheyne Walk'

The aim of this paper is to consider the extent to which Paul Maitland’s paintings of Cheyne Walk challenge the established identity of Chelsea as a picturesque location, associated with historical grandeur and London’s artistic community, by focusing on carefully selected sections of this famous riverside street that reveal the everyday life of the poor. Maitland’s intention to offer a corrective to Chelsea’s established identity will be measured by comparing his work with contemporary commentary on this location, both visual and textual, revealing the extent to which he pursed this aim through the specificity of the locations he selected.

The talk with start at 6.15 on Thursday 16th February 2012 in West Wing 9, UCC.

All are welcome.

Dr Paul Hegarty (Department of French, UCC) and Ed Krčma (History of Art, UCC)

'Manet Fight!'

Édouard Manet intervened to crucial effect in the conventions of painting to produce connections, breaks and interruptions which would signal the arrival of a truly modern(ist) art. But in which sets of conventions, discourses and arenas did he intervene most significantly? And why Manet, still – why is his achievement not yet ‘saturated’ for us? And what idea of Manet is the strongest for today? In this session, Paul Hegarty (French, UCC) and Ed Krčma (History of Art, UCC) will stake out claims for Manet’s importance, then and now, by elaborating close readings of specific works and arguing the case for their centrality within Manet’s oeuvre. It is intended that by way of our selections and our attempts to assert (competing) claims, some of the complexity and power of Manet’s achievement will be dramatized.

The session will take place in West Wing Room 9 (UCC) from 6.15-7.45, Thursday 15 December.

All are welcome.

Daragh O'Connell (Dept of Italian, University College Cork) 

'Furor Melancholicus: Pictorial Poetics in the Narrative of Vincenzo Consolo' 

Through an examination of the poetics of one of Italy’s foremost contemporary writers Vincenzo Consolo, this talk will seek to examine the interface between literary art and pictorial art. This will involve a discussion of the literary practices of ekphrasis and epiphany and how they relate specifically to the visual. In particular, emphasis will be given to Consolo’s appropriation and thematization of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencholia I (1514) and many of the contesting discourses which surround it in philosophy and theory in more recent times. Consolo’s melancholic mode of writing – fragmentary, poetically charged, archival, memorial – will be shown to be a richly woven palimpsest in which the pictorial and literary create instances of epiphany. 

This talk will take place on Thursday 10 November in West Wing 9 (UCC), 18.15-19.45.

All are welcome!

Dr Ailbhe Ní Bhriain (Crawford College of Art and Design)

'Great Good Places'

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain will give a presentation on her video work, some of the most recent of which is currently on show at Domo Baal, London (http://www.domobaal.com/exhibitions/62-11-ailbhe-ni-bhriain-01.html). See below for the gallery's information on the exhibition).

The session will be held at UCC in the West Wing, Room 9, on 20 October, 18.15-19.45.

All are welcome!

"Domo Baal is delighted to present Ailbhe Ní Bhriain's second solo show in the gallery. Ailbhe Ní Bhriain will be showing a new series of four videos, collectively called 'Great Good Places'. The work takes the museum and the office as its settings and employs simple collage devices to explore the essential ambiguity of image space. These interventions set up tensions, overlaps and slippages – between surface and depth, place and placelessness, the real and illusory – to create scenes of suspension or displacement. Objects move from being incidental elements to active players in these scenes, negotiating the between–space and lending an unlikely coherence to its contradictions. While readily declaring its constructed–ness, the work also invites the viewer to inhabit its fluid illogic. The series borrows its title from the Henry James short story The Great Good Place – an allusion to the slippage contained within that narrative between dream and reality, and the presence of the hallucinatory in the mundane and vice versa. Drawing on James' story, this work proposes the image itself as a site of refuge and escape – a displaced elsewhere, a state of suspension, a Great Good Place.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain lives and works in Cork, Ireland, where she is Lecturer in Fine Art at Crawford College of Art. She completed her MA at The Royal College of Art, London in 2004 and her PhD in Fine Art at Kingston University, London in 2008. In 2004 she won the Jerwood Drawing Prize Student Award for her video 'Immergence' and was selected in 2010 for 'Futures 10' at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. She is a current recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland, Visual Artists Bursary Award, and has held solo shows at the Butler Gallery and the Galway Arts Centre in Ireland. Her work has been widely exhibited in group shows internationally."

Prof. Briony Fer (History of Art, University College London)

'Road Testing/Sight Testing: Ruscha's Royal Road'

The lecture will take place in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, 17.30-19.00 on Thursday 5 May 2011.

All are welcome!

 Dr. Jennifer McMahon (Department of Philosophy, University of Adelaide)

'The Meta-Ethical Dimension of Art: Eliasson’s Art and Kant’s 'Sensus Communis'

The processes involved in the creation of art and its reception demonstrate the close nexus between moral and aesthetic judgments.  I draw upon the art practice of the contemporary Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Kant’s concept of Sensus Communis in order to demonstrate that the possibility of art and its reception shares a common source with the possibility of our moral capacity.  In this respect, I will offer a demonstration of certain key concepts from Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment”. 

The lecture will take place on Thursday 28 April, 18.00-19.30, in the River Room, Lewis Glucksman Gallery.

All welcome!

Dr. Kerstin Fest (Department of German, University College Cork)

New Women – New Artists? Femininity and Art in Christa Winsloe’s "A Life Begins" (1936)

In this paper I investigate the depiction of female artists in Christa Winsloes A Life Begins (1936). A Life Begins is a künstlerroman telling the story of young Eva-Maria who escapes from her bourgeois background to train as a sculptress in Munich.  Soon she becomes a member of a hedonistic bohemian circle, but feels that she has yet to find her 'true' identity as an artist. The novel is part of a broader inter-war discourse concerning gender identity and art. Modern art and the 'new’ emancipated woman are both regarded as symptoms as well as incitements of the changing times. In his manifesto Die Frau als Künstlerin [Woman as Artist] (1928) critic Hans Hildebrandt denies the possibility of artistic genius in women yet states that this new woman will also bring about the new (female) artist. Winsloe is of course less conservative than Hildebrandt but also presents femininity and art as an uneasy combination. This paper will show how she develops a concept of the female artist that transcends socially constructed notions of femininity (both conservative and progressive) and culminates in the ideal of celibate asceticism for the sake of art.

Location: Kane Building G7, UCC.

Time: 6.30 - 8.00, Thursday 3 March


Catherine Harty (Artist, Cork)

'Once More With Feeling'

Appropriation is a basic artistic operation and a common social strategy. Artists appropriate when they use images that other artists have used and adapt them to their own interests. Both artists and the wider public appropriate when they take objects, images or practices and use them in a way unintended by the original producers/owners. Appropriation is one of the most basic procedures of contemporary art and life. Here I am going to revisit what can be termed 1980s ‘Appropriation Art’. I will be touching on a number of ideas which were used at the time to both contextualize and critique this work. I will discuss these predominately in relation to two artists, Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince. I will then move on to present some of the ways in which appropriation is used by artists working today, but also by people who would not define themselves as artists. When researching contemporary issues surrounding the re-use of already existing cultural artefacts and images, it became clear that the debate has moved from being one of interest in the art-world and academia to being one of much more general concern.

Image: Catherine Harty, Keith Richards and Louis Vuitton are Proud to Support The Climate Project (2010)

Adam Loughnane (Department of Philosophy, University College Cork)

'Merleau-Ponty: Flesh, Trust and Artistic Practices as Philosophic Practices.'

In his writings on painting, Maurice Merleau-Ponty offers an account of artistic activity where perception functions in an ecstatic relation through which new types of vision and action are made possible. Placing his reflections on artistic practice in a philosophic context, Merleau-Ponty allows us to compare these artistic practices with the academic/philosophic practices we rely on to engage phenomenological works such as his. The ways of seeing and acting enabled in artistic activity, as Merleau-Ponty understands them, the engagement with visibility and invisibility and the attunement afforded between body and world, challenge the deeply ingrained notions of perception, doubt and understanding upon which our philosophic practices are based.  If there is value in thinking with Merleau-Ponty and experimenting with his concepts and philosophy, can we do so authentically while maintaining philosophic practices which are based on the concepts he seeks to replace? If not, can the artistic practices themselves supplement or replace aspects of our philosophic practices?

Venue: River Room, Lewis Glucksman Gallery

Time: 6.00-7.30, 11 November 2010

All welcome!

Dr. Sabine Kriebel (Department of History of Art, University College Cork)

'Left-wing Humour, or, Heartfield’s Holy Hate'

“Holy hate,” according to Georg Lukács, is the driving force behind penetrating social satire, its Marxist ‘holiness’ rooted in a political ethics of equity that prevents parodic forms from becoming trite or vulgar. This paper interrogates the politics of subversive laughter in John Heartfield’s AIZ photomontages, demonstrating that while his motivations might be holy in Lukács’ lexicon, his pictorial tactics are mischievously regressive, grotesque and often in bad taste. Embedded in contemporaneous theories of critical humour, this paper proposes to take Heartfield’s transgressive play seriously as a radical political tactic, shedding light on an often-overlooked aspect of interwar Marxism. 

Dr. Ed Krčma (Department of History of Art, University College Cork) 

'Wols, Smallness and Creaturely Life'

The first post-war exhibition of German-born artist Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze) consisted entirely of drawings. These tiny raw worlds, set down ‘on little scraps of paper,’ were compared by Jean-Paul Sartre to ‘pullulating viruses under a microscope.’ Rather than developing the kind of poetics of angst in relation to which Wols’ work has often been discussed, this paper offers a phenomenological reading of his drawings, taking their remarkable smallness as a starting point. Smallness in Wols is immersive and vertiginous, lending the drawings a magnitude in the imagination, as these teeming worlds are brought up arrestingly close. In thinking about the stakes of such a project for making art in a devastated post-war France, I will also briefly explore the usefulness of Eric Santner’s concept of ‘creaturely life’. For Santner, this term refers to the realm of compulsions and excitations, where the animal and human are brought into a peculiar proximity by the latter’s exposure to the exertions of sovereign power and uncanny desire.

JP McMahon (Department of History of Art, University College Cork)

'The Eye, the Mind, and the Disappearance of the Body: Vito Acconci, 1969-1973' 

This paper examines the performance/conceptual work of Vito Acconci produced between the years 1969 and 1973, and questions the relationship of the artist's performances to specific notions of the physical and material body. Though Acconci’s performances were made on, with and in the body, the resulting art was for the beholder always one for the eye or the mind rather than the body; that is to say, it affected the beholder perceptually and conceptually rather than physically. While this separation of the eye, the mind, and the body may seem somewhat reductive, it is deeply pertinent for an art historical examination of the formal and physical effects of Acconci's work on the beholder. This paper will also align Michael Fried's notion of absorption and theatricality with the art of Acconci, examining the latter in relation to Fried’s conception of the eye, the mind, and the body, which in turn were crucial to his understanding of modernism both critically and historically.

Dr Sam Ladkin (University of Sheffield)

'Figura Serpentinata' in Art and Poetry: A Comparative Reading of Frank O'Hara's 'In Memory of My Feelings'

My current project seeks to revivify a critical terminology derived from the rhetoric of art of the Italian Renaissance, in particular that which surrounds the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti. This terminology illuminates, I hope, the seminal work of Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), a gay poet of the “New York School”, an art critic, curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and a friend to many of the major artists and poets (and composers and dancers...) of the 1940s through the 1960s. The term figura serpentinata, a term attributed to Michelangelo, describes the serpent-like twist in the pose of the (male) body, and is arguably reprised in O’Hara’s seminal 'In Memory of My Feelings'. Or rather, that is what I will argue.

Chris Clarke (Glucksman Gallery)

'Memoranda for a Series of Histories: Guy Debord and Dissimulation'

Roundtable on Locality with Stephen Brandes (artist), Maureen Considine (artist), and Dr. Kieran Keohane (Sociology, UCC).

Dr. Julia Jansen (Department of Philosophy, UCC)

'Relational and Participatory Practices: Committed Art or Art for Art's Sake?'

Dr. Róisín O’Gorman (Theatre and Drama Studies, University College Cork)

'Casting shadows in mud, myth and memory'

This presentation will look at work by William Kentridge, Dorothy Cross, and Ana Mendieta to understand how they provoke awareness of seeing as a relentless activity, constantly shaped by the (often) invisible forces of technology, history and affect.In examples such as Kentridge’s Black Box  (2005), Cross’s Medusae (2003) and Mendieta’s Silueta Series (1970s-80s)they puncture  habits of perception as they play with the  processes, technologies and mythologies of seeing. Working with the aesthetics and languages of shadows they flip the dominant modes of a culture still caught in the thrall of the Enlightenment and its positivist politics. The camera and the eye often function to elide the failures of perception, offering glossy truths and impenetrable images of perfection.  Kentridge, Cross, and Mendieta instead use the failures within seeing to expose the dark fissures in perception and the destructive consequences of that elision.   

20 August 2009: Matt Packer (Glucksman Gallery), 'British photography in the Thatcher years'

25 June 2009: Roundtable on Skill with Prof. Graham Parkes (Philosophy, UCC), Matt Packer (Glucksman Gallery), Dobz O’Brien (National Sculpture Factory), Dr. Ed Krčma (History of Art, UCC).

21 May 2009: Dr. Gert Hofmann (German, UCC), 'Synopsis of Redemption and Abjection: On the Literary History of Raphael’s Transfiguration'.

30 April 2009: James Cronin (CACE, UCC), 'Towards new understandings of silence'.

19 March 2009: Dr. David Brancaleone (Limerick School of Art), 'Badiou and Deleuze: Multiplicity and Event and the Art of Bacon and Rauschenberg'.

19 February 2009: Dr. Liam Lenihan (English, UCC), 'Blake's Four Zoas and Pynchon'sGravity's Rainbow: Unfinished "Ends" to Unending Narratives'.

15 January 2009: Dr. Ed Krčma (History of Art, UCC), '"The Mind as a Running Transformer": Affect and Diagram in Robert Rauschenberg’s Small Rebus'.


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