Experience In and Beyond the White Cube: A symposium in conjunction with the exhibition, Strange Pilgrims

Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 9:45am6:00pm

Doty Fine Arts Building, Room 2.204

Free and Open to the Public

Light breakfast and meet & greet begins at 9:00 a.m.

Valerie Smith in conversation with Rachel Stuckey (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2016)
Valerie Smith in conversation with Rachel Stuckey (M.F.A. in Studio Art, 2016)

The Visual Arts Center hosts Experience In and Beyond the White Cube, a symposium that brings together scholars and critics, as well as faculty and students from The University of Texas at Austin, to discuss a variety of themes related to the multi-venue exhibition Strange Pilgrims, organized by Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator at The Contemporary Austin.

One of Pesanti’s aims in organizing the exhibition Strange Pilgrims was to suggest a number of relationships among a wide and eclectic range of works by contemporary artists that are experiential in non-spectacular ways—non-spectacular in that the works generate experiences that might be considered to be mundane and part and parcel of everyday life and that, in another context, might not be recognized as art experiences at all. This symposium provides a context for thinking about how such experiences are shaped or reshaped by exhibitions. Each speaker will address specific historical or contemporary works, commissions, or exhibitions and related issues that are of primary interest to them and in dialogue with the other participants’ interests. We intend for this to be a conversation about the nature and role of the “experiential” in modern and contemporary art.


9 a.m.      

Coffee and light breakfast

9:45 a.m.

Opening Remarks
Jade Walker

10 a.m.

Face to Face
Ann Reynolds

10:30 a.m.

Objects of Experience: from text to diagram, to thin air
Dorota Biczel

11 a.m.

Discussion with Biczel and Reynolds
Moderated by Jade Walker

11:30 a.m.

Sublime Encounters with Mundane Technology
Rachel Stuckey

12 p.m.

several takes on the non-spectacular in the realm of experience and the visual
Valerie Smith

12:30 p.m.

Discussion with V. Smith and Stuckey
Moderated by Jade Walker

1 p.m. Break for lunch

2:30 p.m.

Walk around time
Andrea Lissoni

3 p.m.

A Mode of Translation: Joan Jonas’s Performance Installations
Robin Kathleen Williams

3:30 p.m.

Discussion with Lissoni and Williams
Moderated by Jade Walker

4 p.m.

Pursuit as Conceptual Art: Vito Acconci's 1969 Following Piece
Kate Green

4:30 p.m.

Experiencing the Ins and Outs of the White Cube
Michael Smith

5 p.m.

Discussion with Green and M. Smith
Moderated by Jade Walker

5:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks
Heather Pesanti

5:45 p.m. End

About the Speakers

Dorota Biczel is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UT Austin. She serves as the Visual Art Center's 2015-16 Curatorial Fellow and is an active member of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies. Her dissertation, funded in part by the Social Science Research Council, investigates artistic and architectural urban interventions and the construction of new publics in Lima, Peru during the late 1970s and 1980s.

Kate Green is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UT Austin. She will defend her dissertation, titled “Encouraging Vito Acconci: Performing Conceptual Art c. 1970,” in Spring 2016. Green received an M.A. from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and has worked as a curator and educator at MoMA PS1, Dia Art Foundation and Artpace, among other museums.

Andrea Lissoni is Senior Curator for International Art (Film) at the Tate Modern in London. His research concerns the expansion of performance and moving image (experimental cinema, artist’s film and video) within the Contemporary Art field. He is currently implementing a program for film and live art for the Tanks at Tate Modern, which will be introduced in 2016.

Heather Pesanti is Senior Curator at The Contemporary Austin, where she curated Strange Pilgrims, as well as solo exhibitions of work by Marianne Vitale and Robert Therrien. In 2014, Pesanti was a visiting lecturer in the Viewpoint Series at UT Austin. Before joining The Contemporary Austin, Pesanti was the curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, where she organized Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-Garde in the 1970s.

Ann Reynolds is an associate professor in Art History at UT Austin. In her research and teaching, she focuses on 20th and 21st century art and visual culture in the United States and Europe. Her recent publications include essays on Joan Jonas for the 2015 Venice Biennale; the experience of remoteness in relation to land art (Centre Georges Pompidou, Spring 2015); and Bob Fleischner, Jack Smith and Ken Jacobs’ film Blonde Cobra (Criticism, Spring 2014).

Michael Smith is an artist and professor in Studio Art at UT Austin. Smith received a B.A. from Colorado College and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York City. His works are in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, and The Paley Center for Media in New York City.

Valerie Smith is currently teaching “Exhibition Histories, Europe and America, 1966 to the Present” at Barnard College, New York. She was Director of Visual Arts, Media, and Film at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin from 2008–2012, initiating the ongoing project series, Labor Berlin, for foreign-born and Berlin-based artists. She has also curated the touring exhibition, Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect (MIT, List Visual Arts Center).

Rachel Stuckey is an M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art at UT Austin. She is a moving-image artist who works primarily with video and new media to make exploratory works on topics involving nature, technology and the occult. Stuckey programs for Experimental Response Cinema in Austin and runs the "Welcome to my Guest Room" Digital Residency Program at WelcomeToMyHomepage.net.

Robin Kathleen Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at UT Austin. She is currently writing a dissertation on Joan Jonas under the supervision of Ann Reynolds. Williams is the 2015–16 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum of Art and was the 2013–14 Curatorial Fellow at the Visual Arts Center, where she curated the exhibition Andrew Lampert: Don’t Lose the Manual (2014). 

About the Moderator

Jade Walker is the director of the Visual Arts Center (VAC). In addition to her role at the VAC, she manages three annual exhibitions at the Courtyard Gallery in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, which showcases work from faculty, alumni and students of the Department of Art and Art History. In addition, she oversees an annual exhibition at the W Austin hotel. Walker received a B.F.A. from the University of Florida and an M.F.A. from The University of Texas at Austin. She was the venue coordinator at the Baughman Center, a division of the University of Florida Performing Arts Center and held a position at the Austin Museum of Art. Walker is in her second year of serving on the Art in Public Places Committee for the City of Austin.

For more information about attending this symposium, please contact Xochi Solis at xochisolis@utvac.org.

Experience In and Beyond the White Cube is organized by the Visual Arts Center and Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin and presented in partnership with The Contemporary Austin.

Support for Experience In and Beyond the White Cube comes from the Ford Foundation. Special thanks to media sponsor Glasstire for their generous support of this event.

Find out how to get discounted parking to attend this VAC event!