2024 ISP Critical Studies Symposium

Sun, May 19, 2024
2–7 pm

Theater and Online, via Zoom

The Critical Studies Symposium highlights the work of the six participants in this year’s Whitney Independent Study Critical Studies Program. Each presents a paper on their current research and three discussants respond.

Introductory remarks: Sara Nadal-Melsió, ISP Associate Director
2 pm 

Session 1
2:05–3:30 pm

Geelia Ronkina, “Unsettling the Score: The Epistolary Practice of Park McArthur, Constantina Zavitsanos and Other Forms in Flux”
Mentor: Denise Ferreira da Silva

Blake Oetting, “Charting Art’s ‘World’: Bars, Openings, Afterparties”
Mentor: Rachel Haidu

Discussant: Claire Bishop, CUNY Graduate Center

3:30–3:45 pm

Session 2
3:50–5:15 pm

Olivia McCall, “Interminable: The Affective Labor of Caretaking in/of Archives of AIDS Activism”
Mentor: Ann Cvetkovich

Alex Fialho, “Self-Portraits After Photographs: Darrel Ellis’s Artistic Reckoning in the Time of AIDS”
Mentor: Tina Campt

Discussant: Pamela Sneed, Columbia University

5:15–5:30 pm

Session 3
5:30–7 pm

Sarah Richter, “Recording, Reclaiming: Beverly Buchanan’s Wood”
Mentor: Sara Nadal-Melsió

Anamaría Garzón Mantilla, “Visual Sovereignty: Against Abstraction and Extraction in Ecuadorian Art” 
Mentor: T.J. Demos

Discussant: Rachel Price, Princeton University

Open Discussion
6:45–7 pm


Anamaría Garzón Mantilla (she/her) is an art historian and professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Garzón is a Ph.D. candidate in the Art History and Theory department at the University of Essex. Her dissertation focuses on modern art from the Andes between 1950 and 1970. Garzón is the director of the journal post(s). Garzón co-edited Estado Fósil, a book about oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 2023, she was a Jane Farver Curatorial Fellow at ISCP, New York. Her research has been supported by Getty and the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, and she is an Independent Curators International alumna.   

Alex Fialho (he/they) is an art historian, curator, and fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art and African American Studies departments at Yale University. His dissertation animates AIDS-related art histories through the lens of photographers Darrel Ellis, Lola Flash, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Kia LaBeija. Fialho identifies as a white, queer, HIV-negative, cisgender person. His work intends to be in service and support of queer, femme, Black, and anti-racist creative practices. Fialho conducted oral histories with fifteen cultural producers for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and worked for five years as Programs Director of Visual AIDS. 

Olivia McCall (she/her) is an art historian and curator furthering scholarship on artists bearing witness to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and queer experience, with an emphasis on photography, film, affect, and queer theory. She holds an MA in the History of Art, awarded with High Distinction, from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where she focused on the downtown New York scene in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. She is presently the Edith Gowin Curatorial Fellow in Photography at The Morgan Library & Museum, where she is co-curating an exhibition of Peter Hujar’s contact sheets. Recent writing can be found in The Brooklyn Rail and on the Visual AIDS blog. 

Sarah Richter (she/her) holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Performance Studies at New York University, where she received the Paulette Goddard Award for Innovative Scholarship. She has taught performance theory at NYU, The Cooper Union, and The New School. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Visual Culture, TDR/The Drama Review, and Women & Performance, where she is a collective member and the former managing editor. In 2024, she will be a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University’s Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.

Geelia Ronkina (they/them) is a writer and artist based in New York. Their research considers the historical and aesthetic constructions of disability and labor—or in/capacity and performance—to remember the dependency of social life. Recent work has appeared in CURA., The Contemporary Journal, the Poetry Project, Storefront for Art and Architecture, and Performance Space New York. They hold an MA in performance studies from New York University and an MA in contemporary art theory from Goldsmiths. 

Blake Oetting (he/him) is a Ph.D. candidate at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. His dissertation focuses on the development of Institutional Critique practices in the 1980s and 1990s. His published and forthcoming writing can be found in Art Journal, Criticism, Nka, Texte Zur Kunst, Flash Art, and November. He is currently working on a book about Tom Burr's Torrington Project. In Fall 2024, he will be in residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

ASL interpreters and live captioning will be available online and in-person for this event. If you need captions in a separate browser window or on your own mobile device, please email accessfeedback@whitney.org for StreamText link.

The Susan and John Hess Family Theater is equipped with an induction loop and infrared assistive listening system. Accessible seating is available.

Learn more about access services and programs.

Generous support for the Independent Study Program is provided by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Elaine Graham Weitzen Foundation for Fine Art, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, and Diane and Robert Moss.

Significant support is provided by The Capital Group Charitable Foundation, Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa, Gloria H. Spivak, and the Whitney Contemporaries through their annual Art Party benefit.