Three of our History of Art & Design faculty members will be presenting papers at this week’s CAA conference.

Professor Janice Robertson
Look, Listen, Speak, Text, Link, Draw: VoiceThread Changes the Balance of Power
Session: Technology and Collaboration in the Art History Classroom
Wednesday, February 9, 9:30am-12pm, Sutton Parlor North, 2nd Floor
Chairs: Marjorie Och, University of Mary Washington

Read responses to this session on CAA’s blog, including one author who took particular interest in VoiceThread.

I study Aztec “picture-writing,” and I have seen firsthand how the written texts of one culture can silence oral and pictorial traditions that were the voice of another. Art history can work similarly if the balance tips in favor of rote facts and text-based knowledge. Written texts put a premium on the logic and coherence of the text itself. This promotes the authority of the text and its teacher; it also instills silence among students, because ideas that do not match are “wrong.”It is a shame because the unknowns and excesses of art experiences fuel the practice of art history. We encourage our students to collaborate, but do teachers know how to collaborate? VoiceThreads™ open pictures up to group conversations within a multimedia environment and they open groups up to symmetrical participation by putting a steering wheel in the hands of each user. Participants collaborate spontaneously in this environment— it’s a joy! -Janice Robertson

Professor Eva Diaz
The Evidence of Things Not Seen: From Document to Site in the Work of McCallum/Tarry
Session: Imagining Art History in Proximity of Race
Thursday, February 10, 9:30am-12pm, Regent Parlor, 2nd Floor

This paper addresses the stakes of reinstalling a site-specific project by the artists Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry. It takes as a case study their 2008 work Evidence of Things Not Seen, a piece that uses the civil rights struggle of 1950s Alabama as its source material and was first exhibited in New Orleans at the Prospect.1 Biennial and recently displayed at Baltimore’s Carroll Mansion as part of their multivenue retrospective. The reinstallation of the project shows how art practices that have come to be known as site-specific are about more than site alone. These works image and imagine narratives about present and past in ways akin to the civic and cultural representation that was once embodied in history painting. A better designation for these works might be historically specific or even memory specific. Evidence provokes pressing questions about how a curatorial process can transform site-specific works by transplanting them to new contexts.

Professor Katerina Romanenko
Some Uses of Photomontage in Soviet and German Periodicals in the 1930s
Session: Historians of German & Central European Art & Architecture, Emerging Scholars
Saturday, February 12, 12:30-2pm, Rendezvous Trianon, 3rd Floor
Chair: Mitchell B. Merback, John Hopkins University

This paper questions the persisting perception that Stalinist and Nazi regimes rejected photomontage because of its association with modernist experimentation and with the political Left by tracing some of the ways the medium was appropriated for the totalitarian modes of expression associated with the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The discussion reveals that for magazine designers, photomontage was mostly a technical tool enabling the organization of visual material in a dynamic yet also concise and economic manner. This suggests that while both regimes rejected the radical language of photomontage characteristic of the 1920s, the technical and visual flexibility of the medium, coupled with photography’s documentary quality, were regarded as useful despite the controversial associations of the medium. Various uses of photomontage throughout the decade, using examples from periodical press of the 1930s—USSR in Construction, Krestianka, Rabotnitsa, Illustrierter Beobachter, Frauen Warte, and others—are compared and analyzed.