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“Like a live wire, the subject channels what's going on around it in the process of its own self-composition. Formed by the coagulation of intensities, surfaces, sensations, perceptions, and expressions, it's a thing composed of encounters and the spaces and events it traverses or inhabits."
- Kathleen Stewart from Ordinary Affects
In her 2007 book, Ordinary Affects, Anthropologist Kathleen Stewart illuminates the merits of wakeful attention to common experiences. She argues that individual lives and subjectivities are shaped by seemingly inconsequential moments, and that these points of contact—with people, with emotion, with time, with the world—should be observed slowly and with intention. According to Stewart, ordinary affect is "a surging, a rubbing, a connection of some kind that has an impact…that gestures not toward the clarity of answers but toward the texture of knowing. What life adds up to is still a problem and an open question; an object of curiosity."
The contemporary artists included in this exhibition adopt Stewart's charge to pay attention to being alive. They have attuned their modes of perception to various "contact zones" in an effort to examine what is "rippling on the surface of the ordinary." The exhibition is unified by the artists’ use of skins, surfaces, screens, and other literalized contact zones. Christina Ramberg and Rachel Rose arrange patterns and textures from disparate sources; Ragen Moss and Eduardo Paolozzi layer visual information on two- and three-dimensional surfaces; and Felix Gonzalez-Torres incorporates various membranes, including candy wrappers, to evoke the body as conduit.
These shared material and visual strategies are deployed in service to varying artistic observations and explorations. These include our relationship to technology and tools for knowledge of the future; experiences of alienation, loss and anxiety; investigations of the body and the dynamic between interiority and exteriority; and engagement with different spheres of influence and forms of non-linear meaning-making. Each work attempts to move toward a texture of knowing, and to understanding the human condition and its conditionality. These artists offer products of their own slow looking and encourage us to attune our own senses to everyday "points of impact, curiosity and encounter."
This exhibition was organized in collaboration with Marquette University’s Department of Philosophy.
Toward the Texture of Knowing is made possible through generous support from the Lacey Sadoff Foundation, our presenting sponsor, and Dr. Mary Anne Siderits, our partnering sponsor.
Additional support is provided by Marquette University Women’s Council Endowment Fund, the Richard P. Herzfeld Endowment Fund, Marquette University’s Klinger College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Fund, the John P. Raynor, S.J. Endowment Fund, and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.