The unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism
Author: Leah Modigliani

Engendering an avant-garde: the unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism is the first book to comprehensively examine the origins of Vancouver photo-conceptualism in its regional context between 1968 and 1990. Employing discourse analysis of texts written by and about artists, feminist critique, and settler colonial theory, the book discusses the historical transition from artists’ creation of ‘defeatured landscapes’ between 1968-1971 to their cinematographic photographs of the late 1970s, and the backlash against such work by other artists in the late 1980s. This book analyses Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace’s strategic framing of their photography as avant-garde, and considers their rejection of the history of regional landscape painting (such as Emily Carr’s work), the rejection of the counter-cultural experiments of their peers, and the integration of feminist challenges to figurative representation into their work. It is the first study to provide a structural accounting for why the group remains all-male. It accomplishes this by demonstrating that the importation of a European discourse of avant-garde activity, which assumed masculine social privilege and public activity, effectively excluded women artists from membership. In doing so, it intervenes in formalist art critics’ validation of the technical innovation of the Vancouver School as a universal phenomenon of global importance by revealing the social exclusions that empowered it in the past and continue to invest it with authority. This book will appeal to scholars and students interested in Canadian art history, photography, the history of the avant-garde, and the role visual culture plays in establishing and maintaining control over discursive and physical territories.

The journey of the ‘painterly real’, 1987–2004

The book addresses late-Soviet and post-Soviet art in Armenia in the context of turbulent social, political and cultural transformations in the late 1980s, throughout the 1990s and in early 2000s through the aesthetic figure of the ‘painterly real’ and its conceptual transformations. It explores the emergence of ‘contemporary art’ in Armenia from within and in opposition to the practices, aesthetics and institutions of Socialist Realism and National Modernism. The book presents the argument that avant-garde art best captures the historical and social contradictions of the period of the so-called ‘transition,’ especially if one considers ‘transition’ from the perspective of the former Soviet republics that have been consistently marginalized in Russian- and East European-dominated post-Socialist studies. Throughout the two decades that encompass the chronological scope of this work, contemporary art has encapsulated the difficult dilemmas of autonomy and social participation, innovation and tradition, progressive political ethos and national identification, the problematic of communication with the world outside of Armenia’s borders, dreams of subjective freedom and the imperative to find an identity in the new circumstances after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This historical study outlines the politics (liberal democracy), aesthetics (autonomous art secured by the gesture of the individual artist), and ethics (ideals of absolute freedom and radical individualism) of contemporary art in Armenia. Through the historical investigation, a theory of post-Soviet art historiography is developed, one that is based on a dialectic of rupture and continuity in relation to the Soviet past. As the first English-language study on contemporary art in Armenia, the book is of prime interest for artists, scholars, curators and critics interested in post-Soviet art and culture and in global art historiography.

Abstract only
Leah Modigliani

is lucky, in the evolving art-historical canon. I have understood this problem intellectually through three factors: my training as 2 Engendering an avant-garde a social art historian, my experience as a working artist, and through my identity as an American and Canadian female citizen born in the United States and raised in British Columbia. I have witnessed the remarkable physical transformation of Vancouver; its evolution from a seemingly affordable ‘regional’ city in the 1970s to its current status as one of the most expensive global hubs of finance capital

in Engendering an avant-garde
Leah Modigliani

-feminist, and Romantic ‘centrist’ currents all contested the modes of dramatization, the mise-en-scène of social and sexual life. This is the ideological content of ′70s art, which produced so much discourse and so much discomfort, and which gave way to a counter-movement of affirmation around 1980. Jeff Wall2 While the development of an avant-garde in Vancouver initially depended on the regionally specific renouncement of homeland and the hegemonic inner landscape, by 1978 it was also forced to negotiate the poststructuralist challenge of contemporary feminist aesthetics

in Engendering an avant-garde
Leah Modigliani

of cinematographic photography in the 1980s and 1990s with earlier Cibachromes made by Jeff Wall in 1978; a historical dating that retroactively aligns specific Vancouver photographers (even artists younger than Wall and Wallace) with American critics and art historians’ claims that photography was poised to take on the mantle of a seemingly irrelevant avant-garde in the late 1970s. Reconsidering the continuities that exist between the late 1960s and late 1970s is an act of intervention that seeks to open new historical territory that can recuperate the displaced

in Engendering an avant-garde
Leah Modigliani

, which had been established earlier 23 2  24 Engendering an avant-garde through the creation of and subsequent writing about Wall’s conceptual artwork Landscape Manual. Positively influenced by precedents set by American conceptual artists Ed Ruscha, Robert Smithson, and Dan Graham, and negatively inspired by British Columbia’s long history of Expressionist landscape painting, young artists favoured commercial and industrial scenes that amplified the alienation of the subject within Capitalism. On the other side of the wall, hung facing the interior of the gallery

in Engendering an avant-garde
Leah Modigliani

engaged – past. The houses in Ruins can also be viewed as commodities, as serial boxes laid across the hill in a grid, like Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt’s numerous minimalist sculptures of similar forms from the same time period. Ruins was 115 116 Engendering an avant-garde 7  N.E. Thing Co., Ruins, 1968 (reassembled 1990), Cibachrome transparency, lightbox, 40.6 × 50.8 × 12.7 cm. Photo: Robert Bos. completed after Dan Graham’s project Homes for America (Figure 8) appeared in Arts Magazine and is indebted to its precedent.10 Both Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace were

in Engendering an avant-garde
Black Audio Film Collective and Latin America
Paul Elliott

During the 1980s, a number of British filmmaking collectives sought to combine avant-garde practices with the emerging field of postcolonial analysis. 1 Drawing influence from Latin America, Asia and Africa, the work of groups such as Ceddo, Sankofa and Retake in the 1970s represented a break from the more avant garde wing of British art cinema that was, by and large, dominated by structuralism, materialism and an onus on form. Their work was consciously political and deeply rooted within the communities the film-makers sprang from. The

in British art cinema
Christophe Wall-Romana

2 Avant-garde working-class melodramas In the previous chapter, we discovered the broad conceptual range of Epstein’s master word, photogénie. What it seeks to link are: the embodiment of the viewer and the actors; the cinema apparatus as positive and ethical mediation (compared to Walter Benjamin’s aura-damaging mediation); and a paradoxical aesthetics at once avant-garde and utterly modernist, and rearguard in insisting that sensorial experiencing in the cinema remains haunted by the ghost of Symbolism. This complexity explains how easy it has been for

in Jean Epstein
The conceptual horizons of the avant-garde in Armenia
Angela Harutyunyan

Between the ideal and a hard place 1 Between the ideal and a hard place: the conceptual horizons of the avant-garde in Armenia Art as the avant-garde of the contemporary This chapter interrogates the historical relationship between ‘contemporary art’ and the ‘avant-garde’ from the perspective of late Soviet and post-Soviet cultural discourses. Further, the chapter defines one of the key conceptual figures of the book, the concept of the ideal in a historical materialist understanding. From a historical materialist perspective, concepts do not precede or even

in The political aesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde