Arts & Culture

Conference highlights utilization of recycled artifacts, spaces, trends

‘Reuse, Reconsidered’ brings speakers on history of art, architecture to Granoff Center

senior staff writer
Monday, September 18, 2017

“Reuse, Reconsidered,” a three-day conference organized by the department of History of Art and Architecture, took place this weekend in the Granoff Center for Performing Arts. The conference set out to explore the idea of recycling physical artifacts, spaces and aesthetic trends in human history. Lecturers came from different academic institutions across the country and the world to share work that exemplified this theme.

The program began Friday with opening remarks entitled “The Alchemy of Moments: 150 years of reuse in Delhi, India,” by Mrinalini Rajagopalan, associate professor of history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference was organized into 11 panels each exploring different sub-themes. Saturday lectures included topics ranging from “Appropriation and Power” to “Reconstructed Meaning.” The next day, the panels went on to address themes of “Continuities and Discontinuities,” “Politicizing Reuse” and “Fragmentation and Reassembly.” The conference also included a tour of campus, addressing examples of reuse in university spaces.

“It’s always amazing when you pick up on … vast, grand similarities in extremely different time periods,” said attendee Josie Johnson, Ph.D. Each panel, which ran one hour and 40 minutes, included a series of short lectures on specific topics in the field of history of art and architecture related to the panel’s theme and the overarching concept of reuse. Lecturers covered topics ranging from the Denver Medical Center to Scandinavian Architecture to Medieval Architecture in America. The discussions, even within each of the eleven panels, featured diverse areas of study. For example, Johnson’s lecture, entitled “Refuse to Reuse: Photographs of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, ca. 1930,” was accompanied with lectures that focused on various themes, such as Salvador Dali, coffin reuse and architecture, in the Dominican Republic.

“‘Thy Neck is like the Tower of David’: The Jerusalem Citadel and the Cult of King David in British Mandate Palestine,” hosted by Michal Goldschmidt PhD, discussed the use of the historical tower as an exhibition space by the British, she said. The conference as a whole gave her a chance to take in information about different time periods, researched by a diverse group of art historians, that encountered the same issues, Goldschmidt said.

H.C. Arnold, associate faculty of humanity at Riverside City College, made a similar observation. “What I have been … most impressed with is the breadth of scholarship here,” he said. His lecture on “Brazil’s Graffiti Community” was followed a presentation by a Princeton professor working with nineteenth-century Japanese art.

Following each panel, the lecturers spoke to the audience more specifically about their work and the concept of reuse. Many onlookers had pertinent questions about the lecturers’ research. But the conversations following the lectures extended beyond questions about presented material and began to assess the vocabulary of “re-appropriating” versus of “reimagining.” By closing reception on Sunday evening, more than forty speakers had had the opportunity to share their research. Each speaker left with insight into the overarching commonalities across their collective fields, as well as a reusable name tag that, if planted, will grow into wildflowers.

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