Feminist Optics: Gender and Visual Studies

  DLS 2014-15 banner1 main forreview


Each year, IRW's distinguished lecture series presents 6 talks showcasing interdisciplinary work on women, gender and sexuality by a variety of eminent speakers.  The lecture series revolves around an annual theme that is also shared by our interdisciplinary seminar and undergraduate learning community. In 2014-15 our annual theme is "Feminist Optics: Gender and Visual Studies."

Thursday, September 18, 2014
"The Edge of Encounter: Sexual Narratives and the Limits of Representation"
 Juana María Rodríguez, University of California-Berkeley

rodriguezThis paper considers problematic pleasures, those moments recorded in the sexual archive where the lines between consent and coercion are most blurred, where violence and ecstasy seem most intertwined. Using the biography, Vanessa del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior, I consider how racialized gender and class inform what speaking subjects might understand as extravagant or quotidian violations of consent, and how readers grapple with forms of meaning-making. In the process, this paper considers how images and text function as complicated triggers for the attachments, identifications, desires, and traumas of our own corporeal embodiments and sexual histories.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
"From the Down Low to the First Gay Rapper, Or Tracing a Trajectory from Glass to Plastic"
C. Riley Snorton, Cornell University

rileyA shared concern with Richard Iton over the seeming unavailability of black interiority inaugurates the series of arguments made in this talk, which takes up how sexuality—as a register of power—produces discourses about blackness and its dislocations revealed by the insipid yet recurring question, “who is out in hip hop?” Reading such a question symptomatically, this talk ultimately offers plasticity as a tactic to negotiate the conditions of the "glass closet," a space marked by hypervisibility, confinement, spectacle, and speculation that figures black sex in public.

Thursday, December 4, 2014
"Saya Woolfalk: World Builder"
Saya Woolfalk, Artist

woolfalkIn this presentation New York-based artist Woolfalk will discuss her projects No Place, The Empathics and ChimaTEK. No Place is a fictional future where plant and humans change gender and color, and transform into the landscape when they die. The Empathics are a group of women who physically and culturally metamorphose as they merge identities and cross species. ChimaTEK is an Empathic corporation, designed to sell products that give users access to a Chimeric existence through the creation of personalized virtual avatars. For the past 7 years, Woolfalk has collaborated with an anthropologist to actualize these fictional cultures in museum across the U.S. and around the world.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
"Social Practice as Feminist Strategy in Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art"
Tatiana Flores, Rutgers-New Brunswick

floresIn recent years, contemporary artists have turned towards social activism as a means to challenge the accepted parameters of art. More than an art world trend, however, social consciousness has been one of the defining features of Latin American modern and contemporary art. This paper delves into the work of Latin American women artists and examines the intersection between activism and feminism from the early twentieth century into the present day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015
"The Art of Elizabeth Demaray: Disciplinary Transformation in Art and Science Collaboration"
Elizabeth Demaray, Rutgers-Camden

demarayVisual artist Elizabeth Demaray explores the intersection of art and science while provoking questions about humans’ complex relationships with the natural world. Her work entails building listening stations for birds that play human music, culturing lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City, and designing alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs out of man-made materials. In this lecture, Demaray will detail several art works she has authored in which science is an integral component. She will also discuss the ways that art and science collaboration can support innovation, raise awareness of ecological issues and highlight the work of individual scientists.

Thursday, March 5, 2015
"The Way We Perform Now”
Shannon Jackson, University of California-Berkeley

jacksonIn the last two decades, we have been contending with a new -- or newly redefined – ethos of performance. Curators now regularly install choreography in galleries. Visual artists are staging operas. In this expanded cultural landscape, all participants are encouraged to act, to experience, to stage, and to try out alternate selves and behaviors. This lecture will try to take stock of recent trends in a wide cultural landscape. It explores and juxtaposes the very different vocabularies and histories that artists, critics, curators, and citizens bring to bear in this scene of aesthetic and social experiment. It also examines key sites of experimentation and debate, asking how artists and organizers are incorporating but also questioning the experiential ethos of a service economy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015
"A Serial Biography of the Wayward"
Saidiya Hartman, Columbia University

hartmanThis lecture presents a speculative history of Matty Jackson, a fictional assemblage drawn from court records, designed to illustrate the story of black, intimate life under normative conditions of “unfreedom.” Matty’s story, set in the aftermath of slavery, reveals the encroaching criminalization of everyday existence for black women between 1890 and 1930. These women appear as anarchic or “wayward” when considered in light of the state’s lego-political regime and the emerging racialized, carceral system.

All talks are free and open to the public and will be held at the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building, 162 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus, Rutgers-New Brunswick at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a 4 p.m. reception.

Download the 2014-15 IRW poster featuring artwork by Saya Woolfalk.