Exposing Society: Contemporary Drawing as History Writing

By:
Prof. Leoni Schmidt
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This workshop includes an introductory paper (20 minutes) arguing for drawing as a postmedia indignant practice operating as a political tool in its exposing of wrongs perpetrated in and through societies.. Case studies represent a range of methodologies: 1) the recouping of half-obliterated genocidal moments in the history of a people through the ‘colonialera cinema’, as e.g. in recent drawn stage sets by William Kentridge; 2) the drawing of attention to the art historical conventions framing ‘small disasters’ as deployed from Hogarth to Goya and referenced in contemporary ‘illumiera’ by Marie Strauss; 3) the deployment of art historical references to critique hegemonic structures in colonialist societies, as in recent drawn fugues by Donal Fitzpatrick; and 4) Kurt Adams’ construction of sublime digitally grayscaled drawn environments simultaneously celebrating the sumptiousness of surfaces in reference to Monet’s Giverny and dystopic urban life amongst post-industrial metropolitan architectures.

The introductory paper then extends to the viewing of four suites of drawing with each viewing (of 5 minutes x 4) followed by staged conversations (of 5 minutes x 4) prepared beforehand to highlight aspects of contemporary interarts drawing in its roles as a critical tool through which societies may come to understand their own histories, rights and responsibilities.

The staged conversations are prepared with other interested conference presenters; while particularly inviting audience particpation in response to a list of discussion points disseminated at commencement of the workshop..


Keywords: Interarts Drawing, Narrative Drawing, Historical Material Utilised in Drawing, Located Drawing Practices, Critiques of (Art) History through drawing, Drawing as a Political Tool, Exposing Societies through Drawing, Indignancy of Drawing, Drawing in Migrant Contexts, Drawing as Visual Thinking
Stream: Analysing Artforms, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Exposing Society


Prof. Leoni Schmidt

Academic Coordinator, School of Art, Otago Polytechnic
New Zealand

Being involved in two countries (New Zealand and South Africa), she is interested in experiences of travel, migration and exile; and her conference papers, journal articles, catalogue essays and curated exhibitions explore a range of situated contemporary practices in terms of their materialities and processes; their theoretical frameworks; and their historical locatedness. Her work positions itself on a research platform involving interdisciplinarity; the politics of location; and poststructuralist theory. In accord with these engagements and as a critique of pre-Māori Renaissance-era arts enquiries (in New Zealand) and apartheid-era arts enquiries (in South Africa), she distances herself from formalist approaches to arts practices and argues that all migratory arts practices – in the literal or figurative sense – are politically charged acts resulting in effects of a political and thus social nature.

Working at Otago Polytechnic School of Art in Dunedin, New Zealand, Leoni functions in a milieu modelled on the conservatorium in the sense that media-specific teaching units are maintained with a strong base of material exploration and processual investigation. However, these units also work across and inter- media in their fruitful connection around ideas and histories, both personal and political. In this context, drawing plays across an expanded field and can become a refuge, a home, or a liberation for artists who sometimes still find themselves dominated by disciplinary boundaries. Outside of this immediate milieu, Leoni’s research also involves the work of a range of international artists whose work finds a creative nexus within the multifarious practices of contemporary drawing. She is especially interested in how this plays out in practice and in the theoretical and historical frameworks of drawing as a ludic, performative activity.


Ref: A06P0433