TAT schedule and abstracts by leader6


									tat 2010 at a glance
Monday, May 10, 2010
Amphitheatre and Assembly Hall, 4th floor Rackham Building
8:30 AM       Registration and Breakfast/Coffee
9:15 AM       Welcome
9:30-11:30    Panel #1
              LUNCH on your own
1:00-3:00     Panel #2
3:30-5:00     Keynote Lecture, Rackham Amphitheatre
5:30-7:30     Keynote Reception, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology [enter from State Street]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Amphitheatre and Assembly Hall, 4th floor Rackham Building
8:30 AM       Registration and Breakfast/Coffee
9:15 AM       Welcome
9:30-11:30    Panel #3
              LUNCH on your own
1:00-3:00     Panel #4
3:30-5:00     Panel #5
7:00 PM       Informal evening gathering, downtown Ann Arbor [location TBA]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Stern Auditorium, Museum of Art lower level
8:30 AM       Registration and Breakfast/Coffee
9:15 AM       Welcome
9:30-11:30    Panel #6
              LUNCH on your own
1:00-3:00     Panel #7
3:30-5:00     Panel #8
7:00 PM       Informal evening gathering, downtown Ann Arbor [location TBA]
tat 2010 schedule
Monday, May 10, 2010
Amphitheatre & Assembly Hall, 4th floor Rackham Building

8:30 – 9:15 AM     Registration and Breakfast/Coffee

9:15 AM            Welcome

9:30 – 11:30 AM    Remembering and Forgetting Through Architectural
                   Construction and Preservation
                   Panel Moderator: Elizabeth Vandermark, Design Studies in
                   Architecture, University of Michigan

Preserving and Forgetting History: The Case of a Mid-Nineteenth Century
Hadhrami Mausoleum in Java
Ismail Fajrie Alatas, Anthropology & History, University of Michigan  

       In the Arab quarter of Surabaya, East Java, stands an august domed octagonal
mausoleum popular among Muslim pilgrims. The mausoleum houses the tombs of two
Hadrami scholars, widely acknowledged as saints: Muhammad b. ‘Aydarus al-Habsyi (d.
1919) and his son-in-law Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Mihdar (d. 1926). The connectedness
between the two saints and the edifice has become an integral part of the
contemporary understanding of the mausoleum. A close inspection of the inscriptions
on the tombstone, however, reveals that the mausoleum was built by a woman,
Sharifah Sofura, to preserve the memory of her grandfather long before the internment
of the two saints. Such memory preserved on the materiality of the mausoleum was
buried as the two saints interned there at later dates gained popularity.
      This paper examines the pre and fore-histories of the mausoleum. It seeks to
understand the world behind the material and the world in front of the material as
well as the connection between the two. By observing the original memory preserved in
the mausoleum as well as the preservation of the additional supplement that buried
the initial meaning, we are able to better understand the historical contingency of
meaning, albeit preserved in durable matter. In looking at this palimpsest of meaning,
how are we to understand the connection between materiality, preservation and
forgetting? That is, if forgetting is commonly connected to erasure, the case with the
mausoleum seemingly hints at the intimate connection between preservation and
forgetting. Rather than seeing the mausoleum not just as mere reflection of the socio-
political development, the paper attempts to locate the agency of the mausoleum in
the process of forgetting. Perhaps, preservation ultimately becomes a forgetting. 
The Ruination of the Athenian Acropolis
Katherine Larson, Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan

      Recent scholarship in anthropological theory has increasingly focused on the
post-abandonment life histories of sites and monuments as ‘ruins.’   A ruin functions
as a link among past, present, and future, metaphysically uniting a multiplicity of pasts
from the moment of genesis  through to the present and ongoing into the future. 
Ruins embody dichotomous forces of manmade and natural, success and catastrophe,
genesis and decline.  Thus, the very essence of a ruin lies in its inherent polyvalency
and multivocality.   

      Since its construction in the 440s BCE, the Parthenon has been a pagan temple,
church, mosque, and archaeological site.  However, the visitor to the site in 2010 sees
only a reimagined idealization of its original moment of creation, to the complete
exclusion of the full history of the Parthenon as representative of the peoples and
cultures living in Athens through the last two thousand and five hundred years.  Far
from being a restoration of the Classical – or any other – past, the Parthenon in its
present state is a thoroughly modern construct.  I argue in this paper that the
Parthenon has been stripped of its status and meaning as a ruin.  I suggest that a
philosophy and ethic of ruin, as applied to the preservation, management, and
authenticity of a heritage site, helps emphasize the continuity of the past with the
present and the salience of multiple interpretive perspectives.

Industrial Ruins and Pristine Landscapes: An Archaeological Approach to the
Modernization of Iceland
Þóra Pétursdóttir, Archaeology, University of Tromsø, Norway

      Few periods in Icelandic history have been as romanticized by historical
discource as the era of the “herring-adventure” in the early and mid 20th century.
During that period several fishing stations developed along the coast, often in
peripheral and previously unsettled areas where the proximity to the resources
maximized the revenue. Today, many of the previously prosperous communities have
been deserted, leaving a landscape dotted with residues of stranded industrial
adventures and other uncanny installations of times just gone by.

      These remains, as modern remains in general, have mostly been ignored
archaeologically and have not generated interest within historical discourse or cultural
heritage. Unlike the traditional romanticized ruin that so effortlessly acquires our
appreciation, these modern installations stand in sharp contrast to the pristine
landscapes they obtrude in, as well as our preferred perception of those – as
landscapes beyond human impact. Despite literally materializing what is believed to
have brought modernizm to Icelandic shores the uncanny remains of the deserted
herring stations now contradict our general conception of “modernity” (cf. Latour, 1993)
– as matter out of place and order.
        This PhD-project proposes an archaeological exploration of the post-
abandonment biographies of two such sites, fuelling a theoretical consideration on how
and why processes of devaluation and marginalization of modern remains occur. At the
same time the investigation suggests alternative perspectives, where the generative
aspect of ruination is a central theme, underlining how modern remains, as antonyms
of the modern, act as cultural critiques resisting conventional conceptions of heritage
and waste. Moreover, how these forgotten installations resist simplified histories of
linear progress and materially memorize alternative pasts of failure and rejection and
thus literally manifest the significance of things and materiality in the construction of
historical knowledge.

Rhetorics of Abandonment: Popular representations of Braddock, Pennsylvania
Greg Nichols, Rhetoric, Emerson College

       In the past two years, Braddock, Pennsylvania, a struggling mill town on the
banks of the Monongahela River, has received an unexpected flurry of national media
attention. The town’s mayor, John Fetterman, is at the center of this attention. At six-
eight, 300 pounds, covered in tattoos and boasting a master’s degree from Harvard,
he has been heralded in publications such as The New York Times and Rolling Stone
as a kind of radical savior.  

       My work centers around rhetorics of representation. An interesting trend has
emerged from the reporting on Braddock. Despite substantial population loss, the town
still has close to 3,000 residents, most of whom are African American. In national
coverage, however, reporters routinely represent the town as abandoned. Detailed
descriptions of neglected homes and derelict buildings far outweigh treatment of
Braddock’s local population. In an act of rhetorical effacement, the townspeople have
been wiped clean. This move is a manifestation of what Mary Louise Pratt calls
“naturalizing the contact zone”—a colonial hallmark with roots in 18th century natural
history narratives. By focusing on objects, be they flora or post-industrial relics, a
writer can sidestep the morally fraught task of engaging a native population. In
Braddock, this effort has aided the press’s depiction of Fetterman as a blameless
rebuilder. This paper examines the relationship between Braddock’s citizens and its
relics, and specifically, the way that relationship has been defined and retooled in
popular accounts.

The Graphic Collapse of Experiential and Logistical Information
Paul Tierman, Architecture, University of Michigan

       Designers have long debated the use of particular drawing types for creative
purposes. Two prevailing forms of representation are the orthographic projection and
the perspective drawing. Orthographic projections render planes using parallel lines
while planes rendered in perspective are constructed with lines that meet at one or
more (vanishing) points. Both methods are spatial but describe depth in very distinct
ways. Engineers and Architects often value orthographic projection over perspectival
rendering because variations of the former can provide measure on three axes of an
object. This feature is of extreme value to those who design and construct precise
objects, but drawing form itself deprives viewers of information about the object's use
and relation to its environment. The purpose of this study is to explore the possibility
of a hybrid drawing type that offers both a means of construction and an
understanding of an object in context. A photograph, like perspective drawing, is
subject to perspectival distortion due to vanishing points. However, the effects of
distortion can be minimized through the calibration of lenses and focal depth from the
subject matter. Using CAD/CAM techniques in conjunction with photography,
orthographic methods are combined with perspectival depth of photographs to establish
a common ground. Three "Fabricated Drawings" have been produced to define a
threshold between rendering types (see attached). The complete submission will consist
of two additional pieces and supporting information the efficacy of constructive and
experiential information combined visually.
LUNCH on your own

1:00 – 3:00 PM      Preservation and Transformation of Identity
                    Panel Moderator: TBA

Bombs and Boundaries: Art and Heritage in Times of War
Sarah C. Simmons, Art History, Florida State University

      As human conflict culminates to the point of violence, art is situated in a
precarious place, a place that some consider priceless or worthless in times of
destruction. The terms heritage, history, and identity do not always translate between
Western and non-Western visual languages; however it is this “loss in translation” and
its meaning for the role of art in times of war that is the focus of this paper. A
dichotomy lies between the current need to preserve art monuments as representative
of global human heritage versus regional claims of ownership. The cycle of violence
and retaliation towards monuments during the recent Iraq war supports the idea that
to defend art, when linked to heritage, is by extension defending one’s identity.
Nevertheless, international institutions repeatedly try to preserve art monuments as
symbols of universal heritage. It is during times of war that the international and
regional perspectives on art monuments clash, providing a forum to discuss the effect
of globalization and regional interest over material culture in violent conflict. I focus
my study on three case studies including the Bamiyan Buddhas, the Malwiya Minaret,
and the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque. The emotive and legal reactions to the
destruction of these monuments illustrate their multivalent functions as symbols of
local heritage, global history, and fine art objects. By investigating the reaction of
UNESCO to regional violent threats against art a deeper understanding emerges that
concerns art’s elemental role in determining human heritage and identity in times of
The Role of “El Empadronamiento” – Part One – “Illegal” Migrants
Arturo Marquez, Jr., Anthropology, Northwestern University

        In Spain, any individual who registers with his/her local municipality is provided
with an empadronamiento, a document that attests to the “act of registration with
ones municipality of regular residency and which establishes that a person is a
neighbor of said municipality”.  Based on fieldwork with West African migrants in
Barcelona, this paper will examine the history of the empadronamiento as an
instrument of keeping a record on local and national populations, and the meaning it
has been imbued with by migrants and immigration law in Spain.  In this regard, this
paper will examine what could be regarded as a form of “ID paper fetishism” for
migrants whose only form of tangible official identification from Spain is the
empadronamiento.  Furthermore, this paper will explore the obstacles and challenges
faced by “illegal” migrants seeking this form of identification and the access to
essential subsistence services it is meant to provide (e.g. healthcare).  Finally, this
paper will explore the dynamic in which the empadronamiento is often regarded by
participants with heightened significance since it is required in establishing material
proof of continuous residency (minimum three years) during the long and arduous
process of “legalization”.  Although participants acknowledge the fact that the
empadronamiento does not “legalize”, they do feel it somehow “regularizes”, thus
leading to the contradictory political identification of “a foreigner, immigrant, irregular,
officially registered with his/her municipality (empadronamiento), resident, working
without authorization, with a standing deportation order and legally living in Spain.

The Role of “El Empadronamiento” – Part Two – Asylum Seekers
Laura Guijarro Edo, Anthropology, University of Barcelona
In Spain, any individual who registers with his/her local municipality is provided with an
empadronamiento, a document that attests to the “act of registration with ones
municipality of regular residency and which establishes that a person is a neighbor of
said municipality”.  Based on fieldwork with asylum seekers in Barcelona, this paper will
examine the asylum process in Spain and the meaning the empadronamiento obtains
for those individuals whose applications are denied.  Although a valid passport is
required to obtain the empadronamiento, this is theoretically waived for individuals
seeking asylum.  As this paper will demonstrate, however, the process of obtaining an
empadronamiento and by extension access to essential resources (i.e. healthcare) is
often barred due to obstacles built into the Spanish asylum process and discrimination
within local municipal administrations.  Unlike other European countries, Spain is unique
in maintaining an initial “pre-admissibility” stage in the asylum process in which over
half of the asylum applications are denied within the first 30 days, thus “migratizing”
individuals who express real fear of persecution in their home countries and increasing
their vulnerability as “illegal” and “deportable” migrants.  For the overwhelming majority
of participants whose applications are denied, the empadronamiento gains heightened
importance as it constitutes one of the only remaining options to “legalize” in Spain.
Road Reports: Preservation and Transformation on East African Roads
Amiel Melnick, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

       This paper considers the tension between preservation and transformation in
colonial and postcolonial road-building projects in East Africa.  I focus on a series of
road reports evaluating the construction, use and ‘life expectancy’ of Kenyan roads.
Colonial infrastructure projects are usually noted for their transformative violence, for
the broad reconfigurations of African geographies they enacted. Roads (and railways)
are especially infamous for having relied on forced labor, uprooting entire villages, and
for the rural-urban migration that became both possible and necessary in their wake.
Yet roads may also serve preserving functions: on the one hand, their construction
records the events that prompted their construction, on the other,  their very
materiality might preserve certain kinds of historical memory. For instance, a
contemporary ambivalence associated with roads—considered sites of contingency and
accidents, places where dangerous spirits roam—speaks to and of the violence of their
construction. Roads also serve as records of colonial mistakes, a fact particularly
visible in accident tallies associated with stretches where the curves are too abrupt or
the inclines too sharp: this can be seen as a corrective to histories of colonial
‘expertise’ and might be useful for considering contemporary road-building and road
maintenance projects.

       In my investigation of colonial and contemporary road projects, I want to
suggest a complex relationship between ideology, memory, and material form. If such a
nexus does exist, what kinds of memories, historical trajectories, or ideologies might
the road preserve, and how are these transformed in the process of preservation?  
How does this relationship between immaterial and material work?  Does memory fade
as a material form disintegrates? Is it affected by routine maintenance, the patching of
ruts and cracks?
Saints, Politicians and Plastic: the "Postmodern" Resurrection
Mary E. Wilhoit, Anthropology, Northwestern University

       Preserved bodies appear throughout history, from mummies to curio jars to
cryogenics, in apparent attempts to supersede the body's ultimate betrayal, the
wrenching of consciousness from biology, ephemeral ‘immaterial’ from matter.  In the
cases of religious and political leaders, ancient remains, and contemporary US families
the living repersonify the preserved dead, recreating personal histories to impart
identity.  In contrast with this individualizing trend, the traveling exhibit “Gunther von
Hagens’ BodyWorlds” offers a nameless (skinless) preservation of the most hyperreal
format. While von Hagen's dyed, flexed bodies appear superficially 'lifelike,' they are
anonymous and indistinguishable, giving their durability a uniquely artificial feel.  This
paper traces a cross-cultural drive to preserve the dead, leading up to von Hagens
20th century "plastination" technique and the fervor surrounding his work. My
informants who visited BodyWorlds found that its anonymity fostered disconnect
between the corpses and traditional concepts of death. The BodyWorlds corpse is
alienable and alienating; rather than immortalizing the subject, the exhibit denies the
self. I propose that the disturbing function of BodyWorlds lies in its exposé of the
increasingly artificial nature of physicality, in the overt revelation of what Baudrillard
calls the 'simulacrum.' BodyWorlds' sculpted, plastic corpses somehow become "the
deadest of the dead," demonstrating that the artificial is inseparable from the real,
even in the fabric of our bodies.  While attempts to preserve the dead historically
reveal desire to resurrect the person, BodyWorlds offers resurrection for the new age:
durable; technicolor; and soulless.

3:30 – 5:00 PM       Keynote Lecture, Rackham Amphitheatre
tat keynote
                      “Creating Space for Objects of
                      William S. Pretzer
                      Senior Curator for History
                      National Museum of African American
                      History and Culture
                      Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In orchestrating public interaction with material culture, public historians usually
consider the object's original function and context, the environment in which it is now
interpreted, characteristics of the anticipated audience, and the intended affective and
educational goals of the presentation. In developing presentations of material culture
associated with race, however, there is one additional, essential consideration. This is
the creation of space—emotional, intellectual, interpretive, temporal, and physical—so
that audiences with very different worldviews and histories can make sense of their
encounters with the objects. This space can be as ephemeral as the rhythms of soul
or hip-hop music or as concrete as a new museum building on the National Mall. 

About Dr. Pretzer
Dr. Pretzer is Senior Curator for History at the National Museum of African American
History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In this capacity,
he is overseeing the development of the museum's inaugural history collections and
exhibitions. The NMAAHC will break ground at the base of the Washington Monument
on the National Mall in 2012 and open to the public in 2015.  From 2006 to 2009, Dr.
Pretzer served as Director of the Museum of Cultural & Natural History as well as
Director of the Museum Studies Program and Associate Professor of History at Central
Michigan University. Prior to that, he spent 21 years working as a curator and educator
at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. While there, he developed numerous exhibitions,
including "With Liberty and Justice for All" (2006), featuring the Rosa Parks bus which
he acquired for the museum in 2001. In addition to museum-sponsored publications on
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and industrial history, he has authored articles and book
chapters on museum practice, technology education, design history, and the history of
labor and technology in the printing trade.

5:30 – 7:30 PM      Keynote Reception
                    Kelsey Museum of Archaeology [enter from State Street]
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Amphitheatre & Assembly Hall, 4th floor Rackham Building

8:30 – 9:15 AM       Registration and Breakfast/Coffee

9:15 AM              Welcome

9:30 – 11:30 AM      Images, Documents, & Technology
                     Panel Moderator: Joe Cialdella, American Culture and
                     Museum Studies, University of Michigan

Missing Records and Multiple Pasts: Lustration in Czechoslovakia 
Justin Joque, Information Science, University of Michigan

        Following the collapse of Communist governments across Eastern Europe, a
number of countries adopted lustration laws barring former party officials, secret police
and collaborators from holding certain public positions. The former Czechoslovakia, one
of the first countries to implement a lustration policy, experienced enormous difficulties
in trying to judge individual’s culpability. The most complicated of these difficulties
stemmed from problems related to the archives of the security agencies. The
destruction of large portions of the archives, indecipherable shorthand, and institutional
exigencies severely undermined their reliability. Still the proceedings ignored
contradictory witness testimony and mitigating circumstances, such as those who were
coerced into collaborating with the regime but provided no valuable information,
trusting the documentary evidence instead.

        This paper explores the implications of placing the material records of the
Communist regime within the framework of lustration. In Czechoslovakia, politicians
justified lustration as a pragmatic measure to protect the nascent democracy from
subversion. By moving these records into the pragmatic and juridical space of
lustration, both the records themselves and the past they created were bureaucratized
and securitized, precluding contingent readings of collaboration and the Communist
state. Ultimately, the experience of lustration in Czechoslovakia suggests a more
general warning against the hegemony of exclusively pragmatic/juridical understandings
of archives. This is not to say that such an understanding is unnecessary, but a failure
to differentiate ethical and juridical understandings of the ‘archives of repression’ risks
allowing the latter to eclipse the former, closing off open and contingent readings of
the past.
Preserving Meaning: The Challenge of Long-Term Archiving of MRI
Kathleen Fear, School of Information, University of Michigan

       Magnetic resonance imaging allows a high-resolution peek into the workings of
the brain, in theory revealing the structures that play an intimate part in our everyday
behavior and interactions. It measures, essentially, changes in the alignment of
hydrogen atoms in tissue when subjected to a strong magnetic field. Based on how
those atoms shift and travel, their digital signatures captured, processed and analyzed,
scientists deduce how the brain functions. As different part of the brain ‘light up’ in
response to stimuli, conclusions can be drawn about what structures play a part in
different activities, illuminating previously unknowable differences in the physical actions
of thinking, remembering, etc. Much of the power and the attraction of MRI, though, is
in the answers it appears to provide to far more complex questions: for example what
emotions look like.
        MRI unlocks an opportunity for scientists to make statements about what their
apparati allow them to claim are fundamental truths: they determine what health looks
like; what it means to have a normal brain; what set of abnormalities are within the
acceptable range of human diversity and which are pathological. The implications of
these results, and the impact of the cultural environment in which they are generated,
analyzed and disseminated quickly multiply. Particularly interesting is the question of
how to preserve objects that carry both an objective, scientific meaning and a more
subjective, culturally constructed meaning. This paper explores the construction of
meaning around MRI images and the implications for meaningful preservation of these

Building Your Own Books: Preservation as Creation and the Reprinting Japanese
Literature in the 1880s
Brian Dowdle, Japanese Literature, University of Michigan

        In Japan during the late 1870s and early 1880s older texts of literature faced a
two-fold problem: old copies of books that were circulating in lending libraries were
wearing out through constant turnover; and the wooden printing blocks needed to print
new copies had also become effaced through constant use over the years. These
problems provided a unique opportunity for new publishers, such as Mori Senkichi, to
use movable type to print new copies of older texts.

       These new moveable type editions, however, had their own sets of challenges
for publishers. In addition to needing to get permission to print and discover texts that
no longer had owners, publishers needed to make texts in such way that readers
would want to read them and more importantly buy them. Traditional methods of
xylographic printing allowed for images and written text to share space more intimately;
early movable type printing separated images from written text.  In this presentation, I
analyze the advertisements and prefaces written by Senkichi’s publishing house as it
tried to explain and sell these new books to the readers. I explore the technological
and practical methods used by Senkichi to republish texts in new formats. In particular,
I look at Gobōnuki, a serialized literary journal published in 1882, that Senkichi
designed for readers to collect, disassemble, and then rebind into complete books.

Tag! You're It: Social Network Tagging as Recursive Counsel
Julie Baumgardner, Draper Program in Interdisciplinary Human & Social Thought, New
York University

       To speak of social preservation is to understand the phenomena that reveal
today’s social values; one such telling entity is “tagging”, the Web 2.0 classification
system of social exchange sites. Tagging was developed as an application for the
semantic web (Web 2.0), which was a new interface system that rejected traditional
scientific methods of classifying information and promoted collaborative-community
efforts.  Yet, with the power it quickly assumed, Web 2.0 reappropriated the
hierarchical taxonomies and values it initially rejected which diluted the primacy of the
community.  But, tags remained tied to the community; the community is the very
agent of tag construction and has the power to classify information as social values.
Thus, tags tangibly express and preserve the anecdotal counsels and historical values
that as a community we deem relevant. They share the same impact and organic
exchange that oral culture previously embodied but while existing in the physical
interface of the web. The values in tags preserve the historical, embed them into the
present values and are implemented to shape the future.
        Therefore, in presenting this paper, I will demonstrate the tagging phenomenon
as an apt metric to examine the preservation of community through the historical roots
of the Web 2.0 ontological restructuring, the community formation of tag culture,
examples of tags today and the proliferation of the anecdote in the social narrative as
discussed by Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes.

Technology and the Hidden Information About the Way We Live
Luke Johnson, Media Design, Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles

       Embedded within the technology we use is hidden information about the way we
live. The interactive presentation Portraits in People Knowing shares a body of work in
which technology interventions were used to create unexpected portraits of people’s
lives. Specifically, these interventions mine the idiosyncrasies within our text messages,
cell phone contacts and the daily commute.
        One on hand, these insights into people and their daily lives provide a platform
for telling stories about memory, identity and social status- issues which are being
redefined by social media and technology. On the other hand, it offers an opportunity
to ask questions as part of a critical design practice such as:
              What are the unspoken conversations within families?
              What are the shapes that we make during our daily commute?
              What are the embedded narratives within our cell phones?
       Finally, this approach offers tools for designers and the self-initiated to get
involved with people and cultivate relationships in a new and interesting way.

LUNCH on your own

1:00 – 3:00 PM       Aesthetics, Ethics, Prescriptions, Politics, and Theory ~ Part I
                     Panel moderator: Kristine Ronan, History of Art, University of

Phenomenology and the Art of Equipment 
Everett Kramer, Philosophy and Art History, New York University

      In 1942 Charles and Ray Eames won a contract from the US Navy to design a
leg splint of molded plywood for troops overseas. The resulting design set the tone for
their work to come and raised industrial design out of factories and into design
museums and art-spaces. In the same year, but on the other side of the globe,
Chairman Mao Zedong gave his authoritative talk at Ya'nan, which laid out the official
dictum for art in China for the next forty years. Mao authoritatively expressed that, “to
serve the revolution, art had to be 'nationalist in form, socialist in content'.” In both of
these events the boundaries between art and equipment were crossed, from equipment
that is so beautiful it is now treated as art in the case of the splint, to art that is
created not just as equipment but as a weapon.  Moreover, these types of objects,
designed equipment and art that holds a political or economic motivation comprise the
majority of our visual landscape, yet most theories of what art is do not account for
them. This paper uses the Phenomenological understanding of art from Heidegger and
Merleau-Ponty in conjunction with theories of modern design, to draw out a definition
of art that accounts for the substantial population of objects dwelling on the borders
of art and equipment.

Defining the ‘Archaeological Sensibility’: An Intellectual Travelogue  
Teal Hranka, Archaeology, University College Dublin

      This paper aims to discuss one graduate student’s experience in learning to
negotiate the interdisciplinary nature of studying material culture.  In the context of a
research topic which exists outside of the boundaries of traditional archaeology, and
which attempts to grapple with the intangible (memory, nostalgia, identity) through the
tangible (the material cultural world), this paper is both a narrative as well as an
exercise in methodological rumination.

      Through an intellectual travelogue, this paper develops two complimentary ideas. 
The first is the notion of the “Undisciplined” Researcher, who moves outside of their
own traditional disciplinary boundaries to cheerfully engage with the material world in
new ways.  The second is the idea of the ‘Archaeological Sensibility’.   The
‘Archaeological Sensibility’ is a term which describes a way of seeing and thinking
about the world as a place where people interact with and accumulate material culture. 
It is a wider sensibility about how people live in, perceive, appropriate, and identify with
their material environments, and it is one, this paper argues, that can be divorced from
past/present divides and the need for archaeological research to be focused on things
“buried in the ground.”

       This paper proposes that if we can accept the notions of the “Undisciplined”
Researcher and the ‘Archaeological Sensibility’ together as part of an effective
epistemological lens through which we can view the material world, we can suddenly
open ourselves to diverse new avenues of material cultural study.   

Inside Early American Furniture: a scholarly and sculptural practice
BA Harrington, Art/Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

       My work consists of a three-fold practice that reclaims historically feminized
furniture forms by synthesizing solid training in traditional woodworking skills with
academic training as a contemporary artist, and scholarly research and interpretation. I
am currently working on early New England dowry chests and American federal ladies’
sewing tables (specifically the version with fabric bag-drawers suspended below the
table). In the written portion of this work, I argue that even when we talk about the
function of this furniture, built specifically for women, we tend to talk in terms of male
production. I make a distinction here between function and use; use being the actual
physical engagement with the form of a human body.

       I move inside the furniture, figuratively and literally, exploring the bodily
metaphors inherent in the forms and addressing the more ephemeral work of female
hands they once stored and facilitated—work consumed by past households and by
the elements. I reconnect the physical engagement of a female body and the
expressive needlework of its hands, to the tangible forms—centuries old—that now
stand empty in museums. Admittedly, as created objects, this furniture belonged to the
masculine identified world of woodworking. My work addresses these forms as a
physical manifestation of the feminine ideal inculcated by the society that designed,
built, and owned them, but it also opens the furniture up as a place where the
constraints of that femininity began to be negotiated by women through its very use.
To Have and To Hold: Collecting and the Heart’s Desire
Elaine Brodie, Documentary Media, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario
Professor, Sheridan College

        What brings value to a thing? Where do we and the world of objects intersect
and cross-pollinate to create meaning, history and identity? This paper and
documentary video explore the motivations behind the emotional, psychological and
existential desires that drive the passion to collect. Today objects of all sorts beget
collectors. The expansion of museums worldwide reflects this on a larger social scale.
Contemporary collecting encompasses every kind of object, from high culture to low,
from the mass produced to the unique, from things that might be considered trash to
the most rare specimen. Yet many collectors struggle to say anything significant about
why they collect. Their search is directed outward. I am attempting to look inward.  

        Memory and energy accumulate in objects that carry cultural and personal
history forward. Many objects seem to have a patient, silent life of their own. Walter
Benjamin first defined this as the “aura” of an object, something which enables it to
return our gaze. James Elkins suggests that objects themselves are vying for our
attention. Akin to falling in love, there are invisible strands at work when the hunting
gaze is returned. 
       In looking at collecting, I am exploring vision, desire, identity, memory and
history. My work seeks a deeper understanding of human nature, and of existence
itself, by exploring areas where the conscious and unconscious meet, where states of
being and energy might transcend the physical limitations of the body. 


3:30 – 5:00 PM      Aesthetics, Ethics, Prescriptions, Politics, and Theory ~ Part II
                    Panel Moderator: Clara Cahill, Science Education, University
                    of Michigan

Turning Matter into Words, Words into Matter
Henrike Florusbosch, Anthropology and Museum Studies, University of Michigan

      Language ideologies across West Africa highlight the ways in which speech takes
on object-like qualities, from the economic value of praise to the dangerous effects of
human spit.  This paper takes up a particular ethnographic case representing these
larger understandings of language and the material world—Maninka Muslims in
Southwestern Mali —and analyzes a particular kind of speech—blessings—that is
commonly circulated within systems of exchange.  The fact that blessings are
exchanged for material substances, mainly foodstuffs, and again transformed into
material goods as a resulting of these blessings, is for most local observers key to
their importance and efficacy.  However, for some opponents of the practice of
“seeking blessings,” it is precisely the implication of blessings in systems of exchange
that detracts from the prime function of this kind of speech to be focused on Allah
and expressing His greatness.  Thus, an analysis of blessings and the debates
surrounding the practices of seeking them reveals fundamental anxieties about proper
(and improper) demarcations between “words” and “things” and the possibilities or
limits of mixing them.  This conclusion is in line with the growing scholarship exploring
how “the material” has been seen as a problem in many religions traditions (Keane
2007, Coleman 1996, Meyer 1997).  While most scholars have so far focused on
Christianity, particularly its Protestant varieties, I argue that similar issues are relevant
for contemporary Muslims, and that in this case, differences in religious understanding
within the larger framework of Islam are closely associated with debates about the
nature of the material world.

Creative Relics: How Technological Innovation Has Erased Remnants of the
Writing Process
Jacqueline Simonovich, Humanities and Social Thought, New York University

       My paper explores the ways in which modes of composition—handwriting,
typewriter, and personal computer—affect an author’s thinking and also the author’s
preservation of remnants of his creative process. Ironically, I believe that a computer’s
ability to save information has actually led to the loss of remnants of the creative
process.  The storage of a document in the computer allows an author to discard
previous printed drafts of his manuscript. Conversely, authors like Jack Kerouac who
composed on a typewriter retained their previous manuscripts because these
manuscripts were the only possible archives for information. Now Jack Kerouac’s On
the Road manuscript scroll has become somewhat of a cultural icon, and the
publication of the scroll on the 50th anniversary of On the Road’s publication allowed
Kerouac fans to experience the novel in an earlier, more raw form. The computer of
course provides a less precarious archive for information than the typed manuscript,
but the ease of revision that a computer allows causes the residues of an author’s
creative process to be more easily lost. My paper explores the consequences of the
loss of artifacts of the creative process. The typed word erases the mark of an author
left behind in handwriting, and the computer further causes the death of the author
through the erasure of indications of editing performed on a manuscript over time. 
What are the consequences to literary history of archival via computer of only pristine,
edited manuscripts and not all that came before?   
What’s the difference? Surplus Matter, Remainder, and Reenactment 
Steffani Jemison, Visual Arts, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

       The 2005 novel Remainder, by British conceptual artist Tom McCarthy, is an
extended investigation of identity—not its conventional colloquial use in phrases like
“cultural identity” or “personal identity” (although these are, as I will investigate in my
paper, related), but rather its philosophical and mathematical definition of “sameness.”
Identity refers to a specific ontological relationship, and the concept of remainder has
both mathematical and metaphysical meanings. In his novel, McCarthy uses the concept
of “surplus matter” and the practice of reenactment to produce a tidy allegory of the
art-making process. My presentation will use the concept of “remainder” as a lens
through which to consider my own art practice, which often uses reenactment to
specify the difference between contemporary and historical cultural practices. 

       My videos and text-based work consider the political implications of translation
and transcription across time and media. One video, “Maniac Chase,” was inspired by
an American film by the same name created in 1902. Like the narrator in Remainder’s
final scene, who produces repetition in space without nostalgia, my figures
mechanically trace and retrace a physical trajectory that serves as a reminder that
geographical, social, political, and narrative stasis are inextricably linked (if they can
even be distinguished at all). I will also discuss and screen my piece “Broken Fall
(Organic)” (after Bas Jan Ader’s 1974 piece of the same name), as well as two recent
text-based works, “Lonique, Vaugn, and Wyane Sing Larry Neal’s Black Fire” (after
“Baldessari sings Lewitt”) and “Truth and Greatness,” a work-in-progress. 

The Gourmet Revolution and the Myth of Meritocratic Taste
S. Margot Finn, American Studies, University of Michigan

     Food is the material object humans have the most intimate contact with on a
daily basis. Clothes, tools and treasured objects can also shape and express our
identities, but only the food we eat actually becomes a part of us. In Distinction,
Bourdieu offers an extensive account of how social origins influence aesthetic tastes,
habitual behaviors, and social dispositions, including foodways. For example, he argues
that the working class favors calorie-rich foods out of “practical materialism” while “the
bourgeoisie...identifies true freedom with the elective asceticism of self-imposed rule."
However, his model does not account especially well for changes in tastes and
practices. In the last thirty years, "gourmet" food and wine has become increasingly
popular in the United States. Rather than eating the way their social origins would
dictate, more and more Americans are eating foods associated with wealth, privilge
and sophistication.
      Whereas historically, foodways largely worked to preserve class hierarchy by
distinguishing between social classes, recent mass media and popular representations
of "gourmet" food and cooking portray "sophisticated" tastes as something anyone can
and everyone should cultivate. Both the real, material pleasures of "gourmet" food and
wine and the social value of "refined taste" have provided many members of the
American middle-class with a sense of status improvement despite the last three
decades of income stagnation and increasing inequality. However, the meritocracy of
taste obscures the structural differences in access to gourmet food and works to
preserve the prevailing class structure.

7:00 PM             Informal evening gathering, downtown Ann Arbor

                    [location TBA]
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Stern Auditorium, Museum of Art [lower level]

8:30 – 9:15 AM      Registration and Breakfast/Coffee

9:15 AM             Welcome

9:30 – 11:30 AM     Preserving the Intangible Through the Material ~ Part I
                    Panel Moderator: Aimee VonBokel, American Culture and
                    Museum Studies, University of Michigan

Memory, Identity and Irish Traveller Graveyard Memorials
Attracta Brownlee, Anthropology, National University of Ireland Maynooth

       Irish Travellers are part of the minority Traveller, Roma and Gypsy continuum.
The aim of this paper is to explore Irish Travellers’ material expression of their
continuing relationship with the dead.  Traveller funerary practices and the material
culture on graves, particularly the erection of culturally symbolic headstones, are some
examples of concrete expressions of their belief system.  Traveller social organisation
revolves around strong familial relationships and the graves of loved ones serve as
focal points for these relationships. Practices, such as the blessing of the headstone,
symbolise the enduring presence of the dead in the lives of the living.  In a society
where much religious devotion is personal and conducted in private, funerals and
graveyard memorials are public displays where Traveller families assert, to their own
community, their social and political status. At the same time, graveyard memorials
operate as markers of Traveller identity for the settled community.
The graveyard has, in some instances, become a site of contestation, where diverging
notions of appropriate size of headstones, ‘taste’ and acceptable iconography have
arisen between the settled and Traveller communities.  To some in the settled
community, Traveller memorials at times appear ostentatious, reflecting a wider
misunderstanding of Traveller cultural values and kin relationships. These tensions
reflect how religious meanings and practices can be contested and will be explored in
the context of how graveyard memorials function as symbols of personal and
community identity for Travellers.

Rugs, Huts, and Nests:
Preserving Native Things in the Early Twentieth Century United States
Aaron McCullough, American Studies, Michigan State University

      In this paper, I explore how white, middle-class Americans in the first decade of
the 20th century “preserved” native material cultures to navigate the multiple alienations
they faced in a transnational marketplace. First, I provide general context by showing
how such popular practices as the Arts and Crafts movement appropriated early
anthropology’s concept of a primitive or indigenous material culture as a product of
evolution, determined by local or regional environmental pressures, as opposed to the
rational and perhaps cosmopolitan material culture of modern, European, capitalism. 
More than simply looking to define the modern, rational self against a primitive other 
however, some white, middle-class Americans looked to indigenous production to
construct the possibility of an inalienable material culture, untouched by the instabilities
produced in a marketplace of displaced goods and people.  Second, I turn to a
Country Life in American article by naturalist, writer, artist, and Woodcraft Indian
founder, Ernest Thompson Seton, who narrates the building of his summer home,
Wyndygoul.  Attempting to preserve both native species and a connection to the land’s
previous owners, the Siwana people, becomes a way for Seton to dwell in the
commodified real estate of the capitalist marketplace.  I borrow from while historicizing
Gaston Bachelard’s analysis of primitive dwellings and animal homes to begin to
understand how Seton’s practices, including his narrative, allowed him to both dwell
and displace dwelling, preserving his own status as an alienable, modern individual.

Materiality in Motion:
Examining Ancient Systems of Value in Western Hallstatt Europe
Adrienne Frie, Archaeology, University of Chicago

       Archaeological interpretations of human-material interaction consistently rely on
overly functional and modernist conceptions of materiality. However there is a different
way to engage with materials – the analysis of artifacts as objects in motion. This is
not a processual analysis of movement across the landscape, but a discussion of
materials as loci for culturally ascribed value. The relationship between past peoples
and their artifacts can be accessed through examination of an object’s trajectory. This
highlights the cultural directionality of this motion: how the force of cultural behaviors,
values and social practices compelled the valuation of objects. In the case of the
Western Hallstatt of Iron Age Europe, amber and coral were exotic imports, used and
reused over time for elaborate bodily adornment, presentations of affluence, but also
ritual consumption. These were highly mobile objects that were brought into the
Hallstatt sphere, circulated within it, and imbued with multiple cultural meanings. An
examination of the trajectories of coral and amber reveals the cultural logics that
moved these materials throughout the Hallstatt region and dictated the terms of their
consumption. These materials were not solely expressions of elite wealth as previously
thought, but I will demonstrate that an additional aspect of their cultural value was
their role in widespread ritual systems. Their ritual value is demonstrative of a belief in
material agency, but also indicates that the same materials were attributed different
cultural meanings when they remained in their natural state as opposed to when they
had been culturally modified.
Defining Courtly Identity with Things:
The Maiolica Services of Isabella d’Este and Federico II Gonzaga
Lisa Boutin, Art History, University of California, Los Angeles

        This paper will focus on sixteenth-century material culture of the Gonzaga court
in Mantua, Italy, specifically three painted maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware) services
that have yet to be studied comprehensively within their historical contexts. The painter
of these services, Nicola da Urbino, was regarded as the pre-eminent painter of this
type of narrative-painted pottery. He decorated the ceramics with personal Gonzaga
emblems and intricate narratives, including stories from Ovid, Virgil, and the Old
Testament. The services contributed to power and identity construction of the Gonzaga
through the substantial size of these maiolica services, as well as through clear
allusions to classical antiquity and individualizing markers used to decorate each dish.
Using recent scholarship on things, I will discuss how the collecting and gifting of
these types of ceramics was tied to constructions of courtly authority in sixteenth-
century Italy. A central focus of my discussion will be the purpose of these objects,
which were most likely actively used in meals, as well as displayed on tiered credenze
at the country palaces of Isabella d’Este and her son, Federico II Gonzaga. Thus, the
reception of a painted, sixteenth-century maiolica dishes must be understood in two
ways: as vehicles for the provision of food in a convivial atmosphere and as works of
art meant for visual pleasure. In addition, we must consider how a multipart service
could be understood as a cohesive whole with a unified style and related iconography,
as well as each serving as an individual painted work of art.

LUNCH on your own

1:00 – 3:00 PM      Preserving the Intangible Through the Material ~ Part II
                    Panel Moderator: Paul Farber, American Culture, University of

Clinging Through Land: Historical Narratives and the Stakes of Land Conflict in
the Negev Region of Israel
Emily McKee, Anthropology, University of Michigan

       In the Negev region of Israel, Bedouin Arab and Jewish citizens and the
government are embroiled in disputes over access to land for homes, farming and
factories, and over the status of Bedouin villages.  Although this is often labeled as a
“land conflict,” what is actually at stake?  What does land mean for those who are
clashing over it? Land has long embodied a complex set of values for those on all
sides of this conflict.  Since its beginnings as a political movement, Zionist ideology
has looked to land, particularly shared labor in the land, as the material means
necessary for preserving a threatened Jewish people.  But the particular land sought
by Zionists came with social attachments.  In the Negev desert, Bedouin Arabs found
their own land connections suddenly challenged, and as they lost access to land, they
found other, less tangible aspects of their culture were being threatened, as well. 
During my ethnographic fieldwork in the region, one common refrain that resurfaced in
discussions with these Arab residents was the sense that something is being lost.  This
something was variable and difficult for my interlocutors to pin down, described as a
way of life, cultural identity, sense of belonging, or connection to nature.  But these
interlocutors all looked to land as the material means for preserving these slipping
away and intangible things.

       In this paper, I draw from Bedouin Arabs' historical narratives of land-use
practices to examine (a) what roles these narrators attribute to land in the past, and
(b) how they view changing relationships between land and people.  I argue that
participants in this conflict are clinging not just to land, but also through land.  They
are vying for land as a means of preserving a host of intangibles that are felt to be
lost or slipping away.  An awareness of this living presence of the past can help us
understand how land is understood in relation to current social upheavals.  

Preserving History, but at Whose Cost? An Artist’s Battle to Reclaim Her Life 
Gabrielle A. Berlinger, Folklore, Indiana University

      In 1943, a 20-year old Jewish art student from Czechoslovakia, Dina Gottliebova,
and her mother were sent the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. During their two-year
internment, Dina and her mother were spared an otherwise certain death when she
agreed to paint portraits of Roma prisoners for Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele, who
wanted to document the prisoners’ “genetic inferiorities” before they were executed.
Dina painted 12 Roma prisoners’ portraits.

      Thirty years later, in 1973, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum contacted Dina
to say that seven of her portraits had survived the war and were now in the Museum’s
possession. Dina immediately traveled to Poland to authenticate her artwork, imagining
they would be returned to her and that she might gain a sense of psychological
closure to the horrific period of her internment. She was shocked, however, when the
Museum refused to return the paintings. Claiming that they were rare and crucial
evidence of the Nazi genocide, the Museum insisted that they be preserved on site as
authentic evidence of that historical event. Their educational and historical value
trumped Dina’s rights to ownership, they said; the paintings were the property of
humanity. For 36 years, Dinah fought to reclaim her artwork from the Museum and put
her past to rest. In July 2009, Dinah died of cancer at age 86, her battle to reclaim
her paintings and her past still raging.

      In this paper, I examine the Museum’s argument to preserve the original
paintings at Auschwitz at the cost of an individual’s rights and rest. To whom do the
paintings rightfully belong, and where should they be preserved? Whose heritage is
being contested—Dina’s or that of humanity? When must “authentic” material be
preserved, and when does its preservation cause destruction? 
Authoring Authority:  
Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Collecting for the Smithsonian
Suzanne Godby Ingalsbe, Folklore, Indiana University  

       In 1966 the Smithsonian Institution accessioned a prayer rug and related items
from West Pakistan that were collected and donated by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting.
Now the documentation for these artifacts is divided and separated from the objects,
stored in multiple Smithsonian locations and the South Carolina Historical Society
Archives. This presentation traces the process of tracking down the documentation of
these objects’ collection, accession, and exhibition and begins interpreting the meanings
made around these objects at various stages of their social lives.

       The museum’s position of social authority makes it possible – intentionally or
not – to drown out all voices but its own, foregrounding, and thus establishing as
truth, only one portion of the object’s meaning. But I contend that meaning is made
and preserved at the creation, collection, and curation stages of a museum object’s
lifecycle and that authority shifts to different voices in each of these contexts.
Reconnecting field notes, letters, and photographs with these artifacts demonstrates
how the context of collection and attribution of meanings by donors can impact the
context of display, and how the context of creation can become invisible once an
object is separated from its cultural milieu. By reuniting documentation and artifact, we
move closer to reestablishing the cultural context of creation and use that preceded
the objects’ museum life. 

The Liberation of Invisibility: 
Irish Quiltmakers’ Expressions of Memory and Identity
Emer Fahy, Women's Studies/Sociology, University College Cork, Ireland

       This paper arises from research for my doctoral thesis in Women’s Studies at
University College Cork, addressing the motivation for women’s involvement in quilting. 
Extensive interviews reveal that the cultural invisibility of quilts and quilting in Ireland
(in contrast to its iconic status in the US), supported by the myths of frugality and
functionality surrounding them, enables women to comfortably access this medium of
self-expression. In this paper I will focus on the importance of disidentification for Irish
women accessing quilting as a form of self-expression, or identity, and the
incorporation of memory or personal stories in quilts. 

       The preservation of controlled and uncontrolled memory can be traced through
both the artifact and the process.  Quilts are commonly made in honour of specific
memories or life events (births, marriages, achievement of majority etc.) and in the
making of a quilt, memories associated with its materials are re-discovered by the
quilter.  By the nature of the long process, the quilter unselfconsciously incorporates
parallel memories in the final artifact.  While a quilt is invariably passed on with a
public story, which is ‘read’ on every showing and is an essential part of the longer-
term value of the quilt, private memories are retained by the quilter and are usually
not explicitly represented in the quilt’s style or subject. However, it may be possible to
show that the choice of technique or approach can sometimes reveal unacknowledged
aspects of the quilter’s state of mind. 


3:30 – 5:00 PM       Museums and Objects
                     Panel Moderator: Henrike Florusbosch, Anthropology and
                     Museum Studies, University of Michigan

Residual Categorical Imperatives
Sara Mithra, Folklore, UC Berkeley

       A persistent dichotomy in anthropology museums is the semiotic, co-constitutive
relationship between text and object that allows collections to represent culture
through claims to referencing some original context. Historical collecting practices rely
on the usefulness of field notes and provenience that first substantiate the authenticity
of objects and then substitute their own authority for that of the ethnographic material
fragment. Ideally, meaning seems to arise from qualities inherent in objects and yet
can only be articulated through supplementary contextual information. Overwhelmed by
millions of  inadequately identified ethnographic pieces, residuals languish in
cupboards, deemed neither informative nor aesthetically pleasing.
      George Pepper's ethnological and archaeological collecting practices in the
Southwest at the turn of the century hint that use lurks in the very uselessness of
adding something like “a small pebble” to a set of fine Zuni pots. Discursive acts of
naming and categorizing suggest that Pepper relied on type specimens to authenticate
his role as researcher by emphasizing origin and process over quality or age. The
resultant interior and self-referential network creates a typological system whose
context is its own stated comprehensiveness, not a pseudo-natural taxonomic structure
nor an embodiment of racial difference.
        Museums must be reflexive of the way that typologized collections produce
meaning, disrupting chains of erased labor that replace one context with another to
produce authenticity. A panoply of effective exhibition modes might represent social
affordances of materiality without recourse to contextual objects.
Collection Culture in Early 19th-Century Dejima: Representation and Material
Resistance in the Blomhoff and Siebold Ethnographic Collections
Joshua Evan Schlachet, History/Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan

       This paper will deal with cross-cultural materiality and mentality in the collection
and display of late Edo period food ephemera, concentrating on the mutual acts of
amassing and perceiving material objects related to food and eating from the Dutch
Factory on Dejima in Nagasaki. Through a mutual process of meaning construction and
identification, the Dutch and Japanese both ascribed differing conceptions of
preservation and display value to culinary objects, applying and projecting their own
glimpses and gazes of each other’s food cultures. I will focus on two of the most
extensive collections of Edo period ephemera: the National Museum of Ethnology in
Leiden, the Netherlands and the Dejima Museum in Nagasaki. The collections mobilize
divergent curatorial strategies, the former emphasizing the de-contextualized object and
the latter recreating elaborate scenes of Dutch life on Dejima through the interplay of
historical objects and full-scale architectural reproductions, resurrecting an experiential
Dejima-as-space. These archives and their divergent approaches raise compelling
questions of what constituted collectable items cross-culturally, how they were
conceived and how these historically contingent styles of collecting have informed the
parameters of their contemporary museum exhibitions. By what processes does a bowl
transition between functional receptacle, memorabilia item, souvenir, museum piece and
object of historical inquiry? How is the experience of history facilitated differently by
walking versus seeing, touching or tasting? Such lines of inquiry remain pertinent to
our contemporary interaction with material ‘things’ as we as academics grapple with
our own place within the historical lifespan of physical objects.

Shed Skins: Decaying Garments in the Archive
Katherine Lennard, Visual Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

       The act of preserving a body, regardless of motivation, is an attempt to arrest
the natural process of decay; it is, in effect, an effort to stop time. Therefore, to
preserve a body is not only to transform it from subject to object, but to fix that
object in time and space. While this notion of permanence is admittedly limited, the
lifespan of such preserved bodies extends far beyond that of any human being. Time
may still act upon the preserved body, as dusty limbs turn to clouds of dust with the
slightest provocation, but at a rate markedly different from the rapid decline of
corporeal tissue. 
        In a museum setting, garments can take the place of preserved corpses.
Designed and constructed to be worn by bodies, garments are not only filled with and
animated by bodies, but retain pieces of those bodies as flakes of skin, as well as
drops of sweat, blood, and other somatic fluids are ground into the fibers with each
wearing. This paper considers the work performed by garments in the setting of the
Chicago History Museum, examining the ways in which garments both perform the roles
of bodies absent from the museum collection, but also address the inevitability of
decay. Through the writings of art historian Alois Reigl, archaeologist Michael Shanks
and sociologist Avery Gordon, garments in acid free boxes may be seen not as objects
of artistic or historical merit, but also the preserved skins of the bodies they once

Thoughts and Things: The Role of the Object in a Gallery of Ideas
Andrea McDonnell, Communications Studies and Museum Studies, University of Michigan

       Drawing from my experience as a staff member at Ann Arbor’s Gallery Project,
this talk will explore the role of the art object within an institution that does not house
a permanent collection.  Although it exhibits nine annual shows, featuring a wide range
of artists working in a variety of mediums, Gallery Project does not consider itself
home to any particular artist or artwork.  Instead, directors Pritchet and DePietro have
dubbed the organization “a gallery of ideas.”  This talk will investigate the challenges
and possibilities of idea-based art exhibition, specifically examining the collaborative
relationships that make this style of exhibition possible, and will seek to propose ways
in which differently organized art institutions may be able to incorporate idea, rather
than object, centered exhibits into their current practices.  By incorporating flexible,
theme-based exhibits into their display schedules, I will argue that art institutions
enhance the variety of ways in which visitors can experience and make meaning from
art objects; thus, expanding the potential for both thoughts and things.

7:00 PM       Informal evening gathering, downtown Ann Arbor

              [location TBA]

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