Amanda Boetzkes, Professor of Art History in the School of Fine Arts and Music at Guelph University, 

Plasticity in an Ecological Time. This talk considers the recent preoccupation with scenes of plastic accumulation in contemporary art, with particular focus on the relationship between plastics and “plasticity.” The concept of plasticity, for Hegel, conveys the transformative dialectical movement of history. However, when confronted with scenes of excessive plastic accumulation, plasticity becomes the opposite of a malleable, and transposable, time. Instead, plastics suggest the infinite preservation of the contemporary in a sublime and alien post-history, thus forecasting a crystallized landscape outside of time. How can ecology shed light on this inversion of plasticity into its opposite?

Mark Cheetham, Professor of Art History in the Department of Fine Art at the University of Toronto

Generation(s) and the Genre of Land ArtLand and earth art have been with us for only about fifty years, but these practices have established a dense and increasingly important history. What are the temporalities of that history? This paper examines the continuities and discontinuities between traditional iterations of “landscape” and “land art” (as genres or “media”) and the openness of newer descriptions of art practices in nature such as “EcoArt” and “ecological art.” Do the contemporary categories link to historical practices and theories in productive ways? It also addresses the ongoing contribution of the generation of land artists practising since the sixties.

This event is part of
Lecture and Conversation Series
Contemporary Art between Time and History
January 16 − May 23, 2013

Description of lecture series:

Since the late 1980s, contemporary art has investigated and challenged the main components of the modern notion of historicity: the archive as an element of proof; the teleological deployment of the historical narrative; history as a means of inclusion and exclusion of what is judged to be historical; memory and forgetting, as well as the idea of progress. In so doing, contemporary art has re-established but also profoundly altered the apparently obsolete genre of history painting.

As recently observed by historian Perry Anderson, this turn is surprising in a period in which postmodernism has distinctly omitted to think historically. Yet this turn has been a productive one. It has notably led to an innovative search for what historian Michel de Certeau has designated as the “unthought” of historiography: the temporal dimension of history. How does one define this temporality? How does contemporary art rearticulate, in its renewed interest for history, the relationship between past, present and future? How are these articulations conditioned by the twentyfirst- century temporalities of acceleration, presentism, space-time compression and globalization? What happens to the notion of progress—one of the founding components of the modern regime of historicity—once it has been stripped of its content?

These questions are at the centre of Contemporary Art between Time and History, a series of lectures and conversations that brings art historians, curators, artists and philosophers together to discuss the aesthetic explorations of time through which contemporary art concerns itself with history.The series will investigate contemporary art’s production, performance and representation of innovative forms of temporality, including: discontinuous duration; the suspension of the passage of time (of what philosopher Yuval Dolev has designated as “the becoming present of future events and then their becoming past”); the recombinant appropriation of historical narratives; anachronism, uchronia and parachronism; unproductiveness; ruination; simultaneity. This series is a unique occasion to think about the ways in which contemporary art holds itself between time and history, in order to update our understanding of our historical condition.

Organized by:

Christine Ross, James McGill Chair in Contemporary Art History, McGill University

In collaboration with:

Marie Fraser, Chief Curator and Director of Education, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and
François LeTourneux, Associate Curator, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal