Edgar Arceneaux’s art practice gives material form to Blackness as an index of racial and cultural
identity. Arceneaux’s approach builds on the Black conceptual materialist practice of Fred Wilson.
Wilson and Arceneaux are material historians, confronting the present with the past in order to
critique dominant art historical discourses and institutions. Arceneaux appropriates Jacques
Derrida’s aporia and materializes its key characteristics —impasse, suspension, irresolution,
improvisation, entanglement, and violence into his artworks—as visualizations of Black freedom
and possibility. This thesis considers Arceneaux’s drawing Detroit (2009), the interactive
installation Library of Black Lies (2013-2018), and the sculpture Orpheum Returns— Fire’s
Creation (2010). In these works, to varying extents, Arceneaux creates a critical constellation where
he juxtaposes historical elements from the past— ranging from vernacular artifacts and architectures
to iconic Black art historical works—with material cul…
This paper argues in favor of a practice of queer optimism, joy, and revelry in the face of ongoing grief and violence. I assert that the work of Puerto Rican artist/performer Villana Santiago Pacheco (“Villano Antillano”) operates as a polyvalent expressive practice that transgresses the sonic, visual, and social traditions of the Urban Puerto Rican musical scene through campiness, friction, and blatant sexuality. I examine how she explores ideas of perception and identity by teasing, questioning, and undoing the linguistic and visual semiotic imaginaries that exist in Puerto Rican society regarding trans women/folks, while also pointing to the different registers of labor that she and, more broadly, trans women perform (including, but not limited to, sex work). Villano ultimately shows us new ways of creating and maintaining sociality, of paving forward through the dancefloor, through the street, through the conditions that seek to keep us dispossessed.
This paper focuses on Michif artist Christi Belcourt’s beadwork-inspired paintings. My research goal is to shed light on how Belcourt’s paintings make visible the notion of an interconnected world which stands in opposition to a dominant Western scientific worldview that is closely linked to settler-colonial and extractive capitalist goals. I claim that traditional Indigenous artwork, or that which is inspired by it, like that of Christi Belcourt, interrupts colonial ways of looking at the natural world in favor of ones that are grounded in cultural and place-based knowledge and memory. Using enchantment as a key theoretical framework, I argue that Christi Belcourt’s large, vibrant, beadwork-inspired paintings of plants, animals, and insects conjure an enchanted vision of the natural world, acting as a counter-imagining against colonial traditions of landscape painting and botanical illustration. As we are increasingly bombarded with images of catastrophes and destruction - both natural and human-made - Belco…
In Nobody Knows My Name, 1961, James Baldwin describes how white people long for a bygone era, caught in a “weird nostalgia.” Contemporary American artists Genevieve Gaignard and Martine Gutierrez address this nostalgia in their work. Looking to critical discourses in whiteness studies and feminist theory, as well as contemporary pop culture, I conduct close readings of Gaignard’s and Gutierrez’ photographic self-portraits made between 2014 and 2022. Gaignard, a white-passing biracial woman who uses her body to explore racial and cultural identity, exposes legacies of American white supremacy. Gutierrez, a light-skinned Latinx transwoman of indigenous descent, subverts the glamorous aesthetics of Old Hollywood. Through elaborate costuming, subtle self-transformation, and careful staging of the photographic scene, both artists critique the artifice of heteronormative femininity by evoking the “weird nostalgia” of whiteness. I argue that their work provides new insights into racial performance, stressing the ur…
This thesis explores artist Na Mira’s intergenerational dialogue with pioneering artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and her unfinished piece White Dust From Mongolia (1980). Mira utilizes an iterative performance-based film practice and Korean shamanism to connect to Cha and generations of diasporic Korean women.
To address this intergenerational relationship, this thesis presents three case studies of Mira’s video and film installations. Tesseract (test) (2020) at The Kitchen, New York, marked the beginning of Mira’s dialogue with Cha, Night Vision (Red as never been) (2022) at the 2022 Whitney Biennial Quiet as It’s Kept, explored autobiography and communication based on Korean shamanism, and TETRAPHOBIA (2022) at Company Gallery, New York, suggested the multiplicity of diasporic experience. Through an analysis of the case studies, this thesis demonstrates the power of intergenerational and polyvocal dialogue as an artistic and curatorial tactic for expressing the fluid nature of diasporic identity and current s…
Through the analysis of three Chinese museums’ architecture, design, and exhibitions,
this thesis examines the recent China Museum Boom and how contemporary art museums
undergird the Chinese state’s mission to construct a cosmopolitan identity. I analyze how
contemporary art museums, such as the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban
Planning, establish a cultural identity for the city and the nation. I then navigate the tensions
between the government’s focus on promoting regional identity through the museum and the
international frameworks used by the museum, seen in the SUPER FUSION 2021 biennale at the
Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art. Finally, I explore the Meixihu International Culture and
Arts Center in Changsha as the museum leverages the spectacle of deconstructivist architecture
to create a new visual language of Chinese power and success. This research is a crucial
undertaking for critically examining museological and institutional constructions of identity in
Abstract: Since the early twentieth century, artists have been making work about socio-political issues concerning the environment. Focusing on the work of LaToya Ruby Frazier, Candice Lin, Patrick Staff, and Judy Chicago, this paper discusses the complex relationships between bodies and their environments as reflected in these artist's projects. Early Land and Environmental Art has predominantly centered white, cis, able bodies and continues to dominate this movement in contemporary art. Therefore, my aim is to engage with contemporary art projects these artists address specific identities and expand the consideration of the ways we physically change in poisoned lands and are changed by our environments because our bodies’ porosity.
Keywords: Environmental Art, Body, Porosity, Indigenous Environmentalism, Pollution,
This thesis explores the curatorial impulse of conceptual artists by focusing on three exhibitions curated between 1983-1994. By reviewing artworld dynamics during this period, this research considers the creative and social conditions which prompted artists to establish the curatorial narrative of their own work. The three exhibitions in focus are The Black and White Show curated by Lorraine O’ Grady in 1983, The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism curated by Charles Gaines in 1993, and Untitled (Knobkerry) curated by David Hammons in 1994. This thesis considers how these artists developed a curatorial practice (such as framing, exhibition-making, research, writing, and archiving) to critique the very institution in which their work is in dialogue.
This thesis re-examines the fragmented body trend in contemporary feminist art—a subversive strategy that was first historicized from the 1960s up until the 1990s—by focusing on new media works from the late 2010s that engage viewers in identity performances. The paper looks at Wynne Greenwood’s "More Heads" series (2011–2015) and several works from Sondra Perry’s "Typhoon coming on" show (2018), arguing that these kinds of multimedia experiences represent a development in the mode where bodily fragmentation evokes more nuanced ideas about gender, sexuality, race, and related feminist issues. Greenwood, Perry, and their contemporaries use intimate forms of disembodiment to imagine alternate realities for the self, creating public dialogue through interactive digital-physical exhibitions. Their installations, which address less visible cultural inequalities such as ableism, internalized oppression, and historic trauma that have been absent from most conversations about feminist art, speak to the plurality of f…
In my thesis I analyze how Hou Hanru developed and practiced his Mid-ground curatorial strategy in the Asian Biennale and Triennials. Since the biennale format developed out of western curatorial practices, it posed novel issues in its adaptation in the Asian regions. By using the Shanghai Biennale (2000), the Gwangju Biennale (2002) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2005) as three case studies, my thesis documents Hou’s efforts to create an open space, network the artistic groups, and motivate interdisciplinary collaborations to resist the pervasive Western-centric biennale format and support the local art ecology. In this way, Hou engaged more sustainable methodologies for Asian biennials based on local context. Hou’s biennale practices show that, especially in the context of a globally engaged Asia, curatorial practice must strategically contribute to building discursive space and infrastructure by working with existing agencies and entities.
Asian Biennale, Hou Hanru, Mid-ground, Locality, Globaliza…