Kristi McGuire, Adjunct Associate Professor, Visual and Critical Studies (2011). BA, Writing and Literature, 2002, University of Michigan; MA, Humanities, 2006, University of Chicago; MA/MFA, SAIC, 2010. Books: Theorizing Visual Studies: Writing through the Discipline (Routledge, 2012). Editorial Collaborations: Graham Foundation, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig, DOMINICA, Sternberg Press, Soberscove Press, Semiotext(e), Artists’ Platform and Projects, Publication Studio. Publications: The Believer, Chicago Review, Chicago School of Media Theory, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, htmlgiant, Daily Serving. Blogs: False Flags. Residencies: Summer Forum for Inquiry + Exchange, Headlands Center for the Arts, ACRE. Awards: Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2017); Cranbrook Academy of Art Critical Studies Fellowship (2016–17).
I often feel that my own practice eschews the bureaucracy of form for something like the laboring body as readymade conduit vis-à-vis the art world’s complicity with neoliberal late capitalism. My mediums are the immaterial discourses surrounding the performance of criticality and the production of the material subject in the capitalist imaginary. It’s there I’ve striven to produce meaning in spaces others might construe as non-discursive or otherwise attempt to institutionally make over in the image of the market. My “work” then circumvents and troubles the process of knowledge production in academic spaces, often through a performance of critique as an embodied artistic discourse. Here, and elsewhere, I challenge the rhetorical underpinnings that bolster our constitution as subjects in the spaces of capital; my tendency is not merely to document this or make another object about or around it, which seems a variation of legitimizing its presence—instead I continue to assert, a la Bartleby, that the illegibility of my own practice not only constitutes, but helps point to the aporia of “practice” itself.
My own experience of the world is very much cantilevered by expectation and contradiction, colored by the complexities of any current or ongoing fascination, shifting performance methodologies, and an attraction to the materialist history behind our mediations of contemporaneity. I get so very excited about things.
Experience at SAIC
SAIC is a wild place. The tightly associative, post-studio, and transdisciplinary nature of my courses emphasize the performative space of the seminar room at SAIC, where the immaterial boundaries between "research" and "production” are nixed to better acclimate students to a hybrid and embodied critical practice, i.e., thought as insoluble from action, and theorizing as indispensably bound to making. Someone wiser than me once said that the scenes from my courses are not those of knowledge being passed out, but political and ethical relations being rehearsed.
In pursuit of this, I ask my students to bring with them demanding intelligences that thrive on the marrow of experimentation; authentic enthusiasm that demands recognition for the immaterial and emotional labors surrounding the performance of any text; a commitment to pedagogical and student activism in its many guises, including those exhaustively devoted to dismantling pre-existing systems, hierarchies, and privileges; and an insistence upon drawing connections between seemingly disparate subjects and ideas, across platforms, media, and disciplines. This is how we think in public, I guess.
At SAIC, I’m attuned to the pressures placed on contingent categories of identity, and frequently advocate for the formal inclusion of marginalized voices, aesthetics, and techniques to expand the capacity of what—and how—a “text” can be. My research interests—thus my conversations in the classroom, or my performance of learning—ask urgent questions about contemporary social and political life, especially how, informed by the perversions of neoliberal capitalism and disseminated by both new and remediated technologies, we determine and organize ourselves into new classes of viewers (yet old subjects of history).
Roman Numeral C, 2012 [PDF]
My recent courses have included those centered on bureaucracy’s anarchic relationship with performance, stupidity, and structural violence; the political economy of emoji and the institutionalization of object-oriented ontology; the poetics simulated by the collusion of global technocratic capital, the IoT, and new media theology; the role of conspiracy theory and meta-narratives in historical grief work; the art world’s remediated fetish of the 1990s and neoliberalism’s sensuous embrace of “the aughts” as an everything-or-nothing hyperobject; the commodification of queer forms by critical theory; and how we “faked” the internet as to save ourselves (from libertarian game theory). Upcoming research platforms deal with the shared mythic origins and historical framing of automation, the synthesizer, and the role of the “alien” in the construction of digital identity, as well as a history of the kill switch told through privacy’s core sociological dichotomy—as neoliberal bourgeois virtue and last-battered defense against the data-mining economy.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.