Over the last four decades we have witnessed processes of dematerialization in various fields: money has been dematerialized with the dissolution of the gold standard, commodities have been dematerialized with the ascendance of brand names, and art practices were dematerialized by the emergence of movements such as conceptual art. Taken together, these processes can serve as a starting point for rethinking materialism. Rather than render the concept of materialism obsolete, they force us to ask whether we are finally able to understand what materialism was really about.
The conversation between cultural critic Noam Yuran and Vera List Center Fellow and curator Joshua Simon addresses the economy of meaning in a reality where symbols have come to behave like material things, and thus assume the place of things. This substitution allows us to reconsider the thing itself and to ask—expanding on the investigation of materialism—what the thing was all along.
Set in The New School’s historic Orozco Room from 1931, the conversation is embedded in a historic playing field, with Jose Clemente Orozco’s murals depicting allegories for 20th century liberation struggles in Mexico, India and Russia.
Joshua Simon, 2011-2013 Vera List Center Fellow, chief curator, Bat Yam Art Museum, Israel
Noam Yuran, research fellow, Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University, Israel
* Organized and presented by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, as part of its 2011-2013 curatorial focus theme Thingness, and in conjunction with the center’s New School class Art & the Political.
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