Saturday, March 16, 4–6pm
“Unlearning Time” with Sally Frater and Bruce Robbins
Saturday, March 30, 4–6pm
“Details Matter” with Lise Soskolne and Laurel Ptak
Saturday, May 4, 4–6pm
“Unlearning Intersubjectivity” with Katherine Rochester and Lou Cantor
Saturday, October 20, 4–6pm
“Unlearning Learning” with BFAMFAPHD and Maria Rosa Sossai
Learning and Unlearning at Art in General is an experimental discussion series in four parts organized by the artist-founded publication Shifter (Avi Alpert and Rit Premnath) from Fall 2018–Spring 2019. Previous installments have included Unlearning Work in Fall 2017 and Unlearning Dystopia in Spring 2018.
Unlearning Learning on October 20, 2018 considers the relationship between art and education, which lies at the heart of the entire series. Artist collective BFAMFAPHD and researcher Maria Rosa Sossai will consider how art and pedagogy can become tools for understanding the relations of power that shape institutions and practices, but also allow us to imagine new approaches to art and education. As practitioners who have developed workshops, teaching tools, and artworks that blur the boundary between art and educational practices, they will use this event to not simply speak about this subject, but also to activate some of their ideas.
Unlearning Time on March 16, 2019 engages scholar Bruce Robbins and curator Sally Frater in a discussion investigating how our present is inextricably tied to histories long past. How might this extended historical approach complicate our ethical and political claims. Robbins provides a theoretical framework for what this concept might mean for contemporary art. In light of Frater’s curatorial work that explores identity, history, memory, spatial theory and representation in museum practices, the pair will question the merits and problems of approaching time more expansively, the ethics of recalling past events, the risks of relativizing or diluting a moment’s political significance, and consider temporal durations that challenge human comprehension. From their different perspectives and archives, Robbins and Frater will challenge us to think through our ingrained understanding of the relation between justice to time.
Details Matter on March 30, 2019 focuses on the challenges of organization and institution building with W.A.G.E.’s Lise Soskolne and Art in General’s Director and Curator, Laurel Ptak. Through Soskolne’s own practice as an artist and founding member of W.A.G.E, participants will discuss the importance of institution building as a form of sustainable political practice. While political action is often pictured through images of protest and activism, Soskolne will focus on the more long term process of building coalitions and infrastructure that can sustain politics. Ptak will contribute her thoughts on “institution as medium” in consideration of her role running artist-founded art institutions in New York City that were born in the 1980s, including Art in General.
Unlearning Intersubjectivity on May 4, 2019 will serve as an opportunity to reflect on the themes of learning and unlearning through collective thinking and speaking. Art historian Katherine Rochester and the artist collective Lou Cantor will lead a discussion based on their recent co-edited volume, Intersubjectivity, Volume II: Scripting the Human. They will be joined by curator and researcher Samantha Ozer. Together they will consider how, in contexts such as these public discussions, intersubjectivities are formed and reformed through performance and engagement. Rather than a conclusion, the conversation hopes to be a bridge to future enactments of collective projects.
Avi Alpert is co-organizer of the series Unlearning Learning. He teaches literature and critical theory in the Princeton Writing Program where he focuses on the impact of globalization on modern thought and institutions. His writing examines what it means to be at once a private individual and a global subject, and how this dual demand has shaped modern life. His first book, Global Origins of the Modern Self, from Montaigne to Suzuki, offers a global history of the self, from Renaissance Europe to modern Japan. He has co-edited Dictionary of the Possible, Shifter Vol.22, and also writes art criticism and fiction.
BFAMFAPhD is a collective of artists, designers, technologists, organizers, and educators who work in the intersection of art, technology, and political economy. Our current work is a pedagogical project, including a book, a deck of cards, and an open-access website that offers practices of collaboration, contemplation, and social-ecological analysis for visual artists. It is for arts educators who want to connect art to economy; for students who want to make artworks that reflect the conditions of their own production. The project provides a framework that asks readers to explore both who they are becoming as they make projects and also what their projects are becoming as they takes shape and circulate in the world.
Lou Cantor is a Berlin based artist collective founded in 2011 (presently consisting of Jozefina Chetko and Kolja Glaeser) whose main scope of interest is grounded in intersubjectivity and interpersonal communication. Lou Cantor’s practice explores the polysemic mineﬁeld of contemporary communication, where medium, message, and meaning constantly fold back into each other. Based on the collectives actual field of research they regularly release readers and contribute to various publications. Previous exhibitions include Hypersea, curated by Juliette Desorgues; The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Spiritual Reality, Decad, Berlin; Fellow Travelers, apexart, NY; Cyborg Dreams, Pitt St, NY; The Labour of Watching, leto gallery, Warsaw and OSLO10, Basel; Language and Misunderstanding, CUNY, NY; Epistemic Excess, Artists Space, New York; 7th Berlin Biennale and New National Art, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw.
Sally Frater holds an Honors BA in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and an MA (with Merit) in Contemporary Art from The University of Manchester/Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She has curated exhibitions for venues including the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, and Project Row Houses. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. A member of AAMC (the Association of Art Museum Curators), and IKT (Association of International Curators of Contemporary Art), Frater recently was the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, KS.
Samantha Ozer is an independent curator and the lead salon producer & Researcher in the Museum of Modern Art’s Research & Development department. In this role, she works with Director Paola Antonelli to organize the salon series, which explores the potential and responsibility of museums as public actors, with the vision of establishing our institutions as the R&D departments of society. By inviting experts from a range of professional backgrounds, R&D tackles timely issues, often with a focus on the intersection between global culture, technology, and art & design. Through external projects, she researches the transformation of biopolitics in a contemporary neoliberal context, with a particular focus on the reframing of our conception of individual subjectivity and collective power.
Laurel Ptak is Director & Curator of Art in General in New York City. She has previously held diverse roles at non-profit art institutions in the US and internationally, including the Guggenheim Museum (New York), MoMA PS 1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), Museo Tamayo (Mexico City), Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), Triangle (New York), among others. She teaches at Columbia University, New York University, and the School of Visual Arts in NYC and together with Marysia Lewandowska is editor of the book Undoing Property? published by Sternberg Press.
Sreshta Rit Premnath is co-organizer of the series Unlearning Learning. He is an artist who works across multiple media, investigating systems of representation and reflecting on the process by which images become icons and events become history. Premnath is the founder and co-editor of the publication Shifter and teaches at Parsons, New York.
Bruce Robbins is Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His books include Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence (2012), Upward Mobility and the Common Good (2007), Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), and The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below (1986). His essays have appeared in n+1, The Nation, Public Books, and the London Review of Books.
Katherine Rochester is an art historian and curator with a specialization in modern and contemporary art and film. As Associate Director of Curatorial Research at VIA Art Fund, she works in a curatorial capacity to connect ambitious contemporary art projects to the resources they need to succeed. Her doctoral thesis engaged with experimental animation, the terms of its reception, and the conventions of its display in interwar Europe. Staying active as an independent scholar and curator, she continues to publish on her dissertation topic and is co-editing a series of books on the concept of intersubjectivity for Sternberg Press in Berlin. Recent exhibitions include MONUMENTality and Bauhaus Beginnings, both at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.
Shifter is a topical publication that aims to illuminate and broaden our understanding of the intersections between contemporary art, politics, and philosophy. Shifter remains malleable and responsive in its form and activities, and represents a diversity of positions and backgrounds in its contributors. The publication is edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert.
Lise Soskolne is an artist and core organizer of W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy). W.A.G.E. is a New York-based activist organization whose mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships, and more equitable distribution between artists and the institutions that contract their labor. An organizer within W.A.G.E. since its founding in 2008 and its core organizer since 2012, Soskolne began working in arts presenting and development at downtown New York City nonprofits in 1998. Venues have included Anthology Film Archives, Artists Space, Diapason Gallery for Sound, Meredith Monk/The House Foundation for the Arts, Participant Inc, and Roulette Intermedium.
Maria Rosa Sossai is a researcher in the field of artistic practices and educational policies, based in Rome. In 2012 she founded ALA Accademia Libera delle Arti, an independent platform for education and contemporary art that conceives the artistic practice as a process of shared knowledge. Among its recent projects a series of workshops and exhibitions of Italian and international artists at FAI Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese. From December 2013 to March 2015, she was appointed artistic director of AlbumArte, with whom she has collaborated since 2011. She also curated projects as well as exhibitions in commercial galleries, art foundations and museums both in Italy and abroad such MAN museum in Nuoro, Real Academia de España, the American Academy, Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, AlbumArte and Nomas Foundation in Rome, Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Istanbul, the Tel Aviv Museum and, with Laura Cherubini, the touring exhibition of the Italian artist Carla Accardi in Toru, Budapest, Thessaloniki and Athens.
General Support of Art in General is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation; Trust for Mutual Understanding; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; National Endowment for the Arts; Visegrad Fund and FUTURA; Greenwich Collection; Cowles Charitable Trust; Milton and Sally Avery Foundation; Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.