4.301 | Spring 2007 | Undergraduate

Introduction to the Visual Arts

Lecture Notes

In addition to attending regularly scheduled lectures, students were encouraged to participate in the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) lecture series by attending four lectures. In this series, artists speak about their recent work. Video of some of their presentations are available below.

These videos are also available from VideoLectures.net.

Rachel Harrison talks with Johanna Burton, March 7, 2007

(MP4 - 191MB)

Since the early 1990s American artist Rachel Harrison has been developing a brand of unwieldy, unyielding sculpture, sometimes abject and sometimes abrasive in its refusal to give up meaning. Objects from the catch-all drawer – a clown nose, a syringe, a framed photograph, a houseplant – are deposited on built agglomerations of polystyrene and cement, giving individual works the pugnacious air of a bad joke, sometimes emphasized by a title (like 2006’s Nice Rack). A dolly or stool or table or ladder, thickly encrusted or as good as new, lends most works a strong sense of autonomy, but never resolution.

Using elements fundamental to sculpture – the way an object requires us to walk around it, the way we try to make sense out of two different things juxtaposed – her works lead us towards one understanding and then makes us question it as we turn the corner. They leave you with your interpretive tools blunted, even as they hint at portraiture. Sometimes Harrison picks up a camera. In 2000, she took a series of photos of a window in Perth Amboy, NJ, where a vision of the Virgin Mary had appeared in the glass. Pilgrims tended to press a hand against the pane, as if the sense of touch were better equipped to pick up a trace of the event. These photographs, unexpectedly representing unfiltered human desire, were part of a maze-like installation of corrugated cardboard with objects.

Ulrike Mueller talks with Roger Conover, March 19, 2007

Vienna-born, New York-based artist Ulrike Müller takes shared emotions as a point of departure for making and reflecting on art and its critical position. Everything she makes takes full advantage of its medium. Different forms of performance-live, on video, captured on or exclusively for an audio track - are built out of spoken language and the language of the body. Her 2003 Vienna conference (“Public Affairs”) which she developed into a book (“Work the Room”) was conceived around the question “What does it mean to act critically?” with equal attention to the word “act” and the word “critical.” After Müller moved to New York in 2002 she joined the team that co-edits the magazine LTTR (initials which throughout its five issues have stood for phrases from “Lesbians to the Rescue” to “Lacan Teaches to Repeat.”) Instead of protesting what they don’t want, Müller and cohort act out what they do want: a feminist ethics for the present.

Let’s Put On a Puppet Show, April 6, 2007

(MP4 - 247MB)

“Let’s Put On a Puppet Show!” is an afternoon event revolving around puppetry scheduled for Friday April 6. The Center has invited John Bell, artist and co-founder of Great Small Works; Linda Norden, curator of the American Pavilion for the 2005 Venice Biennale and curator of Pierre Huyghe’s 2004 “puppet opera” (featuring a puppet of Linda); Karen Zasloff, artist and shadow-puppeteer; and other special guests for a lecture. “Let’s Put on a Puppet Show” brings together artists, curators, and puppeteers to explore the ways puppets and puppet theater have functioned within contemporary art and society.

Xavier Le Roy, April 23, 2007

French-born, Berlin-based dancer Xavier Le Roy will perform his solo work “Product of Circumstances”, 1999, at MIT’s Simmons Hall. He will perform another rarely-seen early work, “Self-Unfinished”, also 1999, at the Green Street Studios the previous afternoon. Xavier Le Roy is hosted in Cambridge in collaboration with Boston Cyberarts / Ideas in Motion.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2007
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Image Gallery
Projects with Examples