Artist Jorge Macchi, Curator James Meyer, art historian W.J.T. Mitchell, film historian Tom Gunning, and artist Josiah McElheny join Rail contributor Natalia Gierowska for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Mick Toma.
Visual artist Jorge Macchi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and lives and works in Buenos Aires. In 2001 he was awarded the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He has had three major retrospectives of his work: Perspectiva at MALBA Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires in 2016; Music Stand Still at S.M.A.K the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium in 2011, and The anatomy of melancholy at Santander Cultural in 2007, at Blanton Museum and CGAC, Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporáneo in 2008. Macchi represented Argentina at the Venice Biennial in 2005 and has participated in several other major biennials, including Liverpool in 2012, Lyon in 2011, Yokohama in 2008, Porto Alegre in 2007, Venezia in 2005, San Pablo in 2004 among others.
Art historian James Meyer is Curator of Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and organizer of The Double exhibition. He was previously the Winship Distinguished Research Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University and Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Dia Art Foundation. His publications include Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the 1960s (Yale University Press, 2001), Dwan Gallery: Los Angeles to New York, 1959-1971 (University of Chicago Press, 2016), The Art of Return: The Sixties and Contemporary Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2019) and The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900 (Princeton University Press, 2022).
Scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature W. J. T. Mitchell is Senior Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Morey Prize in art history given by the College Art Association of America. In 2003, he received the University of Chicago’s prestigious Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.
New York based artist Josiah McElheny’s sculptures, paintings, installations, performances, and films engage with the history of ideas across wide-ranging fields of study—from literature to architecture, music theory, and astronomy—transforming this research into physical form. His works often combine glass or mirror with other materials, to emphasize the importance of the act of looking “as a subject in and of itself.” A skilled glassblower, McElheny frequently incorporates hand-blown and shaped glass within evocative assemblages, whose mode of presentation creates a sense of unsettled ideals, and a challenge to fixed definitions. The material serves as a productive agent, inciting chance encounters between forms and ideas that point toward alternative histories and futures.
Professor Emeritus of Art History, Cinema and Media Studies at University of Chicago Tom Gunning works on problems of film style and interpretation, film history and film culture. His published work (approximately one hundred publications) has concentrated on early cinema (from its origins to the WW I) as well as on the culture of modernity from which cinema arose (relating it to still photography, stage melodrama, magic lantern shows, as well as wider cultural concerns such as the tracking of criminals, the World Expositions, and Spiritualism). His concept of the “cinema of attractions” has tried to relate the development of cinema to other forces than storytelling, such as new experiences of space and time in modernity, and an emerging modern visual culture.
Political scientist and art critic Natalia Gierowska has been published in several academic journals, including Springer, specialising in politics of the Middle East, Public Policy and Refugee Law. Gierowska is also the Europe Correspondant at The Brooklyn Rail, where she regularly contributes exhibition reviews. Together with her cousin, Łukasz Dybalski, she proudly represents the Stefan Gierowski Foundation.
The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have
Mick Toma is a poet and artist. They received their MFA in Poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where they were awarded a James Patterson Scholarship, a Stanley Award for International Research, and the Deena Davidson Freedman Award for Poetry. They are a recent recipient of a Fulbright Award to Romania to research the censorship of queer lit and art. Their work has been published by the Academy of American Poets, Hobart Journal, and is forthcoming in Bennington Review.