CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: March 28, 2001
Scholars gather to explore material cultures at symposium April 6-7
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Used clothing, audio recordings, tattoos and tombstones
are just a few of the everyday objects that will be part of the 2001 Obermann
Humanities Symposium entitled, "Fleeting Objects: Assessing the Allure
of Material Culture" April 6 and 7 at the University of Iowa Museum of
The symposium will explore new directions in material culture studies, which
is the history and politics of the objects of everyday life, said Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld,
a professor of anthropology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and one of the
"This symposium is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning, value
and direction of material culture studies," said Mark Peterson, a professor
of history in the UI College of Liberal Arts, the other symposium co-organizer.
While organizers stress that it is impossible to give one simple definition
of material cultures, Peterson explains, "All of the participants have
been drawn here by the opportunity to assess the impact of this subject on
their own work and on the larger intellectual enterprise in which they are
engaged. Material culture, whatever it may be, is obviously about the objects
that surround human beings. But it is equally concerned with culture, with
the systems of meaning in which and through which people make sense of their
The symposium is sponsored by the University of Iowa Obermann Center for
Advanced Studies and University of Iowa International Programs.
Public highlights of the symposium include two innovative public presentations
given by artists.
In the featured public presentation Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. the New York
-based installation artist Fred Wilson will speak in Pappajohn Business Buildings
Buchanan Auditorium. Wilson has gained an international reputation for the
thoughtful ways he explores and selects from museum collections in order to
create exhibits that challenge assumptions about objects and identity and
the role of the museum.
His 1992 exhibition "Mining the Museum" at the Contemporary and
Maryland Historical Society juxtaposed fine silverwork and slave shackles,
fancy baby carriages and Ku Klux Klan hoods and other objects from the Societys
collection to recover lost histories and unstated power relations. It won
the 1993 American Association of Museums, Curators Committee Award. Since
then, he has had numerous one-person exhibitions at museums including Museum
of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1993), South Eastern Center for Contemporary
Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1994), Richard L. Nelson Gallery &
the Fine Arts Collection, University of California, Davis (1997), and Ian
Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Australia (1998). In 1999 he was awarded
a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.
On Saturday, April 7, at 3 p.m., the sculptor Anthony Dieter will screen
his digital work "Rez Cars, Dusty Dogs, Bannock and The Movie Channel:
Our Nations First People in the Year 2001" in the Becker Communication
Studies Building, Room 101. Dieter is a cyber artist and an enrolled member
of the Plains Cree/Ojibway Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. He recently presented
his animation, "YoungHawk Seven" in the "Who Stole the Teepee"
contemporary Native American artist collaborative exhibition held at the National
Museum of the American Indian- Smithsonian Institution in New York City and
presented, "Is Cyber Art really Art" to an audience of Contemporary
Native American Artist peers.
In addition to these two artists, the symposium will draw an international
group of distinguished scholars. Altogether, 20 scholars representing many
different disciplines will present work-in-progress on material culture subjects.
The symposium will offer a mixture of workshop sessions open to invited participants
as well as events open to the public.
Most events of the symposium will take place at the Museum of Art.
Those events that are open to the public are free and no registration is
required. For more information, contact Colloredo-Mansfeld at email@example.com
or Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The symposium is sponsored by a
grant from the Obermann Center, with additional funding from International
Programs and the departments of American Studies, anthropology, history, the
School of Art and Art History, the Museum of Art and the Graduate College.
People with disabilities who need accommodations in order to participate
in this event can contact the main office of the University of Iowa Museum
of Art at (319) 335-1727.
More information on the symposium, including a complete schedule of events,
is also available at the Material Cultures Web Site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~intl/CNTS/MATER_CULTRS/CNTSmtrl_symp.html