Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2023) | Viewed by 17207

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
The Department of the Arts, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
Interests: modern and contemporary art

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Guest Editor
Art History Depatrment, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
Interests: modern and contemporary art

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to revisit materiality as a methodologic approach and as a theme in modern and contemporary visual culture. The past two decades witnessed the implementation and application in visual culture studies of the discourse on materiality, beginning with the adoption of Latourian approaches and ‘thing theory,’ and continuing with more recent critical accounts of its horizons and limits. Throughout this time, materiality came to be understood more as a ‘matter’ than as related to a ‘material’ – a process that paved the way for analyzing artworks outside the context of the physical object, concentrating on the effect of art through concepts derived from its conception and reception.

In this Special Issue, we wish to reevaluate materiality from a scholarly perspective, considering the making and reading of modern and contemporary art under current aesthetic, political and economic environments. One example of how such approaches can be substantially extended and developed is contextualizing them in the virtual age, as the term “things” becomes increasingly dematerialized, and digital platforms breed and nurture innovative ways of production, transportation and consumption. Other possibilities might include studies that seek new ways of engaging with materiality through a discussion of forms of objecthood, the agency of art, mobility and exchange, the eco-power of art and more. We welcome both theoretical writings and qualitative studies that offer a current and new understanding or practice of materiality.

Dr. Ronit Milano
Dr. Nissim Gal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • materiality
  • agency
  • matter
  • mobility
  • making

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 829 KiB  
Article
Sonorous Touches: Listening to Jean-Luc Nancy’s Transimmanent Rhythms
by Adi Louria Hayon
Arts 2023, 12(5), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12050209 - 25 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1538
Abstract
Luigi Russolo’s Intonarumori together with his manifesto L’arte dei rumori (1913) marked a break with the art of clear signification. From here on, noise and dispersed sounds replaced the concept of music reverberating the harmony of the spheres by propelling the quandaries of [...] Read more.
Luigi Russolo’s Intonarumori together with his manifesto L’arte dei rumori (1913) marked a break with the art of clear signification. From here on, noise and dispersed sounds replaced the concept of music reverberating the harmony of the spheres by propelling the quandaries of immanence contingent on palpable resonance performing the differential relational manner of heterogeneous existence. This somatic turn is central to Jean-Luc Nancy’s Listening, where he proposes listening as a tangible fundamental resonance rumbling the corpse sonore. This paper elaborates on the move from the art of music to the plurality of rhythmic worlds. Nancy’s proposition of sonorous existence demonstrates two movements, one that retreats from hearing the Pythagorean musical-arithmetical cosmos exhibited in Robert Fludd’s Monochord, the other plays the singular plural pulsations of dispersed creation performed by Michael Snow’s Tap. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art)
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18 pages, 316 KiB  
Article
Performing Feces in Contemporary Video and Performance Art in Israel
by Nissim Gal
Arts 2023, 12(3), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030113 - 31 May 2023
Viewed by 2704
Abstract
In its political ideology, large sectors of Israeli society hold the belief that only people who share its ethnocratic values can share the same hygiene identity with it, reflecting its self-perception as a pure national subject. This is the context in which scatological [...] Read more.
In its political ideology, large sectors of Israeli society hold the belief that only people who share its ethnocratic values can share the same hygiene identity with it, reflecting its self-perception as a pure national subject. This is the context in which scatological works based on radical materialism and ethical critique first appeared in Israeli performance and video art at the turn of the twenty-first century. The artworks under discussion seek to consider humankind as machines that produce waste, with an emphasis on the excess waste that separates those who are excluded from the dominant Israeli-nationalist-Zionist view or discourse. Some artists employ excrement as a tool to degrade power structures, while others see it as a source of creativity and an alternative way of material and ethical life. Performing feces, or being shit, constitutes a position of creation, observation, and being to which we should pay particular attention at this moment in time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art)
21 pages, 2872 KiB  
Article
A Nature Thing: What Does Contemporary Ecological Art Produce?
by Barbara Stoltz
Arts 2023, 12(2), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12020067 - 29 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 6562
Abstract
This article demonstrates that ecological art is a very specific art form that follows its own methods of creation and, consequently, of dealing with material and its definitions. This view of ecological art is directed by art theory factors and fundamental questions of [...] Read more.
This article demonstrates that ecological art is a very specific art form that follows its own methods of creation and, consequently, of dealing with material and its definitions. This view of ecological art is directed by art theory factors and fundamental questions of art history. Therefore, the main question in discussions on material and the functions of art is that of what contemporary ecological art produces in terms of the concepts ‘natural’ and ‘nature-fair.’ By analysing the artists Thomas Dambo, Aviva Rahmani and Tomás Saraceno, this article finds that, compared to various artistic forms that deal with ecology and the environment, ecological art acts more in the physical reality of the environment and ecosystems. Subsequently, what ecological art is actually producing is ‘a nature thing’, meaning a concrete effect on or intervention in the environment with gestures of appropriation, regeneration and coexistence, being above all ‘art for nature.’ The article shows that, in ecological art, the linear relationship between material and artwork, in that the artist transforms the material to its final form, namely the artwork, is absent. In ecological art, the aim is an ongoing process in which material can have different facets: the material can be a mere auxiliary instrument, the art object itself can become material for something else and the material in general can be understood as an overarching aim and motive: nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art)
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32 pages, 12058 KiB  
Article
Grounding the Landscape: Epistemic Aspects of Materiality in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Open-Air Painting
by Noam Gonnen
Arts 2023, 12(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12010036 - 14 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2380
Abstract
This article examines how notions of “material” and “materiality” were infused, both technically and discursively, into American landscape painting in the late nineteenth century. Focusing particularly on the praxis of open-air painting as consolidating a new mode in landscape painting as well as [...] Read more.
This article examines how notions of “material” and “materiality” were infused, both technically and discursively, into American landscape painting in the late nineteenth century. Focusing particularly on the praxis of open-air painting as consolidating a new mode in landscape painting as well as a new artistic identity, this article argues that painting outdoors was perceived by artists in terms of agency, uniting painter, painting, and landscape; but unlike earlier romantic or Transcendentalist approaches, this idea was not conceived of as a solely spiritual union but, rather, as a mode that is embedded in the mundane, in the existence of objects, of embodied engagement and material means. The overt affinity between the basic idea of the praxis—painting outdoors in ‘real’ nature—and material aspects of art-making, is discussed as the underpinning of a new emerging episteme of American landscape painting, while considering the environment wherein this phenomenon was cultivated within a specific moment in American culture. Paintings and texts, generated by American painters and critics between the late 1870s and the 1890s, are read in this article through the lens of recent theoretical phenomenological approaches to landscape, illuminating the unique role that materiality played in these representations. Moreover, tying the findings to the changing conceptions of both landscape and art in the Gilded Age, the article concludes that landscape painters of the ‘new generation’ sought to evade commodifying tendencies of image-making by deliberately engaging with materiality, devising a mode of landscape representation that would not succumb to the flattening steamroller of capitalist consumer culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art)
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12 pages, 1976 KiB  
Article
Not Only a Matter of Electricity–Rethinking Materiality with Victor Grippo’s Energía de una papa (1972)
by Fabiana Senkpiel
Arts 2023, 12(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12010035 - 14 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1387
Abstract
In order to consider the materiality of Victor Grippo’s artwork Energía de una papa (1972) more comprehensively than has thus far been the case, the specific characteristics of this case study are initially discussed against the background of the relationship between materiality and [...] Read more.
In order to consider the materiality of Victor Grippo’s artwork Energía de una papa (1972) more comprehensively than has thus far been the case, the specific characteristics of this case study are initially discussed against the background of the relationship between materiality and conceptual art. In a further step, the artwork’s agency is questioned, and it is regarded in the context of positions within new materialism. This is done by utilizing certain aspects of Karen Barad’s concept of “agential realism” in an examination of Grippo’s artwork. Our thesis is that while the Baradian approach is able to explain materiality within the functioning of the case study, the complex embedding of materiality and symbolic factors for the context of the art require an even broader perspective. Finally, the different layers of materiality—the material presence and the immaterial, less tangible aspects—are considered together in order to show their indispensable entanglement in generating the artwork’s meaning. It is not just the potato as food-as-art-material or the voltameter as a ready-made that must be our focus, but all the organic, non-human materials and the non-tangible elements involved in the artistic work, as well as the human being who sets the process in motion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art)
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