Art History, the 1960s, and Spectacle


Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:00 p.m.
MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., room 608

How has the notion of spectacle been deployed in art historical writing and how, in particular, has it served the discipline's understanding of the period in which the theory of spectacle originated, the 1960s? This talk will review the aspirations and limits of key examples (Clark, Crary, Joseph, Lambert-Beatty) and make a case for why we should understand a certain strain of 1960s performance art to figure essential components of this key period concept, components that remain only latent in Guy Debord's original formulation.

Elise Archias is Assistant Professor of Art History at UIC and received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. Her research and classes center around modernism, performance art, and contemporary art, asking questions about how abstract ideas come together with the physical world in meaningful ways in 20th- and 21st-century art and life. Her book, The Concrete Body—Schneemann, Rainer, Acconci (nearly finished), explores the work of three performance artists from the 1960s who embraced and challenged everyday life in late modernity using bodies as an artistic material.