Thomson House 3650 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 1Y2, CA
AHCS Departmental Symposium 2014
Michael Cowan: 1:00pm to 1:50pm
Mary Hunter: 1:55pm – 2:45pm
Break: 2:45pm – 3:00pm
Chriscinda Henry: 3:00pm to 3:50pm
Carrie Rentschler: 3:55pm to 4:45pm
17:00 - Reception
Bored of Prostitution?: Time and Gynecology in Toulouse-Lautrec’s Rue des Moulins (1894)
Abstract: Over the past hundred years, Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting of two prostitutes awaiting a gynecological inspection in a Parisian brothel has been understood as exemplary of the artist’s innate understanding of the lives of the sick and downtrodden or as representative of the perverse fantasies of a crippled, heterosexual aristocrat at the fin de siècle. In both cases, Lautrec’s biography as the ‘deformed bohemian of Montmartre’ predominates. In order to move away from biographically driven readings, this paper will examine Rue des Moulins through a discussion of the phenomenology of waiting and historical accounts of gynecological procedures. By analyzing the compressed space of the brothel interior, this paper will explore the troubled ties between bodily thresholds, medical penetration and artistic encounters, as well as the tensions between the “slow time” of waiting and the desire for speed and efficiency in modern gynecology.
“Living Posters” – Animated Environments of Advertising in the Early 20th Century
Abstract: In the recent research on animation history, surprisingly little attention has been paid to early advertising. In Europe, advertising film constituted one of the single most important arenas for animation practice and experimentation in the early 20th century, but “animated” advertising also extended far beyond the confines of the cinema. This presentation considers the broader context of animation in early advertising, its media technologies, its epistemological underpinnings and its ramifications for thinking about advertising today.
Leonardo da Vinci, Parody, and Pictorial Magic
Abstract: This paper seeks to understand how Leonardo’s comic istorie (narrative drawings) parody social and pictorial conventions and disrupt conventional patterns of thought and seeing. It asks the further question whether his virtuosic, quick-fingered graphic experiments—considered here as magic tricks akin to pictorial sleight of hand—should challenge our understanding of Renaissance art more broadly, as scholars have claimed Caravaggio’s painting does over one hundred years later. Namely, Leonardo’s narratives force us to reconsider playfulness, humor, theatricality, and deception as claims for the status of the autonomous artwork around 1500, revealing the role of comic invention within the broader experimental development of painting at that pivotal moment, a process Alexander Nagel has recently reframed as a series of complex inter-pictorial “controversions.” This intervention not only recovers the idiom of Leonardo’s comic controversions, but also argues for his—and indeed the Renaissance artist’s more broadly—status as trickster and master magician.
What Does It Look Like to Take Responsibility?
Abstract: This talk offers an analysis of how surveillance and mobile phone bystander videos construct the look and performance of bystanding. I seek to trouble the distinctions that have been drawn between witnessing as an act of taking of responsibility and bystanding as the failure to do so. Today video documentation serves as a key technology of bystanding. In video recordings, one sees bystanders in at least two distinct ways: first, as subjects who look and who are depicted in the embodied process of looking, and second, as subjects who are part of a scene in which bystanding appears as a process, as a form of agency in situ through which judgment is formed. While bystander videos show us what taking responsibility should and should not look or sound like, they also draw attention to the situation in which bystanding occurs, emphasizing bystanding as a process. I conclude the talk by proposing a performance theory of bystanding that shifts our attention from the apathetic onlooker to that of the proximate and embodied witness.