On three consecutive Tuesdays this spring – May 21, May 28, and June 4 – The Drawing Center will present a new program series, Bellwethers: The Culture of Controversy, which will convene a prominent group of writers, cultural critics, and artists to respond to a cultural “bellwether” and take it in their own interpretative direction. Each session examines a timely indicator, word, or phrase emblematic of a polemical socio-political topic of our moment and that impacts art as well as broader cultural production.
Speakers include: Chiara Bottici, Andrea Long Chu, Anna Khachiyan, Sam McKinniss, Adrian Matejka, Natasha Stagg, Jamieson Webster and Audrey Wollen. Curated by Alison M. Gingeras in collaboration with the art magazine Affidavit.
Two or more speakers will read a paper, a manifesto, a poem, or conceive a performative response to the evening’s theme. Following the presentations, at The Drawing Center’s guest curator Alison Gingeras, who will also introduce each session, will lead a discussion. At the conclusion of the series, Affidavit will publish a selection of papers generated by the Bellwethers series.
Bellwethers: The Culture of Controversy is made possible by The Evelyn Toll Family Foundation. Design elements were provided by the design firm Team.
Bellwethers: The Culture of Controversy
Tickets $10 via Eventbrite
Tuesday, May 21 at 6:30pm, tickets $10 via Eventbrite HERE
With Chiara Bottici, Sam McKinniss, Adrian Matejka, and Audrey Wollen
From those written by the Futurists to the Surrealists, the Black Panthers to the Unabomber, the manifesto remains a charismatic genre that persists despite the waning of utopic politics and unified avant-garde movements. This session invites contributors to engage with this form and its myriad applications as: a call to action, theatrical exercise, prescriptive fiction, or a platform for extremist philosophizing or paradoxical pontification.
Chiara Bottici is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. Professor Bottici has written on myth, imagination, ancient and early modern philosophy, the Frankfurt School, psychoanalysis, feminism, and contemporary social and political philosophy. She is currently at work on a book on Anarcha-feminism.
Sam McKinniss is an artist and writer based in New York. McKinniss’s writing is regularly published in Artforum. His manifesto will address how an artist should be.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden (2003) and Mixology (2009). His third collection of poems, The Big Smoke (2013), was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book of poetry (Map to the Stars), was published in 2017. Among Matejka’s other honors are a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He is the Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University Bloomington and currently serves as Poet Laureate for the state of Indiana.
Audrey Wollen is a writer and artist who lives in New York. Most recently, Wollen’s artwork has appeared at the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw; Barischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; the Washington Square Windows at 80wse gallery, New York; as well as in a one-artist exhibition at Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles. Her critical writing has appeared and is forthcoming in Affidavit, The Nation, and Bookforum. She is currently pursuing a PhD at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She will present a manifesto on men.
Tuesday, May 28 at 6:30pm, tickets $10 via Eventbrite HERE
With Felix Bernstein + Gabe Rubin and Jamieson Webster
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF SPEAKERS: Due to a family emergency, Andrea Long Chu will not be reading her paper in person for PANIC. In her place, artists and writers Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin will present "The Divine Pantos (a panoptical reflection on peter pan's pansexuality). Chu’s participation in Bellwethers will be rescheduled for a later date.
For the second event of the series, PANIC: psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster will present her talk, “God is Really Dead This Time—The Psychoanalysis of Panic.” Responding to her presentation will be artist and writer duo Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin, who will perform a new “duo drama” that will engage with the figure of Pan—the mythological figure at the root of the term Panic.
“Panic” is a pervasive, if abused, term used to describe our reaction to our contemporary landscape and is affixed to any number of issues: gender identity, immigration, climate, globalism, Brexit, Trump, and Russia. Our current Age of Anxiety is super charged by the 24-7 newstainment cycle, designed to keep us flickering through states of hysteria and scandal, worry and outrage. Is there any relief from this panic? How does this time relate to other periods of collective hysteria?
Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin are both artists, writers and poets—they have worked collaboratively since 2010. Bernstein & Rubin’s multifaceted approach to composition encompasses theater, film, poetry, and digital media. Taking apart the formal parameters of essay and installation, they highlight structural impasses inherent in multimedia hybridity. Often performing as fictional, anachronous personae, they employ the elasticity of theatricality in moments of tenuous changeover. Their ongoing work analyzes of madness and mimesis in queer performance, challenging staid discourses and affective assumptions. Bernstein & Rubin explore the implications of both fashionable and occluded tropes of queer and trans* life including dysphoria, suicide, and depersonalization. Their work has been presented at MOCA Los Angeles, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Reena Spaulings Fine Arts (Los Angeles), and Pilar Corrias Gallery (London).
Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst and cultural critic based in New York. Weber is the author of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (2011) and Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis (2018); she also co-wrote, with Simon Critchley, Stay, Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine (2013). She teaches at the New School and supervises doctoral students in clinical psychology at the City University of New York. She co-writes a regular column for Spike with Alison Gingeras.
Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30pm, tickets $10 via Eventbrite HERE
With Anna Khachiyan and Natasha Stagg
Forget the old style of enforcing political correctness—the new culture of cancellation is socially swift and unilaterally unpredictable. On the one hand, “cancel culture” has been used to swiftly punish perceived criminal behavior; on the flip side, it can operate as a means to extinguish nuanced debate and cast out public figures in trials by Twitter. How do we navigate this phenomenon that some see as inherently undemocratic and anti-nuanced and others praise as effective in a world in which the law is statistically proven to fail women and people of color? How does cancellation impact revisionist artistic and political histories?
Anna Khachiyan is a writer based in New York, and the co-host of the leftist podcast Red Scare.
Natasha Stagg is a writer based in New York. Stagg’s work has appeared in Affidavit, Artforum, Bookforum, The Brooklyn Rail, CR Fashion Book, DIS Magazine, n+1, The Paris Review, Spike Art Quarterly, among many other publications. Stagg’s debut novel Surveys was published by Semiotext(e)/Native Agents in 2016, and her book of critical essays will be published by Semiotext(e) later this year.