Presentation Abstracts

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    "Spirituality of Non-Sacred Space: Sanctifying a More Socialist Agenda," by Kirsten Armstrong

    The Centennial Hall was built for the 1913 centennial celebration of the defeat of Napoleon in an effort to define the city of Wroclaw, then Breslau, as a place of importance and prestige. As the place from which the call to arms against Napoleon came a link between the city and a significant moment in history created one compelling reason for the construction of the building. In light of relatively contemporary world exhibitions, creating a permanent exhibition center in Breslau for the advancement of the city in the future became another. Designed by Max Berg, the Centennial Hall broke from the regular tradition of German monuments. Where previously they had required time and money to visit and had been grandly ornamented, Centennial Hall became a modern monument to concrete construction right beside the city. Through the gradual stepping of the otherwise large dome and its more sprawling mass a separation was made between it and the more formally monumental past examples. This along with whisperings of a more socialist agenda created a certain level of discord between the city, people, and Kaiser.

    The Centennial Hall is hailed as an ahistoric attempt at democratizing space by some scholars. For others, it is discussed in conjunction with Gothic influences through experience of the space and massing as opposed to ornamentation and style. There are brief mentions of the Hagia Sophia as being one of many domes looked to for inspiration. However, little is said about an influence that becomes apparent when both are visited and through writings of Berg on the spirituality of space. It appears there were tentative plans to later commission murals for the interior walls, a design scheme that compares to use of frescoes in Byzantine churches. Coupled with an interesting change of pace from architect to devotee of Christian mysticism in 1925 when he quit his job of chief city architect, there is a compelling feeling of sanctity to a space that is written about as a place for all despite social and class affiliations. Berg grappled with ideas of spirituality infusing it into his work with references to sacred sites and new interpretations of old religious structural schemes. I argue against those who call it ahistoric; through experience and massing the space within Centennial Hall becomes sacred, reminiscent of the Hagia Sophia, a connection that I will discuss at length through their aesthetics, approach, and intention of use. Though not part of an organized religion there is a grander mission for the Centennial Hall than merely an events center. Understanding of the influences of the hall as a spiritual community center may be able to shed light on the success of its use and preservation today.

    For more information about Kirsten, please click here.

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Flight 93 National Memorial, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and the Pursuit of Child-Appropriate Memorial Designs," by Kaley Kilpatrick

    Millions of tourists, including children brought along by parents or teachers, journey to dark tourist sites marked by trauma and death year after year. It is an irony that for many of these dark sites, designers boast graphics of children on project proposals, professionals exhibit photographs of children on promotional materials, and agencies release children’s activity books as if all of these stakeholders hold concern for child tourists. Yet, the way children experience the design and interpretation of a dark tourist site, nonetheless troublesome, is the focus of little attention for designers of dark sites and scholars studying them. The highly emotional and intense historical events that constitute a dark tourist site make interpreting to a young audience a heavy task. Already too young to fully understand a dark site in its wider historical context, children are not prepared to face jarring images of terrorism, to come across faces and names of the dead, or to understand the solemness of human remains included in memorial design. However, virtually no published research on children as dark tourists exists.

    This paper compares two dark sites containing human remains as a stepping stone in exploring the relationship between child tourists and dark sites that has barely awakened academic and public interest or anxiety. With an analysis of how their design features and presentations relate to children interpreting the sites, the juxtaposition of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City is revealing of a divide between design and presentation of dark sites and the actual experience of children interpreting these sites. Ultimately, the comparison exposes new principles for shaping future dark sites with appropriate designs and presentations that remain mindful of little eyes, truly exemplifying darker aspects of the human experience in a sensible manner.

    For more information about Kaley, click here.

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Religion Transformed: The Christian Roots of a Secular Russian Craft," by Alli Mosco

    A modern staple of Russian identity in craft is the lacquer miniature. These crafts are typically small boxes, such as snuffboxes, powder boxes, and cigarette cases, which are covered in paper-mache and painted with miniature scenes of folk life, fairytales, and traditional songs. These crafts have been in production for nearly one hundred years, starting with the very early rise of communism and flourishing in the Soviet era.

    The origins of these objects are important because they are rooted in another longstanding Russian tradition – Orthodox icon painting. The villages that now produce lacquer boxes once were known for their skills and techniques in painting figures of the Orthodox Church for hundreds of years. Of course, once the Church became a target of the communist age and Orthodox icons became obsolete, these villagers had to take the skills they had from icon painting and transfer them to the secular imagery of the lacquer miniatures.

    The aim of my paper is to explore how deeply connected these two forms of art are. While they may be opposites in medium and subject matter, their connection is deeply rooted in the painterly style that stems from Byzantine Orthodox Christianity. Previous scholarship has only touched the surface on this connection. They may acknowledge the similarities in style, but they ignore the implications of using a Christian aesthetic in secular imagery. This scholarship also does not recognize the presence of Christian symbols and motifs apparent in many of these lacquer miniatures. St. George, a figure who appears in both icon paintings and in lacquer, will function as a case study to further demonstrate the way that religious imagery was appropriated to conform to secular, even Soviet, ideals.

    For more information about Alli, go here.

     

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Reinforcing Femininity: Exhibiting the Empress Dowager and Marie Antoinette in the 21st Century," by Liyi Chen

    Life-size screen projection of a collection of black and white photographs of an empress dowager and a marble bust of a queen are two feature works in two exhibition: Power Play: China’s Empress Dowager in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C. (September 24, 2011-January 29, 2012) and Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louise XIV to Marie-Antoinette in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (November 17, 2012 – March 31, 2013). How these very controversial royal women, who lived at the end of Imperial China and Monarchical France, were presented to the general public belies attitudes toward royalty and female leadership on the part of the curators?

    Exhibiting infamous historical figures could be sensitive, even in domestic context, and the complexities add up when the exhibits take place in international context. Curators faced a challenge about how to present these historical women who were seen as fashionistas, as well as head strong and powerful political advocates for change. From the wording of titles, public releases and wall text, to the arrangement of objects, the overall perspective presented of these historical figures does not emphasize their power or authority as leaders, but rather their adherence to tradition. Such a strategy for presentation was not declared by the curators, but nonetheless is the result as I will show through my analysis of the exhibits.

    The research consists of analyzing the exhibited objects singly and as a group as well as their presentation in the exhibit, analysis of the exhibition catalog and visitor feedback, and interviews with Curators including Mr. David Hugge, the Curator of “Power Play” and Head of Archives at Freer/Sackler Gallery and Martin Chapman, one curator of the “Royal Treasure” and Curator in charge of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. My goal is to evaluate the curatorial approach and methodology that framed these two exhibits and to raise both the curators and public’s awareness while approaching historical artworks that embody controversial historical figures and eras.

    For more information about Liyi, go here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Methodical Suffering: Chinese Buddhism as a Tool in Zhang Huan's Early Performance Art," by Sarah Horton

    At 11:30 am, on a sweltering June morning in 1994, a nude Zhang Huan sat down in a run-down public restroom in Beijing’s East Village, covered in a mixture fish oil and honey. Immediately swarmed by flies, Zhang maintained that position with perfect stillness for an hour, despite the stench and stifling 100° heat. Zhang allowed the flies to cover his body and did not react even as they entered his ears and nose, drawn to the viscous liquid coating his skin. Accompanied only by a few artist friends who would document this feat of endurance, Zhang went to this filthy public restroom to complete a work of performance art, a form of art practice banned in China, titled 12 Square Meters.

    This early performance by Zhang is one of his many works that demonstrate an engagement with elements of Chinese traditional culture. This is particularly the case with Chan Buddhism, a popular sect of Buddhism native to China with a focus on reaching buddhahood through self-contemplation. While Zhang never promoted his early work as engaged with traditional concepts, such engagement is made incredibly apparent in his later, international work. Focusing on 12 Square Meters, and in his referencing other relevant works by the artist from the 1990s, this thesis will examine the functional role of Chinese Buddhism in Zhang’s early performances. As these performances are ephemeral, I will rely on photographs, videos, and records documenting Zhang’s works. My research also depends on a wealth of information on Zhang and his art practice, as well as Buddhist ideology, in order to illuminate connections between Zhang’s work and practices such as meditation and self-immolation. This investigation will be carefully situated within the context of the specific social and political circumstances faced by Chinese artists in the last decade of the millennium, because these circumstances directly impacted and restricted the nature Zhang’s art practice. Ultimately, I seek to demonstrate that in 12 Square Meters and Zhang’s other work from the 1990s, Chinese Buddhist concepts are employed as tools or methods that the artist applies to the ideas he seeks to address in his performances. I will argue that these early works, born out of the repressive artistic conditions of the 1990s in China, display a level of engagement with Chinese traditional culture that is more subtle but no less powerful than Zhang’s later international art practice.

    For more information about Sarah, click here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "The University Studio: Oiticica, Rhodislandia, and Peripheral Strategies in Art Making," by Grace Kelly

    The students hovered around the small man, his Portuguese accent lilting as he showed them the space they would be making art in. The room was divided into cubicles with flossy white cloth and a mellow orange light that pulsated, creating an embryonic space. Outside, the cold, damp winds of November breezed through the coastal town of Kingston, Rhode Island. Helio Oiticica, a native of Brazil, was out of his element, and not just because of the weather. It was 1971 and he was creating a collaborative exhibition with art students at the University of Rhode Island, then a backwater state school where potato farmers and Italian immigrants sent their kids. The exhibition was called Rhodislandia:contact, an exhibition that faded with time, its location and incomplete documentation diminishing its historical remembrance.

    Oiticica is now a household name in the world of art history. Recently rediscovered, much has been written on his works, often concerning color and kinetics. He is defined as a radical who was forced to leave Brazil to make his environmental art, and his greatest works are often cited as being Tropicalia and Parangoles—-flashy, Brazil-centric pieces that conjure up images of sweaty favelas and of mangoes rotting in the steaming air of Rio. These flashy works have overshadowed Rhodislandia, which has never more than briefly mentioned. It is thus evident that color, kinetics, and the usual context in which Oiticica is discussed do not do justice to Rhodislandia. Indeed, Rhodislandia begs a different set of questions and a different approach.

     Oiticica was, first and foremost, an artist in the time of radical art-making and art-pedagogy. Amidst his contemporaries were Guy Debord, John Latham, and Fluxus. He spent time in London, Paris and New York, places where radical ideas were being created and exchanged, much of them attempting to de-stabilize conventional art institutions such as the museum and the gallery. The ‘spectacle’, as defined by Debord, had seeped into the very walls of the museum that had for centuries been filled with an anesthetic, Kantian, autonomous-art.

     Oiticica was not oblivious to this dialectic, and became engaged in combatting the spectacle. A unique response to this was manifested in his University activities, particularly Rhodislandia. I will examine Rhodislandia in the context of Oiticica’s interactions in the United States and London, and specifically his work with the university as a place of art-making, pedagogy and anti-institutionalization. To do this, I will use photographs and Oiticica’s own essays and reflections on his other university works to contextualize this particular piece. Oiticica’s goals at URI were not to simply make art-for-arts-sake or to incarnate theories of color in physical form. Rather, I will argue, he was attempting to break art free of the spectacle by engaging students in a peripheral setting.

    For more information about Grace, click here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Creation and Contemplation: The Flight 93 Memorial and The National September 11 Museum," by Alice Gallagher

    On September 11, 2001 at 8:42 am, United Flight 93 departed from Newark Liberty International Airport heading to San Francisco International Airport. Forty-six minutes into the flight, the route was redirected toward Washington D.C. as the four hijackers on board overtook the cockpit. The thirty-three passengers and seven crew members valiantly attempted to regain control of the plane before the aircraft crashed into an open field in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:03 am. All of the individuals on board perished, but their efforts to divert the plane’s target, the U.S. Capitol, avoided hundreds of possible fatalities.

    Memorials attempt to catalog the past to keep the spirit and the identity of the victims relevant as time progresses and the memory of their legacy fades. To honor the forty victims of United Flight 93, a memorial was erected in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and a room was dedicated in the 9/11 Museum in New York City. The curators and architects were challenged to honor the victims, while emphasizing their courageous actions. The modest Flight 93 Memorial subtly highlights the natural landscape of the crash site in an attempt to commemorate, reflect, and confront the emotions elicited from the story of the passengers and crew members. The room dedicated to United Flight 93 within the vast 9/11 Museum utilizes multiple immersive media, such as artifacts, photographs, and audio recordings to recreate the heroism, anguish, and chaos of the tragic event.

    My research analyzes the physical designs, the artifacts, the rhetoric, as well as personal interviews with curators, park rangers, and visitors to examine the relationship between the memorial production and the audience consumption. The Flight 93 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum are national sites dedicated to interpreting the story of United Flight 93, but the locations of the two sites and the presentation of the materials evoke drastically different responses from viewers. The secluded onsite memorial in Shanksville serves as a pensive homage to the event, while commemorating the life of each victim. In New York City, the offsite room attempts to place the crash within the larger context of the historic event through high-tech resources and factual information. The comparison of the two unique sites, my personal observations, and the audiences’ perceptions will reveal the curators’ and architects’ interpretations and objectives in commemorating United Flight 93 and the reaction these sites elicit from visitors. 

    For more information about Alice, go here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "The Politics of Display: Transnational Convergence in the Chinese Nationality Room," by Karen Lue

    The Chinese Nationality Room (CNR) in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning was one of the first nationality rooms to be built, dedicated in October 1939. These rooms were meant to represent minority groups in Pittsburgh, celebrating their cultures through the creation of a classroom that would embody aspects of each heritage through furniture and décor. However, the CNR presents a special case, as its planning and erection—organized by a committee of Chinese students, alumni, and community members—occurred in the midst of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and racial discrimination in the U.S., and rising nationalist sentiment and political turbulence in China, providing a complex, transnational context for its creation.

    This exhibition will demonstrate that the CNR stands as a memorial to not only Chinese cultural achievement, but also to Chinese-U.S. relations in the 1920s and 30s. Using materials from the CNR Archives, photographs, and other visual and textual sources contemporary to the Room’s creation, this exhibition will construct a narrative revealing the Room’s cross-cultural history of Chinese exclusion in the U.S., political turbulence in China, and their impacts on the Chinese population—particularly Chinese students—in the U.S. These students constituted an important subdivision of the Chinese immigrant population, representing the Chinese government’s efforts to modernize and acting as facilitators between American and Chinese culture. Seen within its historical context, the CNR can be viewed as an intervention to combat racial discrimination by endorsing China’s cultural and political significance, as well as an illustration of acculturation and cross-cultural acceptance. The exposition of the Room cannot be dissociated from the discrimination faced by the Chinese population and its efforts to mediate between two cultures. The Chinese Nationality Room is a testament beyond a celebration of Chinese culture, signifying a transnational history of the Chinese in America.

    For more information about Karen, go here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Radical Muralism in Three Dimensions: A Close Look at Siqueiros' May Day Political Float," by Abbey O'Brien

    On May 1, 1936, the streets of Manhattan’s garment district were flooded with over forty thousand Leftist sympathizers in observance of the annual May Day Parade for workers. Many of those involved in the procession carried banners or created ephemeral performance pieces to advocate for worker’s rights. None of these projects, however, were quite as dramatic as the piece that radical Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros and his Experimental Workshop designed for the parade. Siqueiros’ May Day Political Float violently attacks American capitalism and European fascism through its depiction of both a Wall Street tickertape machine and a Nazi swastika symbol on the head of a capitalist figure that holds a donkey and elephant in each of his hands. The three-dimensional Float advocates Communism through the form of a moving hammer that repeatedly smashes the tickertape machine and sprays blood-colored streamers all over the face of the capitalist figure. This piece was theatrical, revolutionary, violent, and a feat for a group of painters at Siqueiros’ Experimental Workshop.

    Siqueiros’ Float would certainly have caused a stir in the United States, for at the time, the CPUSA was advocating for less violent artistic imagery in an attempt to make their cause more palatable to a wider audience. Clearly, the Float is the antithesis of the subtle, peaceful imagery that was being advocated for, yet there remains little to no record of the reception of this object. Even in texts that survey Siqueiros’ career and his time in the United States, the Float is merely glazed over in discussion of the artist’s stylistic evolution. It becomes of interest, then, why so little attention has been paid to this dramatic and controversial work of art.

    Focusing primarily on Siqueiros’ writings from the 1930s and the trajectory of his career, this study will demonstrate the importance of the May Day Political Float to both Siqueiros’ oeuvre and to American art history. The Float undoubtedly encapsulated Siqueiros’ artistic goals of collective work, experimentation with innovative materials, and reaching a mass audience, but it also marks a moment in history in which American (U.S., Mexican, and Latin American) artists creatively collaborated on a public, ephemeral, and revolutionary work of art. Under the belief that the significance of this endeavor cannot be overlooked any longer, this study will give the May Day Political Float the second look that it very much deserves.

    For more information about Abbey, go here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work
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    "Women and Empore: The Issue of Gendered Space in Ottonian Architecture," by Matthew Sova

    Saint Cyriakus is a small convent located in the rural town of Gernrode, Germany. It was constructed in the tenth century under the direct patronage of Margrave Gero, an aristocrat with close ties to the Ottonian dynasty of Holy Roman Emperors. Although Saint Cyriakus exemplifies early Ottonian architectural style, it introduces an innovative architectural element: the Empore, a raised gallery space located in the western end of some basilica-plan churches. Scholars have considered the Empore at Saint Cyriakus to be the first constructed north of the Alps, promoting Gernrode to a prominent position among architectural monuments of medieval Germany.

    Architectural historians have assumed that the Empore is an imperial space, functioning as a way to separate the rulers and their court from the common laity. However, the issue with this assumption lies in the lack of conclusive evidence for this phenomenon; there is no explicit link between imperial sites and the presence of an Empore. Also, there is little clear evidence that tenth-century convents were concerned with imperial authority. The connection between empire and Empore was advanced by German scholarship of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was strengthened by the nationalist ideas circulating within the new German Empire. Imperial connotations greatly excited the intellectual and political leaders of Germany in this period, as it connected their own expansionist aims to an ancient ‘German’ past. However, the purpose of the Empore is more complicated.

    This paper asserts that the Empore at Saint Cyriakus is a result of interactions between gender roles, religion, and aesthetics. Gernrode is a useful case study that challenges the assumption that the Empore is an inherent signifier of imperial status. Although the Ottonians were active in the region, the site was not constructed under direct imperial patronage. Rather, Saint Cyriakus was built by a local ruler and used by secular canonesses, noble-born women that did not take permanent vows. A comparison of Gernrode to the Ottonian abbey churches of Quedlinburg, Essen, and Groeningen, each of which contains an Empore, will be central to this paper. This comparison will highlight the diverse reasons for the construction of an Empore, including the housing of altars, security of canonesses, cross-cultural exchange with Byzantine artists, and an interest in verticality in architecture. This paper illuminates how modern collectivities have re-contextualized the past to legitimize their authority, but utilizes historical text, cultural studies, and archaeology to challenge these nationalist assertions.

    More information about Matthew Sova can be found here

    Categories: 
    • HAAARCH!!! 2015
    • Undergraduate Work

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