Emily at the Dallas art conference

Senior art history major Emily attended the College Art Association’s conference in Dallas. The conference brought together art historians, artists and scholars from across the country.

An eye-opener

Today is the last day of the conference, and I must admit that I am a little exhausted from going to quite a few sessions and trekking down to the Adam’s Mark four days in a row now. But I attend to see one last session titled “Video Needs Art History like TV Needs a Plinth.” It was actually uninformative, on the whole, and one of the panelists spoke about pornography films.

It seemed strange seeing the conference wind down after being there for a few days and seeing all of the art historian blazers and nametags. The coordination of all the panels and events is impressive; if I went to one session, I felt I was missing out on something else I wanted to see.

College Art Association really opened my eyes to the kind of work art historians do outside of teaching and to see the culmination of research of many professionals coincide and challenge one another. I really feel like I was enlightened about the field of art history by attending the conference and am thankful to the Art History Department for allowing me the opportunity to attend.

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A visit from Yoko

Back to Adam’s Mark Hotel again this morning to attend “Not Learning from Net.Art: The Rise of Newer Media” to see what kind of a panel the topic new media would attract. After a humorous video presentation from artist Marisa Olson in her bed because she was sick with the flu and could not make it to the conference, I sat through a couple of panelists talking about technology. One man who studies new media said that he prints all outgoing emails on good paper and puts them in a box and saves them as a way of archiving.

Good new media art website: www.rhizome.org.

After lunch, I stumble across a room filled with people. The only time I see one of those rooms packed during the conference was when Yoko Ono was onstage. I sat down in the last seat available and just stare in disbelief that John Lennon was in love with this woman in front of me. Yoko is precocious, to say the least. And I don’t really like her art, but I had to see her.

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Art books and Baghdad’s loss

I skip class to attend the second day of the conference. For some reason, I feel like it’s worth it for me to see as many sessions as I can today, plus the book fair started today, in which a lot of art books from prominent publishers are cheaper than any other place I could find them.

I’m trying to start an art book collection, slowly because art books are expensive. So I was excited about the prospect of art books marked down. I knew I was a nerd when my friend and I were walking through the different booths of Yale University Press and MIT Press gawking at the prices and different books. I ended up buying two books: one on photographer Cindy Sherman and the other on video art.

“The Cultural Patrimony in Iraq” was the first panel I attended at 9:30 in the morning. I rode the Dart to avoid traffic and parking problems downtown. I timed the Dart, and it took exactly 5 minutes to get downtown, and it dropped me off right in front of the Adam’s Mark Hotel.

The main speaker and ex-director of the Iraqi museum could not make it to the panel. But the other speakers discussed implications of looting and destruction of museums, archives and architecture in Iraq, especially in Baghdad.

It seems like a really desperate situation over there, but I found really interesting all of the photographs these speakers had of the city of Baghdad documenting buildings, destruction and changes since the 2003 invasion. Donald Rumsfield was quoted saying, “Freedom is untidy” in reference to the imminent destruction of Iraq.

In the afternoon, I end the day by attending a session titled “Those Were the Days: New York in the 1970s” in which the panel was a hodgepodge of art historians talking about feminist video collectives, graffiti art of Matta-Clark and modernist paintings by Jo Baer. This panel seemed to have no direction or anything in common except they occurred in the same place and decade.

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Archiving the Avante-Garde

After I get out of class, I head downtown to the Adam’s Mark Hotel to catch a 12:30 session titled “Collecting the Avant-Garde: The Institutional Perspective – Taming the Untame.”

It’s the first day of the College Art Association’s annual conference, in which art historians, artists and scholars are grouped in panels to discuss their areas of expertise in the art field. I feel like this conference will illuminate to me what art historians do besides teach. I couldn’t believe how many people from all over the country came to Dallas to attend this conference.

I sit down in the dark conference room after making my way through the crowd of the conference, all of them adorned with nametags.

The panel begins, and the room remains relatively empty. All of the members of the panel prove to be interesting and obviously dedicated to their practice of museum archiving.

The Archives of American Art, the Getty’s archive and MOMA were all represented.

It seems that the top major institutional archivists have been brought together at this panel to discuss how archives come to be and how they are all going through the process of making these archives digital and thus more accessible via websites.

And then an individual collector has a personal archive of thousands of documents – from the art world to rare art publications and correspondence between artists that do not fall under the domains of a museum and will not be digitized and accessible to the public anytime soon.

Also check out this website: www.as-ap.org. It deals with archiving the American avant garde over time.

I take a small break and then meet up with my friend Stephanie to see a panel on Donald Judd. I figured I should listen to this session because I am interning in Marfa this summer at the Chinati Foundation, which was the part-time residence of Donald Judd.

His son Flavin Judd was on the panel and presented a paper that made it evident that he is not as astute as his father was. I mean, how do you live up to a name like “Flavin Judd”? It is the hybrid of two influential minimalist sculptors’ names, which make it possibly the most esoteric name in history.

And then a convoluted art historian talked about Judd in relation to psychoanalytic theory, and to be honest, I don’t think Donald Judd would have liked it at all. This man was talking about Marfa but had never gone himself. How can you be an expert on Donald Judd and have never visited the Chinati Foundation?

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