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Laura Carton, <em></em>, 2000, at the CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery
Laura Carton,, 2000, at the CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery


Sept. 7, 2011

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Hennessy Youngman, take note. In a call for submissions last year, the journal Speculations said that the art world “pendulum” is finally swinging away from Relational Esthetics and, instead, we might soon be hearing a lot more about the philosophical theory Speculative Realism -- not a new branch of thought by any means, but one that’s apparently gaining renewed esthetic attention.

It’s the subject, at least, of an inspired new exhibition and seminar series at the CUNY Graduate Center. “And Another Thing,” Sept. 14-Oct. 29, 2011, at the school’s James Gallery, highlights artworks that relegate humans to the level of “thingness,” akin to any other object. Curators Emmy Mikelson and Katherine Behar selected 14 such anti-anthropocentric works, largely borne out of the minimalist and feminist body art traditions.

In Bruce Nauman’s video Wall-Floor Positions, 1968, the artist transforms himself into a kind of minimalist sculpture by posing his body against the walls and on the floors. Carl Andre contributes an aluminum pyramid of stacked triangle prisms, Base 5 Aluminum Stack, 2005, which, simply put, just “is what it is.” Ruslan Trusewych’s installation this is the way the world is, 2005-2011, creates a closed circuit of oscillating fans pointed at hanging nightlights, offering no correlation with the human realm. For a series of photographs, Laura Carton removed the actors from a set of pornographic stills, transforming them into a vacant tableau of empty beds, a Laundromat and, in one case, a white horse.

Related programming includes lectures like “Art, Materiality and Time” with French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, “Contemporary Art and Neuroscience” and “Speculative Realism” with Jane Bennett, Levi Bryant and theory forerunner Graham Harman.

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