Art Criticism and Writing | MFA Program

Saturday June 14th, 2014
Filed under Alumni, News, News, Events and Alumni

Claudia La Rocco on Valuing Labor in the Arts for Art Practical

Valuing Labor in the Arts
Response: Dear Christian
By Claudia La Rocco

On April 19, 2014, the Arts Research Center hosted Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum. This daylong event included a series of artist-led workshops that developed exercises, prompts, or actions that engage questions of art, labor, and economics.


Claudia La Rocco participated in the “Yoga for Adjuncts: The Somatics of Human Capital” workshop at the Valuing Labor in the Arts practicum and was commissioned to write this response.

Dear Christian,

I’m writing from Governors Island, where I have a residency through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Spring is finally here, and it’s one of those dazzling, windy days. The water is terrifically choppy. And it seems important to say, given the topic(s) at hand, that I have this residency as a writer, full stop (or something). I am also the organization’s research fellow, thinking about issues of sustainability (isn’t everyone these days). A little while ago, LMCC’s Director of Cultural Programs, Melissa Levin—do you know her? She’s lovely—told me that she has to fight for us.

She said:
I think of physical space as being equivalent to mental space—when people ask me why a writer or a photographer needs a dedicated space … well, they think, research, edit, and create dialogue. They also need space for making.

I can see the water from where I sit, the orange ferry going by, Wall Street as our mythologized lap of labor. I just ate a tuna sandwich. I am listening to Fiona Apple’s “Werewolf” on repeat, through headphones.

Yoga for Adjuncts: The Somatics of Human Capital workshop, Valuing Laboring in the Arts practicum, April 19, 2014, UC Berkeley Art Museum. Courtesy of the Arts Research Center, UC Berkeley. Photo: Megan Hoetger.

When I told people about your workshop “Yoga for Adjuncts: The Somatics of Human Capital,” I kept saying it was marvelously sinister. This is perhaps best encapsulated by your final question to us, even as you asked us to breathe, to accept the ground beneath us: “Do you have a contract for this coming fall?”

Come on. What adjunct worth her salt has a contract?? That’s not how the system works—to the extent that it works.

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Thursday May 22, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Book Launch: David Levi Strauss: Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller Images Tomorrow

Thursday May 22, 6:00–9:00 p.m.

MFA Program in Art Criticism & Writing
at the School of Visual Arts
132 West 21st Street, 6th floor
New York

Join Aperture Foundation and the MFA Program in Art Criticism & Writing at the School of Visual Arts for a launch event and book signing with Department Head, David Levi Strauss, celebrating his new book Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller Images Tomorrow: Essays on the Present and Future of Photography, released this month. In the course of twenty-five essays, Strauss explores photography’s changing role as a tool of evidence and conscience as we move into a post-photographic era.

Free with RSVP.

Sunday April 13th, 2014
Filed under News, Spring 2014

Susan Bee awarded 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship

“Déjà Vu” 2013

Art Criticism and Writing Faculty Susan Bee was awarded the 2014 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, congratulations!

Thursday April 10, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Sun Ra at 100: Lives and Afterlives Lecture at CUNY Graduate Center


Apr 10, 2014, 6:30pm
Martin E. Segal Theatre
CUNY Graduate Center

Sun Ra at 100: Lives and Afterlives

David HendersonJohn SzwedGreg TateMaryam Parhizkar

One hundred years after his arrival on earth, the innovative musician, poet, thinker, Arkestra bandleader and self-proclaimed cosmic ambassador Sun Ra continues to resonate in the work of contemporary artists, musicians, scholars and noisemakers. As his work is revisited and increasingly canonized, what elements of Sun Ra’s work are emphasized—and which are overlooked? How do we understand Sun Ra’s lifelong project and self-mythmaking, and the ways in which that has continued to sound in the works of other artists? Join David HendersonJohn SzwedGreg Tate, and others in a conversation moderated by Maryam Parhizkar and underscored by video and sounds of Sun Ra in performance.

Cosponsored by the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & the Caribbean, Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, and the MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing at SVA.

Monday March 31st, 2014
Filed under News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Nancy Princenthal on Suzanne McClelland for Art in America

Suzanne McClelland: Frank "The Chemist" (Ideal Proportions), 2013, dry pigment, gesso, polymer and oil paint on portrait linen, 84 by 72 inches. All images this article, unless otherwise noted, courtesy Team Gallery, New York.

The weather is heavy in Suzanne McClelland’s new paintings, where paint surges, lines whip and skid, and fragmentary letters and numbers collapse, inflate and slam into each other, hard. Words have a longstanding place in McClelland’s work, often formed in a way that links their visible shape to their voiced sound, and to their origin in breath and body. Recently, the artist has shifted her attention from the link between spoken and written language to the juncture between letters and numbers. But as before, multitudes of ideas race through these images at speed. The works’ range of social and cultural observation is matched by an extravagantly free dispersal of mediums across a variety of supports. Painting, pouring, dripping, splattering, writing and drawing, McClelland produces surfaces that are variously rococo, catastrophic, sparkly and black as dried blood.

Included in her show at Team Gallery this fall were three examples from a new series of paintings titled “Ideal Proportions” (2013), all incorporating lists of measurements, in inches. As sketchily painted words indicate, they are the circumferences of arms, chest, waist, thighs and calves—specifically, though this is not spelled out in the paintings, those of professional bodybuilders. The 7-by-12-foot diptych Phil “The Gift” and Jay “Cuts,for example, features statistics for the current competitors Phil Heath and Jay Cutler. In the left panel, a column of numbers in flaming pink soars up toward the right, the names of body parts they measure unfurling alongside like a banner. To the left is a congealed pool of queasily colorless polymer medium; McClelland is partial to off-label uses of paint’s components. In this diptych’s opposing panel, a list of numbers, in black, drops down a gully of marbled jade-green; above it is a cheery burst of small painted gold bubbles. For these works, McClelland has used portrait linen, its fine thread and tight weave producing a hard, smooth surface on which fluids tend to float and dry pigments scatter; among the other mediums in play are gesso, oil paint and charcoal.
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Saturday April 12, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

David Levi Strauss in conversation with Gary Stephan

Join us at Susan Inglett Gallery on Saturday 12 April at 5 PM for a conversation with artist Gary Stephan and author David Levi Strauss.

GARY STEPHAN has been showing his paintings, drawings and sculpture since the late sixties in the United States and Europe. He has had solo shows in this country at Bykert Gallery, Mary Boone, Hirschl and Adler, Margo Leavin, Marlborough and Daniel Weinberg among others. Stephan’s work is included in the collections of The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art as well as museums nationwide. He is a recipient of awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and most recently a Joan Mitchell foundation Award. Stephan teaches in the MFA program at School of Visual Arts in NYC.

DAVID LEVI STRAUSS is the author of Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller Images Tomorrow (Aperture, 2014), From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual (Oxford University Press, 2010), Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, with an introduction by John Berger (Aperture 2003), and Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art and Politics (Autonomedia 1999, and a new edition with a prolegomenon by Hakim Bey, 2010). He is Chair of the graduate program in Art Criticism & Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

The exhibition will be on view through 26 April at the gallery located at 522 West 24 Street Tuesday to Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM. For additional information please contact Susan Inglett Gallery at 212/647- 9111, fax 212/647-9333 or email hidden; JavaScript is required

Thursday March 27, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Book Launch: “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” at The POWERHOUSE Arena

Thursday Mar 27, 2014
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

THE POWERHOUSE ARENA [Dumbo]
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

For more information, please call 718.666.3049

RSVP appreciated: email hidden; JavaScript is required
-or-
Please fill out the “Bookings” form on the POWERHOUSE Arena website.

One of America’s greatest minds showcases her charm, vision, and intellectual breadth in her book of eclectic essays. The program will be emceed by Amanda Stern of the Happy Ending Reading Series.

Got a question for Lynne? Send a tweet with the hashtag #WWLTD (What Would Lynne Tillman Do?) to @red_lemonade, @glossitis (Lynne Tillman), or @POWERHOUSEArena and Lynne will answer a selection of those questions live. We’ll also be raffling off items, including a copy of the Jim Hodges’ artists edition of Lynne’s story collection Someday This Will Be Funny.

About What Would Lynne Tillman Do?:

Would Lynne Tillman Do? offers an American mind contemplating contemporary society and culture with wit, imagination, and a brave intelligence. Just as many of Tillman’s short fictions have an essayistic quality about them, Tillman’s essays often surge with narrative power. as she upends expectations, shifts tone, introduces characters, breaches limits of genre and category, reconfiguring the world with the turn of a sentence. Tillman, like other unique thinkers, sees the world differently, she is not a malcontent, but she is discontented. Her responses to art and literature, to social problems and questions about politics and the polity, change the reader’s mind, startling it with new angles. Which is why so many of us who know her work often wonder: what would Lynne Tillman do?

A long-time resident of New York, Tillman’s sharp humor is like her city’s, tough and hilarious. It pervades these pages; Tillman’s generosity and humanity are al- ways there, though, consolations for the sad truth.

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Thursday March 20th, 2014
Filed under News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

“Under the Sign” by Ann Lauterbach reviewed on The Rumpus

Let’s begin with understatements.  Ann Lauterbach is knowledgeable about art and literature.  Ann Lauterbach writes with purpose and precision.  Ann Lauterbach is an erudite poet.

Since her poetry reflects an enormous intellectual and emotional investment in the visual arts, I must first acknowledge Lauterbach’s work as ekphrastic. From the Greek meaning “description,” ekphrasis suggests that a poem describes a work of art in provocative detail.  Famous examples, including Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and Auden’s “Musee de Beaux Arts,” include not only the poet’s close noticing of the painting itself but also thoughtful conclusions drawn from prolonged study.  For instance, Auden’s ekphrastic poem famously begins with an insight he derived from contemplating Brueghel’s painting, “The Fall of Icarus”: About suffering they were never wrong, / the Old Masters.

Lauterbach describes paintings deftly and even holds them up as hand-mirrors for personal experience or cultural reflection.  Her poems often seem to move in analogic tandem with the paintings to which they refer.  An example of this is “Triptych (Van Eyck),” which appears in the first of the book’s three sections.  Adopting the form of a triptych, this poem is presented in three panels.  The first is longer than the second and third, evoking the way our eyes linger first and longest on the central panel of a visual triptych before moving outward to the sides.  Lauterbach’s description of this, Van Eyck’s only extant triptych, begins: “The woman// with a child on her lap/ sitting on rugs// what is she doing// there/ in the middle//the day/ might always be cold//March light.”  From this question, she postulates an answer: “and because/it can never be// early enough/ she is always// sitting/aside//in wait.”

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Thursday March 20, 2014
Filed under Events, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

Quijote Talks presents: Christopher Bamford, In the Presence of Auschwitz-Hiroshima (metonymically), Unpacking the Rupture: Art, Writing, History

Christopher Bamford, In the Presence of Auschwitz-Hiroshima (metonymically),
Unpacking the Rupture: Art, Writing, History

Thursday, March 20, 6:30pm
132 West 21st street, 6th floor, NYC
free and open to the public

Unfolding as a sequence of still-continuing catastrophes, the Twentieth Century can be viewed as the site of a historical rupture as significant as the development of agriculture or the invention of writing. My talk will explore through questions and examples the hypothesis that contemporary art and thinking—“postmodernism”—is not simply the next stage in history as viewed as progressive and periodized in Hegelian fashion, but the first, searching signs of a new beginning arising in response to the ontological and epistemological consequences of the ongoing rupture.

Christopher Bamford is a writer, editor (Steiner Books/Lindisfarne Books), essayist, and lecturer, mostly on spiritual and philosophical themes from the Western esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity, and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West. He has a long-standing interest in postmodern philosophy and the possibility of true cultural transformation.

Monday February 24th, 2014
Filed under Interviews, News, Events and Alumni, Spring 2014

SVA Faculty Claudia La Rocco Interview with Bean Gilsdorf

Photo: José Carlos Teixeira.

The Visiting Artist Profile series, which highlights some of the artists, curators, and scholars who intersect with the Bay Area visual arts community through the various lecture programs produced by local institutions.


Claudia La Rocca was a 2013 artist in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts.

Claudia La Rocco has written criticism on performance for The New York TimesArtforum, and The Brooklyn Rail. More importantly, though, she is a poet and she approaches criticism as a form of the literary arts, often playing with the formal aspects of writing by bringing in visual elements or by using a particular structure (like a script) to make the words on the page coalesce into something more than mere text. La Rocco founded and runs The Performance Club, which won a 2011 Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and has recently collaborated on interdisciplinary projects with artist Brett Goodroad, the choreographers Karen Sherman and Thomas Lehmen, and the interdisciplinary performance company Findlay//Sandsmark. I caught up with La Rocco during her residency at Headlands Center for the Arts, where she was editing a future compilation of her poetry, essays, and reviews.

Bean Gilsdorf: How did you become a dance and performance critic?

Claudia La Rocco: Just after I got out of school I got this gig as an editor at the Associated Press, and for part of the time I was able to write about visual arts, books, even once in a while about TV—almost everything except dance. As I remember it, my editor called me into her office one day and said, “What do you know about dance?” I said, “I don’t really know anything about dance.” And she said, “Well, how would you like to write about dance? I need some dance writers.” I remember recognizing this as something I should say yes to and at the same time being panic stricken. So I said, “Sure, I can take some classes and read and figure out something to write about…” and she was like, “Nope, Baryshnikov is dancing on Thursday and I need a review of that and you’re going to cover it.” So that was how I started.

BG:And how did that go?

CLR:I hated it. I was terrified that I was looking at the wrong things or saying the wrong things that I didn’t even have the right to be talking about this stuff. And I did end up taking classes, just to get a sense of it in my body and get over that sense of being a fraud. And then at a certain point the fact that it was an impossible thing to do—write about performance—started to get really exciting. My training is in poetry, and I started seeing a lot of the similarities. My way into a lot of contemporary dance is through poetic structures. Structurally, the two forms seem to be in conversation in interesting ways.

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