Walter BENN MICHAELS is presenting his conference Thursday May 10 at Sursock Museum.
About the Conference:
There’s a difference between what a painter tries to make you see and the brush marks with which he
or she tries to make you see it. Often they go together but not always. Sometimes the painter’s vision
(identified with the eye, with representation and the painter’s idea) is preferred; sometimes it’s the
painter’s touch (identified with the hand, abstraction and the body). This talk will be about a moment
where the movement of the painter’s hand comes to seem crucial but also where the question of what
exactly moving your hand is - the question of what an act is - becomes controversial. It will argue that a
problem in the theory of action (what is an act?) counts also as a problem in the history of art (what is a
work of art?). And, dealing with philosophers like Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson as well as
with artists like Robert Morris and Phil Chang, it will try to show that the right answer to one question is
also the best answer to the other.
About the Speaker:
Walter BENN MICHAELS teaches at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of books on
literature, politics and art, the most recent of which is The Beauty of a Social Problem: Photography,
Economy, Autonomy (Chicago, 2015). He is a member of the editorial collective of the online journal
nonsite.org and much of his recent writing on topics related to art, politics and the theory of action can
be found there.