2012 MRPS AND THESES
Andrew Kuo’s Ironies: The Influence of Social Networking on Contemporary Identity and Self-Representation
Kimberly Anne Armstrong
This MRP examines Andrew Kuo’s chart works in the context of self-representation in the age of social media. The MRP positions Kuo’s artistic development and critical responses to his art, linking his work to social networking practices of online self-portraiture and identity formation, and to identity construction through archive and memory. Kuo’s practice is contextualized in a postmodern theoretical framework, specifically irony, to frame his work as a form of critique. The MRP argues that Kuo’s chart works are an exemplary case of self-representation unique to the age of contemporary social networking, allowing for new hybrid forms of identity.
Commodity Production as Social Stimulus in Vik Muniz’s Brazilian Art Practice
Through an examination of how the Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz has sustained two distinct art practices that respond to two contradictory art historical contexts and sites of reception, Western postmodernism of the 1980s and the Brazilian avant-garde of the 1960s, I argue that his art practice provides an alternative reading of what constitutes a socially engaged art practice in global capitalism. By analyzing Muniz’s art practice in relation to Grant Kester’s and Hal Foster’s opposing perspectives regarding contemporary political art, I demonstrate that the political locus of Muniz’s Brazilian-based art practice is situated outside the aesthetic realm, and instead lies in how the international market circulation of this work enables him to stimulate social change in his collaborators’ communities. In doing so, my analysis contributes to the larger contemporary theoretical debates concerning the political effectiveness of a contemporary art practice that embraces rather than opposes market economics.
Teresa Margolles: Death in Venice Literally
Javier Espino Ruiz Sandoval
In 2009, Teresa Margolles represented Mexico at the Venice Biennial. Her exhibition, What Else Could We Talk About?, consisted of nine works that caused a controversy in Venice and the art world in general, as they incorporated contentious objects made with disturbing materials such as blood found in public sites in Mexico, where narco–murders occurred. This MRP seeks to understand the dynamics of this exhibition, especially its conceptual and visceral evocation of death and violence. By analyzing What Else Could We Talk About? through the frames of abjection, nationalism/globalism, and the critique of luxury, I seek to elucidate why the works were considered shocking, yet also fascinating, to viewers. I also aim to explore the relevance of Margolles’ cultural formation in Mexico in her choice of death and violence as principal themes, along with the implications of the exhibition as a commentary on contemporary Mexican politics and society.
Generative Connections: Affective Links in the Media Works of Cathy Sisler and Lindsay Seers
By looking at art by artists who manifest or who self-identify as having psycho-emotional disorders, connections between the artist and the world around them can be uncovered. The definitions of mental health versus mental illness are social and historical constructs. In this MRP, the viewer’s perception of these artists and their art is contextualized. Current trauma theory refers to art not only as physical manifestations of trauma, but as transmissions of experience that open up spaces for interaction. This framework is applied to the media art of Cathy Sisler and Lindsay Seers who portray experiences of psychological and emotional disturbances. The writings of psychoanalysts, scientists, cognitive scientists, critical and cultural theorists, and art historians are applied to show the obvious and hidden modes through which Sisler and Seers communicate and how they forge empathetic, cognitive and intellectual bridges.
The Art of (Dis)Playing Video Games: Theory Meets Praxis
Over the last two decades, public and academic discourse has concluded that video games are an art form. However, when video games are featured as exhibitions in public institutions of art – there is opposition. This MRP explores the responses to this range of artistic activities by the art and game worlds. To this end I construct a typology that outlines three recognizable trends in the public exhibition of video games in art galleries and museums Blockbuster Exhibitions typically feature commercial games, while art galleries usually exhibit avant-garde Game Art or Art Games. Lastly, there is an emerging “new museum” that helps fund and foster “new arcade” games as well as independent production. I argue that video game exhibition strategies follow these trends because certain forms are better suited for certain types of video games. Analyzing the context of video game reception and gameplay could be as important as analyzing the content and the graphics.
WINNER OF THE CADN OUTSTANDING WRITING AWARD 2012
Spinning a Yarn of Bioart and Labour
The emergence of craft-based tissue culture works throughout the past decade circumscribes this investigation. In particular, I look at recent works by Kira O’Reilly, Julia Reodica and Tissue Culture and Art Project where craft and folkloric arts are introduce into the laboratory environment. Teasing out juxtapositions within these works, I discuss the contrasting forms of labour they contain: traditional women’s work, or social reproduction, and highly masculinize realms of big science and biotechnology. By evoking gendered conceptions of labour and value, I suggest that these works critique differing levels of value accorded to such categorizations. Through introducing highly visible elements of subjectively into their biotechnology projects, I also argue that these works begin to unravel scientific conventions of objectivity. Thus focused, this MRP traces histories of craft-based tissue culture work and explores the productive potential within these critical artistic practices.
Gerhard Richter and Antoni Tapies: Matter and Identity
This MRP explores several painting produced by the contemporary artists Gerhard Richter and Antoni Tapies. The discussion illustrates the artists’ use of technique, showing various differences between the two stylistically and conceptually. However, through the exploration of their individual output, a fascinating similarity arises. The similarity offer the following thesis: in the their paintings, Richter and Tapies convey memory and identity their particular uses of matter and layering. Memory and identity are products of each artist’s own history. The histories they represent, both personally and collective, are opaque and socially problematic. Their representation is resolved through the artist’s use of reference, symbolism and visual technique. Technique is employed through Richer and Tapies’s specific manipulation of matter and layering, which albeit visually different, lends to the common goal of conveying complex histories. The MRP addresses painting’s to represent the past by re-contextualizing it in the present.