Shawn Michelle Smith, "Photographic Returns: Lorna Simpson's 9 Props"
This lecture is cosponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities Working Group on Race, Gender, and Black Popular Culture, the Working Group on Contemporary Art and the Black Room Collective, an Interdisciplinary Faculty Program funded by the Institute of International Studies.
The talk will explore the complex web of associations Lorna Simpson evokes with her apparently minimalist work, 9 Props (1995). An homage to James VanDerZee, the work provokes thoughts about the promises and limits of photographic portraiture. Through a series of material translations, 9 Props also comments on the haptic qualities of the photograph and the touch of the photographic past. Simpson’s return to VanDerZee calls forth ideas not only about the history of photography, but also about the photography of history.
Shawn Michelle Smith is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.