Fall 2017

Kathleen Eamon (Evergreen State University), "Super/Sensible Remains in Art and Politics: Hegel and Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series"

(Friday, October 6 at 4pm, Main 005)

Hegel’s “end of art” thesis is in an important sense an untimely interpretation of Marx’s later claim that “all that is solid melts into air,” an interpretation under which instead of representing in sensuous form a promise of the reconciliation of spirit and material, the work of art now represents the loss of that promise.  In this paper, I want to investigate two different histories that can be understood as tending to the remains of the sensible.  In his Philosophy of Right, Hegel describes the limited conditions for actualization and recognition in one sphere of objective spirit as follows: “A man actualizes himself only in becoming something definite, i.e., something specifically particularized; this means restricting himself exclusively to one of the particular spheres of need. [I]n this way [he gains] recognition both in [his] own eyes and in the eyes of others” (¶ 207).  That notion of “becoming something definite, paticularized” is reflected in a certain modernist avant-garde trajectory toward medium specificity and formalism.  But I’m interested in a related but under-theorized history of craft, insofar as it appears within the art world (and particularly but not always as the medium of artists working at the margins), as a place to investigate the gendered implications of Hegel’s claim here, with its emphasis on the field of recognition as scopic; for example, Anni Albers, theorizing her work in the weaving studio at the Bauhaus, argues that craft gives us access to a shared and shareable tactile sensibility that grounds an alternate sociability.
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