76 Chapters
Medium 9780253010469

7 Preservation as Good Business

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Gayle Karch Cook

Bill and I had always liked indiana history and architecture, and we spent hours exploring southern Indiana in the 1960s when we could spare the gasoline and the time. That was our recreation, eking out a few hours from our small Bloomington business, which we had started together at home and were gradually growing.

In 1976, the bicentennial year, historic preservation was emerging into the limelight nationally and locally. Bloomington Restorations, Inc., newly organized as a non-profit, was bringing attention to worthy old buildings in Monroe County. “Preservation is Good Business” was a National Trust theme, and adaptive reuse was being widely promoted. A stately 1850 downtown Bloomington home, the James Cochran house, was vacant and probably headed for demolition, while our thirteen-year-old medical business was outgrowing its quarters each year. Bill and I decided that we should see if preservation really is good business and renovate the Cochran house as an additional office building – our own bicentennial project.

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Medium 9780253006875

11. Undisciplined Knowledge

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

ALLAN DESOUZA AND ALLYSON PURPURA

This chapter explores the possibility of art-writing occupying a space that is “undisciplined,” where it resists categorization and translation into the domain of art history. We propose that such a space is enabled not only through dialogue but also by recognizing the multi-sited character of art-making and the effects that its movement, politics, and social relations can have on writing about and framing contemporary art. Constructed as a series of exchanges between the two of us, this chapter builds on the contingencies and temporal qualities of its own making; we tack back and forth, betraying and probing our own disciplinary biases in an effort to meet in the middle. The chapter is defined by its process, which, despite its mix of anecdotes, external references, and tentative offerings, is not an example of the undisciplined per se, but rather an exploration of its possibilities.

Purpura: In February 2008, I attended a conference at Harvard University, “New Geographies of Contemporary African Art,” in which artist Allan deSouza was asked to present a paper on his work that was written by a scholar who, the audience was told, was unable to attend the conference. What follows is an excerpt from deSouza's presentation.

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1. Talking to People about Art

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

PATRICK MCNAUGHTON

Without thinking about it deeply, you might not realize that talking to people about art is a practice fraught with difficulty. First, there is the fact that visual art especially, but also music and performance, deploy form to produce an effect in ways that often defy authoritative explanation. Art takes you to places filled with thoughts and emotions, but by a very different route than you would have traveled had words alone been the vehicle in which you rode. Indeed, it sometimes seems that art exists to provide a landscape of exploration and analysis in which words work only with the greatest deliberation, and then at the cost of losing some of art's provocative potency. When you talk to people about art, be they consumers or producers—audiences or artists—you face the problem that words can be clumsy, obfuscating, diffusing tools with which to record the making and experiencing of visual culture. It might be easier to use words to examine the things that exist around art, such as artists’ biographies, influences on their work, the influence they have on others, the ways they manifest technique, or the goals they seek to articulate, though these topics too impose obstacles and are not as straightforward as they might seem. But exploring the broad world of art, from artists’ backgrounds and abilities to the effects that artists seek to create and the experiences that audiences gain from art, is vitally important if we are to comprehend expressive culture's depth of resonance in the human condition and its relevance to all human affairs. So we must seek ways to use words that foster understanding of a creative domain that often seems anathema to verbal exposition.

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10. Framing Practices: Artists’ Voices and the Power of Self-Representation

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

CHRISTINE MULLEN KREAMER

“Who is Olu Oguibe?” An artist! is the answer, not an Igbo or Uliist or whatever else. No one asks “who is Jeff Koons?” and David Hockney is not studied as a Cockney artist.

—OLU OGUIBE QTD. IN SIMON OTTENBERG,
NEW TRADITIONS FROM NIGERIA

In The Predicament of Culture, James Clifford raised the problem of cross-cultural translations, challenging the notion of ethnographic authority and asking the fundamental question: “Who has the authority to speak for a group's identity or authenticity?”1 This question has great relevance to discussions of museum exhibitions as narratives about cultural production from Africa and to considerations by African artists on and off the continent. Since the mid-1980s there has been a shift in the strategies museums adopt to enhance participation and to ensure that museums remain responsive and relevant to the communities they serve. Of particular interest is the extent to which those who are the focus of an exhibition play a role in their own representation. Increasingly, museum professionals recognize the benefits of exhibition models that rethink the singular, authoritative voice of the museum and embrace the telling of complex, multivocal narratives resonant with the realities of lived experience.

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Medium 9780253011428

2. Visualizing the Body Politic

Edited by Arijit Sen and Lisa Silverman Indiana University Press ePub

SWATI CHATTOPADHYAY

The concept of public space in modern political theory is remarkably impoverished. It largely ignores the material attributes of space—its architectonics and physical-sensorial dimensions that enable habitation—and the process of social production that creates the “publicness” of public space. Such imagination of public space is disembodied in keeping with the disembodied, abstract imagination of the modern state. When it does consider material attributes and the bodies of citizens at work in shaping public space, it assumes a particular delimited imagination of the Greek polis. Both ignore the possibilities of a political vernacular that might enable us to expand the imagination of public space and its attendant materiality.

“To be embodied,” writes James Mensch, “is to be physically situated.” By that logic it is also to “exclude other persons from the position that one occupies in viewing the world.”1 This produces a plurality of viewpoints that we must accommodate, because we are also “dependent” on others to inhabit this world. To be embodied is to be aware of the vulnerability of the flesh. An embodied understanding of politics and public space thus requires attention to the conditions of our physical situatedness in relation to other bodies and objects. It involves an understanding of our position in a given space, our movement and ability to access space, what we can see, hear, feel, and touch: our vulnerability as well as our capacity to manipulate and change the aforementioned conditions. These states of vulnerability and capacity that actualize our political freedom set the parameters of our relation to fellow subjects. These material conditions (and their limits) are the bases of our political subjectivity and enable our political imagination.

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