Exhibition | Late Barbarians

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 26, 2014

Now on at London’s Gasworks:

Late Barbarians
Gasworks, London, 24 January — 9 March 2014

Matts Leiderstam, After Image (Portrait of a Gentleman), 2010

Matts Leiderstam, After Image (Portrait of a Gentleman), 2010

Gasworks presents the group exhibition Late Barbarians, which includes video, photography, and sculpture by Juan Downey, Lili Dujourie, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Matts Leiderstam, and Chris Marker.

Focusing on the notion of corporeal memory, the exhibition explores how shifting social codes and cultural values have been embodied in historical Western European art and architecture. The exhibition takes its title from an expression by German sociologist Norbert Elias, which suggests that our future descendants may eventually consider us to have lived during an extended medieval period, implying that we share far greater affinities with our Barbarian ancestors than we might like to think. Similarly, the works on show question linear interpretations of history, invoking a present that is haunted by the gestures of our ancestors.

Paying particular attention to art historical representations of the body, works range from photographs that propose a queer re-reading of the gestures depicted in Renaissance paintings (Matts Leiderstam) to abstract, single-take “dances to camera” that attempt to divorce particular habits of the body from their entrenched social connotations (Lili Dujourie) and a virtual exhibition tour that takes place in the online world of Second Life (Chris Marker). In addition, Juan Downey’s video essay The Looking Glass (1981) decodes the iconography of the mirror in well-known artworks by Velázquez, Holbein and Picasso, and a new commission by Sidsel Meineche Hansen entitled His Head (2013–) comprises a clay sculpture and symposium that together examine the human head, separate from the body, as a symbol of patriarchy and power.

Late Barbarians is the second exhibition of The Civilising Process, a yearlong programme of exhibitions and events at Gasworks inspired by Elias’ eponymous 1939 book, which looks at the development of the tastes, manners and sensibilities of Western Europeans since the Middle Ages. Between October 2013 and November 2014 Gasworks is working with invited artists, designers, curators and researchers to tackle a wide range of issues raised by this book in an attempt to understand their relevance for contemporary debates and practices.

The Civilising Process comprises five exhibitions, a programme of interdisciplinary events, contributions to Gasworks’ online platform Pipeline, and a printed publication.

155 Vauxhall Street
London SE11 5RH United Kingdom

Conference | The Production of Ornament

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on January 26, 2014

From the conference website:

The Production of Ornament: Reassessing the Decorative in History and Practice
University of Leeds, 21-22 March 2014

Registration due by 28 February 2014

The descriptive terms ‘decorative’ and ‘ornamental’ are in many ways synonymous with superfluity and excess; they refer to things or modalities that are ‘supplementary’ or ‘marginal’ by their very nature. In the West, such qualitative associations in made objects intersect with long-standing and inter-related philosophical oppositions between ‘form’ and ‘matter’, ‘body’ and ‘surface’, the ‘proper’ and the ‘cosmetic’. Accordingly, this has weighed both on determinations of value in artistic media, and on the inflexions of related histories – particularly histories of ‘non-Western’ art, design and culture, where a wide range of decorative traditions are deemed unworthy of critical attention.

Yet such frameworks are no more historically stable than they are culturally universal. To take one very clear and ‘central’ counter-example, decoration in some strands of Renaissance architectural theory (Filarete, Alberti) emerged as a rigorous codification of meaning, as an essentially functional (political) language. In many ways the history of ornament may itself be seen as a process of marginalisation of such ways of thinking, and the separation of ornament from any form of social practice.

This two-day conference seeks to explore the various ways in which ornament might be regarded as itself productive of its objects and sites. How might the technologies, techniques, and materials of ornament be related to the conception and transformation of modes of object-making? How might ornament be understood to inform its objects, disrupting the spatial categories of ‘surface’ and ‘structure’, and the temporal models in which ornament ‘follows’ making? What are the relations between ornament and representation, and what is at stake in the conventional oppositions between these categories? What are the roles of ornament in larger dynamics of copying, hybridisation and appropriation between things? In what ways have practices and thinking on ornament staged cultural encounters, and engendered larger epistemological and social models?

Tickets cost £15/£8, and include lunches and refreshments. To book a place email Dr Richard Checketts and Dr Lara Eggleton at production.of.ornament@gmail.com by Friday the 28th of February.

F R I D A Y ,  2 1  M A R C H  2 0 1 4

10:00  Coffee/tea and registration

10:45  Richard Checketts and Lara Eggleton (University of Leeds), Welcome and Introduction

11:00  Emma Sidgwick (University of Leuven), ‘Late Antique Strigillation: The Abstract Iconography and Embodied Mediation of a Holy Productive Power’

11:40  Catherine E. Karkov (University of Leeds), ‘Entanglement, Enchantment, Stone: The Materiality of Ornament in Tenth-Century Leeds’

12:20  Carol Bier (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley / The Textile Museum, Washington D.C.), ‘Is Ornament Ornamental? Geometry Made Manifest in Islamic Architecture’

13:00  Lunch

14:30  Soersha Dyon (Independent Scholar), ‘Unravelling the Arabesque’

15:10  Jason Nguyen (Harvard University/ Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris), ‘Communauté ornament: Law and Labour in Late Seventeenth-Century Paris’

15:50  Coffee and tea

16:30  Keynote 1, Alina Payne (Harvard University)

S A T U R D A Y ,  2 2  M A R C H  2 0 1 4

10:00  Keynote 2, Susanne Kuechler (UCL), ‘The Quest for Affinity: The Ornament in Perspective’

11:15  Coffee and tea

11:30  Todd P. Olson (University of California, Berkeley), ‘Sticky Figures: Reconciling Pattern and Mimesis in Early Modern Prints’

12:10  Elizabeth Athens (Yale University), ‘Monstrosity, Ornament, Ecology: William Hogarth’s Natural Knowledge’

12:50  Frances S. Connelly (University of Missouri-Kansas City), ‘Rogue Ornament or Poetic Monster: Giambattista Vico and the Ornamental Grotesque’

1:30  Lunch

2:30  Sabrina Rahman (Northumbria University), ‘The Politics of Ornament: Historiographical and Ethnological Practices of the Austrian Werkbund’

3:10  Mark Crinson (University of Manchester), ‘The Ornamented Ceiling in New Brutalism’

3:50  Closing remarks and discussion

5:00  Drinks reception