Winter 2017 Events


Opening Day: Kader Attia

Saturday, January 21, 2:00pm

The Block Museum celebrated the opening of a newly commissioned installation by internationally renowned artist Kader Attia, informed by his research in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies and interviews with Northwestern faculty across disciplines. Curators Kathleen Bickford Berzock and Janet Dees gave context to the project, followed by a conversation between Attia and Caroline Bledsoe and Peter Locke, faculty members in anthropology and global health studies. The conversation was moderated by art history PhD candidate Antawan I Byrd.


Department of Art History Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture

Purchased by L. Sickman in Peking: A Conversation with Marsha Haufler

Wednesday, January 18, 5:00pm

Over the course of the 20th century, Western museums acquired quantities of thangkas (Tibetan-style paintings) made in Tibet and China. In the early 1930s, Laurence Sickman, acting on behalf of the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City, acquired an impressive array of objects that became the foundation for one of the most highly regarded collections of Chinese art in America. Marsha Haufler, professor of art history at the University of Kansas, introduced Sickman’s thangkas and use them to illuminate the trade in such objects and their reception in American art museums.

This program is organized by the Department of Art History.


Opening Day: If You Remember, I’ll Remember

Saturday, February 4

Sewing Kick-Off, 10:00am–12:00pm
The exhibition If You Remember, I’ll Remember is an invitation to think about the present while reflecting on the past. Drop in for a first look at the exhibition and to join artist Marie Watt in a sewing circle.

Artist Conversation 2:00pm
The contemporary artists in the exhibition use poetic strategies to address issues of war, racism, and xenophobia in American history. Exhibition curator Janet Dees and participating artists Kristine Aono, Samantha Hill, Dario Robleto, and Marie Watt will take part in a presentation and panel discussion on the show’s crucial themes.


Equity Sewing Circle with Artist Marie Watt

Wednesday, February 8, 6:00pm

Blankets, one of the primary materials used by Seneca artist Marie Watt, are everyday objects that can carry extraordinary histories. Many of Watt’s larger blanket wor ks are made in community, notably in “sewing circles,” to bring people together in conversation and making. Over 140 community members joined us for hands-on participaton in one of Watt’s projects while also taking part in conversation on the theme of equity.

Partners included Northwestern’s Native American and Indigenous Peoples Steering Group, NAISA, CINAS, Multicultural Student Affairs, and the office of Neighborhood and Community Relations. 


History and Memory [Film]

Thursday, February 9, 7:00pm, FREE

In conjunction with the exhibition If You Remember, I’ll Remember, curator Janet Dees introduced two videos by artist Rea Tajiri that highlight very personal experiences of the internment of Japanese Americans during Word War II—History and Memory (1991) and Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice (1994)


Jen Bervin: Silk Poems

Monday, February 13, 4:00pm

Ford Engineering Design Center, ITW Room

Jen Bervin is an interdisciplinary artist and poet whose conceptually driven works weave together art, writing, science, and life. Bervin spoke to her project the Silk Poems, a poem written in nanoscale in the form of a silk biosensor. Consulting nanotechnology and biomedical labs, she fabricated a silk film with the poem written in a six-character chain that corresponds to human DNA.

Presented in partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering.


Japanese Experimental Cinema—Between Protest and Performance, 1960–1975

Thursday, February 16, 7:00pm

Friday, February 17, 5:00pm & 7:00pm

Presented as a cinematic complement to the Art Institute of Chicago’s contemporaneous exhibition, Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–1975, these three screenings provide an opportunity to explore the historical intersection of experimental filmmaking with documentary cinema traditions in a period of radical social and political change. Scholar and curator Hirasawa Gō, and director Masanori Oe, will be present for a discussion moderated by Professor Patrick Noonan.


Deru Kugi Wa Utareru: Stories of Internment and Remembrance​

Saturday, February 18, 2:00pm

February 19, 2017, marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the executive order which called for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Join us to commemorate this historic occasion through an interactive, intergenerational program held around the work of Sansei artist Kristine Aono. The afternoon will be spent sharing stories of internment, and commemorating this historically relevant anniversary.

Hosting partners include Multicultural Student Affairs and the Japanese American Service Committee, Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, Japanese American Citizens League, Japanese Mutual Aid Society, and the Chicago Japanese American Council.


Visual Vanguard: Abdellah Karroum

Thursday, February 23, 6:00pm

Abdellah Karroum will speak to his work as the director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar and as the founder and artistic director of L’appartement 22, an experimental collaborative space for exhibitions and artists’ residencies in Rabat, Morocco. Karroum’s presentation will be followed by a conversation with S. Hollis Clayson, professor of art history and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities, and Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies.

Presented in partnership with the Department of Art History, the Program in Middle East and North African Studies, and with the generous support of Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

“The Gay Left”: Homosexuality in the Era of Late Socialism

Friday, February 3, 7:00pm

Friday, February 10, 7:00pm

Friday, February 24, 7:00pm

Friday, March 3, 7:00pm

In an East Berlin gay bar in 1989, an old man explains his commitment to the communist party’s project of equality after World War II: “We stopped mankind’s exploitation by mankind. Now it does not matter if the person you work with is a Jew or whatever. Except gays. They were forgotten somehow.” The only official film from the German Democratic Republic dealing with homosexuality, Coming Out, by Heiner Carow, ends with these lines. Similarly, this film series asks how the ideologies of communism, socialism, and capitalism address sexual minorities. Including work from both sides of the Iron Curtain, “The Gay Left” brings multiple perspectives and historical moments into conversation in order to fight against forgetting.

Generation 00: Cultural Practices before the Middle East Uprisings

Saturday, February 25, 10:00am

What role did artists and artistic production have in the political upheaval of the Arab Spring and related social and political movements? Northwestern University will expand this question in conversation with Abdellah Karroum, director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar. The colloquium Generation 00: Cultural Practices before the Middle East Uprisings will offer a series of talks examining artistic production during the decade preceding the uprisings in Tunisia and the Arab World. This multidisiplinary day of conversation will expand on Karroum's work on a “generation 00” of artists working as citizens who produced works opposing and critically reading the political and social situations of the early 21st Century.
The colloquium is free and open to the public, to join for any or all of the day’s sessions. All sessions will be moderated by S. Hollis Clayson, Professor of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities.

The colloquium and Abdellah Karroum's visit to Northwestern University are presented in partnership between the Block Museum of Art, the Department of Art History and the Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) with the support of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

Dreams Are Colder Than Death [Film]

Tuesday, February 28, 5:30pm, FREE

Founded in 2012 to cultivate an interdisciplinary approach to the presentation of black arts on campus, the Black Arts Initiative has programmed a yearlong series of films that provoke difficult conversations around race and identity. This winter’s screening, Arthur Jafa and Kahlil Joseph’s 2014 documentary Dreams Are Colder Than Death, explores the question of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century through a series of interviews with individuals including visual artist Kara Walker, author Hortense Spillers, filmmaker Charles Burnett, and ex–Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver.

The screening will be followed by a moderated discussion.

Cultural Production, State Violence, and Subjected Positions of Transgressions

Wednesday, March 1, 5:30pm

The Northwestern Colloquium for Ethnicity and Diaspora provides a space for interrogating current issues of citizenship, race, and ethnicity. Join us for a panel that examines how national and state power leads to criminalization of racialized, gendered, queer(ed), and classed bodies. Speakers will focus on the impact of visual culture in shaping continual and momentary “states of emergency” and the way that this violence is documented, archived, and remembered.

The Artist in the Archive: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Kader Attia in the Herskovits Library

Thursday, March 2, 5:00pm

Northwestern University Library

As a foundation for producing his new commission for the Block, artist Kader Attia mined the holdings of Northwestern’s renowned Melville Herskovits Library of African Studies. The renowned library’s scope is as wide and diverse as the continent of Africa itself. Join Herskovits Library curator Esmeralda Kale for a look at objects in the library’s collection that formed part of Attia’s research. Members of AfriSem, a consortium of graduate students focused on African Studies, will explore intertwined areas of Attia’s research—architecture, pshychopathology, and prosthetics—taking materials from the Library as a point of departure.

Gallery Tour: Mining Pictures - Stories from Above and Below Ground

Tuesday, March 7, 4:00pm

Block 2016-17 Curatorial Fellow Talia Shabtay offered a closer look at her exhibition Mining Pictures, examining images of the mining industry and the cultural construction of visual stories depicting workers and labor.