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.
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.