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Josiah McElheny, Models for an abstract body (after Trockel and Walther), 2012 © Josiah McElheny, courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Josiah McElheny, Models for an abstract body (after Trockel and Walther), 2012 © Josiah McElheny, courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York






MODERNISM'S UTOPIAS & ARTISTS AS AGENTS
Joyce Cheng and Marek Wieczorek
October 26, 2013

What does it mean for an artist in the twenty-first century consciously to invoke early twentieth-century modernism's aesthetic-political utopias? Cheng and Wieczorek will engage this question around the work of Josiah McElheny by complicating the history of modernism in terms of not one but various utopias. In addition to addressing questions of allegory and artistic agency, the two speakers will explore the link between the materiality of glass as a medium and the immateriality of the performative, both being important aspects of McElheny’s work and of modernism’s utopias.

Dr. Joyce Cheng is assistant professor of modern art at the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon. Her articles and book chapters in English and in French on Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism and the art theories of Carl Einstein may be found in the journals “Res: Aesthetics and Anthropology; “ “Modernism/modernity;” “Gradhiva” and the forthcoming anthology “Virgin Microbes: Essays in Dada” (Northwestern University Press). She is currently finishing a book dealing with issues related to subjectivity, form, intentionality and agency in Surrealism, Carl Einstein and Walter Benjamin, entitled “Masked Subject: Four Exercises in Avant-Garde Aesthetic Thought.” 

Dr. Marek Wieczorek is associate professor of Art History at the University of Washington, Seattle, specializing in modern and contemporary art. His publications include texts on De Stijl, Piet Mondrian, Georges Vantongerloo, Gerhard Richter, the Situationist International, “bioart” and the question of abstraction from the contemporary perspective. He is especially interested in ways in which artists imagined they could migrate among or merge different artistic disciplines, making abstraction a cross-disciplinary phenomenon encompassing visual arts, architecture, music, literature, philosophy and utopian theories. He has curated exhibitions in Europe and the US.