We’re delighted to announce that multiple UC Press titles have been recognized at this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Book Awards! Celebrating excellence in photography and moving image publishing, the KKF Awards are the UK’s leading prizes for books published in the fields of photography and the moving image (including film, television and new media).
“At long last, the most important radio auteur of the twentieth century (and a gifted screenwriter to boot) has received the attention he deserves. This book is not only an indispensable guide to Norman Corwin’s work but also a foundational study of the aesthetics and politics of radio and screen.” —James Naremore, author of An Invention without a Future: Essays on Cinema
What a night! On Monday evening, the Municipal Art Society of New York honored Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlasand editors Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro with the Brendan Gill Prize. Praising the contributions of all who worked on the book, the jury recognized the project’s rich and varied social histories, stating, “By inviting a diverse host of collaborators to contribute to this beautifully plural portrait of our urban archipelago, the book resonates the resiliency of the myriad of communities that contribute to our city’s dynamism.”
The editors were presented with the award at the Celebrating the City ceremony, with Rebecca appearing by video from her San Francisco home, and Joshua on site to accept the award in his home city. Check out the photos from the event below! (Photos by: Vlad Weinstein)
We’ve compiled a list of recommended reads for the mother figure in your life — whether her interests lie in cultural artifacts or the 24-hour news cycle, Hollywood backlot backstories or intriguing historical tales. This list could be for any reader in your life — and that’s fine, too! — but when we typically think of a mother, these words come to mind: creator (and creative), teacher, protector. We think this reading list embodies those traits. Enjoy!
“Roberts’s adventurous account provides an exciting indication of where the field of American art is going as it pushes analysis of visual material into new terrain.”
UC Press is incredibly proud of this recognition in particular, and the continued acknowledgement of our American Art History publishing program by the Eldredge Prize: we have now won this distinguished award a total of nine times.
Jennifer L. Roberts is Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. She teaches American art from the colonial period to the present, with particular focus on issues of landscape, expedition, material culture theory, and the history of science, and is the author of Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History and Jasper Johns/In Press: The SI-207-2017 2 Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print.
While slow movements have garnered attention and interest over the years, Slow Art Day is an annual event that may not be on every one’s radars, but is in fact very easy to embrace and celebrate.
The Slow Art Day website describes their mission in simple terms: “help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art.” They lay out three clear steps of action for interested participants, that truly essentially come down to looking at art, and slowing yourself down in the process.
“The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw. This was the point. To see what’s here, finally to look and to know you’re looking, to feel time passing, to be alive to what is happening in the smallest registers of motion.”
—Don DeLillo, Point Omega
Slow Art explores broader questions about spectatorship, questions about how we look at art now. In a recent blog post Arden Reed “advocates an aesthetics of slowness.”Take a cue from his book—and from Slow Art Day—and visit your local museum tomorrow to see what draws you in, makes you pause, enthralls.
Depending on your intake of current event news, the wall—existing and potential—between the United States and Mexico has been a staple feature of this administration’s diet. Among other things it’s divisive, unrealistic, and up for debate on how it will be funded, but author Ronald Rael looks at it in a completely unique way: as an architect, as a citizen, and as someone who grew up occupying the borderlands himself. Ciudad Juárez-based journalist Judith Torrea describes his new book as “astonishing and magical: a realm where the absurdity of a wall is transformed from obstructive and negative to an affirmation of shared humanity.”
The below excerpt appears in a section of the book entitled, ‘Recuerdos/Souvenirs’, which proposes unsolicited counterproposals, both tragic and sublime, for the existing wall along the border.
Automobiles carrying people and drugs are not the only things traveling through the air over the wall. During the Middle Ages, with the rise of fortified castles and city walls, the catapult became an essential tool to launch objects and even bodies over protective walls. It was also a time when the cannon became a standard method of breaching walls. With the catapult’s and the cannon’s shared history of launching humans through the air, it is unsurprising that these medieval technologies would resurface in reaction to the anachronistic security barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Among the projectile launchers created to hurdle the wall are catapults, used by drug traffickers to hurl marijuana and other contraband over the borderwall. Packages of marijuana are bulkier than heroin or cocaine and therefore more difficult to smuggle hidden in vehicles or carried by hand. The catapults confiscated by Mexican authorities are built upon trailers that can easily attached to a truck, making them very portable. These “pot-a-pults,” which can be as tall as 9 feet, are constructed with steel and a strong elastic band and can hurl marijuana bales weighing approximately 4.4 pounds each. These borderland trebuchets have been discovered in use along the Arizona-Mexico border near the cities of Naco and Agua Prieta.
More powerful are the cannons used to launch packets of marijuana over the borderwall into Calexico, California, from Mexicali, Mexico. These homemade cannons are fashioned from plastic pipe and makeshift metal tanks containing either compressed air (produced by an automobile engine) or encapsulated compressed carbon dioxide. These cannons have been known to fire thirty-pound canisters of marijuana up to 500 feet. Thirty-three such canisters, fired out of one of these cannons and valued at $42,500, were recently discovered near Yuma, Arizona.
So, have people also been launched over the wall? An episode of the television program MythBusters tested the theory that in addition to drugs, immigrants themselves were becoming human projectiles and being flung two hundred yards across the border into the United States. The show constructed a human-sized slingshot to see if it was possible. The tests involved the launch of a mannequin over a fictional U.S.- Canadian border and used a chain-link fence topped with razor wire to mark the border—a vision clearly inspired by the U.S-Mexico wall. And although the MythBusters team was able to propel the dummy 211 feet, it was concluded that it didn’t seem possible to launch humans accurately enough to ensure their safety.
Although there is no evidence that migrants are being launched over the wall, human cannonball David Smith Sr., who holds the distance record for being shot into the air (201 feet, in 2002), is the first person whose launch by cannon over the U.S.-Mexico borderwall has been documented. Although it is illegal to enter the United States from Mexico except at an official port of entry, U.S. Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar granted Smith permission to cross in this unconventional fashion. So, in 2005, with passport in hand (which he waved to the crowd before blasting off from Tijuana, Mexico), he sailed over the wall and landed squarely in a large net awaiting him in San Diego, California.
When Smith was asked why he did it, his reply was simple: “I did it for the money—I get paid!”
Selections from ‘Recuerdos’ were read aloud by the author to UC Press staff earlier this spring (watch a short video from that talk), and we’ll be sharing excerpts here in the coming weeks.
Ronald Rael is Associate Professor in the departments of Architecture and Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Earth Architecture, a history of building with earth in the modern era that exemplifies new, creative uses of the oldest building material on the planet. The Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum have recognized his work, and in 2014 his creative practice, Rael San Fratello, was named an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York.
We are excited to announce that the Municipal Art Society of New York has awarded this year’s Brendan Gill Prize to Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. CONGRATULATIONS to editors Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro!
The Gill Award jury recognized the book:
“For its thought-provoking, well-informed essays, and innovative, story-telling mappings, as a work of art that brings rich life, social and literary history, and perspective to the urban journeys all New Yorkers share. By inviting a diverse host of collaborators to contribute to this beautifully plural portrait of our urban archipelago, the book resonates the resiliency of the myriad of communities that contribute to our city’s dynamism.”
One of twenty-six maps featured in "Nonstop Metropolis." "Wildlife" Cartography: Molly Roy; Artwork: Tino Rodriguez
One of twenty-six maps featured in "Nonstop Metropolis." "Mysterious Land of Shaolin" Cartography: Molly Roy; Artwork: Peach Tao
One of twenty-six maps featured in "Nonstop Metropolis." "Water and Power" Cartography: Molly Roy; Artwork: Duke Riley, detail from "That's What She Said," 2016
In 1986, the MAS trustee, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, announced the creation of the Brendan Gill Prize. Inspired by the renown New Yorker theater and architecture critic, social historian and former MAS President, the endowed prize has been given annually for the past 29 years to the “creator of a building, book, essay, musical composition, play, film, painting, sculpture, choreographic work or landscape design, that best captures the energy, vigor and verve of our incomparable city.” The creation must have been accomplished in the previous year and is not for a life’s work. The Brendan Gill Jury, comprised of eight civic-minded professionals representing the arts and design community, selects the awardee through nominations submitted to the MAS website and e-newsletter. The list of previous winners is attached; the range is diverse, and the book, Josh, and Rebecca are in extraordinary company.
While #MuseumWeek can be used to highlight timely issues in the art world, or just for fun, we are featuring some of our fantastic museum partners, along with the upcoming catalogues we’re co-publishing with them.
“In this thoroughly professional, immaculately organized, and factually overflowing book, the reader is set to be inspired by the adventure that was Roy De Forest.” —New York Journal of Books
The engaging catalogue presents gorgeous color reproductions of De Forest’s finest artworks, plus a variety of figure illustrations that illuminate the artist’s diverse sources and freewheeling social and creative milieu in Northern California.
Check out OMCA’s new e-magazine for extensive content related to the show, including listening stations featuring audio narrations from unconventional guides. Of special note, this exhibition is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
It should come as no surprise that our neighbor across the Bay, the de Young Museum (FAMSF) is the host of the Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll exhibition opening on April 8. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary, this will be an exhilarating display of iconic rock posters, photographs, interactive music and light shows, costumes and textiles, ephemera, and avant-garde films of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967.
Extensively illustrated with thematic plates and essays, the catalogue explores the visual and material cultures of a generation searching for personal fulfillment and social change.
Start your journey back in time with the museum’s new digital story, ‘Idealism on Haight’, which includes audio narrative by curator Jill D’Alessandro and more.
On the New York Times‘ “notable openings” list for the Spring/Summer, this major traveling exhibition was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography in collaboration with the MIT Museum, Cambridge, Mass., and the WestLicht Museum of Photography, Vienna.
Looking at the creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was created with their help, the richly designed catalogue has over 300 illustrations, and impressively showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey, and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artifacts that speak to the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art.
“On a hillside in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, amid the redwood trees, lies what is arguably the most important outdoor deck in American dance history.”—New York Times
The Radical Bodies show and catalogue reunites Halprin, Forti, and Rainer for the first time in more than fifty-five years, examining the work and influence of the three artists. Placing the body and performance as political practice at the center of the aesthetic debate, each thereby developed a corporeal language and methodology that continues to influence choreographers and visual artists to the present day. Radical Bodies also made the news surrounding political protests in New York in January. Timely indeed.
Recent protests of two major contemporary artists in reaction to the election of President Trump made headline news. The decision by Christo, the artist known for his spectacular large-scale interventions in urban and rural settings, to cancel his latest project was hailed as the “Art World’s Biggest Protest Yet” by Randy Kennedy in the New York Times on January 25, 2017. Christo’s gesture of cancellation came on the heels of Richard Prince’s decision to disavow his portrait of Ivanka Trump, which was reported in the same paper on January 12. Kennedy’s presumption that Christo’s cancellation of his project was the more meaningful of the two appeared to be informed by the value that the artists had assigned to the works that were withdrawn ($15,000,000 vs. $36,000).
Prince had used Trump’s favorite communication tool—Twitter—to announce that his work, a large-scale canvas of a selfie Ivanka Trump had posted on Instagram, was no longer an authentic work by Richard Prince. “This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This fake art,” he tweeted. The following day Prince clarified that his gesture was “Not a prank. It was sold to IvankaTrump & I was paid 36k on 11/14/2014. The money has been returned. SheNowOwnsAfake.” In an interview with the Times he added “I decided that the Trumps are not art.” Benjamin Sutton, writing for Hyperallergic, was quick to point out that Prince’s gesture could ultimately backfire, noting that “it’s unclear whether his public disowning of the work will negatively affect its worth and status as an authentic Richard Prince, or, on the contrary, it will add to its resale value.”
Not a prank. It was sold to IvankaTrump & I was paid 36k on 11/14/2014. The money has been returned. SheNowOwnsAfake. pic.twitter.com/zR2S6jZBA7
Prince’s gesture goes to the heart of the question of what makes a work a work of art. The legendary dealer Leo Castelli, who had been instrumental in the transformation of the market for American art post-World War II, would have argued that an artist’s work does not exist as a work of art unless it has entered the market. He believed, in other words, that the market decides what constitutes a work of art and endows it with value – not the artist.
The problem Prince faced—the continuing existence of the Ivanka portrait—at first glance appeared to have been avoided by Christo. Implicit in the artist’s understated announcement “I no longer wish to wait on the outcome” of his Colorado project is the notion that his work would never be realized because Trump was elected. But the market has the power to compromise this gesture as well. Christo and his long-time partner Jeanne-Claude were financing the project partly through the sale of series of small works depicting the visual effects that they anticipated for the landscape intervention. One of these works, the collage Over the River. Project for the Payette River, Idaho from 1994, is currently for sale on the secondary market. Whether this and other related works will accrue additional value as a result of Christo’s gesture remains to be seen. I would not rule it out.
Titia Hulst is a modern and contemporary art historian. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts and an MBA from New York University. In addition, she teaches art history at Purchase College in New York.
“In the future, the only artwork that will survive will have no gravity at all” maintained Nam June Paik, the acclaimed father of video art, in1980. He speculated that the art of the future, once liberated from the gravity of its material, will lack a “preservable” aspect. Paik’s prophetic statement seems to reflect the reality confronted by the many institutions collecting, displaying and preserving media. But how to grapple with well-rooted paradigms of material authenticity that for centuries embodied the artwork’s value? Or, in other words, what is the future of media art?
Media artworks based on film, video and computer code that incorporate playback and display technology confront us with the vulnerability and instability of their physical carriers and visual contents. Being in the process of continuous reinterpretation, rescription, and remediation, these artworks move between formats and platforms, seemingly unconcerned with the gravity of their physical carriers—the vehicles, as it were, of the artistic concept, a floating synthesis of the artist’s mind and the minds of all actors engaged in the work’s genesis. Media artworks—hybrid combinations of display and playback technologies— differ from traditional media such as painting and sculpture by not conforming to the traditional collecting, archiving and musealization processes. Changeable by nature, these works question the established views considering what an artwork is, or might be, what is being exhibited and preserved, and what enters the realm of cultural memory.
The future of ever-expanding digital memory comes upon us, an immortalization gesture of sorts, directed against forgetting and oblivion. The digital cloud, multi-nodal, networked internet, and the web-based platforms have already commenced generating—and forced us to get accustomed to—a multiplicity of artworks’ versions, variations, and clones. They lack reference to any of the familiar object-based (or objectified) strategies that for decades formed theories of traditional museum and conservation. In this new world, how can we ensure these works’ existence without fixing them in time and forcing them into the straightjacket of physical preservation? How can we avoid arresting them in time and simultaneously ensure their survival?
Nam June Paik’s legacy in the history of twentieth-century art rests on his introduction of the television and video as artistic media in the 1960s. His oeuvre encompasses global communication systems and combines elements of obsolescence and chance with the most sophisticated technical solutions of his time. At the time of this writing, only a few works by Paik remained in their original form and condition, and almost none of Paik’s works that still function are displayed with their original playback equipment.
It is, therefore, surprising that there was no major examination of the issues of the continuity of his media to date. Paik’s Virtual Archive strives to fill this gap. But rather than being a contestation with what is left there to be preserved, it encourages the reader to reflect on the preservation’s alternative futures and on the nature of the artworks (following the premise that to conserve an artwork signifies first and foremost to understand what it is). Paik’s Virtual Archive explores the way in which materiality can be conceived on the basis of the archive as inherently social and temporal construct: social because created in a network of people who collaborated with Paik on the creation, presentation, archiving and perpetuation of his artworks; temporal, because the kind of change his artworks experience is always bound with time—with its index manifest in the processes of decay and obsolescence and with the time of the artwork, its duration.
Hanna B. Hölling is Lecturer in the History of Art and Material Studies at the Department of History of Art, University College London. She was Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor, Cultures of Conservation, at the Bard Graduate Center in New York and Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She teaches material culture, cultures of conservation, and postwar art history. Among her many publications is Revisions—Zen for Film.
Read reviews for Paik’s Virtual Archive, which released this week.