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Reframing the House of Dust: A Symposium - Program Notes & Biographies

Reframing the House of Dust: A Symposium - Program Notes & Biographies

Reframing the House of Dust: A Symposium
Program notes and biographies
March 24, 2018
10 am – 6 pm

Marking the 50th anniversary of one of the first computer-generated poems and the “house” it inspired, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will celebrate Fluxus artist Alison Knowles’ seminal project, House of Dust, with “Reframing The House of Dust: Activations”, a day of performances on campus Friday, March 23, and “Reframing the House of Dust: A Symposium” at Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Read more in the press release.

On March 24, 2018, CalArts will host a daylong symposium at REDCAT centered on Fluxus artist Alison Knowles’ House of Dust project, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The House of Dust was conceived first in collaboration with James Tenney as a computer-generated poem, and then “translated” by Knowles into a structure which accompanied her to CalArts when she joined the original faculty. From 1969-71 the House of Dust hosted many events at CalArts, and functioned as an alternative pedagogical hub on campus. Through the lens of this remarkable project, presenters will consider questions of radical pedagogy (both Fluxus and feminist), participatory ecology, and cross-pollinations among poetry, architecture and early cybernetics.

Sponsored and presented by the CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics Program in collaboration with Art by Translation, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and France Los Angeles Exchange (FLAX). Curated by Maud Jacquin, Sébastien Pluot and Janet Sarbanes.



Session I, 10am-12pm: Teaching and Learning From the House of Dust
Facilitator: Ken Ehrlich

• Sebastien Pluot and Maud Jacquin, “Introduction to the House of Dust”
• Janet Sarbanes, “Reframing the House of Dust at CalArts: A Meditation on Radical Pedagogy”
• Karen Moss, “Alison Knowles and Fluxus: Propositions/Performance/Pedagogy” 


Session II, 1:30pm-3:30 pm: Ecologies: Material, Social and Feminist
Facilitator: Sara Mameni

• Hannah Higgins, "Materials and Information in The House of Dust"
• Maud Jacquin, “Inhabited by Those who Invite Others”: Spaces of Hospitality in The House of Dust”
• Nicole Woods, “Participatory Ecologies and The House of Dust: Land Art, Conceptualism, Counter-Publics”


Session III, 4pm-6pm: Translations: Architecture, Language and Cybernetics
Facilitator: Andrew Culp

• Sebastien Pluot, “Poem in Translation. Disrupting Architecture and Cybernetics”
• Jasper Bernes, "Poetry and the Architecture of Information"
• Sylvia Lavin, TBA


Presenter Bios

Jasper Bernes is the author of We Are Nothing and So Can You (Commune Editions, 2015) and The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization (Stanford, 2017). He lives in Berkeley with his family.

Andrew Culp teaches Media History and Theory in the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics and the School of Critical Studies at CalArts. He is the author of Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), which has been translated into numerous languages including Spanish, Japanese, and German, and the forthcoming Persona Obscura (under contract with University of Minnesota Press). Other publications on media, film, politics, and philosophy appear in Radical Philosophy, parallax, angelaki, and boundary 2 online. He serves on the Governing Board of the Cultural Studies Association.

Ken Ehrlich is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles. He has exhibited internationally in a variety of media, often combining video, sculpture and photography, including in the 2017 California-Pacific Triennial, Building As Ever, at the Orange County Museum of Art, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, and Museo Carillo Gil.  He is the editor of Art, Architecture, Pedagogy: Experiments in Learning (viralnet), and co-editor of Surface Tension: Problematics of Site, and Surface Tension Supplements Nos. 1 and 2 (Errant Bodies Press). His experimental documentary, La Huelga, was supported by grants from the Graham and Durfee foundations. He currently teaches at CalArts and U.C. Riverside.

Hannah Higgins is Professor of Art History and University Scholar at University of Illinois Chicago, where she has been teaching since 1994. In addition to articles on the historic and neo-avant-gardes, her books include Fluxus Experience (University of California Press, 2002), The Grid Book (MIT, 2009) and an anthology Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art (University of California Press, 2012. She has received DAAD, Getty and Philips Collection fellowships in support of her research on sensation, cognition, and information across the arts. Higgins is founding co-director of a new transdisciplinary BA at UIC, called IDEAS. She is co-executor of the Estate of Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press, which is represented in Chicago by Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery.

Maud Jacquin is an art historian and curator based in Paris. With Sébastien Pluot, she is co-director of Art by Translation, an international research and exhibition program involving partner institutions in four countries and participating artists engaged in a post-master course. Since 2015, they have conducted extensive research on Alison Knowles’s The House of Dust and reactivated its generative potential through several group exhibitions, symposia and performative events in New York, Montreal and Paris. She received her PhD from University College London, completing a thesis on feminist film and video, with a particular focus on the British experimental film scene of the 1970s and 80s.

Sylvia Lavin is an internationally known critic, historian, and curator whose work explores the limits of architecture across a wide spectrum of historical periods. Her most recent books include Kissing Architecture, published by Princeton University Press in 2011 and The Flash in the Pan and Other Forms of Architectural Contemporaneity, forthcoming. She the curator of Everything Loose Will Land, a large-scale exhibition focusing on the intersections between art and architecture in Los Angeles during the 1970s.  Her next exhibition, Creative Spaces, explores the relationship between architecture and the radical redefinitions of creativity that have taken place since the advent of computing. She is currently the Director of the Critical Studies and M.A./Ph.D. programs in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, and The Curatorial Project, a collaborative design and research group that supports critical engagement with experimental architecture in the public realm. She has been recognized most recently by grants and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Getty Research Institute, and the Graham Foundation.

Sara Mameni teaches in the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics and the School of Critical Studies at CalArts. She was a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz in 2016-2017. Her specialization is contemporary art in the middle-east and the diaspora with a focus on gender and sexual practices in Iranian art and cinema. She has published articles in Al-Raida Journal, Women & Performance, Fuse Magazine, Fillip Review, Canadian Art and written for exhibition catalogues in Dubai, Sharjah and Istanbul. She curated the exhibition “Snail Fever” at the Third Line Gallery in Dubai. She is currently working on a book project titled, On Persian Blues: Queer Bodies, Racial Affects, and has an article forthcoming on Fluxus artist Kate Millett in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

Karen Moss is an art historian, curator, educator and writer based in Los Angeles. Currently, she is Acting Vice Dean for Critical Studies and teaches in the MA Curatorial Program at USC Roski School of Art and Design. Additionally, she is Adjunct Professor in the MFA program at Otis College of Art where she has been the Consulting Curator for Talking to Action, an exhibition of socially engaged artists from Los Angeles and Latin America that is Otis’ participation in the Getty Foundation’s PST LA/LA initiative. Previously Moss held senior curatorial and education positions at Orange County Museum of Art; San Francisco Art Institute; Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Walker Art Center. She received her PhD in art history from University of Southern California and has authored numerous exhibition publications and articles for art magazines and scholarly journals.

Sébastien Pluot is an art historian and curator. He is co-director of Art by Translation, the international research and exhibition program of ESBA TALM Angers and ESNA Paris-Cergy. He recently published A translation from one language to another (Les presses du reel) and Art by Telephone Recalled (ed Mix). He has curated: The House of Dust by Alison Knowles; A letter always arrives at its destinations; Art by Telephone Recalled; Double bind, Stop trying to understand me; You can add or subtract from the work, D’Arcangelo / Asher; Anarchism without adjectives, on the work of Christopher D’Arcangelo.

Janet Sarbanes is a scholar and writer who teaches in the MA Aesthetics and Politics program and the MFA Creative Writing Program at CalArts. A 2017 recipient of the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Art Writer’s grant, Sarbanes has published art criticism and other critical writing in museum catalogues, anthologies, and journals such as East of Borneo, Afterall, Journal of Utopian Studies and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her essay on the early history of CalArts and an interview with Alison Knowles can be found at Sarbanes is the author of the short story collections Army of One (Otis) and The Protester Has Been Released (CR Press), and her fiction appears most recently in Black Clock, P-Queue, Entropy and North Dakota Quarterly. 

Nicole L. Woods is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Notre Dame. In Fall 2017, she held the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Woods has written and published widely on the American experimental avant-garde and other key artists of the post-WWII era. Her current book project, Performing Chance: The Art of Alison Knowles In/Out of Fluxus (under review, University of Chicago Press) is the first in-depth study of Alison Knowles’s work from the 1950s-1970s. She is also finishing an essay on the “relational archive” in Fluxus for Archives of American Art Journal