“The Artist as Public Intellectual” at CAA 2019

I will be chairing a panel entitled “The Artist as Public Intellectual: 1968 to Today” at CAA’s Annual Conference in 2019. Proposals are due by August 6, 2018. Please visit the CAA website for submission requirements.

The Artist as Public Intellectual: 1968 to Today
Along with increased specialization and the rise of the rapid news cycle, the status of intellectuals in public life has experienced a shift since the mid-20th century. Long populated by social thinkers, literary critics, and philosophers, the public intellectual—once called upon to combat political propaganda with facts and cultural analysis—has now been replaced by an expert talking head. Artists have played an equally active part in public life for millennia, experiencing an apogee around 1968 with figures such as Judy Chicago and Joseph Beuys. Although in recent decades many have abandoned their utopian proclamations in favor of localized action, today’s artists are increasingly seeking methods to generate public debate and address social problems, reviving the tradition of the public intellectual by using art as a mode of cultural critique writ large.

This panel seeks papers that investigate modes of art making that might be considered activities of public intellectualism since the turbulent 1960s in order to identify global phenomena and establish precedents for today’s practitioners. How have artists sought out public methods of and venues for idea production and dissemination with the goal of resisting hegemonic power and/or catalyzing social change? Which strategies were successful (or unsuccessful) and which ideas took hold on a mass scale? How have artists built upon existing activist movements or cultural moments in order to broadcast their ideas? Papers may address individual artists and/or projects, thematic case studies, or curatorial methodologies; artists are also encouraged to present on their own work.


Review of Joseph Beuys Documentary in FIELD

My review of Andres Veiel’s 2017 documentary Beuys has been published in FIELD: A Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism (issue 9, winter 2018). The article contains many of my thoughts on Beuys’s relationship to socially engaged art and his reception in the US. Access it here.

Join My Mailing List for Updates!

Click on “Contact” and follow the link to join my mailing list. I haven’t used it yet—but I promise that there will be some good updates soon! This spring, for example, I have several new publications, including articles in the Journal for Curatorial Studies and FIELD and (finally!) Peter Halley Paintings of the 1980s: The Catalogue Raisonné with JRP Ringier.

Gordon Matta-Clark at BxMA

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my essay, “Directing Energy: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Pursuit of Social Sculpture,” in the catalogue for the exhibition Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at the Bronx Museum, open from November 12, 2017 to April 8, 2018. The essay discusses Matta-Clark’s socially engaged projects, including Food, Fresh Air CartGraffiti Truck, and the Resource Center and Environmental Youth Program for Loisaida.

Cara Jordan, “Directing Energy: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Pursuit of Social Sculpture,” Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), 36-63.

Click here for full text.

Back to the GC!

I’m pleased to announce that for the academic year 2017–2018, I will be the Provost’s Fellow in the Arts and Assistant to the Director at the Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate Center. In my new position, I will be working with the acting director, sculptor Keith Wilson, on academic conferences and workshops, in addition to assisting with exhibitions.

Our first projects include Block Party: Peter Krashes (Sep 15–Oct 28), an exhibition Keith co-curated with Katherine Carl at the James Gallery featuring paintings by Prospect Heights–activist Krashes, and the symposium “Casting the Curriculum: The Parthenon Marbles, Plaster Casts, and Public Sculpture” (Oct 24), a day-long event to welcome CCNY’s long-term loan of plaster casts made of the Elgin marbles to the GC.

Small Updates

I’m happy to report that this semester I’ve returned to teaching at CUNY’s City College while I finish Peter Halley’s catalogue raisonné (coming out this summer!) and an essay for the Bronx Museum’s Gordon Matta-Clark show this fall.

Article on Seismopolite

My new article, “Appealing for an Alternative: Ecology and Environmentalism in Joseph Beuys’ Projects of Social Sculpture,” is posted on  Seismopolite: Journal of Art and Politics in their second issue on Art & Political Ecology. In it, I discuss how Joseph Beuys dealt with the aftermath of the Second World War in West Germany and sought alternatives to a political system that he felt did not address the needs of the public. The article is primarily concerned with his ecological and environmental activism.

Lecture on Social Sculpture in the USA at Zeppelin Universität, Friedrichshafen, 29 Oct

I will be presenting on my PhD research at the symposium “From Social Sculpture to Art Related Action” at Zeppelin Universität in Friedrichshafen, Germany, on Saturday, 29 October 2016. My paper, entitled “Open to Interpretation: The Resonance of Social Sculpture in the United States,” will explore Beuys’ concept of social sculpture through the work of U.S. artists Suzanne Lacy and Rick Lowe. The symposium will take place Oct 28-29 and will also include talks by Grant Kester, Andrew McNiven, Christiane Meyer-Stoll, Rainer Rappmann, John Roberts, Christof Salzmann, Ulrike Shepherd, Johannes Stüttgen, and Karen van den Berg.