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Mechtild Widrich

Thu, Sep 14, 2023    6:30pm

Conservation and Monumental Cares

Join us for a lecture by Mechtild Widrich, Professor in Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently Guest Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Widrich will discuss case studies by Emilio Rojas and Ana Lupaş related to her new book, Monumental Cares. Sites of History and Contemporary Art, which considers the monument debates of the past decade in light of phenomena that strike us as monumental or overwhelming, such as climate crisis, migration, and local and global political tensions. Both Rojas and Lupaş address the complicated relationship to land, tradition, and political pressure to modernization using techniques of conservation. However, their works do not point to any authenticity of materials or identity as simplistic anchors for “truth” and do not employ conservation as return to happier pasts. Introducing a multidirectional theory of site and a geographically informed sense of audience(s), these works from different geographical areas and different times (Contemporary Canada and Socialist Romania) will allow us to understand how physical and virtual sites are entangled in our conception of time and space, materializing history on the ground, online, in reception and scholarship

Mechtild Widrich researches and writes on art in public space, in particular monuments and monument activism, and the theory of the public sphere.

Widrich is the author of Performative Monuments (2014) and Monumental Cares (2023), both with Manchester University Press. She joined Jorge Otero-Pailos as guest editor of Future Anterior, special issue Ex Situ: On Moving Monuments, 2018. Widrich is (co)editor of Participation in Art and Architecture (2015/2022); Ugliness: The Non-Beautiful in Art and Theory (2013/2015), Krzysztof Wodiczko, A 9/11 Memorial (2009); and translator (with Andrei Pop) of Karl Rosenkranz, Ästhetik des Hässlichen [1853]_(2015/2017). Her writings have appeared in Art Journal, Grey Room, Texte zur Kunst, ArtMargins, Log, TDR, JSAH, and numerous books and catalogs.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.