Cultural theorist Manuel De Landa headlines Engaged Practices


York University’s 2011 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts


TORONTO, April 21, 2011 − Internationally renowned theorist and educator Manuel De Landa is the keynote speaker for Engaged Practices, the third annual Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts, to be presented by York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts May 3 to 11.

De Landa will give a free public talk titled “Matter Matters” on May 5 at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). His address will be complemented by a number of other guest presentations, seminars and studio visits at York’s Keele campus.

The Summer Institute on Engaged Practices will examine how art fosters a network of social complexity. The guest presenters will consider the materiality and representation of social and political questions generated in the studio and on the street, and by the innumerable nodes between them.

In his lecture “Matter Matters”, De Landa will look at how morphogenesis – the birth of form – has become a central theme in many scientific disciplines. It can be entirely spontaneous, as in the genesis of geological, meteorological or biological forms, or it can involve human beings as agents. De Landa’s talk will focus on natural morphogenesis, arguing that a deeper knowledge of its secrets can be of great help to artists and designers, opening up a new reservoir of expressive resources.

Using the theories of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) as a frame of reference, De Landa’s research spans a wide range of contemporary science, art and technology, from self-organizing matter, artificial life and artificial intelligence to nonlinear dynamics and cellular automata. He is the author of many influential publications, including War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (1997), Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2002), A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (2006) and Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason (2011).

Mexican-born and now based in New York, De Landa began his career as an experimental filmmaker. He went on to become a computer artist, programmer and software designer before emerging as a leading exponent of contemporary critical theory and philosophy of electronic culture. A former adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, NYC, he is currently the Gilles Deleuze Chair of Contemporary Philosophy and Science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and adjunct professor of philosophy in the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

Artist Michel Daigneault, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts and organizer of the Goldfarb Summer Institute, will moderate a Q&A session following De Landa’s lecture, which is presented in collaboration with MOCCA.

The day before his talk at MOCCA, De Landa will give an on-campus seminar about his groundbreaking application of assemblage theory, as a theory of society suggesting that all entities are constituted from heterogeneous subcomponents that do not meld into a seamless whole.

The Summer Institute on Engaged Practices kicks off May 3 at York University with a talk by Lee  Rodney. Her presentation, “Collaborative Practice: Relational or Social?” questions whether there is a valid distinction between the theories of relational aesthetics and social practice. Given they cover similar territory in terms of the concern for activating the political and social dimensions of a site, history or community, is it a geographical divide that keeps them distinct? Rodney explores this idea by examining recent collaborative practices.

An associate professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Windsor, Rodney has published extensively on the changing cultural perceptions of time and identity in media culture. Her current research investigates the fragmented cultural geography of border regions in North America. Collaborative projects include the Visible City Project and the Border Bookmobile.

On May 4, Irmgard Emmelhainz will discuss Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Emmelhainz asserts that Godard’s use of images of Palestine and Palestinians shows the paradigm of aesthetic-political representation. Referencing Ariella Azoula’s visual conceptualization of the Palestinian conflict in her seminal book, The Civil Contract of Photography, Emmelhainz considers how Godard offers new ways of imaging the conflict in the terrains of the image and of language.

Emmelhainz was a Fulbright scholar at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and earned her PhD at the University of Toronto with a thesis on “Jean-Luc Godard and the Palestine Question”. She has published widely on Godard and contemporary art, and currently works as an independent translator, researcher and scholar in Guatemala City, where she teaches cinematic analysis.

Art historian, critic and curator Jessica Wyman offers the final public talk in the series on May 11. Her presentation " 'Nobody Does Anything New': Originality, Attribution and the Homage Effect” takes up some current adaptive impulses in artmaking and considers some of the theoretical frameworks whereby engaging works and practices of the recent past continues to be productive for contemporary artmaking and critique.

Wyman is an assistant professor in the Faculties of Liberal Studies and Art at OACDU. Her teaching and research interests centre on contemporary performance theory and historiography, adaptation studies and conceptual art practices. Working as an art critic for more than 15 years, she has published widely in international art magazines and journals, and has an occasional curatorial practice.

As part of their residency in the Goldfarb Summer Institute, De Landa, Rodney, Emmelhainz and Wyman will meet with PhD candidates in visual arts at York. Other featured guests participating in on-campus discussions with students, responding to doctoral presentations and conducting studio visits will be artist and writer Emelie Chhangur, assistant director and curator of the Art Gallery of York University; video artist, writer and theorist Richard Fung, professor of Integrated Media at OCADU; and installation and video artist Ivan Jurakic, director/curator of the University of Waterloo Art Gallery.

For full details, visit the 2011 Goldfarb Summer Institute website

The Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts offers York University graduate students and the wider community the opportunity to engage with prominent international artists, curators, critics and theorists through seminars, workshops, courses and public lectures. Previous guests include art theorist Thierry De Duve, media arts specialist Christine Ross, art historian and curator Sarat Maharaj, and the Singh Twins.

The Summer Institute is named in recognition of Joan and Martin Goldfarb, longstanding supporters of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, whose generous gift has made this annual residency program possible.


 Engaged Practices: The 2011 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts
Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

Keynote Address


Manuel De Landa: “Matter Matters”
presented in association with the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
When: Thursday, May 5 - 7:00pm
Where: MOCCA, 952 Queen St. West, Toronto | Map
Admission: Free
416-736-5533 (Graduate Program in Visual Arts, York University)
416-395-0067 (MOCCA)

Other Guest Lectures

Lee Rodney: “Collaborative Practice: Relational or Social?”
When: Tuesday, May 3 -  10:30am
Where: Room 338 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts,  York University, 4700 Keele Street | Map
Admission: Free
Information: 416-736-5533

Irmgard Emmelhainz: “Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme
When: Wednesday, May 4 - 10:30am
Where: Room 338 Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts,  York University, 4700 Keele Street | Map
Admission: Free
Information: 416-736-5533

Manuel De Landa: “Assemblage Theory and Human History”
When: Wednesday, May 4 - 2:30pm
Where: Room 334 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts,York University, 4700 Keele Street | Map
Admission: Free
Information: 416-736-5533 

Jessica Wyman: " 'Nobody Does Anything New': Originality, Attribution and the Homage Effect"
Wednesday, May 11 - 10:30am
Where: Room 338 Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts,  York University, 4700 Keele Street | Map
Admission: Free
Information: 416-736-5533

Media Contact:
Amy Stewart, Communications, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University
416-650-8469  |