March 19, 2018

Graduate Commons spring 2018 lecture series "The Gradual Contemporary: Conversations in Contemporary Art"

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Our Literal Speed presents "Our Literal Speed," dimensions variable, materials: two-person lecture, work of sculpture, milling crowd, Fabricca del Vapore, Milan, 8 November, 2010 (detail)

Rhode Island School of Design is pleased to announce the lineup for the Graduate Commons spring 2018 lecture series The Gradual Contemporary: Conversations in Contemporary Art.

The series accompanies an MFA seminar of the same name, so called because it defines contemporary art both as a gradual temporal and geographic process that defies periodization or mapping, and as a form of cognitive processing. Although the processing assumes a multitude of forms—from witnessing, documenting and archiving to projecting and appropriating—these seemingly disparate activities appear to be motivated by a single logic: the impulse to process history. The course proposes contemporary art as a historical project, yet one in which the activities of working through, repeating or remembering take on other, metaphoric guises: mining, erasing, rewinding or melting, for example. The public lecture series accompanying the seminar presents some of the most daring and forthright voices in the field of contemporary art, speakers who are invited to think aloud and foil expectations as they ponder the ever-billowing contours of the contemporary.

Our Literal Speed, “Our Literal Speed Presents Everythingism”
Monday, April 2, 5pm, Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
Our Literal Speed is a text and art undertaking located in Selma, AL.

Alexander Alberro, “Contemporary Art and the Global Turn”
Wednesday, April 4, 6:30pm, Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
Alberro is Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History at Barnard College. He is author of Abstraction in Reverse: The Reconfigured Spectator in Mid-Twentieth Century Latin American Art and Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity, among others. This lecture is co-sponsored by the department of History of Art & Visual Culture.

Ara H. Merjian, “At the Same Time: Toward an Ethics and Aesthetics of (In)Visibility”
Monday, April 9, 5pm, Center for Integrative Technologies (CIT) 103
Merjian is associate professor of Italian Studies at New York University. He is author of Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Modernism, Paris.

Rachel Haidu, ”The Tragicomic Self: Amy Sillman and Philip Guston”
Monday, April 23, 5pm, Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
Haidu is associate professor of Art History at the University of Rochester and author of The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964–1976.

Claire Bishop, ”Information Overload: Research-Based Art and the Politics of Attention”
Wednesday, April 25, 6pm, Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
Bishop is an art historian and critic based at CUNY Graduate Center. She is author of Radical Museology, or What's Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship and Installation Art: A Critical History. This lecture is co-sponsored by RISD Global.

Ariella Azoulay, ”The Imperial Origins of Photography”
Monday, May 7, 5pm, Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center/RISD Museum
Azoulay is professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and author of Aïm Deüelle Lüski and Horizontal Photography, From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947–1950, Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography and The Civil Contract of Photography, among others.

About the lecture series
The Gradual Contemporary seminar and lecture series are organized by Associate Professor Leora Maltz-Leca with the support of the RISD Provost’s Office. This initiative is a collaboration among RISD’s Divisions of Graduate Studies, Fine Arts and Liberal Arts. It is enabled in part by the generous support of the Robert Lehman Foundation, New York.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Most events will be streamed at To view the video archive of past events, for descriptions of the current lectures and for further details, please go to

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