2011 SECAC: European Art and Philosophy since 1945

This panel considers parallel developments in European art and philosophy since 1945. It examines the exchanges that took place between European thinkers and artists who often belonged to the same social and cultural circles. Our objective is to highlight the ways intellectual and artistic creations echoed and/or in uenced one another.


Chairs:  Catherine Dossin, Purdue University and Victoria H.F. Scott, Emory University



Dépassement de l’art, Réalisation de la Philosophie: Guy Debord and the Revolution of Everyday Life
Emmanuel Guy, Bibliothèque Nationale de France 

Dépassement de l’art, Réalisation de la Philosophie are the titles of two artworks made by Guy Debord for an exhibition in 1963 after most of the artists of the Situationist International had been expelled and replaced by ‘sociologists.’ Starting from this moment in the history of the S.I., this paper addresses the role assigned to the arts within the Situationist Revolution of Everyday Life. Through his contacts with unorthodox Marxist theorists such as Henri Lefèbvre and the Socialisme et Barbarie Group, Guy Debord developed his critique of commodified society while pursuing the modernist avant-garde project of reuniting art and life.


A Claude Viallat and Marcelin Pleynet: Thinking About Painting as a System and Site
Rosemary O’Neill, Parsons The New School for Design

This presentation will consider Marcelin Pleynet’s writing on Claude Viallat, the artist’s acknowledgment of Pleynet’s contribution to the understanding of his work, and how Pleynet situated Viallat within a broader historical construct.


Vincenzo agenti and the Italian Response to Consumer society: “Zeroing” as Aesthetic Alienation
Laura Moure Cecchini, Duke University

I focus on Agnetti’s Macchina drogata (1968), an altered calculator that produces letters instead of numbers, and NEG (1970), a stereophonic record player that emits white noise when there should be silence, and silence when music should be playing. In “Form as social commitment” (1962), Umberto Eco criticized design because it facilitates the use of machines by concealing the hostile relations between objects and men that are a characteristic of industrial capitalism. Agnetti, however, makes these antagonistic relations immediately visible because his calculator and record player don’t function as expected. In this way, Agnetti avoids representing society as an unproblematic interaction between machine and user, and provokes in the viewer a positive alienation from society’s workings, allowing for a critical reengagement with it.


Social Theory/Social Practice: The Sociological Art collective in 1970s France
Ruth Erickson, University of Pennsylvania and Centre Pompidou

This paper considers the contemporaneous elaboration of “social art practices” by the Sociological Art Collective, a group of three artists, Hervé Fischer, Fred Forest, and Jean-Paul Thenot, who collaborated from 1972-1980. In addition to exhibiting at the Venice Biennale and Documenta, curating exhibitions, and founding a school, the collective sought new artistic forms by merging such methods as the questionnaire and interview with video, performance, and conceptual art. These artistic forms reveal the “social” not as a fixed entity but rather as an ongoing process of assembly and exchange.


Grace Notes: Artur Żmijewski’s Singing Lessons
Arnaud Gerspracher, The Graduate Center, CUNY

This paper comes from a recent course at NYU given by Avital Ronell and Slavoj Zizek titled “The Persistence of the Theological-Political.” I write about grace and the ways in which our secular understanding of the concept holds certain theological vestiges and residues.


Time: 11/11/2011, 4:00 PM—6:00 PM

Location: Hilton DeSoto, First Floor, Pulaski