Relating Objects, 2016

Trent B46
Wednesday 13th March 2024 (16:00-18:00)

Speaker: Ivan Knapp, University of Warwick/Northeastern University

As the threat of a second Trump presidency grows increasingly plausible, this essay revisits two displays of contemporary art which directly engaged the febrile condition of US politics in 2016. Both Rachel Harrison’s 'More News: A Situation' and Dana Schutz’s notorious 'Open Casket' stage encounters with racial violence but met with contrasting critical and popular receptions. I argue that whilst Schutz stood accused of transmuting black pain and suffering through a grammar of memorialization that relies upon a form of identification conventional to figurative painting, Harrison’s complex installation speaks to the past, present, and future of white nationalist violence in American politics and everyday life. Evoking both a psychical space and media infrastructures, I suggest that More News galvanises a sculptural vocabulary to interrogate the transformation of the relationship between politics and culture wrought by digital media that sustains Trumpism. In so doing, Harrison’s work can be understood in a broader context of instances of contemporary sculpture that have reinvested the medium as a site of political resistance and a vehicle for critique of the social and technological conditions which characterise our contemporary image culture.

Ivan's biography

Ivan Knapp was awarded his PhD from University College London in 2021 and teaches at the University of Warwick and Northeastern University, London. His research focuses on questions of contemporary art, psychoanalysis, and politics. His work has been published in 'October', 'Art History', and 'Third Text'.

Centre for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD