The IDSVA Newsletter features articles written by students and alumni, and is published twice a year, in the fall and spring.
Co-Editor: Shana Dumont Garr, Cohort ’22
Co-Editor: Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, Cohort ’23
Staff Editor: Molly Davis
It was a bright and clear January day when a group of us visiting Mexico City for the January 2023 residency headed to the vibrant Frida Kahlo Museum, La Casa Azul, in the Colonia del Carmen neighborhood of Coyoacán.
During the 2022 summer residency at Spannocchia Castle in Tuscany, IDSVA students and faculty members, Dr. Simonetta Moro, Dr. Dejan Lukic, and Dr. Jason Hoelscher, engaged with visiting guest Dr. David Webb, Professor of Philosophy from Staffordshire University in the UK.
At the 2023 Commencement ceremony in the cultural treasure that is Mexico City, Marvin Milián (2020 Driskell Fellow), Terrence Phearse (2021 Driskell Fellow), and the IDSVA community gathered to introduce Erin Falker-Obichigha as the 2022 recipient of the Driskell Fellowship Award.
Upon our arrival in Mexico City, on the first night of our astral dreams, we touched the serpent of the patios and the gardens of Tenochtitlán. It was not the evil serpent of the Spanish conquest, nor Huitzilopochtli, the ancient earthy serpent of the Aztecs, mother of the sun god and god of the war, but the serpent of Los Sueños de la Serpiente, by Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, where the main character recreates his past and reinvents his ancestors with the many lives within himself.
The Plant Contingent is a creative collective formed in 2020. Members include Ana Fernandez and Maria Patricia Tinajero, who recently received their doctorates in January 2023, and Sam Jones and Nandita Baxi Sheth, who are currently working on their doctoral dissertations.
As an artist, I am interested in human groups' interaction with and through water and how water deals with human-made reality. My works reflect water as a universal medium connected with living or lifeless things.
The first time I went to New York City was in April 2022, during my first winter residency with IDSVA. I did not know what to expect, and it was a short trip. Luckily, I was able to head back to NYC in February after receiving an invitation from one of my closest IDSVA colleagues, Veronika Golova ’21, and a recommendation from Dr. Simonetta Moro.
Food nourishes the body—bodies require the intake of nutrients for physiological and cognitive growth. Food, as the old adage goes, also nourishes the soul. In a series of lectures to IDSVA, Chef Nephi Craig describes his use of indigenous foodways as a therapeutic modality to repair the detrimental physical, psychical, and spiritual effects of colonial violence. For Craig, growing, preparing, consuming, discussing, and sharing indigenous food act as powerful restorative practices to nourish various aspects of Native American life.
This essay reviews a talk between artist Emilia Kabakov and IDSVA Director Dr. Simonetta Moro. The talk was part of the 2022 IDSVA New York Residency bringing together faculty, staff, and students in person after two years of pandemic travel pauses. Moro asked Kabakov questions as they sat on stage in a lecture hall in the auditorium of the New Museum in New York City. Emilia and her husband, the artist Ilya Kabakov, collaborate on a variety of projects, including installations and public sculptures
We packed our bags and woke up in Paris, France, where rainy tarmacs greeted us in the city of lights. We rambled our way through the transit system and popped out at the Arc de Triomphe. Let the revolution begin! We embarked on a somewhat post-pandemic residency through Europe for four weeks in six cities. France and Italy unfolded in all their splendor and challenges. We became awake again after years of quarantine and sacrifice and kicked off the adventure in Paris.
Summer 2022 residency in Morocco was a kaleidoscope of color, texture, taste, and kinship that was small in group size but large on intellectual impact, spiritual influence, and creative intrigue. From the architecture of medieval mosques, to the spicy and fragrant tagine culinary dishes, to the insightful philosophical lectures, to the day trips led by the very dear and kind-hearted Dr. Ilham Ibnouzahir, it is difficult to pinpoint what was most memorable. What is easy to recall is that every moment felt magical. As much as we were there to absorb Moroccan culture, it was the indigenous people there (and their artistic imprint) which offered opportunities of reflection and serenity to open up our minds and our hearts to deeper conversations, individual reflections and readings, and insights to each other and the ideas behind— and developing towards—our dissertations.
This article discusses the relationship between the fallen heroes and monuments through Kehinde Wiley’s paintings and bronze sculptures in connection to a Hegelian dialectic for recognition. Hegelian recognition is defined through self-consciousness, which leads to the fight to the death for recognition of the master-slave dialectic and is evident in the artwork’s formal features seen in Kehinde Wiley’s exhibition An Archaeology of Silence.
If the United States is a bellwether of global trends, organized Christian religion is experiencing severe and impactful stresses to once-settled principles. On the one hand, notions of proper behavior toward fellow human beings, which historically have often been inspired by the ethical, humane actions of Jesus Christ as recounted in the New Testament of the Bible, appear out of vogue.
The final destination of our summer residency included an incredible day at the 2022 Venice Biennale, titled “The Milk of Dreams.” One of the rooms in the main pavilion at the Giardini was devoted to women artists who were instrumental in the birth of the Surrealist movement. The room created a space for and shined a rapturous light on female creativity— particularly works of art overlooked or lost as fragments amidst the prominent canon of male Surrealist artists. La fleur des amants (Figure 1), by Nadja, is precisely one of these fragments, an ephemeral drawing that radiates anew in the context of this show.
During this summer’s residency, I became inspired by the Israel Pavilion in the Giardini at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, which featured the internationally acclaimed artist Ilit Azoulay from Israel who lives and works in Berlin. In particular, I highlighted the Israeli pavilion because Azoulay’s work reminded me of lustrous maps.
Steampunk art finds itself at the intersection of nineteenth-century aesthetics and the technology of an imagined and distant future. How did I find this fascinating genre and end up writing about it for my doctoral dissertation? Soon after enrolling at IDSVA, I encountered Steampunk at the San Diego Comic-Con, a huge gathering of comic book fans, technology geeks, and entertainment industry insiders.
When we entered Aga Ousseinov’s studio – albeit virtually – I noticed what initially looked like wall hangings in the background. As Ousseinov discussed his work and his interests, I was excited to know that he designs kites and has interests in aviation and futurism.
The Gallery of Art of Temple University Rome in participation with the American Academy of Rome presented the virtual exhibition of "Mapping A Friendship": Joyce Kozloff and Simonetta Moro on Tuesday, May 18th, 2021. The exhibition was accompanied by a conversation with the artists, who are also two fellows of the American Academy in Rome:Joyce Kozloff, a recipient of the distinguished Rome Prize, and Dr. Simonett aMoro, the recipient of the prestigious Italian Fulbright Fellowship in the Visual Arts.
Last year, I had two writing projects published. The first one is the article: “Porous Bodies, Toxic Kin: Mapping the Massena Critical Zone,” in the peer-reviewed journal, Writing Visual Culture Vol.10 (2022): “What the World Needs Now is Artists Engaging with Science.” The second is “Hidden Architectures in the Urban Landscape (Brownfields, Landfills, and Phyto-scapes),” for the upcoming book: Design in(g) Environments: Social and Cultural Implications of Architectonic Landscapes, edited by Dr. Sarina Miller.
We are very pleased to announce the launch of our newly designed website, idsva.edu, where every aspect of the PhD program is covered in detail. In particular, we are proud to highlight the publications of our students and core faculty.
Dorit Yaron is a curator, museum professional, grant writer, art historian, and now, member of the academic affairs committee and the board at IDSVA. Since 2004, she has served as the Deputy Director of the David C. Driskell Center for Study of African American Art at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Terrence Phearse is 33 years old and lives nearly 3,000 miles away from me in New York City. He’s a researcher, photographer, writer, and curator who comes to IDSVA through a life of World exploration. We are separated by millions of people, hundreds of cities, numerous states, yet we are at IDSVA studying together. Somewhat fortunate, I’d say.
During the IDSVA Summer Residency in June 2021, students and faculty enjoyed a lecture and virtual exhibition titled Photo-Drawing- Passage-Line, Haptic and Sensory Habitus by Daphné Le Sergent.
In On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance (2013), Howard Caygill describes Kafka’s parable, Before the Law, detailing the duel between the "Doorkeeper and the Man from the Country’ and how the parable forms an “exemplary meditation on the success and failure of resistance” (Caygill, Afterword).
There is no doubt that close reading brings us into close relation with texts. This way of reading (and re-reading) is a hermeneutic engagement that fosters novel insights and pathways into and out of the work. It is important to acknowledge, however, that the vitalism at the heart of the work of hermeneutic reading is a reciprocal responsiveness; the close relationship between text and reader develop in relation to each other—in response to one another—that is, ecologically and alive.
On October 23, 2021, Professor Dejan Lukic offered an intriguing lecture on the presence of the wound in the animal world, opening with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “One should have more respect for the bashfulness with which nature has hidden behind riddles and iridescent uncertainties” (8).
Due to Covid-19, IDSVA postponed our summer 2020 and winter / summer 2021 residency programs. The students participated in virtual instruction for these residencies and will make up the in-person residency in Summer 2022. Here are some thoughts on the virtual residency experience.
In a Bakhtinian surplus of seeing and intersubjectivity, Jill O’Connor (Cohort ‘16), Arrie Fae Bronson-Davidson, Marie A. Roberts, Billy X. Curmano, and I engaged in a revealing discussion that boldly presented our lived perspectives in both life and art through the Freak Show for the CAA session entitled The Freak Show in Contemporary Culture and Aesthetics. As a postmodern form of art, the Freak Show or the sideshow, as it is sometimes known, is most powerful when used as a vehicle for social commentary and advocacy.
The session entitled “Reframing Aesthetics: Diaspora, Historicity, and The Myth of Truth” was presented at the 2021 CAA conference and co-chaired by Carolyn Martin and Jocelyn Holmes. The panel included presenters Kimberly Alvarado and Natalya Mills. Each panelist presented papers that challenged traditional Western concepts of aesthetics in relation to visual representations of the African diaspora in philosophical thinking and historical narratives. Through their scholarship, these panelists demonstrated how aesthetical hierarchies, which are determined by mythologized notions of truth, must be examined and confronted for the methods by which they justify and perpetuate the attempted erasure of diverse perspectives.
The session "The Aestheticization of History and the Butterfly Effect," at the 2021 College Arts Association (CAA) opened with what resembled a poetic psalm by the American artist Kara Walker.
Dejan Lukić, esteemed IDSVA professor and prolific author, presented an intriguing lecture called “Deranged Vivarium” (Variations on Co-Existence) for the January 2021 Virtual Residency. Lukić’s teaching and writing encompass art, philosophy, biology, the culinary arts, and anthropology. Working with Lukić for my Independent Study II on oceanic consciousness and reading his wonderful text The Oyster, Or, Radial Suppleness co-authored with Nik Kosieradzki (2020), I have learned he is quite adept at multi-disciplinary approaches to the critical thinking process.
It should be particular of any conversation regarding the Anthropocene to interpret it as an aesthetic invitation. The typical and cynical referential treatment of the anthropos in this consideration is to see it as the epitome of the destructive nature of man in a changing eco-system; as the extractionist in a dominant science of reductionism (or colonial anachronism in an evolving world). In a recent lecture entitled, Revolution Anthropocene: Geoaesthetics of the Planetary Condition, Professor Giovanni Tusa informs us that the isolated anthropos has become a distorted representation as a “very special kind of ‘human being’...defining this age...as a hero of civilization.”
Biophilosopher Andreas Weber presented the second talk of the IDSVA Spring 2021 Lecture Series On the Anthropocene: Either/Or, with the lecture: Culture as Reciprocity: Towards Ecological Citizenship. The online event took place on March 20th to a virtual audience of more than 100 participants from the IDSVA community and beyond.
The lecture “From Relational to Ecological form” by Natalie Loveless proposes a reflection on the contradictions of Nicolas Bourriaud’s notions of relational aesthetics and the difficulties of shifting from theory to practice in a way that erases the borders of art and life. Loveless tackles the possibilities of making art at the end of the world that “can be mobilized as a leaver to create carefully attuned and just practices.” By this, Loveless reflects on how form informs content, or, to be more precise, how form is content.
During the IDSVA Spring 2021 virtual residency, cohorts ’19 and ’20 had the great fortune to attend a lecture entitled Of Moving and Being Moved: The Subject and the Object In Puppetry and AI, presented by Dr. Jane Taylor. Professor Taylor holds the Andrew W. Mellon Chair of Aesthetic Theory and Material Performance at The Laboratory of Kinetic Objects at The Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, Belleville, Cape Town, South Africa.
Since enrolling at IDSVA, students have led panel discussions and presented papers at prominent conferences, published papers and articles in leading publications, been awarded fellowships and promotions, and participated in solo and group exhibitions around the world. We’re pleased to announce that four of our recent graduates have forthcoming book publications from their dissertations.
We may be more familiar with the names of Dostoyevsky and Hegel than of the author of Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears, László F. Földényi, professor at the University of Theatre, Film, and Television in Budapest, Hungary.
For my Fall 2020 Independent Study, Dr. George Smith, our respected President and founder of IDSVA, assigned me a task.
As I write this, the Presidential election looms less than two weeks away in the United States of America, and the world peers anxiously in as political parties brace themselves on opposite ends of a dialectic. Media storms engulf the digital airwaves while the world’s political culture buckles under a fervent reality of alternate facts.
On June 15, 2020, our cohort had the pleasure of participating in the summer’s philosophical event with a lecture by Jean Luc Nancy on the Sense of the World (first published in 1993), introduced by Dr. Giovanni Tusa.
At this moment, I am sitting and I am taking time out to breathe, to breathe for jus(tice) this one moment in time that allows me to be, just to be me. As I sit here reflecting on my 2020 Summer Residency experience at IDSVA, I see the rise and the fall of my chest, as I inhale and I exhale.
Last year, Summer 2019, IDSVA students were on the countryside, together enjoying organic Italian cuisine while acting out Manet’s Olympia painting to develop a possible narrative in the name of hermeneutics. After a whirlwind week in Rome, we arrived at Spannocchia, a Medieval castle and farm in the hills near Siena. Spannocchia was a beautiful and trying time for me.
Last summer, due to Covid-19, we could not take a trip to Berlin as planned, so IDSVA had to move our intensive residencies online. During our second year Topological Studies summer course, Professor Howard Caygill prefaced that he would not be giving the usual lecture with Q&A, but instead would provide the experience of a virtual, walking tour of Berlin.
Presenting our papers at the First Colloquium of Visuality and Power: The Visual Turn in Socio-Environmental Struggles, Quito-Ecuador allowed us to deepen our ongoing conversations of plants, soil, indigenous knowledge, cholos, longos, and more topics that straddle the conceptual and practical North-South borderlines.
The following is an exchange between Jeca Rodríguez-Colón and George Orwel, two IDSVA PhD candidates who participated in the IDSVA Student Symposium “Difference and Opacity: New Topologies of Thought” on November 21st, 2020. This exchange took place in anticipation of the Symposium.
Elina Staikou, an Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Winchester in Hampshire (UK) has written numerous texts on migrations, boundaries, and the metaphysics of travel and writing. As a guest lecturer for our IDSVA Topological Studies II program in the Summer of 2020, she offered insights into Martin Heidegger, Donna Harraway, Jacques Derrida, and Immanuel Kant, among other philosophers.
In this write-up, I read Paul Armstrong’s article “The Conflict of Interpretations and the Limits of Pluralism” (1983) with his Stories and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Narrative (2020) for a short intertextualized review.
Someone knew that Marvin Milian and I needed to collide. Not to meet, but to collide. “To strike together.” The interview transcribed below constitutes a collision of two David C. Driskell Fellows, two parents (each with two children), raising families on two opposing coasts, striking-together a set of new thought-chords as artist-philosophers.