Jaleh Mansoor

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Cultural Industries

Research Interests

Modernism
Twentieth Century European Art
Formalism
Marxist Feminism
Marxism and Critical Theory

Relevant Degree Programs

 

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Doctoral students
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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
History, myth and the worker body : Vienna actionism within the longue durée of 1848 (2018)

In June 1968, at the University of Vienna, artists Otto Muehl and Gunter Brus staged a radical action called Art and Revolution using the body and its most base processes, instead of traditional media, as primary material. Following the failed revolutions of 1848, Richard Wagner, composed an essay bearing the same name, arguing for the unifying potential of a total artwork. The purpose of the University action was to question the role of art under advanced capital, while denouncing the repressive hypocrisy of civilizing processes, with the whole, I argue, amounting to a collision between the material body and aesthetic practice as political action. This dissertation examines the Vienna Actionists’ reaction to the limitations imposed by painting, within the longue durée of 1848, as a response to a historical trajectory which eroded the political weight, or “mattering,” of the finite body. It situates them in relation to their inheritance of an aesthetic discourse which privileged totalization in the midst of a modernist narrative that mirrored this aforementioned corporeal erosion through its insistence on abstraction. This study resists an argument which posits the development of modernity as driven solely by the pursuit of pure reason, viewing the Romantic critique of Enlightenment as an equally vocal note in the elaboration of aesthetic and political modernity. I view the Actionists’ focus on the body’s finite materiality in the aftermath of fascist violence, in the midst of a postwar rise in consumer culture, and in relation to a modern discursive obsession with estrangement, as an attempt to call attention to the political stakes of a historically contingent corporeal alienation. I understand, however, their act of total refusal to be diluted by their operation within the limits and language of a masculinist established order. VALIE EXPORT, in response to her male cohort, I argue, occupied a more suitable position to expose the brutality of processes of subjugation based on bodily difference, further exposing a corporeal imperative to collective cohesion. I posit her refusal, however, to be limited by her own normative subject position, thus exposing a repeated myopia toward the totality of fragmented social ties.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Sum of the parts | art and the archive : the status of the document (2018)

In her 1992 publication Atget’s Seven Albums, Molly Nesbit opens with an introduction subtitled The Document. She compellingly defines the document by situating its relationship to photography, the archive, and visual art. Nesbit’s tremendously important identification of the intersection between art and the archive is where I will situate the focus of this paper. Through this intersection, I will demonstrate a rereading of the status of the document by considering the extended relationship between art and the archive. In particular, I will look at the status of the document as artwork and the ways in which contemporary art of the 21st century comes to stand in for the document. I will establish this point by examining the ready-made subject of archival structures as well as the overlapping spheres of the document and art. I will perform a rereading of the status of the document by tracing its trajectory from the discourse of empirical facticity to a more complex dimension of mnemonic production. This rereading will consider the document and memory as resources available for extraction and activation. Throughout, I will set specific limits for this research by positioning previous scholarship in relation to a selection of films and performances by artists Deanna Bowen, Felix Kalmenson, Divya Mehra, Krista Belle Stewart, and Casey Wei. Within these limits, I will examine the politics of these artists’ works with attention to formalism and historicity.

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The pool and the web : visuality and interface theory in the architecture of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art (2018)

Nearly two decades ago, Rosalind Krauss famously stated that the “industrialized museum” engendered a “technologized subject”—someone whose experience of the museum is intense, fragmented and spatial. Using this dictum as a starting point, this project looks at how the omnipresence of technology has affected the architecture of contemporary art museums, using the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, designed by the architectural firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, as the focal case study. By investigating the critical framework the studio uses to inform their practice, and by contextualizing that practice through the lens of visuality and the scholarship of Alexander Galloway on interface theory, this thesis argues that the architecture of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art acts a valve which regulates the viewer’s experience of the space by navigating between two competing models: the exterior, in which the envelope of the building acts as an interface between the world and the institution, and the interior, in which the mediatheque room at the ICA then become an internal interface to this exterior. Furthermore, this allows visitors to reconsider what can be classified as a “digital” space by showing that the virtual must be accessed through the real. While the architecture does attempt to navigate between these ideological roles, it becomes clear that the building struggles with its potential slide into a totalizing system. The high degree of controlled choreography needed to make the ICA's programme ideologically coherent further enmeshes ancillary services into the visitor experience, and the building then begins to be less of a critical lens and more of an entertainment complex. Ultimately, the goals of the building do not succeed because of the architecture’s permanence in the face of the speed of technological change; the building is embedded in the specific socio-technological dialogue of its time and as a result, cannot anticipate what changes the rapid development cycle of technology will bring.

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