Alumni Lecture: Andy Battaglia

April 14, 6pm

UGA alum Andy Battaglia (class of '97) will talk about his path from Athens to New York, where he has been writing about art and culture for more than 20 years. Currently the executive editor of ARTnews and Art in America, he has written for publications starting with the Red & Black and Flagpole and continuing through to FriezeArtforum, the Paris Review, the Onion A.V. Club, the Wall Street JournalPitchfork, the Guardian, and many others. Among the artists and thinkers he has engaged are Matthew Barney, Kevin Beasley, Carol Bove, Fred Moten, La Monte Young, Robert Wilson, Morton Subotnick, Michael Stipe, Alanna Heiss, and others. With a special interest in music and sound, he has also worked as an organizer and curator for Unsound, a project devoted to music and sound-art that presents concerts, discussions, and presentations in Krakow, Poland, as well as New York and points beyond. 
The talk will touch on the ups and down of a life lived through journalism, different approaches to reporting and criticism, and ways that coverage of art in its many forms has evolved and changed. 

Rest Notes: On Sleep and Black Contemporary Art

March 2, 6pm

Josie Hodson will discuss Black contemporary artists exploring the space of Black sleep, subverting its biopolitical regulation and the lethal expectation of perpetual industry. Artists such as Jennifer Packer, Noah Davis, and House/Full of Blackwomen show us the ways that visual representations of Black sleep can constitute quiet gestures of fugitivity and interiority in a culture that celebrates endurance over rest. Hodson will discuss projects bound by an ethos of collectivity, arguing that the project of transforming the social and political conditions that reproduce Black sleeplessness cannot be pursued in isolation.
Josie Roland Hodson is a PhD student in History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University, where her interdisciplinary research focuses on Black diaspora aesthetics and notions of Black sociality. Previously, she has worked at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Most recently, her article "Rest Notes: On Black Sleep Aesthetics” appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of October. 

Jack Davis Lecture: The Black School

February 16, 6pm

Members of the Black School Design Studio, Joseph Cuillier and Kacy George, will discuss their design process and their work in creating the identity and website for the Athenaeum.

The Black School: Studio is an art and design firm that trains youth in paid apprenticeships to execute client work for third party organizations with the long-term intention of self-sustaining TBS programing. Their initial host and client was the Bronx Museum of Art’s anti-gun violence program, with whom they are returning for a second year. This engagement offers the opportunity to provide professional artistic training and paid work to TBS Alumni and selected youth of the community the museum serves in exchange for quality, community center graphic design services.

Joseph Cuillier (b. 1988, New Orleans, LA) is a multidisciplinary artist who explores abstraction as technology, language in space, and the history of Black radical pedagogies through social practice, installation, textile art, and design. Cuillier's installations use fashion and architecture to render bodies in space and bodies in action in an attempt to bridge gaps between living and form. Currently based in Harlem, NYC where he achieved an MFA from Pratt Institute and is currently a faculty member at Parsons and Pratt. Cuillier's work has been exhibited, collected, and presented at New Museum, MoMA Library, Bauhaus Dessau, Bronx Museum of Art, Wallach Gallery at Columbia University, Schafler Gallery at Pratt Institute, among others. Cuillier has been an artist-in-residence/fellow at Sweet Water Foundation courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Ideas City NOLA, Antenna, New Museum, The Laundromat Project, and A Blade of Grass.

Kacy George believes that data and a clear voice supplements effective communication. He leverages his aptitude for creative thinking, software learning, and client objectives to present fruitful solutions. George has years of experience providing quality design, marketing, and administrative support in a variety of professional settings and has worked at organizations such as Whitney Museum of American Art, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Nova XR Media, The Laundromat Project, The City College of New York, and The Black School.

Anthony Cross: The Ethics of Meme Culture

October 13, 7:00 pm

The omnipresence of the internet in the twenty-first century has brought with it an explosion of new forms of vernacular culture, the most significant of which is the internet meme. Meme culture is participatory, ephemeral, and anonymous, yet it offers important new opportunities for aesthetic expression. This talk focuses on the ethical significance of meme culture. In particular, I'll argue that a chief value of internet memes lies in their ability to facilitate the formation and expression of communities with shared values; memes are the cultural glue that binds our internet communities together. At the same time, memes' ability to go viral—and to quickly spread beyond the communities in which they originated—raises some difficult ethical questions: Who owns a meme? What should we do about memes that turn racist or memes which encourage hate? Can meme culture be the subject of problematic cultural appropriation? Along the way, I'll also discuss the nature and ontology of memes, the recent development of NFT sales of memes, and the relationships between meme culture and more traditional forms of vernacular culture.

Anthony Cross is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Texas State University. His primary research interests are in aesthetics and ethics; his published research focuses on the normative significance of relationships with artworks and other cultural objects. He has written about the aesthetics of internet culture for Aesthetics for Birds and has recently authored a chapter on the ethics of internet culture and new media for the Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Art.

This lecture is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Aesthetics in the Expanded Field Research Group at the University of Georgia.

Lisa Saltzman

October 7, 5:30 pm

There is a piece by Paul Klee, the Angelus Novus, of 1920. That it is known and known not as the “new angel” but as “the angel of history,” is largely thanks to the work of the German-Jewish philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin, who, having conjured the image in prose in the posthumously published, influential essay, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” anchored it in our collective imaginations.   For no one saw more of the picture than Benjamin. Soon after acquiring the Angelus from Klee’s Munich dealer in 1921, the little work on paper became one of Benjamin’s most precious of possessions.  So cherished was Klee’s Angelus that Benjamin mounted it above his writing desk in Berlin. Later, it was among the few belongings, beyond his own unfinished manuscripts, that he took with him in his battered briefcase when fleeing Nazi Germany. And in 1940, it was among the few items that he entrusted to a friend for safekeeping as he prepared to flee Paris, fearing that he might not survive the exilic existence into which the Third Reich had propelled him.

Klee’s Angelus is now safely housed in the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, after a long journey that began in Paris, where Benjamin entrusted the picture to Georges Bataille, who bequeathed it to Theodor Adorno, who sent it to Gershom Scholem, in what was then still Palestine, whose widow donated it to the museum in 1987.  Few have since seen the actual picture, as it is too delicate to be on view. That said, by total chance, Lisa Saltzman, Professor, and Chair of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College, got to see Klee’s Angelus several years ago.  And all that emerged from that encounter inspired her to embark on a new project, one which begins with mining the stories we have inherited, and the stories we continue to tell, about Klee’s fragile little picture. Saltzman’s talk at The Athenaeum will take us into those stories.  And, in so doing, it will also provide a glimpse of the larger project inspired by that serendipitous encounter with Klee’s little picture, also featured in a photograph by Trevor Paglen, currently on view in his exhibition "Vision After Seeing" at the Athenaeum. 

Lisa Saltzman is a Professor of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. She received her BA from Princeton in 1988 and her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1994.  She has received fellowships from the DAAD, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, the Clark Art Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation.   

At Bryn Mawr, she teaches courses in modern and contemporary art and, from 2003-2009, served as the Director of the Center for Visual Culture.  Saltzman is the author of Anselm Kiefer and Art after Auschwitz (Cambridge University Press, 1999), Making Memory Matter: Strategies of Remembrance in Contemporary Art (University of Chicago Press, 2006), and Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and is the co-editor, with Eric Rosenberg, of Trauma and Visuality in Modernity (University Press of New England, 2006).