The Joan and Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute explores Slowness, Not Sedation


Speed is a defining aspect of contemporary society, whereas slowness has often been dismissed as conservative and anti-modern.  But slowness helps us to register the multiple layers of time, history and motion that constitute our present.

The field of art history and criticism has a long-standing, well-considered commitment to theorizing how art relates to slower forms of perceptual experience, including those that are semi-conscious or associated with altered states.

The 2016 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts, organized by York’s Department of Visual Art and Art History, explores the importance of slowness in contemporary visual and media culture. Titled Slowness, not Sedation, the summer institute comprises a graduate intensive running on campus May 2 to 20, plus a series of free, public talks taking place downtown.

Three featured guests will address the Summer Institute’s core theme from different points of view.

From left, Wendy Chun, Lynne Cook (Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) and Moyra Davey

From left, Wendy Chun, Lynne Cook (Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) and Moyra Davey

Internationally renowned scholar and curator Lynne Cooke kicks off the public lecture series on Monday, May 2 with a talk from 6 to 7:30 pm in Jackman Hall at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St. West). Cooke’s presentation, “Retrospective/Retrospection”, will focus on the mandate of “extended temporalities” offered by the Dia Art Foundation in Manhattan, where she was curator from 1991 to 2008.

Cooke currently serves as Senior Curator for Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Along with her previous tenure at the Dia Art Foundation, she was deputy director and chief curator at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (2008-2012). Her curatorial credits include the Carnegie International (1991), the 10th Biennale of Sydney (1996), the touring exhibition Rosemarie Trockel: Cosmos (2012), a Luc Tuymans retrospective in Doha, Qatar (2015) and Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Nov. 2015-April 2016).

Celebrated Canadian-born, New York-based photographer, video artist and writer Moyra Davey takes the stage at the AGO’s Jackman Hall on Wednesday, May 4 from 6 to 7:30 pm.  She will give an artist talk on her creative practice, which centres on contingency, accident, and the intimacy of documenting domestic objects and everyday ephemera, as well as a longstanding entanglement with reading and writing.

Davey has produced six narrative videos, including Notes on Blue (2015), My Saints (2014), Les Goddesses (2011) and Fifty Minutes (2006). She is the author of Burn the Diaries, I’m Your Fan, Long Life Cool White and The Problem of Reading, and editor of Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood. Her works are found in major public collections in North America and Europe, including the AGO, MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Tate Modern in London/UK. Recent solo exhibitions include those at Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016) and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2014).

The lectures by Cooke and Davey are presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario. Admission is free.

The third and final public lecture is “Habitual New Media”, a talk by eminent media theorist Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, co-presented by York’s Department of Cinema & Media Arts and TIFF’s Higher Learning program. It takes place Wednesday, May 11 from 1 to 2:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. West).

Chun will discuss her latest book, Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (2016), in which she argues that technologies matter most not when they are new, but when they have become obsolete – when their use becomes habitual. She will explore how the slow, "creepy" accretion of habits, both conscious and unconscious, relates to distinctions between public and private, memory and storage, and individual actions and social systems.

Chun is a professor and Chair of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She is the author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (2006) and Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (2011). She co-edited a special issue of Camera Obscura titled Race and/as Technology (2009) as well as New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader, 2nd edition (2015).

Admission is Chun’s talk is free but a ticket is required. Post-secondary students and faculty may each reserve one ticket in advance through TIFF’s website. Remaining tickets will be available at the TIFF Bell Lighbox box office starting two hours before the lecture.

Now in its eighth year, 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 theorists Manuel De Landa and Thierry De Duve, media arts specialist Christine Ross and Douglas Kahn, art historian and curator Sarat Maharaj, and the Singh Twins.

The Summer Institute in Visual Arts is named in recognition of Joan and Martin Goldfarb, longstanding supporters of York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, whose generous gift has made this annual residency program possible.

Media contact:

Amy Stewart, Publicist, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, 416-650-8469,