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Art Speech—A Symposium on Symposia, Day 1

Friday, May 20, 2011
1:00 PM

This two-day program brings together artists, art historians, scholars, critics, writers, and speech and performance studies experts to discuss possible frameworks for better understanding issues surrounding art speech and methods for being direct and achieving clarity in spoken public presentations in the visual arts. The spoken public presentation is central in the field of the visual arts, particularly in the area of adult learning. Public program departments in museums operate based on a set of conventions regarding the way they present lectures or discussions about art involving artists, art historians, and/or theorists. Yet very little qualitative analysis has been conducted on the effectiveness of these presentations. Often times, public presentations are deemed impenetrable or obscure. What is communicated in writing cannot always be easily grasped when presented on stage.

Using a variety of strategies, this year’s forum will seek to anatomize art historians' and artists' habits at the podium. Sessions will include reenactments of famous acts of criticism, critiques of the academic slide show, an investigation of the effects of apparently authoritative presentations, experiments in the effects of stage presence, and analyses of the academic introduction and of the performative.

Program Schedule

1:00–1:15 p.m.
Opening Remarks

Pablo Helguera, Director of Adult and Academic Programs, Department of Education, The Museum of Modern Art; and James Elkins, E.C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

1:15–2:30 p.m.
Session 1: The Slide Talk and Museum Talk Dissected

Introduction by Pablo Helguera
Carey Young, artist, on her recent work Speechcraft, a mass participative event involving the public-speaking club Toastmasters
Monika Szewczyk, Head of Publications, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, on modes of visual presentation
Jonathan Gilmore, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, New Haven, examines the slide lecture
Discussion and Q&A

2:30–2:45 p.m.
Coffee Break

2:45–4:00 p.m.
Session 2: The Art Historical Lecture

Introduction by James Elkins
Video excerpt of lecture by T. J. Clark
Claus Noppeney, Professor, Bern University of the Arts, Bern, Switzerland, discusses video excerpt
Ellen Levy, artist and Associate Professor, Pratt Institute, New York, analyzes video excerpt

4:00–5:00 p.m.
Panel discussion and Q&A

Respondents: Marjorie Perloff, Professor Emerita of Humanities, Stanford University; Benjamin Binstock, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Cooper Union, New York; Pablo Helguera; and James Elkins

Contemporary Art Forum: Art Speech—A Symposium on Symposia, Day 1 (1)

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