FRAY: Art and Textile Politics
The University of Chicago Press
2018 Robert Motherwell Book Award Winner
Julia Bryan-Wilson has been awarded the 2018 Robert Motherwell Book Award for her book FRAY: Art and Textile Politics (The University of Chicago Press). The award carries a prize of $10,000.
The jury for the award was Susan Davidson (Robert Rauschenberg Foundation), James Leggio (Brooklyn Museum), and Katy Siegel (The Baltimore museum of Art/Stony Brook University).
Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson’s FRAY: Art and Textile Politics argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be. Her case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s—including the improvised costumes of the theater troupe the Cockettes, the braided rag rugs of US artist Harmony Hammond, the thread-based sculptures of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt—are often taken as evidence of the inherently progressive nature of handcrafted textiles. Fray, however, shows that such methods are recruited to often ambivalent ends, leaving textiles very much “in the fray” of debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities; the malleability of cloth and fiber means that textiles can be activated, or stretched, in many ideological directions. The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of handmaking at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles—high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.
Julia Bryan-Wilson is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley; she is also the Director of the Berkeley Arts Research Center. She is the author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (California, 2009); and Art in the Making: Artists and Their Materials from the Studio to Crowdsourcing (with Glenn Adamson, Thames & Hudson, 2016). With Andrea Andersson, she curated the exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen.
Image and text from dedalusfoundation.org
See Professor Lenssen speak about her new book at NY MoMA on May 23, 6:00-8:00. In conversation with Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, Nada Shabout, co-editors of the book, and Iftikhar Dadi, Cornell University, with introduction by Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA.
From the publisher website, Duke University Press:
“Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents offers an unprecedented resource for the study of modernism: a compendium of critical art writings by twentieth-century Arab intellectuals and artists. The selection of texts—many of which appear here for the first time in English—includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of roundtable discussions, diary entries, exhibition guest-book comments, letters, and more. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, these documents bring light to the formation of a global modernism, through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics. The collection is framed chronologically, and includes contextualizing commentaries to assist readers in navigating its broad geographic and historical scope. Interspersed throughout the volume are sixteen contemporary essays: writings by scholars on key terms and events as well as personal reflections by modern artists who were themselves active in the histories under consideration. A newly commissioned essay by historian and Arab-studies scholar Ussama Makdisi provides a historical overview of the region’s intertwined political and cultural developments during the twentieth century. Modern Art in the Arab World is an essential addition to the investigation of modernism and its global manifestations.”
Mapping as Research: Trevor Paglen in conversation with Julia Bryan-Wilson
and book launch
Tuesday, April 24 at 5:00 pm
Osher Theater, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, UC Berkeley
To celebrate his first comprehensive artist monograph, Trevor Paglen (UC Berkeley Geography PhD and 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellow) will discuss his work with ARC Director Julia Bryan-Wilson. Paglen’s work relentlessly pursues what he calls the “unseeable and undocumentable” in contemporary society. Blending photography, installation, investigative journalism, and science, Paglen explores the clandestine activity of government and intelligence agencies, using high-grade equipment to document their movements and reveal their hidden inner workings. The new publication includes a survey text by Bryan-Wilson and presents over two decades of Paglen’s groundbreaking work, making visible the structures and technologies that impact our lives.
Please note: Paglen will be signing books after the discussion.
Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. Among his chief concerns are learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. Trevor Paglen’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; Berkeley Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Nevada Museum of Art. He has launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. Paglen’s work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Economist and Art Forum. He is a 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Award.
Paglen holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley.
Julia Bryan-Wilson is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include questions of artistic labor, feminism, queer theory, fabrication/production, performance, visual culture of the nuclear age, photography, and textile handicraft. She is the author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (U California Press, 2009), Art in the Making: Artists and their Materials from the Studio to Crowdsourcing (with Glenn Adamson, Thames & Hudson, 2016), and Fray: Art and Textile Politics (U Chicago, 2017). She is the editor of Robert Morris: October Files (MIT, 2013), and she has co-edited two special issues of journals: “Visual Activism” for the Journal of Visual Culture (with Jennifer González and Dominic Willsdon) and “Time Zones: Durational Art and its Contexts” for Representations (with Shannon Jackson). With Andrea Andersson, Bryan-Wilson co-curated the exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, which travels to the Berkeley Art Museum in fall 2018. She is currently writing a book about Louise Nevelson.
Image: Trevor Paglen, Untitled (Reaper Drone), 2010, C-Print, 48 × 60 in. (121.92 × 152.40 cm), Courtesy of the Artist, Metro Pictures New York, Altman Siegel San Francisco.
Check out some of the other highlights from the list that can be found in our library:
Congratulations to History of Art Department Professor Gregory Levine on his new publication, Long Strange Journey: On Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments, with the University of Hawaii Press.
From the publisher website:
“Long Strange Journey presents the first critical analysis of visual objects and discourses that animate Zen art modernism and its legacies, with particular emphasis on the postwar “Zen boom.” Since the late nineteenth century, Zen and Zen art have emerged as globally familiar terms associated with a spectrum of practices, beliefs, works of visual art, aesthetic concepts, commercial products, and modes of self-fashioning. They have also been at the center of fiery public disputes that have erupted along national, denominational, racial-ethnic, class, and intellectual lines. Neither stable nor strictly a matter of euphoric religious or intercultural exchange, Zen and Zen art are best approached as productive predicaments in the study of religion, spirituality, art, and consumer culture, especially within the frame of Buddhist modernism.
Long Strange Journey’s modern-contemporary emphasis sets it off from most writing on Zen art, which focuses on masterworks by premodern Chinese and Japanese artists, gushes over “timeless” visual qualities as indicative of metaphysical states, or promotes with ahistorical, trend-spotting flair Zen art’s design appeal and therapeutic values. In contrast, the present work plots a methodological through line distinguished by “discourse analysis,” moving from the first contacts between Europe and Japanese Zen in the sixteenth century to late nineteenth–early twentieth-century transnational exchanges driven by Japanese Buddhists and intellectuals and the formation of a Zen art canon; to postwar Zen transformations of practice and avant-garde expressions; to popular embodiments of our “Zenny zeitgeist,” such as Zen cartoons. The book presents an alternative history of modern-contemporary Zen and Zen art that emphasizes their unruly and polythetic-prototypical natures, taking into consideration serious religious practice and spiritual and creative discovery as well as conflicts over Zen’s value amid the convolutions of global modernity, squabbles over authenticity, resistance against the notion of “Zen influence,” and competing claims to speak for Zen art made by monastics, lay advocates, artists, and others.”
Assistant Professor Lisa Trever in the History of Art department has published The Archaeology of Mural Painting at Pañamarca, Peru, with Harvard University Press as part of the Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology Studies Series.
From the publisher website:
The archaeological site of Pañamarca was once a vibrant center of religious performance and artistic practice within the ancient Moche world. During the seventh and eighth centuries CE, architects and mural painters created lofty temples and broad-walled plazas that were brilliantly arrayed with images of mythological heroes, monstrous creatures, winged warriors in combat, ritual processions, and sacrificial offerings.
This richly illustrated volume offers a nuanced account of the modern history of exploration, archaeology, and image making at Pañamarca; it also offers detailed documentation of the new fieldwork carried out by the authors at the site. That fieldwork led to the discoveries of 1,200-year-old mural paintings, presented here in detail for the first time. Created in a cultural context a thousand years before the use of written scripts, the art and architecture of Pañamarca cannot be studied via ancient histories or commentaries, but only through layers of physical evidence from archaeological excavations and documentation. This volume will serve as a definitive reference work on mural painting at Pañamarca, as well as a new primary resource for Pre-Columbian studies and for studies in global ancient art, architecture, and archaeology more broadly.
The Art History/Classics Library recently acquired an exhibition catalog from an exhibit currently up at the Berkeley Art Museum until October 1, 2017, Charles Howard: A Margin of Chaos.
The catalog features contributions from UC Berkeley History of Art Professor Lauren Kroiz, BAM Curator Apsara DiQuinzio, and Curatorial Assistant, Valerie Moon.
From the publisher website:
“Charles Howard: A Margin of Chaos accompanies the first museum exhibition dedicated to American artist Charles Houghton Howard (1899–1978) since 1956. Howard, part of a circle of artists that included Alexander Calder, Gordon Onslow Ford, Grant Wood and Ben Nicholson, had an active and distinguished career in midcentury America and England. His enigmatic, meticulous paintings, often intimate in scale, bridge figurative, Surrealist and abstract currents in modern art. Though his work evolved over his career, Howard said that all of his pictures “are closely related … They are in fact all portraits of the same general subject, of the same idea, carried as far as I am able at the time.” The first scholarly publication on Howard, this fully illustrated volume includes essays by Apsara DiQuinzio, Robert Gober and Lauren Kroiz, a reprint of one of Howard’s own essays from 1946, an illustrated chronology and exhibition history.”
UC Berkeley Professor, Julia Bryan-Wilson, contributes to a new publication: Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen. About to Happen, accompanies an exhibition which will travel to the Berkeley Art Museum in 2018-2019.
From the publisher website, Siglio Press:
Beginning and ending at the edge of the ocean at the sacred mouth of the Aconcagua River, About to Happen serves as a lament as well as love letter to the sea. In this artist’s book, Chilean-born artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña weaves personal and ancestral memory while summoning the collective power to confront the economic disparities and environmental crises of the 21st century.
Collecting the detritus that washes up on shore, Vicuña assembles out of the refuse tiny precarios and basuritas—little sculptures held together with nothing more than string and wire, which she sometimes makes as offerings to be reclaimed by the sea. These acts of creation and erasure mirror the ways in which her work inhabits and enlivens the liminal spaces between the remembered and forgotten, the revered and the discarded, the material and the dematerialized.
About to Happen, which accompanies an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, traces a decades-long practice that has refused categorical distinctions and thrived within the confluences of conceptual art, land art, feminist art, performance and poetry. Vicuña’s nuanced visual poetics—operating fluidly between concept and craft, text and textile—transforms the discarded into the elemental, paying acute attention to the displaced, the marginalized and the forgotten.
Whitney Davis (George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of History and Theory of Ancient and Modern Art at UC Berkeley), is publishing Visuality and Virtuality: Images and Pictures from Prehistory to Perspective with Princeton University Press, forthcoming, November 2017 (ISBN: 9780691171944).
From the Princeton University Press website:
“This book builds on the groundbreaking theoretical framework established in Whitney Davis’s acclaimed previous book, A General Theory of Visual Culture, in which he shows how certain culturally constituted aspects of artifacts and pictures are visible to informed viewers. Here, Davis uses revealing archaeological and historical case studies to further develop his theory, presenting an exacting new account of the interaction that occurs when a viewer looks at a picture.
A profound new theory of the work of both makers and viewers by one of the discipline’s most esteemed and engaged thinkers, Visuality and Virtuality is essential reading for art historians, architects, archaeologists, and philosophers of art and visual theory.”