Binghamton University, and particularly the Department of Art History, was amply represented by faculty, staff, current graduate students, and alumni at the 2017 Digital Humanities Summer Workshops at the University of Guelph. Participants included (from left to right) Julia Glauberman (Reference/Instructional Librarian), Eve Snyder (PhD candidate, History), Tracy Stuber (BA, Art History, 2011), Jeannine Keefer (PhD, Art History, 2013), Marcia Focht (Curator, Visual Resources), Nancy Um (Associate Professor, Art History), Lauren Cesiro (PhD program, Art History), and Mariah Postlewait (PhD program, Art History). They took courses such as “Get Down with your Data,” “Introduction to Digital Humanities Pedagogy,” “Spatial Humanities,” “Omeka Workshop,” “Making Manuscripts Digital,” and “Online Public Intellectual Work through Social Media.” More at #dhatguelph2017

Graduate Activities: Nicole Wagner at Harvard

Anonymous, Il gioco dei tarocchi, fresco, originally in the Castello di Masnago, Varese (currently in private collection in Rome), 1430-1450.

From April 7-8, doctoral candidate Nicole Wagner participated in the Brown-Harvard Graduate Chiasmi Conference in Italian Studies, “E(x)pressing Play,” where she presented her paper, “Disrupting Social Practice and Spatial Order: Women Gambling in Early Modern Italy.”

Abstract: In 1493 Beatrice d’Este Sforza traveled from Milan to Venice on the bucintoro  (barge) gifted to her by her parents, on official business for her husband, Ludovico “Il Moro” Sforza (Duke of Milan, 1494-99). In letters to Ludovico, Beatrice reported that while on board she triumphed against her mother, the Duchess of Ferrara Eleonora of Aragon, and her sister-in-law, Anna Sforza, winning a large sum of money in the card game buttino. Other letters disclose that over the course of one year Beatrice won 3,000 gold ducats while playing scartino, another game of wager involving a deck of cards, and that Beatrice’s sister, Isabella d’Este Gonzaga (Marquess of Mantua, 1490-1539), also gambled in a variety of times and spaces, often to great profit. This paper looks at the conjunction of a novel form of material culture (the paper card deck) and the practice of gambling on boats (the preferred means of transport for elites in northern Italian courts connected by waterways) – mobile spaces that became ambiguous with respect to “place” when in transit and thus elusive with regard to the reach of sovereignty and surveillance. Boats were far from the exclusive site of female gambling in early modern Italy, but distinguishing them was their “placelessness,” which made them ideal as (provisional) heterotopias where women, I argue, rehearsed a new kind of social and economic independence as actors in material, spatial, and temporal fields long overlooked by scholars.

The paper will begin with the introduction of the card deck into late medieval and early modern Italy, where women’s card play originated as a “virtuous” leisure-time activity recommended and supervised by men in the regulated spaces of the palace or protected haven of enclosed gardens. Working with largely unpublished primary sources it will then turn to the bucintori and the unsupervised practice of women “working the table” in their sumptuously appointed interiors.

Graduate activities: Nicole Wagner at Yale

Anonymous, d’Este tarocchi deck (The Magician), hand painted with gold and silver, 5 ½ x 3 ¼ in., Ferrara, 15th century. Cary Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Congratulations to doctoral candidate Nicole Wagner, who has been awarded the Renaissance Society of America-Kress Beinecke Library Fellowship for 2017 for research on her dissertation, “Women Working the Table: The Material Culture, Gendered Spaces, and Visual Representations of Early Modern Female Card Players.”  She will visit Yale in September of this year.  Nicole has also recently received the Rosa Colecchio Travel Award, the IASH Graduate Fellowship, and the Foundation Travel Grant, all through Binghamton University.

Special installation at the University Art Museum: Ambra Polidori

The University Art Museum is showing a newly acquired work by Mexican artist Ambra Polidori (b. 1954) that challenges official evasions and inactivity around the 2014 disappearance of forty-three students in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The work has been sensitively installed by Juanita Rodriguez Congote, a doctoral student in the Department of History, in a way that also invites participation via the museum’s Facebook page as a digital parallel to the original’s sharable postcard format. There will be a gallery talk on the installation. Watch the museum’s Facebook page for details.

Summer Session Course: “Art and Corporate Culture: From Fluxus to the Yes Men”

Instructor: Wylie Schwartz

Binghamton University Department of Art History

Distance Learning Summer Session Course July 10 – August 11, 2017

This course explores the relationship between contemporary art and corporate culture. We begin with the corporation itself, in its postwar incarnation, as we examine the ways corporations have mobilized art and design, as well as the artists and designers whose work helped shape these emerging fields. From here, we consider Conceptual art as operating in terms of what Benjamin Buchloh referred to as an “aesthetics of administration.”  We go on to examine several case studies of artists and artist groups whose artistic practices specifically intervened within the sphere of corporate culture, whether as a form of institutional critique, such as Hans Haacke’s critique of Mobil sponsorship at the Museum of Modern Art, or the protests against BP sponsorship of British cultural institutions, or, as a form of collaboration, as in the case of the Artist Placement Group (APG) in postwar England. From there, we pivot to what we might call the “postmodern” corporation and the age of digital technologies, questioning how the subversive impulses of Paris in ’68 became folded into a new corporate culture, exemplified in the tendency of advertising to appropriate contemporary art, such as the case of Honda’s “Cog” commercial mimicking Fischli and Weiss’s “Lauf der Dinge.” We go on to examine how artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons turned themselves into corporations — the “branded” artist as it were, as well as the Conceptual play with that conceit in groups like Readymades Belong to Everyone. The course will conclude with a closer look at artistic practices that attempt to subvert that impulse by the Yes Men and other activist groups.