Catherine Soussloff

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Narrative forms and visual sequences: the new photography in American practice and French discourse, 19681989 (2018)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Decolonizing documentary photography : the Rawiya Collective in Palestine (2018)

Rawiya is an Arabic word that translates to “she who tells a story” and serves as the title of the first all-women’s photographic collective established in the Middle East. Comprised of former and continuing photojournalists and documentarians, the artists in Rawiya have been photographing the lives of marginalized and subaltern communities throughout the Middle East since and before their establishment in 2009.Of the people and places photographed, the most difficult of subjects, and the most provoking of images, emerge from within the confined borders of Occupied Palestine. Rawiya artists capture both the well documented – although often unexposed – horrors of the Israeli occupation, as well as the quotidian resilience of a systemically oppressed community that prevails despite settler colonial occupation, displacement and disenfranchisement.This thesis considers how the historical and socio-political specificities of a Palestinian perspective become central to an understanding of the implications of the documentary mode and its inception into realism in the nineteenth century. Through a close reading of long durée documentary projects pursued by Rawiya, I will consider how the photograph, in its indexical capacity and documentary ambiguity, is unique in its ability to mitigate the gap between the moment and its retelling, the narrator and the witness. In dialogue with John Tagg’s Burden of Representation I consider how Rawiya collects, creates, and circulates photographic images that entwine a complex interstice of Palestinian stories and voices, traumas and triumphs that are too often unheard and unseen.Using intimate portraiture, monumental landscape, and performative documentary praxis, Rawiya photographers explore a new, decolonizing documentary mode that pictures Palestine in all of its intricacy. Conceptions of territoriality, Arab feminism in the wake of nationalist rhetoric, and a complex history of colonial European and indigenous Arab photography inform their photographic series. Through the lens of the women artists of the collective, the juxtaposition of a Palestinian collective memory and the subsequent creation of a collective Israeli and international amnesia becomes visible.

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Outside art : Baggat and the history of modern and contemporary art in Korea (2015)

The Baggat Art Group formed in South Korea in 1981 and continued until today. It is a loosely formed collective dedicated to participatory practices in the outdoors and site-specific works, depending on the years in question. This thesis aims to rethink the significance of the Baggat Art Group through the lens of "ritual," as theorized by the anthropologist Victor W. Turner. The project is structured around a long historical introduction and two case studies: Exhibition of History and Environment in 1997 and Abandoned Island, Mountain of Healing in 2002. These two exhibitions demonstrate instances when Baggat Art, positioned at the margins of the art field and society, functioned as a site of negotiation for sociopolitical issues. I propose that an observation of how the Baggat Art Group has continued to rewrite itself into dominant narratives of art allows for a more comprehensive understanding of modern and contemporary art in South Korea. This project therefore adopts and attempts to support the group's objective of incorporating what is outside into the inside, transcending the limitations of existing boundaries, and to expanding the category of art by realizing what resides at its borders.

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Gordon Matta-Clark's photographic spaces (2011)

Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978) is best known for his experimental “building cuts,” in which he reconfigured whole architectural spaces slated for destruction in North and South America, and in Europe. An extensive scholarship theorizes Matta-Clark’s practice as a critique of his architectural education and a recuperation of the social spaces outside its purview. Today, audiences view Matta-Clark’s building cuts through the two-dimensional media of film and photography, further complicating the original works’ play with temporality and performance. Recent scholarship has seen photography as central to Matta-Clark’s performance-based and sculptural practice. This thesis addresses a gap in scholarship between Matta-Clark’s photography and his ephemeral works. Matta-Clark’s use of photography as document relates to the Land Art practice of exhibiting outdoor works inside the gallery. His photographs also engage in the photoconceptual practice of questioning that very documentary status. I trace three modalities for the photographic within Matta-Clark’s works: image (referent), object (medium), and apparatus (technology). I suggest that the photographic image is historically situated by the latter two categories as an ontologically specific space, at once material and abstract, technological and theoretical. My research draws on theoretical discourses underpinning Modernist architecture. The role of photography is belied in Modernist architectural discourse, a mainstay of Cornell’s architecture program under the leadership of historian Colin Rowe, from which Matta-Clark received a BArch in 1968. I find an unstated connection between photography and phenomenal transparency, a term defined in Rowe and Robert Slutzky’s influential essay, “Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal,” where it is used to describe the abstraction of space in the work of Le Corbusier. I set up a theoretical framework for the conceptual role of photography in Matta-Clark’s practice by being attentive to the relationship between photography and architecture through the photographic slice, the visualized analog to the sculptural cut. I argue that in order to criticize the supposed transparency of both photography and architecture apparent in contemporary art practices and Modernist architectural discourse respectively, Matta-Clark’s work investigated the two media in tandem.

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