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Nell Andrew and Isabelle Wallace will present lectures focused on their ongoing research.
The Lamar Dodd School of Art is a community of makers and scholars dedicated to pursuing advanced research in the fields of art, art history and art education. Several times each year, faculty share current research and work in progress with colleagues and students, affirming this shared sense of purpose. These lectures are open to the public.
Wallace, associate professor of art history, will speak on her recent research concerning the work of Jordan Wolfston. Wolfson is best known for a pair of animatronic sculptures made in rapid succession. In one (Female Figure, 2014), a sullied woman in white, thigh-high boots and skimpy clothes, dances seductively to music, all the while watching the spectator, whose movements “she” tracks via facial recognition software. Executed in 2016, Colored Sculpture also consists of a lone figure—an adolescent boy—tethered by chains to an industrial-looking armature. Saying what’s at stake in these perverse, high-tech puppets, both of whom reappear in the artist’s most recent video work (Riverboat Song, 2017), is the task I undertake in this paper, which focuses on puppetry in relation to the subjects of authorship, sex and power.
Andrew, associate professor of art history, will speak on her recent research concerning puppets in modern art. In the early 20th-century, artists of the European avant-garde created scores of dolls, marionettes, and masks. Most of these have been sidelined as playful experiments or private gifts, and yet the interwar years’ battle-ravaged bodies, trauma, and skepticism against institutions made the puppet a powerful tool to critique ideologies surrounding the body and its agency. Combined with modernist theatrical developments and renewed interest in marionette theory, the puppet came to represent artistic expression that was at once highly eccentric and universally readable. Set in motion by the puppeteer, or constrained by heavy costuming, puppet-figures by Dada, Futurist, and Bauhaus artists perform both micro-gestures of the techno-war-machine age and macro-gestures of humanity, highlighting the divide between individual actions and the outside forces that conspire to confuse their meaning.