Research + Response

Queer State(s) Bibliography

September 22, 2011

Tags: Noah Simblist / Queer State(s) / bibliography / queer theory

The links below were compiled by Marcella Mendez (BFA Studio Art, 2011) to aid in research for the exhibition Queer State(s). They are meant to function as an annotated bibliography that begins to scratch the surface of the numerous fields of scholarship, activism, and artistic practice that revolve around queer discourse. Some of the texts listed can be described as “queer theory,” intersecting with ideas such as race and class. Some are more personal narratives that take the form of a memoir or biography. Some of these links point to a complex history of political activism against homophobic or heteronormative systems of power. But like the exhibition and its related programs, this list in no way is meant as a definitive overview of LGBTQ history or theory in Texas or beyond.

Academic Theory


Memoirs and (Contemporary) Lived Experiences


"Intersectionality” Theory
Class and Capitalism:


The Body

Trans* Liberation


Sexual Liberation, Pornography and Puritanism

Love and the Origin of Family

Queer Organization History
Old Left:



Contemporary Revolutionary Organizations:

Libertarian Communists:


  • Revolutionary Communist Party USA, “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme,” 2001


Gay Marriage

Queer Blogs

Zine Catalogues

Other Resources

Risa Puleo on Amanda Ross-Ho's Untitled Nothing Factory

At an open house event for Amanda Ross-Ho's Untitled Nothing Factory, I approached a student docent for direction. My question "Where do I begin?" was answered with a succinct summation of Ross-Ho's project at the Visual Art Center: "Its always the beginning."

Within the VAC's Vaulted Gallery, Ross-Ho has assembled a series of workstations, each equipped with materials and tools for one of three activities: stretching canvas, making paper, and hand-modeling pinch pots from clay. Each of these activities initiate a process in painting, drawing or sculpting; each is a potent and generative action, though not means to an end, in and of themselves. For the first half of the exhibition, viewers are invited to become participants in each of these activities in an open-ended and interactive exchange meant to collapse the site of making with the site of presentation. In the second half of the exhibition, workstations cease production, and through a series of interventions, Ross-Ho redirects the viewer's relationship with the artwork.


In addition to being the starting point for a larger artistic project, each of the three activities lend themselves to repetition, and through repeated action, accumulation. Those who witnessed Untitled Nothing Factory unfold from its inception watched the gradual accumulation of canvas, paper, and clay vessels, though in comparison to the massive apparatus organized for generating these products, the accumulation is much more subtle. To make paper, for example, Ross-Ho has arranged eight tables equipped with the necessary screens, tubs, paper mulch, squeegees, blotters, presses, and other varied accoutrement. The resulting stack of paper, however, is modest, calling into question the efficiency of the Untitled Nothing Factory as a factory.

As a title, Untitled Nothing Factory is an oxymoron that undoes itself, following the same looping process as the project itself—a factory that makes nothing. Ross-Ho takes the function out of factory through the repetition of Sisyphisian actions, an elaborate amount of process to make something that is essentially the beginning of a process. The paper, blank canvases, and pinch pots are it. Nothing will be done with them. Paper will not be used for drawing and the canvases are finished works. Through the mildly existential, mundane action of producing without a goal outside of the production itself, Ross-Ho creates a site where objects, anecdotes, and people can accumulate, creating a loop in which the potential of the factory’s products is suspended indefinitely, or at least for the length of the exhibition.

The inclusion of “untitled” in the title is a nod to that art cliché with all its feigned severity, the blank space where pure visual experience is without direction or narration. Also notable in the exhibition, is its monochromatic palette. All resulting products range across shades of white. A recurring theme in the work is the tension between presence and absence. In this exhibition, this notion manifests across formal, spatial, and social planes. The “vacated” objects, as Ross-Ho calls them, allude to the absence of their makers and the activity that generated them in the stillness that exists since the participatory aspect of the exhibition has ceased. Capitalizing on the site of the Visual Arts Center at the center of the Department of Art and Art History, many participants will return as viewers in the second stage of the exhibition, and engage with the objects they have made in a different capacity. Viewer becomes maker; tools become artworks, and the gallery becomes a studio. All terms are reversed, and then reversed again.

Ross-Ho makes nods to the organic evolution of the process in the decisions she has made in crystallizing the work into an installation as its final stage. The canvases are slightly out of alignment, pointing to the process by which they were hung upon the wall. Tools are staged as if their user just stepped out for a cup of coffee. The scene registers as a still photograph, frozen now for the duration of the exhibition, suspended in a state of potentiality that seems a perfect meditation for a university art space.

Risa Puleo is the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art

Curatorial Research for Losing Faith Exhibition

In creating the exhibition Losing Faith, TJ Hunt and Landon O’Brien engaged in a dialogue about the sustainability of artistic practice in the current artistic climate. Though the works were conceived independently and from personal research, the artists found affirmation in an essay by The Bruce High Quality Foundation: “Explaining Pictures to a Dead Bull.”

Because the Losing Faith exhibition operates within a university setting, the artists (one a graduating senior and one a recent alumnus) found this document particularly pertinent to their concerns, as it specifically considers institutions of art education and their changing role in contemporary culture.

"Explaining Pictures to a Dead Bull" by The Bruce High Quality Foundation.

ARTFORUM's 500 Words with Ry Rocklen

November 1, 2010

Tags: ZZZ's / Ry Rocklen / ARTFORUM

ARTFORUM recently published a 500 Words article by Ry Rocklen, where he explains the thought process behind his exhibition ZZZ's at the Visual Arts Center.

The installation is very much about material presence. I knew I wanted to work with items that help you get your zzz’s; there are so many of them in the world. For instance, an old mattress found on the side of a road. I am interested in the objects’ formal familiarity, and how you could imagine what they would feel like if you were to touch or lie down on them.

In the past I played with the idea of sleep by tiling or studding a variety of mattresses. For this show, I originally thought to tile the inside of a canopy bed frame so it would be this giant mirrored cube enclosed by the canopy bed material. That was the nexus for the show. The other works would be satellites to that piece, and the bed would act as the black hole in the center of the exhibitions’ universe. It seemed logical that the satellites would explore notions of sleep in that they would be relating back to the tiled canopy bed frame.

When I was going to tackle the tiling, however, I quickly realized it was going to be a nightmare. It was going to take so long to make and I wasn’t sure how much of an impact it was actually going to have. It didn’t seem very economical. So I decided to use the same weaving approach as in my previous “cage” works like Extruded Cage (1-2) on the canopy bed frame, only on a much larger scale and using PVC pipes to create a grid. I really liked this idea of turning it into a giant puzzle, where it would be these three materials colliding—the materials being the canopy bed frame, the mattress, and the pipes.

The Visual Arts Center is nearly 1,500 square feet, so I wanted to go big. I considered larger pieces that would lend themselves to being created by a team of students. The carpet tile floor seemed like a logical project for the students to work on. Once I had two days of ten or so volunteers coming in, in their dirty clothes, ready to spread carpet glue on these panels, I knew this installation was totally worth it, despite my previous worries. I liked how the simplicity and scale of the carpet tiles provided an opportunity for students and volunteers to have a hand in creating the show.

Some of the works in the installation are more directly associated with notions of sleep, whereas others relate to more abstract ideas. For instance, with the fan, it is hard to go to sleep when you’re hot. So it’s more of a sleep aid. The wind chimes hanging from the ceiling are also related to the state of sleep. If you were to describe the sound of the wind chime with flowery adjectives, some may say, “tranquil, serene, meditative, or calming.” The wind chimes act as the embodiment of sleep through sound. It is an everyday object in that it brings an element of sleep to your waking life.

-- As told to Katie Geha

Curatorial Research for Magali Lara's Exhibition, Glaciers

September 30, 2010

Noah Simblist

Tags: Magali Lara / Glaciers / Andrea Giunta / Roberto Tejada / curatorial research

Magali Lara’s exhibition Glaciers is based on a trip that she made to the Argentine glaciers of Patagonia at the southernmost tip of South America. These glaciers serve as a metaphor for her complex emotional relationship to her family, including her mourning a brother that died in a traffic accident and her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. Like the fragments of ice that splinter off of a glacier’s edge, Lara saw the disappearance of her childhood and the increasing distance of memory.

Lara states, “The story of a landscape is also the story of links between different elements that together constitute a whole.” This notion of nature as a space for connection is furthered by her use of text and images to experience the narrative of landscape; static and moving images to reveal both quiet contemplation and the upsurge of emotion; and finally the convergence of different texts.

The Research + Response section of the VAC website is designed to be a space for the public to see behind the curatorial process. In keeping with this, the following texts give us insight into the ideas behind Magali Lara’s exhibition and the research that curators Roberto Tejada and Andrea Giunta carried out in preparation for the show. These texts include a brief essay that Professor Giunta wrote (PDF); a text by Magali Lara (PDF) about this body of work; a poem by Professor Tejada (PDF) that is included in the exhibition; and a set of documents about Patagonia compiled by Luis Adrian Vargas Santiago, a Ph.D. candidate in Art History.

These documents include:


  • W. H. Hudson, Idle Days in Patagonia (PDF)

    Hudson, the son of U.S. settlers, was a naturalist born in Buenos Aires who eventually settled in England in 1869. In this text he meditates on the concept of whiteness as found in Patagonia, and like Lara, explores the metaphorical relationships between natural phenomena and its psychological and philosophical dimensions.

  • Eduardo V. Moreno, Perito Moreno’s Travel Journal (PDF)

    The 19th Century Argentine explorer Perito Moreno describes Patagonia as a rugged and dangerous place. Moreno spends a great deal of time describing the native peoples that he encountered on his journeys as well as the landscape in which they lived.


For more information on the recent legislation protecting Perito Moreno Glacier: