Channel Surfing: Collapsing Boundaries in Contemporary Art and Culture

An interdisciplinary roundtable

Thursday, February 14, 2008
1:30-3:15 p.m.
The Rose Art Museum
Brandeis University

In conversation with the Rose Art Museum's re-mounting of the exhibition, "Broken Home," we explore the rapid pace of borrowing across a range of categorical domains in contemporary art and culture. Our discussion builds on the analysis of "modularization" developed by anthropologist Bradd Shore, as articulated in his book Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture and the Problem of Meaning, especially his fifth chapter “Interior Furnishings: Scenes from an American Foundational Schema.”

We consider the specific case foregrounded by the exhibition "Broken Home 1997/2007" at the Rose: this important 1997 exhibition at Greene Naftali gallery in New York City heralded the concept that a cutting-edge curated contemporary art show could be installed in a private gallery, not only a museum. The concept, at the time rather shocking, is now increasingly accepted in art galleries. How do we make sense of this transformation, and how, in turn, do we interpret the Rose's re-installation of the earlier exhibition ten years later? Building on this instance, we discuss how and why modern (and postmodern) cultural forms come increasingly to resemble one another, in ways that may not be immediately acknowledged or consciously reflected upon by observers and participants. Are we seeing the increasing homogenization of cultural forms and the pre-eminence of the logic of the marketplace? (As Damien Hirst puts it, "Art is about life. The art market is about money.") Is there anything necessarily new in this phenomenon? Or does an aesthetic of high-speed borrowing, interpenetration, re-contextualization, and erosion of established conceptual frames herald new forms of consciousness and cultural practice?

1:30 p.m. Welcome (Adelina Jedrzejczak, The Rose Art Museum)
1:35 p.m. Framing remarks (Mark Auslander)
1:40 p.m. Christine Del Castillo (Cultural Production), Part and Parcel: The Guggenheim's Young Collector's Council
1:50 p.m Lily Bonga (Cultural Production) Can Football Save the (Art)World?
2:00 p.m. Ellen Schattschneider (Anthropology) Technototemism Today: Things into People and People into Things
2:10 p.m. Katie Hargrave (Cultural Production) The Mythology of Minimal Infrastructure, Maximum Flexibility: The Open Source Phenomenon
2:20 p.m. Andreas Teuber (Philosophy) "Works of Art Viewing Viewers View Works of Art: Thomas Struth's Museum Photographs"
2:30 p.m Mark Auslander (Anthropology/Cultural Production) Trauma as Photo Op: Modular Reenactments
2: 40 p.m. Commentary and response by Bradd Shore (Emory)
2:50 General Discussion
3:15 End of session

Co-sponsored by the M.A. Program in Cultural Production and the Rose Art Museum

Co-conveners: Mark Auslander and Ellen Schattschneider