FACS 1900 Lecture Notes - Al Jolson, Robert Gill, Baffin Island
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FACS 1900 C
Arts and Ideas
Instructor: Robert Gill
Room: ACW 206 for lecture, ACE 006 for tutorial
Time: Friday 11:30 to 1:30 PM for lecture, 2:30 to 3:30 for tutorial
February 12, 2009
Your test will be in this room on March 6, the first day of the second term. Today at the
end of class we hand in take home study questions. There are four questions, to help you
structure your review, reading up the materials, focusing on the videos in preparation for
The questions asks you to define a concept from the course and discuss it with reference
to what you saw in the videos that you watched. There is a very clear format for each of
the questions. We want that format consistently in answering the questions. You are
doing the same thing four times. What is the relationship power-culture, you write about
that, then you talk about how you can illustrate that relationship with reference to one of
the artist’s works we covered in the course. This is the structure we give you.
We’ve given you a framework for answering the questions, you take the kit home, set it
up for yourself and then live in it. It’s not about torturing yourselves, I don’t know how to
write, etc. You follow the format with reference to the materials in the course. You could
be a brilliant student with all kinds of interesting things to say, know how to write, be a
poet and have great ideas, we will not give you an A if you don’t follow the format .
We give you an A if you have great ideas and you use the structure on the test to put them
forth. The medium is the message here. As much as the content of what you say is
important, it’s also how you do it. We’re looking for some structural integrity, for
answers that hold together well.
On March 6 you come here having prepared the four questions for yourself, two of those
questions will be required of you on the test. Lengthwise we’re giving you one exam
book per each question, you use it to outline the question first, I would recommend that.
You can only use one booklet, single spaced. You will fill up between 3 and 4 pages for
each question. Before March 6 you need to have written out the four questions using 3 to
4 sheets, using every line.
This exam is worth 20% of your final grade, each question is worth 10 marks and it will
be marked out of 10. Can you bring in preparatory notes the day of the exam? No, this is
a no book, no notes exam. You have to be able to write the two answers from memory.
You have two hours for the exam. We will roughly have two hours, but I don’t want
people freaking out. If at the end of the test you go 10, 15 minutes over it’s fine. We have
this room booked until 2:30. I don’t want you to feel like you are having a nervous
breakdown because you can’t finish the test in 2 hours.
---how do we cite the artists?
Know the artist’s names and what they did, also that they are from Art:21. Not a lot of
pressure on citation right now. At the beginning of each question give yourself one page
to outline the answer. You can leave when you’re done. Some classes have a policy that
you need to stay put till the very end, not us. The faster you get here and the more
focused you are, the faster we will be able to start.
Make sure everything is closed in a bag of some kind and is not out on display. There are
no tutorials on March 6. Please bring York IDs. Use pen, bring a pen. On the exam
booklet just cross out anything that’s not the right answer. Don’t use white-out. I’ve seen
students really wasting their time in an exam crossing things to make them look pretty.
It’s a waste of your creative energy to be whiting out.
Video presentation: Mark Bradford
•I only take the ads that have to do with businesses. After the riot so many building
were burned, they put these fences and people put their billboards on.
•“Immigration papers in 30 days.” How is that even possible! I glue all down
around it, I take the billboard paper, I let it dry, I sand it. The language is
sometimes all gone. It’s just information in the city. My practice is both collage
and decollage. I take the text away and add it right back.
•My making background goes back to my childhood. I was making the signs of
prices for my mother’s hair salons. I did signage, text.
•In Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, I was using materials that had memory, a lot of end
papers from hair salons, used when you are doing the perm. I was also thinking a
lot about music at the time, music fragments.
•Black Venus was one of the map like paintings. I am interested in map making
and the history of abstraction. Maps as abstract grids. Bowman Hills is where rich
black people in LA live.
•I love soccer and I wanted to craft my own imaginary league of players. The
largest piece to date that I made. The first time I put a painting and a sculpture in
proximity, I was trying to activate a third thing.
•Los Moscos is about me dealing with issues of abstraction, modernism, it really
exploded for me. People say they're collages, I think they’re paintings.
•At Cal Arts I discovered bodies of ideas. I never knew about Foucault, bell hooks,
Cornell West, but I have always lived with people who lived those kinds of lives.
I told my mother, “you’re postmodern,” she said, “that’s sweet!” It was the
writings that got me really, really enthusiastic.
•In this corridor I want to create the feel of being outdoors and indoors at the same
time. As you walk in one side is covered with information. On the other you have
a reflection of these commercial posters, a fun house effect.
•As you move down this corridor you come into a smaller room and you hear
music, you hear people celebrating. There are two videos on opposite walls. One
video is of Martin Luther King’s day parade in LA. You see people who are
remembering this political figure.
•The other is of a marketplace in Egypt. This night market is only for Muslims.
They are on opposing walls but they are facing each other. Certain details you
start to see over and over again, such as the policing of the parade. The police
were just in any frame. To see so many black bodies in the same space is always
political. Always a political condition.
•On the Cairo side there was no policing. These were just families enjoying
themselves. But the Muslim body has become so politically charged that the scene
is charged. They’re both politicized sites. At the same time they are about
celebration as well.
•My art practice is very detailed, labor intensive. That is a way of slowing myself
down so I can hear myself think. A quieter voice has sometimes a more
interesting idea if I can get to it.
•“Practice” was a video that I did a couple of years ago. I wanted to do a video of
me playing basket. But I wanted to create a struggle, so I added this billowing
skirt about 4 feet around me on an incredibly windy day. It created this billowing
of the wind that would catch underneath the dress. It became almost like I was
floating. I would fall and get up, make the shots.
•It was about roadblocks on every level, cultural, gender, racial. Regardless that
they’re there, it is important to continue. You keep going. I made the shot. I
always make the shot. Sometimes it takes me a littlie longer to get there, but I
always make the shot.
Almost everything in the lecture last week and this week is review. I don’t want you to be
under the impression that you can get all the information you need from these two
lectures. They are simply guidelines for how to review the material that we covered in the
first 7-8 weeks of the course. I’m not giving you a magic bullet in this lecture for the test.
Last time we talked about language. In this course I try to get you to understand
something that you took for granted before you got here, which is language and the
pervasiveness of language around you. How you can begin to think about everything that