“Déjà Vu: Contemporary Art and the Ghosts of Modernism” by Claire Bishop – Blaffer Art Museum

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“Déjà Vu: Contemporary Art and the Ghosts of Modernism” by Claire Bishop

September 17, 2015 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm



We are pleased to welcome Claire Bishop, author of Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?, as part of the speaker series Till Now: Contemporary Art in Context hosted by the University of Houston’s School of Art and Blaffer Art Museum. Till Now brings together leading voices in the field of contemporary art who investigate the idea of the contemporary as both a temporal and aesthetic framework to broaden a critical understanding about how we situate current artistic practice. The fall season of Till Now is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Time / Image, on view Sept. 26-Dec. 12 at Blaffer Art Museum.

One of the most persistent themes in contemporary art since the early 1990s has been the proliferation of work that addresses ‘ruined modernity’ and ‘failed utopias’: in other words, a type of art that reformats iconic examples of 20th-century architecture and design into painting, sculpture, photography, video, slide shows, archival installations, etc. Bishop’s talk offers a critique of this historicist tendency and asks how we might imagine more politicized modes of engagement with 20th-century modernism.

About the speaker

Claire Bishop is a Professor in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her books include Installation Art: A Critical History (2005) and Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), for which she won the 2013 Frank Jewett Mather award for art criticism. She writes on contemporary art and performance, and is a regular contributor to Artforum. Her latest book, Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?, was published in 2013 by Koenig Books.

About Time / Image

Time / Image is an international group exhibition investigating sustained artistic and cinematic engagements with questions of time, asking how, when, and why we can perceive time, and to what ends. Taking Gilles Deleuze’s term “the time-image” as an open provocation and philosophical framework, Time / Image features artworks and films that explore time as a political, historical, and cultural dimension that can be accessed and manipulated so that we might experience it differently. Time / Image features works by Siemon Allen, Matthew Buckingham, Allan deSouza, Andrea Geyer, Leslie Hewitt, Isaac Julien, Lorraine O’Grady, Trevor Paglen, Raqs Media Collective, Ruth Robbins, and Gary Simmons.

The works in Time / Image interrogate the category of “the contemporary,” not as a simple designation for the new or current, but as a condition in which unexpected co-presences and new attachments can be forged. The artists gathered in the exhibition, catalog and related screenings suggest that we consider contemporaneity as a networked model and method for perceiving time rather than a bounded period in history.

About the Till Now speaker series

Though its use has become widespread, the term “contemporary” does not designate a specific style nor period; contemporary art can encompass a range of forms and theories extending from works produced today to those made fifty years ago. Does contemporary art continue modernism’s utopian dream, or does it depart from modern art in fundamental ways? How do we begin to characterize the art of our own time while simultaneously shaping its development?

This lecture series is held in the Fine Arts Building at the University of Houston campus (the same building as Blaffer Art Museum). All lectures are free and open to the public. Funding for this series is generously provided by an Innovation Grant from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center at the University of Houston.

IMAGE: Ruth Robbins, Detail of A Lexicon of Dusk, 2009–15. Postcards, shelving. 26 cards, each 6 x 3 ½ inches (15.2 x 8.9 cm) Courtesy of the artist

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September 17, 2015
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


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Phone: 713-743-9521
Mailing Address: Blaffer Art Museum
University of Houston
120 Fine Arts Building Houston, TX 77204