American Rubble

American Rubble

Paul Farber, a Postdoctoral Writing Fellow at Haverford, answers all your questions about the most exciting First Friday since FAB had that cooking class in Reading Terminal Market. 1.Can you tell me a little bit about the event? What/Who/Where/When? American Rubble is an artist residency, symposium, and temporary exhibition on Tuesday, Dec 2 and Friday, Dec 5 that seeks to explore the ways we engage the economic and architectural transformations occurring currently in many contemporary cities, especially Philadelphia.  The events center around artist Stephanie Syjuco’s developing project, American Rubble, in which she seeks to collect and archive pieces of urban rubble, to convey and compare histories of the present. Syjuco will be in collaboration and conversation with students from several Haverford classes, and a group of prominent scholars/artists of cultural memory including Camilo J. Vergara, Susanne Slavick, Joshua Clover, and Salamishah Tillet. 2. When did you start organizing American Rubble? How did the idea start? I first discovered Syjuco’s work when researching American artists who engage the history and memory of the Berlin Wall. Her series “Berlin Wall” was a critical and creative intervention against Cold War triumphalism, as well as an invitation to consider the multiple ways we imagine and consume history. Syjuco and I began corresponding about her project, and she became one of the artists included in the exhibition “The Wall in Our Heads” I curated this Fall in Washington D.C. (Which will be traveling to Haverford’s CFG Gallery next Fall.) We met for the first time in Berlin last summer, but for months prior had discussed next directions for this work. We realized we had a...
Portraiture, Disability, and Identity: Explorations with Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

Portraiture, Disability, and Identity: Explorations with Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer is returning to Haverford this Thursday to deliver her lecture, “Jarred: Self-Portrait in Formaldehyde”, inspired by an encounter with a fetal specimen at the mutter museum. Riva has exhibited her work in museums and galleries across the country, and has also curated numerous exhibitions. Her work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. Riva’s visit is a continuation of her work with Professor Kristin Lindgren’s course “Disability, Identity, Culture,” part of the 360° Program, “Identity Matters.” The cluster of three courses focuses on representations of illness and disability in the arts. Over fall break, Riva Lehrer and students in the 360 spent five days at Camphill Village, an intentional community in Kimberton, PA that includes adults with developmental disabilities. During the trip, students created textual and visual portraits of Camphill residents. I spoke with student Sula Malina, BMC ‘17, about the class’ trip to Camphill Village and Riva Lehrer’s residency. Can you tell me a little bit about the structure of the Camphill Village visit? We visited Camphill for five days, from a Sunday to a Thursday, so we could get a glimpse of the most active days of the week for the villagers. Each of us were paired with a villager who had volunteered to take part in the experience, and we were meant to follow them around, either shadowing or helping out, with their various activities throughout the day. We stayed at a nearby camp, ate our breakfast there each morning, and then drove over to Camphill. We also worked with our villagers and Riva on drawing, and followed...
(IR)REVERENCE: Interview with Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo

(IR)REVERENCE: Interview with Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo

Fifty years ago, Chinua Achebe wrote the landmark novel Arrow of God. Next week, October 6-9, the Tri-Colleges will host the conference (Ir)reverence in celebration of this anniversary, featuring Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo. Chika Unigwe is the author of On Black Sisters’ Street, which won Nigeria’s biggest literary prize, the NLNG Prize for Literature. She has written in both English and Dutch. Niq Mhlongo is the author of the novel Dog Eat Dog. The Spanish translation, Perro come perro, won the 2006 Mar de Letras prize. We caught up with these two writers for a sneak peak on the conference. To hear more, come to their writing workshop and panel discussion. Mellon Creative Residencies: Why do you think readers are still attracted to Arrow of God fifty years after publication? Chika Unigwe: Achebe’s writing is timeless. Arrow of God, like the best of his writing, is written in an elegant, warm tone even while it deals with very serious themes, so it is very easy to draw readers in. The effects of colonization are still with us in Nigeria in many different ways, and so Arrow of God remains relevant. Niq Mhlongo: In Arrow of God, I think Achebe had effectively showed that literature can be used to tell the African story from an African perspective. He had successfully demonstrated to readers that literature can be used as a weapon to restore or regain people’s lost identity, self-respect, and dignity. He does this by showing readers in human terms what happened to them and what they had lost. Personally, I subscribe to the notion that...
Strategies of Vision: Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

Strategies of Vision: Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

I walked into a small Stokes classroom and discovered an unexpectedly busy hustle and bustle of students setting up extra chairs around the table. Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer’s talk “Strategies of Vision: Artists, Impairment, and Disability Culture.” Riva is an artist, writer, teacher, and curator, and the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Critical Fierceness Grant—an award that Riva assured us was real and comes from an organization that mostly does “dance raves.” Riva’s work focuses on the physical identity and the body, and she has been curating images of impairment for over twenty years. The course that I sat in on—Disability, Identity, Culture—taught by Prof. Kristin Lindgren, is part of a 360 program this year titled “Identity Matters.” Last week, past students of the class and other professors joined current members of Prof. Lindgren’s class to hear Riva speak. Riva speaks directly and with humor, and is unafraid to bring up controversial topics. She prefaced her talk with the warning, “there’s nothing I’m gonna show you that is not problematic, including my own work.” The millennia of negative descriptions of disability weigh heavy on current representations of disability and impairment, so Riva told us all to maintain a “both and” state of mind, in which the negatives and positives of a work do not negate each other. When she first started curating art related to impairment, Riva recalls an almost universally negative reaction. Twenty years ago, there were almost no positive portrayals of disabled people, “unless,” Riva added, “you count Catholic saints, and I don’t actually...
Throwback Thursday 9

Throwback Thursday 9

Welcome to another Thursday! Today we’re talking about the symposium, “Romancing Passing – Race, Gender, and Nation in Cinema.” In the second year of a Mellon Fellowship, each fellow stages a symposium or forum relating to their area of study. Yiman Wang was the Mellon Fellow from 2003-2005 and researched transregional and transnational image translation, particularly the relationship between film in China and the West. She presented this symposium to explore themes of racial, ethnic, and gender passing processes as portrayed in cinematic romance. Visiting experts ran panels entitled “Romance, Horror, and Globalization,” “Coding Hollywood Asians,” and “Dystopia and Utopia of the Passing Body,” followed by a roundtable discussion. Curiosity piqued? Read about more Mellon Symposia here: www.haverford.edu/HCAH/center/archive/mellon_symposium.php Until next time! Anna and...