Summer & Fall 2016
- This July, the long-awaited retrospective BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE opens at the The Museum of Modern Art in New York. In October it will travel to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which organized the show, and then continue to the Reina Sofía in Madrid. I have an essay included in the exhibition catalogue, entitled “EASTER MORNING: Bruce Conner’s Second Coming.” Throughout September I will be giving numerous tours of the exhibition and attending the extensive schedule of programs and screenings associated with the exhibition.
- In March, I presented at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference in Atlanta. My paper, “Anti-Social Media,” was included on a panel entitled “Social Optics: New Approaches to Experimental Media,” organized by my longtime collaborator, Erica Levin, who spoke about contemporary activist newsreels. We were joined by another brilliant colleague, Erika Balsom, who gave a paper on the “dead medium” of Polavision. My phenomenal PhD advisor, Homay King, author of Virtual Memory (Duke UP, 2015), served as respondent. Presenting alongside these formidable thinkers and scholars was by far the highlight of my semester.
- In January, I co-organized and introduced a program of experimental films by Pat O’Neill at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. The program featured a number of key early works, including 7362 (1967), Runs Good (1970), Easy Out (1971), Last of the Persimmons (1972), and Down Wind (1973).
Fall & Winter 2015
- In December, I was thrilled to discover that my new book project, On Site: Ray Johnson’s New York, was awarded an Arts Writers Grant for books by Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Foundation. I am overwhelmed, honored, and extremely grateful for both the support and the platform it will provide.
- On November 17th at Printed Matter in Chelsea, I will moderate a panel discussion related to the exhibition “Please Add to and Return to: Mail Art Homage to Ray Johnson,” in conjunction Performa 15, the leading biennial of performance art. Panelists include artists Brian Fuata and Chuck Welch, and writer Elizabeth Zuba.
- On November 13th, I will co-chair (with Francis Halsall) a three-session panel, “Expanding Systems Aesthetics,” at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Annual Conference in Houston, TX. The panel stems from a broader collaborative project that aims to reconsider the legacy of “systems aesthetics” in post-1960s art. You can read more about the panel here.
- On November 6th at the University of Washington, I will participate in a public conversation with my collaborators Francis Halsall (National College of Art and Design, Dublin) and Kris Cohen (Reed College) on the subject of systems of the contemporary art world. You can read more about the event here.
- In September, I began my Mellon Teaching Fellowship at Columbia University. I’m thrilled to be here and am enjoying teaching the Art Humanities: Masterpieces of Western Art seminar, a component of the undergraduate Core Curriculum.
Winter & Spring 2015
- On March 16, I am presenting a public lecture, “Bruce Conner’s Atomic Sublime Cinema,” at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, which also happens to be Conner’s alma mater. My visit is sponsored by the Hixson-Lied Endowment and hosted by the Department of Art & Art History in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts at UNL. Special thanks to the fabulous Marissa Vigneault for coordinating and hosting me. During my visit, I look forward to meeting with Dr. Vigneault and the staff of the Sheldon Museum of Art to discuss an exhibition of Conner’s early work scheduled to open in spring 2016.
- On March 7, my friend and former colleague, film-maker Jeremy Moss, will be at the Northwest Film Forum to present a program of his short experimental films, many of which feature dance, found footage, and hand-processing. I will be on hand to introduce Jeremy and discuss his work after the screening. This is the last stop in his North American tour, and we’re very excited to host him in Seattle!
- On March 4, I am presenting a talk, “Bruce Conner’s Atomic Sublime Cinema,” for the Art Lecture Series at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. I am enamored with the campus, students, and faculty at Evergreen, and honored to participate in this fantastic speaker series. See a talk description below. A video recording lecture is available here.
Bruce Conner’s Atomic Sublime Cinema
San Francisco-based artist Bruce Conner made his first experimental film, A MOVIE, in 1958, at the height of national anxiety about the atomic threat. Over the following decades, his films continued to address the cultural and political fallout of the Cold War. This talk examines Conner’s filmic output over two and a half decades, from his pioneering works of found footage montage, to his participation in psychedelic expanded cinema performance, to his more intimate portraits of female friends and later interest in music video. It argues that these works are expressions of the “atomic sublime,” an aesthetic that captures the paradoxical experience of “terrible beauty” that is generated by witnessing an atomic explosion. By attending closely to the historical and cultural context of Conner’s apocalyptic cinema, this talk proposes a reconsideration of postwar American art’s engagement with the sublime.
- On February 12, I am presenting a paper, “All Hail Freedonia: Bruce Conner’s A MOVIE (1958) and the Legacies of the Historical Avant-Garde,” on a panel entitled, Anemic Cinema: Dada/ Surrealism and Film in the Americas, at the 103rd annual College Art Association Conference in New York. The panel is chaired by Jonathan P. Eburne and Samantha Kavky, and will feature seven presentations examining the legacy of the historical avant-garde on American cinema.
- This week, I will introduce and lead a post-screening discussion with visiting film-maker Ben Russell. GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS: THREE FILMS BY BEN RUSSELL will be hosted by ExCinema at the Grand Illusion Cinema on November 17th at 7pm. Here’s a synopsis of Russell’s trilogy, which is named after Bosch’s triptych, and also references Stan Brakhage’s famous 1981 “found foliage” film of the same name:
Taking its title from a 15th century Hieronymus Bosch triptych in which the pleasures of Eden are conflated with the torments of Hell, this new trilogy of (mostly) non-fiction works by artist-filmmaker Ben Russell and occasional collaborator Jim Drain examines the ecstatic limits of utopia in the present. Moving from a documentary portrait of Atlantis to a vertiginous inquiry into immortality to a post-colonial vision of Melanesian cargo cults, these films take a visceral, embodied, and ethnographic approach towards their subject (which is also us). From Malta to Greece to Vanuatu to Miami to Seattle: utopia is now! Or, in the words of Samuel Beckett, ‘What do we do now, now that we are happy?’
Ben Russell, Atlantis, 2014
- This week, I will lead a post-screening Q+A and discussion on Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (2006) at the SIFF Film Center on October 21st at 7pm. The screening is part of SIFF’s “Six Continents” series. Our discussion will center around the personal and political paradoxes, pitfalls, (and potential pleasures) of living under a surveillance state, and whether there is any possibility of resistance to contemporary regimes of perpetual observation.
- My article, “Pop, Collaboration, Utopia: Bruce Conner’s BREAKAWAY in 1960s Los Angeles,” will appear in the fall 2015 issue of Camera Obscura, a peer-reviewed journal of feminist film & media studies published by Duke University Press. Derived from my dissertation research, this essay examines Conner’s collaboration with choreographer and actress Toni Basil for his 1966 dance film BREAKAWAY. I argue that BREAKAWAY exhibits the dual influence of the Los Angeles underground and the Hollywood entertainment industries, focusing specifically on Basil’s role as a professional choreographer for The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) a landmark rock n’ roll concert film that featured influential performances by James Brown and The Rolling Stones.
- On Sunday, October 5 I will give an introductory talk at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle for “Collaborations with Nature,” a film program showcasing experimental works that engage directly with materials and processes derived from the natural environment. Some may already be familiar with Stan Brakhage’s ‘found foliage’ films, “Mothlight” (1963) and “Garden of Earthly Delights” (1981), the latter of which is included in the program. My talk, “Gardening in the Machine: Contemporary Experimental Eco-Cinema” will contextualize the program, beginning with an overview of Brakhage’s oeuvre, moving into a discussion of historical avant-garde practices involving photography and collage, from Surrealism to the Bauhaus, and concluding with an analysis of how the works in the program demonstrate an ecological, systems-based approach to film-making. I will also moderate a post-screening discussion with the film-makers.
- On October 9th, I am co-chairing (with art historian Christine Filippone) and presenting research on a panel entitled “Art as Open System since the 1960s” at the annual Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) conference in Dallas, TX. Christine and I conceptualized this panel back in the spring and were very pleased to receive many excellent submissions from established and up-and-coming scholars of art & systems, including Francis Halsall, Kenneth White, and Kate Green. You can read their abstracts and review the entire conference schedule here.My contribution to the panel, “Transmission Received: Ray Johnson’s Postal Network as Real-Time System” analyzes American artist Ray Johnson’s mail art practice in terms of open systems theory, through a consideration of Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s systems biology, John Dewey’s aesthetic philosophy, and Jack Burnham’s late 1960s writings on “systems aesthetics” and “real-time systems.” This research stems from my earlier work on Johnson, presented in 2010 at the “ReViewing Black Mountain College” conference in Asheville, NC, and subsequently published in “From Art to Experience: The Porous Philosophy of Ray Johnson,” in the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies.
Christine and I are both very excited to meet the other panelists, learn more about their research, and discuss future collaborative endeavors.
- On April 28th, I successfully defended my dissertation and earned my doctorate in History of Art. I’m very grateful to Bryn Mawr College and especially my wonderful committee for their support and encouragement throughout this process!
- Over the past year, I have enjoyed an ongoing dialogue with Richard Torchia, curator at Arcadia University Art Gallery, about his role in commissioning Tacita Dean’s 2013 film JG, and the issues raised by exhibiting film in the gallery setting. We decided to publish our conversation as an interview, entitled “Et in Arcadia Ego: Richard Torchia in Conversation with Johanna Gosse on Tacita Dean’s JG (2013) and Exhibiting Film in the Gallery.“ The interview will appear in the “Features” section (edited by Erika Balsom) of a forthcoming issue of The Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), a UK-based, peer-reviewed journal published by Intellect Ltd.
- When asked to contribute to a new edited collection, Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art, forthcoming from the University of California Press in 2015, I decided to initiate a conversation with Michael Connor, editor and curator of Rhizome at the New Museum. Our dialogue focuses on an exhibition of abstract video and new media art that Connor recently co-curated at Honor Fraser Gallery in LA, which was partially inspired by the work of Jeremy Blake. The resulting piece is entitled, “Delirious Architectures: Notes on Jeremy Blake, Liquid Crystal Palace, and Digital Materialism. An interview with Michael Connor.“ You can read more about Liquid Crystal Palace here.
- On March 21st, I delivered a paper, “Marilyn, Wonder Woman, and the Feminist Motion Study,” at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies Annual Conference in Seattle, WA. I was part of a panel called “Race, Gender, and the Body in Found Footage Film,” with Jaimie Baron, Leo Goldsmith, and Catherine Russell, each of whom gave thought-provoking papers on the topic of moving-image appropriation.
- On November 21st, I gave a talk entitled “Fallout Films: Bruce Conner’s Atomic Sublime, 1958-1976” at the Bancroft Library Round Table at the University of California, Berkeley. I’ve been visiting the Bancroft since 2009 for dissertation research so being invited to speak was especially meaningful for me.
- This fall I delivered two talks at Bryn Mawr College, both of which were derived from my dissertation research. One talk took place during our weekly Visual Culture Colloquium, and the second was given in my capacity as this year’s Whiting Foundation Fellow. It was a tremendous honor to be invited to speak, and a valuable opportunity to re-connect with faculty and other graduate students before I graduate with my doctorate in the spring.