March 28, 2012

Tinnitus: a symposium on art and rock’n’roll

Harvard University
Lauren Brincat, ‘Tinnitus’, 2006. Documentation of an action. Single-channel digital video; 4:3, colour, sound
1 minute, 45 seconds. (Courtesy of the artist. Copyright Lauren Brincat)

A one-day symposium in association with the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and the Harvard Australian Studies Committee.


This symposium will present critical perspectives on the now-widespread interaction of art and rock’n’roll. Artists, curators, critics, and art historians will consider the proposition, made by music historian Bernard Gendron, that rock  ‘decisively won over’ the artistic avant-garde in the 1970s. Have distinctive artistic practices emerged as a result, or are we simply witnessing one more episode in the rolling dialogue between art and mass culture? Speakers will also consider the challenge put forward by cultural critic Lawrence Grossberg: that popular music must ‘force the most radical demands of interdisciplinarity onto the agenda.’ Has the art’s embrace of rock’n’roll prompted any such reflection?


Keynote speaker:
Simon Reynolds, author of Retromania: Pop culture’s addiction to its own past; Rip it up and start again: post-punk 1978–1984 and The Sex Revolts: gender, rebellion and rock’n’roll. Described as ‘elegant and urgent’ (New York Times), Retromania explores the current wave of revivalism in art and music, and the condition of hyper-stasis: ‘a restless shuttling back and forth within a grid-space of influences and sources, striving frenetically to locate exit routes to the beyond’.


Lauren Brincat (Australia)
Danius Kesminas (Australia)
Whiting Tennis (US)


Barbara London, Associate Curator, Dept of Media and Performance art, Museum of Modern Art, ‘Looking at Music Side 2′ and ‘Looking at Music Side 3′.
Dominic Molon, Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, curator of ‘Sympathy for the devil’


Branden Joseph (Columbia University)
Chris McAuliffe (Harvard University/University of Melbourne)
Eric Rosenberg (Tufts University).


Additional speakers to be announced

Coordinator: Chris McAuliffe


Media inquiries to:  Prof. Chris McAuliffe, [email protected]


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