Nancy Um and Hala Auji present at HIAA 2018

On October 27, 2018, Nancy Um (Professor and Chair, Art History) will present a paper entitled, “Yemeni Manuscripts Online: Close and Distant Readings of a Zaydi Corpus through the Portal of a Screen,” at the Historians of Islamic Art Association 2018 Biennial Symposium, held at Yale University. Binghamton alumna Hala Auji (PhD, 2013) will also present at the conference on October 26. Her paper is entitled, “Facing Pages: Author Portraits in Nineteenth-Century Arabic Publications.”
More information can be found at the conference website:

Next VizCult speaker: Tom McDonough on “The Gestus of Things,” Wed 17 Oct

In this world where the fetishization of the self has become a central tenet of the social order, where we are obliged to continuously produce the effects of selfhood – to “possess” autonomous agency, youthful beauty, rich personality – where we approximate ever more closely the status of what Mario Perniola has called “feeling things,” is it time to allow for the possibility that things, too, might have become, in Brecht’s term, gestisch? This question comes to mind when considering artist Christopher Williams’s Stage Play, presented over the course of three nights in late May 2017 at a small theater in Zürich.

Tom McDonough (Assoc Prof, Art History) teaches and writes on aspects of the European avant-gardes, modern art and architecture, and twentieth-century French cultural and intellectual history.

5:00 PM in FA 143

Julia Walker at IASH

Julia Walker will be speaking at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) on Wednesday, October 17 at 12:00 in LN 1106. Her paper is titled “’Form is nothing but emptiness, emptiness nothing but form’: Brigitte D’Ortschy and Frank Lloyd Wright in Germany, America, and Japan.” All are welcome to attend.

This paper examines the understudied German architect and planner Brigitte D’Ortschy. Born in Berlin, D’Ortschy spent much of her architectural career in Munich, first at the Technische Universität and later as a founding member of the Bavarian Committee for Urban and Regional Planning. Yet in between, she came in contact with Frank Lloyd Wright, in whom she would find a resonant intelligence—one who privileged the mental and spiritual in architecture and one who contemplated the powerful effects of silence, space, and absence. Her interactions with Wright, I aim to show, laid the groundwork for her later pursuit: becoming a Zen master of the Sanbo Kyodan school in Japan. Through analysis of D’Ortschy’s essays, letters, talks, and photographic archives, this paper reveals her intensive engagement with Wright’s ideas, from his theory of “organic architecture” to his thinking about the importance of flow and continuity in architectural space. I hope to show that D’Ortschy’s developing interest in Zen and Japan, aided by Wright’s philosophy, led her to view architecture as yet another form of the ideal “emptiness” she sought in spiritual contemplation.

Nancy Um in the Sydney Asian Art Series

Case with nine bottles, ca. 1680–1700. Batavia (box) and Japan (bottles). Calamander wood, underglaze painted porcelain, silver, velvet. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, NG-444. Image in the public domain.

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, Nancy Um will speak in the Sydney Asian Art series, hosted by The Power Institute. Her talk is entitled, “Boxes Fit for Kings: Aromatic Gifts around the Late-Seventeenth- and Early-Eighteenth-Century Indian Ocean.


Material and Visual Worlds TAE: George Marcus, Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology, UC-Irvine

The Material and Visual Worlds TAE is delighted to announce the first talk in its annual speaker series. George Marcus, Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology, UC-Irvine, will deliver a talk on Thursday, October 4 concerned with contemporary experiments in collaborative research across a range of fields of expertise. “Ethnographic Fieldwork, Scenic Design Interventions, and the Consequences of Aesthetic Decisions: Three Collaborative Projects Over Five Years,” will be presented in FA 258 at 6:00. Everyone is welcome!