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“Memory and Meanings”. Three panel discussions about the work of Lorna Simpson

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Along Lorna Simpson’s first large-scale exhibition in Europe, at Jeu de Paume, the magazine is glad to broadcast the three panel discussions that were directed by Joan Simon, art critic and curator of the exhibition. It took three sessions to noted art historians, curators and writers to explore in depth some of the themes, contextes and influences of Lorna Simpson ’s Work.

Session 1, June 4, 2013: « Lorna Simpson in Conversation »

With Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
Joan Simon, curator of the exhibition and director of the symposium.
Elvan Zabunyan, contemporary art historian, art critic and associate professor at the Université de Rennes 2

This first talk is a conversation with the artist. It focuses on the translation of traditions and rewritten histories from the 60’s and 70’s to new approcaches in the 80’s and the decades following. This period was marked by the incorporation of photography, multi-media and performative practices into the work of many contemporary artists, the integration of feminist inquiry and activism into artistic researches, the impact of the Black Arts Movement and the foundation of the Studio Museum in Harlem on the emergence of several generations of artists.
This talk explores the development of Simpson’s vocabulary. As the artist has said :

The theme I turn to most often is memory. But beyond this subject, the underlying thread is my relationship to text and ideas about representation.

Session 2, June 8, 2013 : « From Photography to Film (Noir) »

With Naomi Beckwith, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Kellie Jones, writer, curator and associate professor in the department of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University, New York.
Guthrie Ramsey Jr., musician, writer and professor of Music and African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
And Joan Simon, curator of the exhibition and director of the symposium.

This panel discussion explores Lorna Simpson’s work in still and moving picture mediums as well as the relation between the two, beginning with her proto-cinematic still photographs with text of the 1980s through the films and videos she began to produce in 1997 and including her newest video installation, Chess, 2013, made expressly for this show.
The conference focuses on the themes of recasting, reframing, and reenacting the past, understanding still images by what we hear (via Simpson’s accompanying written texts), and the synthesis of sound (spoken language, musical refrains, humming, whistling) and image in Simpson’s moving picture works.

Session 3, June 4, 2013 : « Reality and Fiction: Constructions of Identity »

With Thomas J. Lax, exhibition coordinator and associate programmer at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
Élisabeth Lebovici, journalist and art historian.
And Abigail Solomon-Godeau, professor emeritus in the department of Art History and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Developing out of issues of the 1960s, a generation of artists in the 1970s and early 1980s began to explore photography as a contested area of “truth” in which fact and fiction were mediated by the subjectivity of both creator and audience and by cultural mores and deeply engrained biases; performance re-introduced the body and narrative and the performative could imbue other mediums, whether installation, drawing, painting, or photography; media was the message but the message embodied a multiplicity of voices; identity, encompassing images of the body, notions of race, class, gender, invisibility, and agency, was a construct of expectations and declarations.
This third session interrogates these questions, provoked in powerful and intimate ways in Simpson’s thirty-year body of work.


Écouter Lorna Simpson : « Memory and Meanings » en français
Exhibition « Lorna Simpson » at Jeu de Paume
Lorna Simpson at Jeu de Paume Bookshop
Studio Lorna Simpson