April 19-20: Super/Natural: Excess, Ecologies, and Art in the Americas

Save the dates  for Super/Natural: Excess, Ecologies, and Art in the Americas, co-organized by Graduate Center Ph.D. candidates Danielle Stewart and Gillian Sneed, and Ph.D. student Horacio Ramos

The symposium will feature Graduate Center participants Gillian Sneed, Professor Anna Indych-López, Caroline Gillaspie, and Professor Katherine Manthorne, and keynote lectures by Daniela Bleichmar (Associate Professor of Art History and History, University of Southern California) and Eduardo Kac, (artist and Professor of Art and Technology Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago). The full conference schedule is available here.

The recent natural disasters, environmental destruction, and mounting scientific evidence for the immediate dangers of climate change throughout the Americas have inspired this year’s symposium theme: Super/Natural. The supernatural is what exceeds nature and what is excessive in nature through the insertion of human or mystic interventions. Super/Natural, however, is not just the otherworldly, but the critical interstices between the human abstraction of nature, the tangible natural world, and that which exists around it.

The complex relationship between humanity and its surrounding environment has been amply explored by artists and peoples in the Americas. Examples include pre-Columbian art and architecture embedded in the landscape, such as the Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman near Cusco, eighteenth and nineteenth-century traveler artist’s tropical fantasies of the land, and contemporary projects in which the human body intervenes directly in the environment. All of these practices demonstrate artists’ and communities’ preoccupation with contesting the often incomprehensible structure of the natural world. By presenting multidisciplinary case studies from a diverse group of scholars, this symposium seeks to open a conversation about the role of cultural production in understanding and complicating our relationship with the environment. The proceedings will historically situate these narratives while keeping in mind current debates on climate change and sustainability throughout the Americas. In what ways do artists engage with and intervene in nature and the land to create extraordinary perspectives? Under what conditions do spiritual practices related to nature and land become visualized in art? When, if ever, are we forced to intervene in the natural world, and what are the risks of such endeavors?

“Super/Natural” is the Third Annual Symposium of Latin American Art, presented by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) and the Rewald Endowment and co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The symposium will be held on Thursday, April 19th at the Graduate Center, CUNY, in the Martin E. Segal Theatre from 2:00pm to 5:30pm. and on Friday, April 20th at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University from 9:30am- to 7:30pm.