Master’s Program in Aesthetics and Politics
Each academic year, the program is hosting a visiting scholar and/or practicing artist to teach one MA/MFA-only course, either in the Fall or in the Spring semester.
About the Position
The Visiting Faculty teaches one graduate course in any area addressing the intersection of aesthetic and political questions. They are expected to actively participate in the life of the program. Visiting Faculty are generally scholars and/or practicing artists working in areas not currently covered in the program curriculum. We are especially keen on hosting scholars on sabbatical or practicing artists with a special interest in the program.
For questions about the Visiting Faculty position, or to express your interest in the position, please contact faculty Martín Plot.
We are delighted to announce that the 2012-2013 Visiting Faculty position will be held by Rita Gonzalez. Rita is Associate Curator in the Department of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gonzalez’s curatorial collaboration with filmmaker Jesse Lerner, Mexperimental Cinema, was the first survey of experimental and avant-garde media art from Mexico and traveled to the Pacific Film Archives; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Harvard Film Archives; the Guggenheim Museums (New York and Bilbao), and film festivals internationally. From 1997-1999, she was the Lila Wallace Curatorial Intern at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. At MCA San Diego, she worked on numerous exhibitions, lectures and film programs, as well as serving as curatorial coordinator for William Kentridge: Weighing and Wanting. Together with film scholar Norma Iglesias, she curated a film and video series for inSITE 2000. Gonzalez co-curated the 2006 California Biennial and Adria Julia: La Villa Basque at the Orange County Museum of Art, 20 Years Ago Today at the Japanese American National Museum, and the traveling exhibition Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement for LACMA. As part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time, she co-curated with C. Ondine Chavoya, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, the first retrospective exhibition about the Los Angeles-based conceptual art and performance group.
Rita's course--the Fall 2012 Aesthetics and Politics lecture series--will explore current conversations and debates driving the contemporary art curatorial field. In addition to a research and writing component, the course will be structured through case studies (of exhibitions, biennials, and socially engaged projects) as well as through site and studio visits. Among the topics driving the course will be the expanded field of the curatorial (or, as some say, the “paracuratorial”); the impact of institutional critique on museums and arts organizations; and an increased critical reflexivity reflected in the large number of publications, lectures, and symposia devoted to curatorial practice. The course will culminate in a group curatorial project.
More info TBA soon.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, the Visiting Faculty position was held by Kate Elswit. During her time at CalArts, Kate hosted a talk by Nicholas Ridout.
Kate Elswit is an academic and dancer whose research on performing bodies combines cultural analysis, dance history, performance theory, German studies, and experimental practice. Before receiving her PhD in German from the University of Cambridge, she completed an MA in European Dance Theatre Practice at Laban, and undergraduate degrees in Dance and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. She came to Stanford University in 2009 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, and has taught courses listed in the departments of Drama, German Studies, Art History, and in the Dance Division. Between 2006-2009, Kate taught practical and theoretical courses in the graduate school at Laban, as well as interdisciplinary undergraduate topics at the University of Cambridge. She was also on the commission for MA Solo/Dance/Authorship, Germany’s first practice-led masters degree in dance.
Kate’s publications have received two major awards for scholarship: her TDR:The Drama Review article “Berlin . . . Your Dance Partner is Death” won the Gertrude Lippincott Award from the Society of Dance History Scholars for the best English-language article published in dance studies in 2009, and her Modern Drama article “The Some of the Parts: Prosthesis and Function in Bertolt Brecht, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Jooss” won the Sally Banes Publication Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research for the best book or essay to explore the intersections of theatre and dance/movement between 2007-2008. Other articles have appeared in Performance Research and Art Journal, and a new essay is forthcoming in the edited collection New German Dance Studies from University of Illinois Press. Her current book project Watching Weimar Dance (under contract with Oxford University Press) concerns physicality and meaning-making at the intersections of dance and Weimar culture, focusing on Valeska Gert, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Jooss, Anita Berber, Mary Wigman, and the Tiller Girls. She is also interested in issues of engaged spectatorship, historical retrieval, contemporary European performance, and exile.
As a practitioner, Kate is committed to multiple possibilities, both implicit and explicit, for working between the critical and creative. She has danced professionally for companies including Lucky Plush Productions, Hedwig Dances, and Compagnie Felix Ruckert, and her choreographic work has appeared in solo performances and festivals in the USA and Europe. As artistic director of Something Modern, she is invested not only in making performances, but also in developing conversations through projects of curation and dramaturgy. She is on the editorial board for Dance Theatre Journal.
You can find a description of Kate's Spring 2012 elective class below.
CS727: Bodies Watching Bodies: Participation, Spectatorship, and the Ethics of Witnessing
How can theatre – in its broadest terms – serve as practice and as metaphor for relationships with the Other? In theatrical spaces, sometimes we watch, and sometimes we choose to look away. Sometimes we are asked to engage physically, others to make mental leaps that require extreme dexterity. The language of performance has been useful for developing critical and philosophical models of such relations, at the same time as those models have also been tested, applied, and altered through theatre, installation, and performance. Our goal in this class is to gain familiarity with performance scholarship on spectatorship, with a view toward the ways in which these texts help us to theorize a moment of exchange that reaches beyond the building that contains lights, curtains, sets, etc. We begin from dialogues that seem discrete: on the one hand texts by practitioners, such as Brecht, Artaud, and Etchells, who proposed art forms that changed the experience of spectatorship in order to alter its political efficacy, and, on the other, texts by Rancière, Bourriaud, and Manning among others, that have drawn on models of live artistic encounters to develop theories of social interaction. We then work towards increasing theoretical convergence in recent texts by performance scholars including Ridout, Read, Dolan, and Schneider, which use the language of performance to develop critical and philosophical understandings of encounter. Special focus is given to the place of feeling in this mix, both the body-to-body exchange of kinesthesia, and the ways in which critical thought can be developed through extreme affective responses or through boredom. In the process, we will also explore recent developments in performance practice, such as the one-to-one performance, and test our theoretical readings against the seemingly democratic modes of participation that they propose.
2010-2011 (Visiting Lecturer)
The Visiting Lecturer position offered an opportunity for close collaboration with students and faculty in the Aesthetics and Politics program (based in the School of Critical Studies) as well as in the institute’s other programs and schools (the MFA writing program and the Schools of Art, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theatre). Visiting lecturers had full access to the institute’s library and research facilities and were invited to participate in all events organized by the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics, in particular the Aesthetics and Politics lecture series organized in both the Fall and the Spring semesters. This was a strictly one-year position created for advanced graduate students, recently graduated PhD-candidates, postdoctoral fellows, professors, or artists doing research in the Los Angeles area, who were interested in teaching at CalArts and using the institute’s facilities.
During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Visiting Lecturer position was held by Matthew McGarvey.
Matt McGarvey does interdisciplinary theoretical work in the fields of music, art, philosophy, cognitive science and political theory; he also makes sound and video constructions. He received his M.A. in philosophy from Villanova University, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in the Critical Studies and Experimental Practices program in the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. His current research deals with a set of inter-related topics. First, he is involved in a synthesis of ecological cognitive scientific theories of perception with post-structuralist analyses of the influence of social praxis upon bodily behavior. In this regard he hopes to show concretely how social practices, as well as technologies and architectures, play a formative role in the immediate patterns of perception, while at the time demonstrating the systematic exclusion of this social and political dimension from scientific discourse. In general, he seeks to integrate these insights into a larger aesthetic theory derived from Theodor Adorno and Gilles Deleuze; in particular, he is investigating specific aesthetic practices revolving around ambient stimuli in social space, including both “practical” modulations of sound and light by advertising and police agencies, and the varied “artistic” practices leading through soundscape art to ambient electronica. His sound and video work have been shown in galleries in Los Angeles and Rotterdam.
Included below is a description of Matt's elective course for the Fall of 2010. Matt presented his work at Theory Tuesdays during the Spring 2011 semester. For a video of the talk, click here.
CSHM531 20th Century Theory
This course will trace a number of lines of intersection between theoretical critique and critical artistic practice. We will survey as thoroughly as possible the forms that “critique” has taken in the past century, especially after the world wars, and which together form the foundation grounding contemporary theoretical and artistic critical positions. To this end we will move sequentially through a series of interdependent types of critique, from Critical Theory’s early treatments of aesthetic and temporal relations to commodities, to theories of ideology, through a particular line of feminist and gender critique deeply connected with psychoanalysis, to semiotic approaches. Then we will move to critique dealing specifically with social space, with bodily practices, and finally with systems, networks and relations. Texts will vary from straight theory, to art-historical and art-critical, to artists’ own writings. On the theoretical side these will include classic, seminal texts by Marx, Freud, Lacan, Adorno and Benjamin, 1960s-1980s staples like Debord, Althusser, Foucault, Barthes, Kaja Silverman and Slavoj Zizek, and contemporary material including Brian Massumi and Nicolas Bourriaud. Texts by artists will include Antonin Artaud, Allan Kaprow, Adrian Piper, Joseph Beuys, Andrea Fraser, the Critical Art Ensemble and Olafur Eliasson. Our treatment of particular texts will be regularly accompanied by attention to specific artistic practice.