Listasafn Islands

TALK: Ann Reynolds - Remoteness, Hafnarhús, Thursday 4 April, 8 p.m.

Ann Reynolds is the second participant in TALK Series 2013, a collaborative lecture program initiated by Reykjavik Art Museum, the Icelandic Art Center and the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. The lecture takes place Thursday 4 April, 8 p.m. and is held in collaboration with The American Embassy in Iceland.

Titled Remoteness the lecture refers to the work of Robert Smithson which is currently on show at Reykjavík Art Museum – Hafnarhús. “Remote” is an adjective that clings to most descriptions of Robert Smithson’s earthworks. Of course, remoteness is a relative condition and an affective one. It constitutes part of an overall structure of feeling. Remoteness is also a cinematic condition and a cinematic effect, one that Smithson clearly appreciated. In his 1971 essay “A Cinematic Atopia,” he remarks: “The longer we look through a camera or watch a projected image the remoter the world becomes, yet we begin to understand that remoteness more.” Here Smithson seems to contradict Walter Benjamin’s claim that film, like other reproductive media, capitulates to the contemporary “desire to bring things ‘closer’ spatially and humanly,” but both of their observations stem from a paradox inherent to cinema itself: its ability to represent a remote and yet simultaneously proximate world. Smithson’s nonsites share a similar paradoxical structure, one that assimilates unique, relatively remote locations into uniform containers filled with materials and images taken from that location, translating them into a sign. A nonsite could be described as remoteness objectified. In 1966, the critic Gene Swenson used the rhetoric of cinema to describe how some images “objectify experience, turn feelings into things,” so that we can deal with them in our daily lives. It is only when we can acknowledge the affective aspects of remoteness as an experience on the part of spectators that we can appreciate the central role of mediation, and cinema in particular, in Smithson’s work, his wider historical moment, and its legacy.

Ann Reynolds is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on U.S. and European art, architecture, and visual culture after 1930; feminist theory, gender, and sexuality studies; the historiography of exhibition practice; and film. She is the noted author of Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere (Cambridge, MA, 2003), a provocative and intricately researched study of Smithson’s work and his archive in the context of the 1960s. She is a frequent contributor to numerous journals, anthologies, and exhibition catalogues that deal with modern and contemporary art and has written several essays on Robert Smithson. Since arriving at the University of Texas in 1991, she has received three major teaching awards, most recently the College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006. She received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York.

TALK Lecture & Visitor Series is a held in collaboration between Reykjavík Art Museum, Icelandic Art Center and the Icelandic Academy of the Arts.  The series creates a platform for continual professional-, international encounter to take place in Iceland. Comprising visits by ground-breaking figures in the visual arts, this program brings to Icelandic art community, as well as to the public at large, the burgeoning ideas and diverse practices that define the terms and shape the dialogue within the international contemporary art scene. The American Embassy in Iceland is the main sponsor for TALK Lecture & Visitor Series.

Printed of the web Reykjvik Art Museum, 04.50.2015