Are We Going Back to Art Autonomy?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 12 - 7:30pm

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Lucy Raven. Still from 'Subterrestrial Cinema.' 2017

Lucy Raven. Still from 'Subterrestrial Cinema.' 2017

A free, public symposium on philosophy, art theory, and artistic practice focusing on the connection between autonomy and non-autonomy in contemporary art.

While art’s autonomy implies resistance against both censorship and the culture industry, non-autonomy means the ability to refer to reality not just to reproduce it but to critically question it. How relevant are these reflections for contemporary art? Does a debate on autonomy reiterate a modernist hierarchy? Or is it still a valid model and a viable strategy of critique? The debate about and against the autonomy of art has special relevance today, as the art world interrogates its role and responsibility within the political climate of the present moment.


12:00-12:30 pm Introduction: Diego Malquori and Raffaele Bedarida.

12:30-1:15 pm Lecture: Leslie Hewitt, "Untitled (Structures)."

1:15-2:00 pm Lecture: Giuseppe Di Giacomo, "Autonomy and Non-Autonomy in Adorno’s Aesthetic Reflections"


4:00-4:30 pm Guided tour of the exhibition, We Dissent... Design of the Women's Movement in New York, at 41 Cooper Gallery, led by curators Stéphanie Jeanjean and Alexander Tochilovsky.

4:30-6:30 pm Roundtable involving Cooper students, faculty, and the panelists.

6:30-7:30 pm Screening and discussion: Lucy Raven, Subterrestrial Cinema (2017, Lucy Raven).

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.