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Artist Toolbox | Critical Reading Group

March 13, 2023 | 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT

| $10

Monday, March 13 | 6-7pm
Zoom| $10 to participate
Pre-registration required; limited to 12 participants

Join Billy Gerard Frank for a critical reading + discussion group on the subject of empathetic witnessing. Participants will be provided with, and asked to read in advance, essays from Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others along with a short essay by Teju Cole, “What Does It Mean to Look at This?”.

About the discussion:

Part philosophy, part meditation, part cultural critique, Sontag’s essays from her seminal book Regarding the Pain Of Others, in which she explores visual representations of war and violence in today’s culture, will be discussed from multiple angles and perspectives, including: the phenomenology of pain, representation in the media, and the ethics of seeing and representation in photography.

To quote Sontag, “One of the distinguishing features of modern life is that it supplies countless opportunities for regarding (at a distance, through the medium of photography) horrors taking place worldwide. Images of atrocities have become, via the little screens of the television and the computer, something of a commonplace. But are viewers injured — or incited — to violence by the depiction of cruelty? Is the viewer’s perception of reality eroded by the daily barrage of such images? What does it mean to care about the sufferings of people in faraway zones of conflict?”

We will read the first two chapters of Sontag’s book, Regarding the Pain Of Others, vis-à-vis a short essay by Teju Cole “What Does It Mean to Look at This?” which expounds further on Sontag’s essays and her arguments regarding how we consume images. Teju Cole is a novelist, photographer, critic, curator, and the author of several books. He was the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine from 2015 until 2019. He is currently the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard.

Please note: we will also view a selection images as part of the discussion that will be graphic and violent in nature.

About the facilitator:

Billy Gerard Frank is a multi-disciplinary artist, who works at the intersection of art, filmmaking, design, and activism. Frank’s research-based practices interrogate issues dealing with migration, race, exile, global politics, and post-colonial and queer decoloniality, challenging normative discourses, while imagining and creating counter-history. His mix-media artworks and films have been exhibited and screened in group and solo shows in museums and institutions like Brooklyn Museum; Butler Institute Of American Art; and international film festivals like the Berlinale and Sundance. His work is in several private collections and institutions including the National Academy Museum of Fine Arts and Design and the Farnsworth Art Museum, among others. He represented Grenada in the 59th Venice Biennale (2022) and was also one of the artists in the collective who represented the island at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019). He is a lecturer in Directing and Design in the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and has lectured previously at universities like New York University, the School of Visual Arts, and York University.

The Artist Toolbox is made possible by major support from the Roxanne Quimby Foundation.
To secure your spot in this workshop, purchase a ticket below. For cancellations and questions, please contact Rachel Romanski, rromanski@cmcanow.org.

Upcoming Critical Reading Groups:

April 10 | Julie Poitras Santos
April 19 | Erica Wall
April 25 | Sophie Hamacher

Check back soon for more offerings, links, and tickets!


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March 13, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT
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