Crossing the Line: Contemporary Extensions of Drawing as a Medium

Art History and Visual Culture Summer Institute – May 2019

GS ARTH/VISA 6020; GS/VISA 6030
Dan Adler and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

The Summer Institute "Crossing the Line" will critically interpret drawing practices as extensions of the medium. From culture to culture and era to era, the support of drawing has varied: paper, ground, wall, pottery, fabric, film, computer screen, and so on. Paying particular attention to artists' own conceptions of their drawing processes and their varied relationships to histories of the medium, this course is focused on contemporary practices that subvert or stretch conventional definitions of drawing.

Much has been made of the purported purging of authorial intentionality and subjectivity in advanced art of the 1960s and 70s, which placed a heightened emphasis on analytic rigor, systematic planning, and serial methodologies. This move is often characterized as a “cool” reaction to the “hot” psychologically transparent practices and rhetoric of heroic individualism associated with modernist abstraction in the post-World War II era. The supposed shift from hot to cool—from gestural disclosure to rational, anti-authorial approaches—was, however, never definitive or clear-cut.

We will explore how and why drawing—a medium long associated with both the activity of ideation and the manual act of creation—continues to play a central role for process-based and conceptually rigorous practices, allowing for an opening up or expansion of established understandings of aesthetic production. We will consider how drawing can operate as a generative site for the ongoing negotiation of relationships between subjective and objective approaches, between touch and measured distance. In particular, the devices of the grid, the diagram, and serial ordering (all methods associated with the notion of "de-skilling") have been regularly employed as foils to subjective decision making. We will investigate a range of historical and recent strategies that embrace drawing’s salient attributes—its mobility and elasticity, its economy and anti-monumental character, its exploratory nature, and its facility for acting as a mediator, translating abstract concepts into form—to produce works that are notational, diagrammatic, or reductive. Drawing will be approached as a powerful if under-recognized lens through which to explore the productive tensions between rational calculation and subjective expression, concept and material form, precision and disorder.

Art history and curation have had long commitments to exploring how drawing relates to certain forms of immediate perception and political awareness—and to direct and activist forms of address that are somehow set apart from the relative permanency of oil painting or stone sculpture. We will consider drawing as a critical medium, a means to intensify our temporal and spatial experiences as they relate to the notion of difference. We will investigate how drawing relates to diverse modes of narrative and storytelling and distinctive temporalities; digital media strategies of drawing that propose glitch and failure as antidotes to the hyper-acceleration and information overload of the internet; and institutional strategies developed by The Drawing Center, New York, and The Drawing Institute at the Menil Collection, Houston, among others.

The Summer Institute will develop aesthetic models through which drawing may be interpreted in contemporary art, offering close readings of works that manage to critically carve out spaces—or strive to stake a claim—within hegemonic environments that prioritize spectacle and easy entertainment. Increasingly, we live in a world engaged in the ongoing management of individual attentiveness and the impairment of perception within the compulsory routines of contemporary technological culture. Against this backdrop, drawing may be envisioned as a restorative withdrawal that is, in a partial sense, incompatible with the capitalist marketplace, which now operates through every hour of the day and night—pushing us into constant activity, eroding forms of community and political expression, and damaging the fabric of everyday life.

The 2018 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts

Clamorous Entanglements: Cities, Crises and Contemporary Asian Art

GS/ARTH6020 and GS/VISA6020/6030

Professors Hong Kal and Yam Lau

This course examines a broad range of contemporary art practices that address social, political, environmental and aesthetic challenges embedded in selected cities in Asia. In particular, the remarkable proliferation of art practices is concerned with creating social-political dialogues in conflict-ridden urban spaces. Complex, contradictory and unruly, these art practices often cross boundaries between art, activism, urbanism, anthropology and other fields. Distinguished by their localities, these art practices are urgent responses to emergent crisis on both cultural and “natural” registers. Inspired by a growing interest in public participation, these art practices question relationships between individual and collective, conflict and consensus, aesthetic autonomy and social responsibility. From the studio perspectives, the trajectories of these art practices will be situated within the larger paradigms of traditional aesthetics, modernism, postmodernism and globalism, as these paradigms are filtered through specific urban contexts. From the perspectives of art history and theory, issues of contemporary Asian art will be discussed with focus on critical debates on socially engaged art; artistic intervention in urban development; and disaster, trauma and affect in visual art.

The course will be offered in May 2nd – 18th, 2018, co-led by Hong KAL (art historian) and Yam LAU (artist). It offers studies and practices projects.

The 2017 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts

Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working

GS/ARTH6020 and GS/VISA6020

Professors Sarah Parsons and Brandon Vickerd

 The 2017 Goldfarb Summer Institute graduate course will focus on contemporary issues in public art. Within Canada, ideas of public art have evolved in recent decades, largely due to the role of new programs, policies, festivals, and initiatives that are challenging notions of temporality, spectacle, interventions and participation. While reflecting upon historically significant achievements, this seminar will take an inclusive approach to exploring current topical issues and innovations in order to expand the discourse surrounding public art in Canada and beyond, encouraging criticality and moving the field forward.

The graduate seminar will coincide with the symposium Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working that will be hosted by the Department of Visual Art and Art History in conjunction with the various partner organizations (May 18, 19 and 20). Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working will offer a forum for emerging research, challenging debate and the establishment of a sustained dialogue around public art from the perspective of both studies and practice. This will be accomplished by including a wide range of cultural, political, social, and pedagogical perspectives across the disciplines of visual arts, architecture, art history, city planning, engineering and urban studies. Students enrolled in the institute will participate in the symposium events.

The symposium will bring together international academics, critics, curators, practitioners and enthusiasts to explore the shifting role of contemporary public art and consider the accomplishments of various innovators working in the public sphere. The goal of this symposium is to critically examine the current state of Canadian contemporary public art practices and processes in the context of innovations happening internationally. Through critical examination of the artistic practices, successes and challenges, theories and impacts of the field, and by inviting multiple perspectives, Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working will further the discourse surrounding the role of public art and its continued redefinition. It will be organized around three key conference themes: News Ways of Thinking and Working, Duration, Policies and Processes.

Both the symposium and the seminar acknowledge multiple shifts in public art while questioning: ideas of the creative city, the ways in which artists work, how the work is being made, and the role of curation, audience, discourse and criticality in public art. Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working is an opportunity to bring together broad perspectives which have contributed to driving this change, to reflect on and challenge how we define and talk about public art, at a time in the field when reflection and deeper understanding is needed in the face of its mass proliferation.

Tentative Schedule:

May 15 - 17 - afternoon meetings
May 18 - afternoon meeting and evening lecture
May 19 and 20 - all day symposium
May 23 - afternoon meeting
May 24 - morning and afternoon downtown
May 25 - morning meeting - final class
June 26 - final papers due