Q+A with INGZ, a feminist anti-racist art action group
Thu. May 28, 2015
INGZ defines themselves as a feminist anti-racist art action group. They collaborate on exhibitions, publishing, lectures, interventions and art making to promote conversation about the many expressions of identity. Fluid and strategic, INGZ attacks white supremacist capitalist patriarchy by creating space to be heard, to listen, and to experiment in the field of the visual. INGZ includes Uchenna Itam (PhD student in Art History), Julia Neal (PhD student in Art History), Rebecca Giordano (MA student in Art History), and Natalie Zelt (PhD student in American Studies).
Describe your individual research focus.
Itam: I am interested in contemporary artistic practices in the United States with a focus on performativity and the diasporic African experience.
Neal: I research 20th century art from the United States, and consider virtuality, sound, and identity within global contexts between 1940s–70s.
Giordano: My research comes from a place of genuine curiosity with an aim toward teaching. I am compelled to the exploration of the political through visual forms and aesthetic practices by women and people of color from 1968 onward. Particularly, I consider the consistently political forms of conceptualism and systems art that targeted invisibility and erasure as well as the politics of labor. My eye rests where the line between art and politics is untraceable.
Zelt: I study contemporary art from the United States with focus on photography and identity.
How did you four meet?
INGZ: We met as colleagues in Dr. Cherise Smith's seminar Historicizing the Politics of Identity during the fall 2013 semester.
What was the impetus for starting INGZ?
INGZ: With Dr. Smith's Historicizing the Politics of Identity as both a real and conceptual backdrop, we compelled each other to put into practice our own negotiations for ethical and responsible curating. A smaller seminar allowed us to build an intimate space for learning and a sense of camaraderie that could foster new projects and creative intervention. With and through challenging curriculum, our time in Dr. Smith’s seminar was an invaluable educational experience for professionalism in the arts. INGZ is a testament to a trajectory of a spirited class experience catalyzed and synthesized for tangible, durable forms of practice outside the classroom.
The Visual Arts Center's call for exhibition proposals was timely. We are transients and new to Austin, experiencing the city through various lenses, from isolated educational spaces at the university, to East Austin neighborhoods and different classed social scenes. We wanted to work with an artist who engaged with socioeconomic issues akin to those affecting Austin communities. Though we came together to begin with a project, INGZ is as much about us forging a new model of collectivity and curatorial process as it is about our commitment to promoting and presenting artwork. What we do is a practice.
Your first curatorial project was LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted, what was the thinking behind the exhibition?
INGZ: We prefaced Frazier's name to emphasize the primacy of her photographic practice and discursive identity in relation to art, activism, teaching, and criticism. First, we were adamant about organizing an exhibition of work that we all valued, and secondly, work that manifested a consciousness about intersections of race, gender, class, and nationality. The term "riveted" followed after striving to provide enough space and time for audiences to encounter multiple aspects in Frazier's work. We succeeded in obtaining two venues for displaying her work, hence "riveted" was used as a moniker linking both shows. We decided to work on this exhibition only after Frazier graciously decided to work with us.
Why did you use two on-campus spaces for the exhibition?
INGZ: LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted consists of two exhibitions and was intentionally designed as such. Curatorially, the two-shows-under-one-heading structure allowed us to push the show in many more directions. We were able to present two very different narratives and offer two residencies that included a variety of student-centered events. As with any show, the venue draws a specific audience. It was exciting to see the range of visitors who were able to see Frazier’s work because there were two distinct shows in two different kinds of galleries. After INGZ received support from Dr. Cherise Smith, associate director of the Warfield Center and associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History, we immediately broadened our scope for the possibilities of what to put on view. It was a quick, deliberate, and conscientious choice. Having a second semester-long exhibition was the next logical step in what would have just been a one-month show at the Visual Arts Center.
What did you learn from the processing of managing the exhibition and public programming?
INGZ: If you need things done, you do it. For most of us, this wasn’t new work at all. What we learned was that we don’t need to rely on old methods and forms. We can apply our know-how and passion to do things the way we envision. The experience of engaging with the multiple institutional and bureaucratic levels of UT Austin reinforced our existing skillsets as professional scholars and curators, as well as committed activists and educators.
What is next for INGZ?
INGZ: The question of "what's next" implies finality for our first project. In reality, we have built some incredible relationships that will have an enduring impact on our anti-racist and feminist commitments as scholars and curators. We are working towards maintaining respectful, challenging, and professional approaches to the privilege of representing art on behalf of artists. Ideas abound.
Individually, what is the next step in your research?
Itam: I’m preparing for qualifying exams in the fall, so I’ll spend the summer reading.
Neal: I'll be in Middlebury, Vermont this summer to learn German, a seven-week 24 hour tabula rasa of my fluency in French.
Giordano: This summer I will be completing my thesis on the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, which suddenly has become about the immateriality of the readymade. I will be working as a research assistant on an upcoming book project and am currently pursuing positions in museum education.
Zelt: Right now, I am reading for my comprehensive exams in the fields of American Studies, Critical Race and Gender Studies, and Contemporary Art/Photography in the United States. Inspired by my research and work with LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work, I am considering intergenerational self-portraiture as a means of upsetting representational histories.
LaToya Ruby Frazier: Riveted was previously on view at:
Rising sophomores look back on their first year at UT Austin
Wed. May 20, 2015
"My favorite thing about UT Austin thus far is the size of the Department of Art and Art History. By the end of the year, all the freshmen faces become recognizable, and it begins to feel like a small Twin Peaks-esque town."
— Guneez Ibrahim (BFA candidate in Design)
"My favorite experience from this year has definitely been going on the Holy Week trip to Antigua, Guatemala. On our second day there, we were on a walking tour of the town, and we walked past a shop playing Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.
I said, "Bon Jovi?"
Jason Urban turned around and said, "That's basically our life this week."
So, even though his comment didn't make perfect sense to everyone that heard him, one of the themes of our week became livin' on a prayer for sure."
— Kendall Bradley (BFA candidate in Studio Art)
"My favorite experience during my first year at UT Austin was visiting the BOT Greenhouse with my drawing foundations class to sketch. The light was really beautiful in the early spring, and it was nice to discover a new part of campus."
— Abbie Weller (BA candidate in Art History)
“One of the best things about coming to UT Austin is being able to interact with people in all disciplines. It really helps you to approach your own studies from a unique perspective.”
— Seth Murchison (BFA candidate in Studio Art)
"Probably my weirdest, yet funniest, experience during my first year was when I was walking back to my dorm late at night and came upon two guys trying to film a skate video in a street intersection. The guy being filmed was very slowly going across the intersection while the other guy was clumsily skating in front of him and filming. Both of them were wearing sunglasses, khaki shorts, weird hats, dress shirts, and ties — and looked barely conscious."
— Madalin Beavers (BFA candidate in Visual Art Studies)
PhD candidates present exhibition at the Blanton Museum of Art
Tue. May 19, 2015
PhD candidates in Art History and Andrew W. Mellon Fellows at the Blanton Katie Anania and Alexis Salas present two exhibitions: Paper and Performance: The Bent Page and All the Signs are (T)Here: Social Iconography in Mexican and Chicano Art from Collections at The University of Texas at Austin.
Art and Art History Collection provides distinctive research resource
Thu. April 30, 2015
Imagine holding a ceramic vase thousands of years old. The only thing between this 1000-year-old artifact and your skin are the white museum gloves your professor gave you at the beginning of class.
“For a well-rounded education it is important that students have the opportunity to engage in multiple modes of inquiry,” remarked Dr. Astrid Runggaldier, lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History. “Especially in this digital age, working with objects like the artifacts gives students the chance to acquire skills and knowledge through analytical and creative processes that put them directly in touch — literally — with the material they are studying.”
In her course Art and Archaeology of Ancient Peru, Runggaldier utilized the Art and Art History Collection and allowed the students to handle the objects. Students learned to formally analyze artifacts and then wrote final papers focused on the art historical and cultural context of a chosen piece.
“The collection's highlights include valuable textiles from the American Southwest and pottery from the Pre-Columbian Andean cultures, but the sheer range of materials, as well as the breadth of cultures and time periods represented in our holdings offer extensive opportunities for coursework and independent student work,” described Runggaldier.
The collection has had a long history at The University of Texas at Austin. The Texas Memorial Museum (TMM) acquired contributions as early at the 1930s. Over 60 years, TMM received contributions of ceramic, metal, stone, textile, and wood objects from Central and South America as well as smaller collections from Central Africa and the American Southwest.
“This is one of the most significant collections on campus, and the department was critical in saving the collection when it was deaccessioned from the Texas Memorial Museum in 2005,” said Department of Art and Art History Chair, Jack Risley. “Now our challenge is to find a long term home for these objects, where they will receive proper archival stewardship and be easily accessible for study and research.”
Recently, objects from the collection were included in Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes at the Blanton Museum of Art. The exhibition was guest curated by Dr. Kimberly L. Jones (PhD in Art History, 2010). In 2013, Dr. Jones was appointed the Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). In an upcoming DMA exhibition, Inca: Conquests of the Andes, seven works from the collection will be on view. Inca: Conquest of the Andes opens May 15, 2015. Pieces from the collection are also on view in the UT Austin Fine Arts Library and the the College of Fine Arts Dean's Office. Both are located in the E. William Doty Fine Arts Building.
“Beyond, their use to the campus community, these are important objects for the wider public to know about,” said Runggaldier. “Their recent inclusion in museum shows in Austin and Dallas is a positive development that I hope to see more of.”