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In what ways does the materiality of an artwork matter?

Last updated on Jan 30, 2024

The Materiality of Resistance will be a two-day symposium (March 7-8, 2024) exploring the artistic deployment of materials as tools to imagine, promote, and enact resistance to the status quo in American art and visual culture. By invoking the word “material,” we throw into relief substances—unique and many, observable and nearly imperceptible—that are marshaled and transformed by makers into things perceived as significant, useful, and of value.

Hosted by the History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) program at California College of the Arts, and made possible with support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the event will convene writers, artists, designers, curators, and archivists to consider historical and contemporary stories where the materiality of making contributes to socio-cultural change.

In connection to the symposium, Creative Citizens in Action (CCA@CCA) will present performances by Ismail Lumanovski & Inspector Gadje Balkan Brass and the Nava Dance Theatre, as well as an exhibition of work by CCA students.

Download this Teaching Module as a PDF →

On the Materiality of Resistance

The following readings explore the notion of materiality from various perspectives including artistic practice, material culture, ecology, posthumanism, speculative aesthetics, and decolonial aesthetics. Starred books are available in CCA's Simpson Library.

  • Anderson, Christy, Anne Dunlop and Pamela H. Smith, eds. The Matter of Art: Materials, Practices, Cultural Logics, c. 1250–1750, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014.
  • Aranke, Sampada. “Material Matters: Black Radical Aesthetics and the Limits of Visibility.” e-flux Journal. Issue 79, February 2017.
  • Barrett, Estelle, and Barbara Bolt, eds. Carnal knowledge: towards a 'new materialism' through the arts. London: Ib Tauris, 2013.
  • ***Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things. London: Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Birtwistle, Andy. “Material Resistance: Towards a Politics of Listening.” Echo 1, 2020.
  • Brigstocke, Julian & Günter Gassner. “Materiality, Race, and Speculative Aesthetics,” GeoHumanities, 7:2, (2021): 359-369. DOI: 10.1080/2373566X.2021.1977163
  • ***Bruno, Giuliana. Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality and Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.
  • T.J. Demos, “The Politics of Sustainability: Contemporary Art and Ecology,” in Rethink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change. Aarhus, Denmark: Alexandra Institute, 2010.
  • Doss, Erika. "American Art Matters: Rethinking Materiality in American Studies." Open Cultural Studies, 3: 1 (2019): 75-84.
  • ***Edwards, Elizabeth, Janice Hart, eds. Photographs Objects Histories: On the Materiality of Images. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Francesca Ferrando. “Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations” Existenz 8:2 (fall 2013): 26-32.
  • Grusin, Richard ed. The Nonhuman Turn. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
  • *** Horton, Jessica L. Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation. Duke University Press. 2017
  • ***Kac, Eduardo ed. Signs of Life: Bio Art and Beyond. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.
  • Krispinsson, Charlotte. “Temptation, Resistance, and Art Objects: On the Lack of Material Theory within Art History before the Material Turn.” Artium Quaestiones, 29 (2018): 5-23.
  • Lange-Berndt, Petra ed. Materiality: Documents of Contemporary Art. MIT Press, 2015.
  • Tilly, Chris, Web Keane, Susanne Kuechler, Mike Rowlands, Patricia Spyer eds. Handbook of Material Culture. London: Sage Publications, 2006.
  • Todd, Zoe. “An Indigenous Feminist’s take on the Ontological Turn: ‘ontology’ is just another word for colonialism.”
  • ***Yonan, Michael. “Toward a Fusion of Art History and Material Culture Studies,” West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. 18:2 (Fall-Winter 2011): 232-248.

On Balkan Music Studies

The opening event of the Spring 2024 Deborah and Kenneth Novack Creative Citizens Series is a Balkan music concert featuring the extraordinary clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski and the Bay Area-San Francisco-based band Inspector Gadje, which brings a big sound to the beautiful and bumpin’ brass band music of the Balkans of south-eastern Europe. The following provides a list of core readings for Balkan Music Studies as well as clips from the Inspector Gadje Youtube Channel.

Join us at 6pm on February 2 in Timken Hall →

This teaching module was developed by CCA@CCA Faculty Coordinator Nilgun Bayraktar.