Photography and Philosophy
At LACMA, March 13-14, 2015

Nonsite’s conference on Photography and Philosophy is just a few months away. Our submission deadline is November 15th. For more information on how to be involved, click on the image below or see our Events page. Photography and Philosophy Poster

B-Side Modernism
At Emory University, January 23-24

B-Side Modernism is almost here. For more information click on the image below or visit our events page.

B-Side Modernism Flyer

The idea behind “B-Side Modernism” is to consider the work of 20th century poets and artists whose meaning and value have yet to be fully realized. The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University is an amazing resource; more than any other collection, it represents the richness and diversity of English language poetry in the 20th century and beyond. For nonsite.org, the collection – and the Mellon Foundation’s support of this project – presents a fantastic opportunity, not just to support new scholarly work, but to open up a major archive to meaningful public conversation.

1906_MSS0995_B007_I004_P001_PROD

‘Endless Talk’:
Beat Writers and the Interview Form

By (Kings College London)

While we don’t tend to think of William Burroughs in terms of his engagement with the interview, in fact the form underpins much of his (and his collaborators’) work from the 1960s forwards, including the cut-up. Taking the Beat concept of self-interviewing to its extreme conclusion, Burroughs and frequent collaborator Gysin, turn the form’s interrogative function on the artist and the artwork. In doing so they highlight the interview’s potential to be a critically engaged, radical form.

Figure 5: C Comics 2 (1965).

Joe Brainard’s Grid, or, the Matter of Comics

By (University of New Mexico)

A comic that merely uses Nancy, rather than a painting that appropriates Nancy, does not seek to elevate its subject matter. Instead, as is so often the case with Brainard’s Nancy drawings and paintings, the point is to devalue painting, to turn painting into a valueless form, by folding painting into comics.

Can We Criticize Foucault?

By (Free University of Brussels)

Foucault was highly attracted to economic liberalism: he saw in it the possibility of a form of governmentality that was much less normative and authoritarian than the socialist and communist left, which he saw as totally obsolete. He especially saw in neoliberalism a “much less bureaucratic” and “much less disciplinarian” form of politics than that offered by the postwar welfare state. He seemed to imagine a neoliberalism that wouldn’t project its anthropological models on the individual, that would offer individuals greater autonomy vis-à-vis the state.

01 Degas -Portraits at the Stock Exchange, 1879

Capital in the Nineteenth Century:
Edgar Degas’s Portraits at the Stock Exchange in 1879

By (Yeshiva University)

What did Degas intend by choosing to depict these men, at this location, murkily performing a “clandestine commerce”? Or more precisely what kind of financial transaction are they performing, and with what significance for a beholder of the work at the time? Ultimately, the argument will turn on whether the painting’s representation of their business dealing can be understood without a more precise accounting of its location. It will also hinge on the historical retrieval of the nature and significance of finance capitalism at the moment of the painting’s production in 1879.

Fig. 7. Detail of Bonnard, Place le soir (The Square at Evening)

Bonnard’s Sidewalk Theater

By (Princeton University)

Bonnard produced over one hundred paintings and prints in the 1890s that capture the bustling pace and brisk energy of Paris. He later referred to this subject as “the theater of the everyday,” and it is his particular vision of this sidewalk theater, and the viewer’s involvement in it, that I will investigate here, with particular attention to how his engagement with new media mattered to developing this vision. Playing off the chromatic constraints of lithography and echoing concurrent developments in early cinema, Bonnard shuttles the viewer between foreground and background, intimate proximity and distance. In so doing he explores the duality of the street as a disorienting amalgam of schematic backdrops and looming intrusions into our personal space, both seemingly captured at the limits of our visual field.

Figure 13. Louis­Ernest Barrias, Death Mask of Henri Regnault, 1871, plaster, Musée Carnavalet, Paris.

How Orientalist Painters Die

By (Williams College)

Orientalist painters left the world under varied circumstances – violent, painful, peaceful, or in ways simply unknown, in other words just like anyone else. And yet the basic argument of this essay is that how Orientalists died is not only an empirical but discursive question. From this latter perspective, their manner of passing would be mediated across a rich poetics of mortality whose shape and texture these remarks explore.

The Real Problem with Selma
It doesn't help us understand the civil rights movement, the regime it challenged, or even the significance of the voting rights act

By (University of Pennsylvania)

The victory condensed in the forms of participation enabled by the VRA is necessary—a politics that does not seek institutional consolidation is ultimately no politics at all—but not sufficient for facing the challenges that confront us in this moment of rampant capitalist offensive against social justice, but neither are the essentially nostalgic modalities of protest politics often proposed as more authentic than the mundane electoral domain. It is past time to consider Prof. Legette’s aphorism and engage its many implications. And that includes a warrant to resist the class-skewed penchant for celebrating victories won in the heroic moment of the southern civil rights movement as museum pieces disconnected from subsequent black American political history and the broad struggle for social justice and equality.

B-Side Modernism

In June of 2014, nonsite.org, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, sponsored four fellows to do research in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University. Danowski’s synoptic ambition—to collect literally all poetry in English published in the 20th century, including the independent journals, short-run chapbooks and broadsides that gave modernism its distinctive energy—has created an opportunity to examine the materials out of which our accounts of the century have been made, without the influence of a shaping hand.

The work of our B-Side Fellows, presented here, takes the shapelessness of “everything” as a provocation to investigate the divergences between canonical accounts of modernism in poetry; to explore the many roads not taken, whether they manifest in the unedited arc of a career, in the one-off achievement, or the unclassified ephemera of a moment. What else might modernism have been? And how do such reconsiderations of modernism bear on what happens on the flip side of the mid-century divide? Edited by Jennifer Ashton and Oren Izenberg

Hearing the Tone of the Self:
Toward An Alternative Ethics of Translation

By (University of Louisville)

Attunement and transaction — rather than forcible replacement— are the preferred metaphors here for describing a good translation. And neither “attunement” nor “transaction” invokes a scenario in which something is being forcibly or forever transformed or deformed into something else.

“Crowded Air”:
Previous Modernisms in some 1964 New York Little Magazines

By (University of Chicago)

Like Ed Sanders’s antagonistically and aptly named Fuck You Press, whose publication list includes bootleg mimeograph printings of W.H. Auden and Ezra Pound, little magazines from 1964 serve as case studies for an avant-garde scene that grapples with the enshrinement of/resistance to previous avant-gardes…and an engagement with social antagonism….Ultimately, these scenes’ interest in social self-documentation is propelled by an attempt to get around the problem posed by the relegation of poems (of whatever aesthetic genealogy) to the cultural sphere.

“B-Side Modernism” Exhibition

An exhibition of images from The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, selected by our B-Side Fellows to accompany the essays in Issue 15.

Nineteenth-Century France Now:
Art, Technology, Culture

In this issuenonsite features new work on 19th-century French art and visual culture, from telegraphy to lithography, Orientalists to Post-Impressionists, Manet to Degas. Edited by Bridget Alsdorf.

When I was a Telegrapher

By (University College London)

It is to the afterlife of optical telegraphy that this article turns, less to trace a linear technical history characterized by patterns of evolution and decay, rupture and regress, than to suggest that visuality continued to inflect the subject of telegraphy in France after the 1850s, and to draw out some of the ways in which telegraphy provided a means of conceptualizing the historical meaning of diverse media. As the century progressed, the emergence of other media with an ability to conjure the past—most notably photography, in its various forms—did not lead to a decline in telegraphic metaphors: rather, it gave them new life.

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