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Liminal Languages: Complexity and Emotion in Art

Panel Discussion in conjunction with the Spring 2014 Hunter MFA Thesis Exhibition Part II

When Jun 15, 2014
from 03:00 pm to 05:00 pm
Where Hunter College 205 Hudson Street Gallery (entrance on Canal between Hudson and Greenwich)
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Liminal Languages: Complexity and Emotion in Art

Panelists include Jennifer Doyle, Sarah Schulman and Dawn Lundy Martin of YAMS Collective

Moderated by Natalee Cayton and Rotem Linial

June 15, 2014 at 3 pm

Hunter College

205 Hudson Street Gallery (entrance on Canal between Hudson and Greenwich)

This panel is presented in conjunction with the Spring 2014 MFA Thesis Exhibitions and hosted by the MFA Thesis Students in collaboration with the Hunter College Art Galleries.



Works of art are privileged in being able to effectively relate complex aspects of life, things not easily talked about or theorized.  In contrast to so much recursive art in the world, art that speaks to liminality engages emotionally with the viewer.  Through such art, what is personally emotional has the potential to affect the public and the political.  Once received, the aspects aligning more toward emotion are often the first to be marginalized, perhaps because the language we use to talk about art encourages linear and analytical thinking. If allowed to resurface in our conversation, might these aspects play a significant role, especially when the conversation becomes political?  Writer Jennifer Doyle, activist Sarah Schulman and artist Dawn Lundy Martin of the YAMS collective come together to discuss specific ways emotional density happens and functions in individual, complex works of art. 


Jennifer Doyle’s newest book, Hold it Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (2013), explores some of contemporary art’s most contentious works. Doyle shows how artists, such as Ron Athey, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz, work with feelings as a means to question our assumptions about identity, intimacy, and expression and offers new insight into how the discourse of controversy serves to shut down discussion about this side of contemporary art practice.  Her previous publication, Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire (2006), was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Foundation award for writing and culture. She is the recipient of a 2012 Andy Warhol Foundation | Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant, and is the 2013–14 Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of the Arts London. She is on the Board of Directors at Human Resources Los Angeles, a non-profit arts space supporting interdisciplinary and performance-based practices. Doyle is currently a Professor of English and Co-Chair of the LGBIT Studies Minor at University of California, Riverside, where she directs Queer Lab.


Sarah Schulman is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, journalist and AIDS historian.  A few of her publications include The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (2012), Israel/Palestine and the Queer International (2012), Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and It’s Consequences (2010), and the novels There Mere Future (2010) and The Child (2009).  She is the co-founder of MIX: NY LGBT Experimental Film and Video Festival, co-director of ACT UP Oral History Project, and US coordinator of the first LGBT Delegation to Palestine.  Her awards include a Guggenheim (Playwrighting), Fullbright (Judaic Studies), and Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies. Schulman is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at The City University of New York, College of Staten Island, a Fellow at The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.


Dawn Lundy Martin, an essayist and award-winning poet, is author of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press 2007), winner of the Cave Canem Prize; DISCIPLINE (Nightboat Books 2011), which was selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for both Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Lambda Literary Award; Candy, a limited edition letterpress chapbook (Albion Books 2011); The Main Cause of the Exodus (O’clock Press 2014); and The Morning Hour, selected by C.D. Wright for the 2003 Poetry Society of America’s National Chapbook Fellowship. Her forthcoming collection Life in a Box is a Pretty Life will be published by Nightboat Books in 2014. She has written a libretto for a video installation opera, titled "Good Stock on the Dimension Floor," for the global art collective HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN? which was scheduled to be featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and is collaborating with architect Mitch McEwen on House Opera/Opera House in Detroit, “a project which stages an opera as a house, the house and its dramas of occupancy, vacancy, demolition, and re-purposing as an opera.” Martin is also a co-founder of the Black Took Collective, an experimental performance art/poetry group of three. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.