Saturday, October 20, 4–6pm
“Unlearning Learning” with BFAMFAPHD and Maria Rosa Sossai
Saturday, March 16, 4–6pm
“Deep Time” with Bruce Robbins and Sally Frater
“Details Matter” with Lise Soskolne and others to be announced
This fall and spring Art in General will continue to host an ongoing experimental discussion series organized by the artist-founded publication Shifter (Avi Alpert and Rit Premnath). Learning and Unlearning is a series of events led by artists who use formats beyond the academic lecture or seminar. The aim of these shared gatherings is to unlearn the assumptions and prejudices we hold about each other and ourselves. Previous installments in the series have included Unlearning Work in Fall 2017 and Unlearning Dystopia in Spring 2018.
Unlearning Learning, the first event of this new season, will consider the relationship between art and education, which lies at the heart of the entire series. Artist collective BFAMFAPHD and researcher Maria Rosa Sossai will consider how art and pedagogy can become tools for understanding the relations of power that shape institutions and practices, but also allow us to imagine new approaches to art and education. As practitioners who have developed workshops, teaching tools, and artworks that blur the boundary between art and educational practices, they will use this event to not simply speak about this subject, but also to activate some of their ideas.
In the spring, scholar Bruce Robbins and curator Sally Frater engage in a discussion about Deep Time. Robbins’ examination of this concept will provide a theoretical framework for considering what this concept might mean for contemporary art. In light of Frater’s curatorial work that explores identity, history, memory, spatial theory and representation in museum practices, the pair will question the merits and problems of approaching time more expansively, the ethics of recalling past events, the risks of relativizing or diluting a moment’s political significance, and consider temporal durations that challenge human comprehension.
Details Matter, the final event in the series will focus on the challenges of organization and institution building with W.A.G.E.’s Lise Soskolne and others to be announced. Through Soskolne’s own practice as an artist and founding member of W.A.G.E, participants will discuss the importance of institution building as a form of sustainable political practice. While political action is often pictured through images of protest and activism, Soskolne will focus on the more long term process of building coalitions and infrastructure that can sustain politics.
Avi Alpert teaches literature and critical theory in the Princeton Writing Program where he focuses on the impact of globalization on modern thought and institutions. His writing examines what it means to be at once a private individual and a global subject, and how this dual demand has shaped modern life. His first book, Global Origins of the Modern Self, from Montaigne to Suzuki, offers a global history of the self, from Renaissance Europe to modern Japan. He has co-edited Dictionary of the Possible, Shifter Vol.22, and also writes art criticism and fiction.
BFAMFAPhD is a collective of artists, designers, technologists, organizers, and educators who work in the intersection of art, technology, and political economy. Our current work is a pedagogical project, including a book, a deck of cards, and an open-access website that offers practices of collaboration, contemplation, and social-ecological analysis for visual artists. It is for arts educators who want to connect art to economy; for students who want to make artworks that reflect the conditions of their own production. The project provides a framework that asks readers to explore both who they are becoming as they make projects and also what their projects are becoming as they takes shape and circulate in the world.
Sally Frater holds an Honors BA in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and an MA (with Merit) in Contemporary Art from The University of Manchester/Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She has curated exhibitions for venues including the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, and Project Row Houses. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. A member of AAMC (the Association of Art Museum Curators), and IKT (Association of International Curators of Contemporary Art), Frater recently was the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, KS.
Sreshta Rit Premnath is an artist works across multiple media, investigating systems of representation and reflecting on the process by which images become icons and events become history. Premnath is the founder and co-editor of the publication Shifter and teaches at Parsons, New York.
Bruce Robbins is Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His books include Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence (2012), Upward Mobility and the Common Good (2007), Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), and The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below (1986). His essays have appeared in n+1, The Nation, Public Books, and the London Review of Books.
Shifter is a topical publication that aims to illuminate and broaden our understanding of the intersections between contemporary art, politics, and philosophy. Shifter remains malleable and responsive in its form and activities, and represents a diversity of positions and backgrounds in its contributors. The publication is edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert.
Lise Soskolne is an artist and core organizer of W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy). W.A.G.E. is a New York-based activist organization whose mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships, and more equitable distribution between artists and the institutions that contract their labor. An organizer within W.A.G.E. since its founding in 2008 and its core organizer since 2012, Soskolne began working in arts presenting and development at downtown New York City nonprofits in 1998. Venues have included Anthology Film Archives, Artists Space, Diapason Gallery for Sound, Meredith Monk/The House Foundation for the Arts, Participant Inc, and Roulette Intermedium.
Maria Rosa Sossai is a researcher in the field of artistic practices and educational policies, based in Rome. In 2012 she founded ALA Accademia Libera delle Arti, an independent platform for education and contemporary art that conceives the artistic practice as a process of shared knowledge. Among its recent projects a series of workshops and exhibitions of Italian and international artists at FAI Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese. From December 2013 to March 2015, she was appointed artistic director of AlbumArte, with whom she has collaborated since 2011. She also curated projects as well as exhibitions in commercial galleries, art foundations and museums both in Italy and abroad such MAN museum in Nuoro, Real Academia de España, the American Academy, Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, AlbumArte and Nomas Foundation in Rome, Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Istanbul, the Tel Aviv Museum and, with Laura Cherubini, the touring exhibition of the Italian artist Carla Accardi in Toru, Budapest, Thessaloniki and Athens.