Department of Visual Art and Art History Guest Speaker Series 2018-19
“ART HISTORY PRESENTS” RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
Canadian art historians share their current projects.
Jane Wark: Conceptual Art and the Back-to-the-Land Movement in Nova Scotia
In the early 1970s, two seemingly disparate cultural phenomena took hold in Nova Scotia: Conceptual art and the back-to-the-land movement. The first aimed to be rigourously intellectual and strip sentiment and expressiveness out of art, while the second was driven by a deeply sentimental urge to establish an alternative and utopian way of life. And yet there are unexpected links between these two movements in that same time and place. Each was part of larger international developments and yet geographically isolated, relied on networked connections to the wider world, took shape under the shadow of the Vietnam war and was largely populated by Americans drawn to Canada to enact resistance and find escape. This presentation examines how these two communities, despite their very different means and strategies, ultimately shared the goal of making critiques–both implicit and explicit–of the cultural status quo.
Jayne Wark is Professor in Art History and Contemporary Culture at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. She is the author of Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance in North America (2006) and co-curator of Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980 (2012). Her most recent publication is “Queering Abjection: A Lesbian, Feminist and Canadian Perspective” in Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada (2017).