MIT List Center Wasserman Forum

MIT List Center Wasserman Forum

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Danh Vo, 02.02.1861, Last letter of Saint Théophane Vénard to his father before he was decapitated, copied by Phung Vo, 2009.
Ink on paper, 29.6 x 21 cm.
Photo: Danh Vo.
October 6, 2011
MIT List Center Wasserman Forum

Present Past: Contemporary Art and the Uses of History

Panelists: Matthew Buckingham, Jaleh Mansoor, Dieter Roelstraete, Danh Vo
Moderator: Tim Griffin

Sunday, October 9, 2011, 3PM

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Building 10, Room 250

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to present this year’s Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art, Present Past: Contemporary Art and the Uses of History, on how artists working with historical subject matter engage theories and methods of historical research.


“To be historical,” wrote philosopher Paul Ricoeur, “an event must be more than a singular occurrence, a unique happening. It receives its definition from its contribution to the development of a plot.” If narrative is central to written history, what might Ricoeur’s statement mean for artistic practices that operate with historical materials, such as archives or found objects, or for artistic practices that use historical theories themselves as subject matter? What of the connection between historical and fictional narratives? In what ways can artistic practices open a space to question the status of whose narrative is being articulated? More generally, what are the textures of the relationship between contemporary art and an interest in historical phenomena? Can current artistic practices prompt a new sense of historical time, one reflected in a relationship to the contemporary as a category of the present that is, in itself already, historical?


These and related questions will be considered by artist Matthew Buckingham, Jaleh Mansoor (assistant professor, Art History, Visual Art and Theory, University of British Columbia), Dieter Roelstraete (curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp MuHKA) artist Danh Vo, and moderator Tim Griffin (executive director and chief curator, The Kitchen, New York) as they discuss how artists use historical material in their work, how they engage theories and methods of historical research, and how artistic practice can call into question the status of historical narratives and received notions of historical time.




The annual Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art was established in memory of Max Wasserman (MIT Class of 1935), a founding member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. This public forum was endowed through the generosity of the late Jeanne Wasserman and addresses critical issues in contemporary art and culture through the participation of renowned scholars, artists, and arts professionals. The Forum is organized and presented by the MIT List Visual Arts Center.


The Forum is free and open to the public. For further information please call 617.452.3586 or visit The location of 10-250 on the MIT campus map can be found at


RSVP for MIT List Center Wasserman Forum
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
October 6, 2011

Thank you for your RSVP.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.