Annual Hoffman Lecture

Thursday, April 26, 2018, 5:00 pm
Rockefeller 003
Lecturer: Jens Andermann, New York University

In the Flesh: Bio Art, Trans-Species Aesthetics and the Question of Technology
From the teratological speculations of Arcimboldo and La Mettrie to Gothic fantasies of automata, relations between aesthetics, technology, and the limits of the human have constantly troubled as well as excited Western modernity. At the same time, until very recently this interface has mostly been conceptualized according to classical notions of imitatio vitae: human genius (or hybris) could replicate, copy or counterfeit the ‘mechanics’ of Creation but –like the machine itself– only on condition of a radical exteriority towards what it sought to imitate. By contrast, more recent notions of ‘ecological sculpture’ or ‘bio art’, as espoused by Latin American artists such as Luis Fernando Benedit, Eduardo Kac, Marina Zerbarini, Gilberto Esparza or Iván Henriques, refer to a cybernetic idea of life itself as machinic, autopoetic assemblage. How, I ask, do these works in their fluctuating affiliation to the fields of science, art and activism also challenge the modern apparatuses of specification from which the human emerged as distinct from and in command of, nature? Are these works, quite literally, fleshing out a living thought that already anticipates our posthuman future?

Andermann has worked and published widely on Latin American 19th- and 20th-century literature and visual and material culture, in particular those of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and on contemporary Latin American cinema. For over fifteen years, he has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. He is the author of New Argentine Cinema (2012), The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil (2007), and Mapas de poder: una arqueología literaria del espacio argentino (2000). He is also the editor of La escena y la pantalla: cine contemporáneo y el retorno de lo real (2013), New Argentine and Brazilian Cinema: Reality Effects (2013), Galerías del progreso: museos, exposiciones y cultura visual en América Latina (2006), and Images of Power: Iconography, Culture and the State (2005). Currently, he has two books forthcoming in Chile and Switzerland on environmental aesthetics in contemporary Latin American arts, literature, and film. He currently serves as editor of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies.

This event is free and open to the public.
Sponsored by the Comparative Literature Program, the Departments of Film and Media Studies and Spanish and Portuguese, the Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies Program, and the Leslie Center for the Humanities