The word “abstract” has many meanings. As an adjective, abstract can refer to something which stands as an idea apart from concrete realities, something which is impractical, or something which is difficult to understand. As a verb, to abstract is to reduce something to its essential qualities alone, removing specific details along the way. And in art, of course, abstract works are those which do not immediately resemble the visual world that we usually see.
This tour will pay particular attention to the various abstract elements present in the work on view in ICA’s current exhibitions. How do the artists in Speech/Acts produce abstract art related to race (itself already an abstract, generalizing concept) that nevertheless has very real and tangible connections to politics and lived experience? In BIG OBJECTSNOT ALWAYS SILENT, how does Nathalie Du Pasquier use abstraction to suggest new ways to live and see? How does abstraction function as a common, generative strategy for all of these artists? Participants will consider these and other questions together, while also getting generally acquainted with the two exhibitions.
JEFFREY KATZIN is a PhD candidate in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is writing a dissertation on the history and potential of abstract photography. He is particularly concerned with abstract art and its capacities to convey political, philosophical, and personal meaning. His research interests also range into painting, film, video, and video games. Katzin is also a member of the Incubation Series, which brings together students in Penn’s History of Art and Fine Arts departments to present collaborative exhibitions, and is sponsored by the Penn Provost’s Interdisciplinary Arts Fund in partnership with ICA.