The IDSVA Newsletter features articles written by students, and is published twice a year, in November and April.
Co-Editor: Rachel Daichendt, Cohort ’20
Co-Editor: Veronika Golova, Cohort ’21
Staff Editor: Molly Davis
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.