Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment
              ​R.H. Lossin
              In 1784 a Berlin newspaper invited responses to the now-familiar question “What is Enlightenment?” Immanuel Kant’s reply retained the question as its title: a choice which has contributed to the sense that the question has, always, already been answered. But we keep asking it, and Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” now ranks high among often cited and rarely read texts of the Western canon. It contains some dependable platitudes concerning free expression, as well as the exhortation “Sapere aude!” (“Dare to know!”), frequently taken as the most succinct version of his answer. “Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment” at the Harvard Art Museums brought together 150 prints, drawings, and books in order to examine how images contributed to the production and dissemination of Enlightenment knowledge between roughly 1720 and 1800. The accompanying catalog is an homage to Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie (1751-72), with twenty-six alphabetically arranged articles on topics that shape our own understanding of eighteenth-century thought. According to Elizabeth Rudy and Tamar Mayer’s entry on “Time,” the very act of looking backward as a mode of inquiry is an intellectual operation that would not be possible without the notion of history that emerged in this …
              Andrew Norman Wilson
              Jared Quinton
              Last month, a strike by over 60,000 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) was narrowly averted by last-minute negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers; the union will vote to ratify its new contract on Friday. This felt like a fitting backdrop for the opening of an exhibition which uses the tricks and trappings of the art world to make insidious labor politics slightly less ignorable. Andrew Norman Wilson’s solo presentation at the MIT List Visual Arts Center pairs two short features about workers navigating increasingly obsolete roles in corporate systems that produce mass media: the video Kodak (2019), a fictionalized account of a blinded former employee of the Kodak corporation, and Wilson’s new film Impersonator (2021), which follows a houseless, out-of-work character impersonator as he wanders the fringes of the Los Angeles film industry. Wilson’s work treads the (often uneasy) territory between cinema and contemporary art. The two films, around 30 and 20 minutes respectively, play alternately on projection screens at either end of the List Center’s project space, which has been painted entirely black. Drawing techniques from documentary, montage, animation, and big-budget Hollywood, the works operate in a cinematic idiom that …
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