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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

Ulf Wuggenig Lecture and Workshop

Ulf Wuggenig Lecture and Workshop

ICA Miami welcomed Austrian sociologist Ulf Wuggenig to ICA Ideas for a special presentation and practice-oriented workshop on the sociological approach to painting. Wuggenig’s contribution to ICA Ideas is in conjunction with the exhibition “I Stand, I Fall” by John Miller at ICA Miami.

From Wuggenig: “Much like a game, the field of art is based upon shared interests. As theorized by the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, art’s participants—artists, critics, dealers, curators—obey rules to achieve common goals. The abilities to question and reformulate these rules are present in Bourdieu’s theory of the game, allowing participants the opportunity to reject outdated conventions, create new styles and boost one’s own position in play. Artists, critics and dealers have long questioned the mechanics of how the art field is run and the impetuses for change. In the 19th century, for example, Édouard Manet’s radical approach to painting not only created a new realistic style, but also revolutionized the systems behind art exhibition, promotion and marketing. Does painting today still have this power to provoke “symbolic revolutions” and rewrite the rules of the art field?

Using Bourdieu’s lectures on Manet from 1998 to 2000 as reference points, Wuggenig discussed art’s ability to change the rules of the game. The works of Manet and John Miller served as examples.”

Ulf Wuggenig is a Professor of Sociology of Art and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany. He is the Director of Kunstraum at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, an exhibition space for contemporary art co-founded with Beatrice von Bismarck and Diethelm Stoller. At the Kunstraum, Wuggenig oversaw seminal exhibitions including Services (1994), initiated by Andrea Fraser and Helmut Draxler; Import/Export Funk Office (1996/97) by Renée Green; and The Open Public Library (1993/94) by Clegg & Guttmann. Wuggenig currently lives and works in Lüneburg and Hannover, Germany.

Part of Idea 005: Self-Made Man

Self-determination is a foundational cultural belief, particularly in American mythology, and characterized by faith in meritocracy, middle class self-expression and freedom of choice. John Miller’s work has frequently focused on the figure, and its life in social spaces, in order to point out the material reality that forms us all. Consumption and communication play key roles in constructing our “selves,” as witnessed by Miller’s interest in the banal and the everyday. Through his mannequins, material artifacts and photography, Miller poses a challenge: can the “self-made man” create the conditions that surround, determine and produce us?