Dropping Out: The Aesthetics of Disappearance (Studio Course)

School for the Art Institute of Chicago
Studio Research Course. FYP, Spring 2005
Instructor: Mary Walling Blackburn

Course Description:

Dropping Out: The Aesthetics of Disappearance
“We can’t build an aesthetics of Disappearance on the simple act of never coming back…” _Hakim Bey.

But we could begin to produce work that investigates this will to break with the past, to begin anew. We will take on the burden of disappearance – plum its revolutionary and psychological dimensions and generate ideas and images that unpack the properties of disappearance. The strategies used to do this will include using the body as a source of research, investigating artist’s visions of new paradises, and creating one’s own. We will investigate patterns of disappearance-whether it is escape or eradication-and translate these into work. Our source materials will include escape routes (the Underground Railroad, the Labyrinth, map-making, flight patterns…), texts (African Muslim dream journals, star charts, historical accounts of Roanoke…) and other artists’ literal and conceptual dependence on disappearance ranging from Vietnamese water puppetry to Jean Panleve’s “Love Life of the Octopus”, from 19th century “spirit” photography to Francesca Woodman, from Harry Houdini to Alfredo Jaar.

Syllabus: syllabus-for-dropping-out


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