ARP Talks: Walter Benn Michaels
Thursday 10 May, 19:00 to 20:30
There’s a difference between what a painter tries to make you see and the brush marks with which he or she tries to make you see it. Often they go together, but not always. Sometimes, the painter’s vision (identified with the eye, with representation, and the painter’s idea) is preferred; sometimes it’s the painter’s touch (identified with the hand, abstraction, and the body).
This talk will be about a moment where the movement of the painter’s hand comes to seem crucial, but also where the question of what exactly moving your hand is – the question of what an act is – becomes controversial. It will argue that a problem in the theory of action (what is an act?) counts also as a problem in the history of art (what is a work of art?). And, dealing with philosophers like Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson, as well as with artists like Robert Morris and Phil Chang, it will try to show that the right answer to one question is also the best answer to the other.
Walter Benn Michaels teaches at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of books on literature, politics, and art, the most recent of which is The Beauty of a Social Problem: Photography, Economy, Autonomy (Chicago, 2015). He is a member of the editorial collective of the online journal nonsite.org, where much of his recent writing on topics related to art, politics, and the theory of action can be found.
Artistic Research Practices (ARP) is a program of critical study and of cross-disciplinary practice at ALBA that develops research through a series of roundtables. The program explores contemporary practices by inviting artists, curators, and critics to share their research.