Earth: Projections 50 Years after Earth Art

suspended light brown structures in an exhibition space with people looking at them
Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Old US Mint, San Francisco (2016). Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos
A large, yellow panel hanging in a long arched hall
The Ethics of Dust at Westminster Hall (2016), by Jorge Otero-Pailos. An Artangel commission. photo / provided by Marcus J. Leith
A man in a lab coat removing a large section of film from a wall
Jorge Otero-Pailos cleaning the wall of the Alumix factory in 2008. photo / provided by Patrick Ciccone
A flexible cast being peeled back from a bronze plaque memorial carved with latin text.
Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Maison de Famille Louis Vuitton (2015), detail of the casting process, Louis Vuitton Collection. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos
2 very large translucent panels in an exhibition space
Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Maison de Famille Louis Vuitton (2015), panels seven and two of the heptaptych, Louis Vuitton Collection. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos
an open room with groups of white objects scattered around on a shiny floor
Design Earth, After Oil (2016), installation view, Kuwait Pavilion, Venice Biennale of Architecture. photo / provided by Giulio Boem
A woman behind a table holding small ceramic pieces with a mural of mountains behind her.
Design Earth, Trash Peaks (2017), installation view, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. photo / provided by Kyungsub Shin
 Translucent boxes atop a series of white pedestals
Design Earth, Pacific Aquarium (2016), installation view, DOGA, Oslo Architecture Triennial. photo / provided by Rania Ghosn
Models of the heads from ancient statues suspended on strings
Design Earth, Cosmorama (2018), installation view, U.S. Pavilion, 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. photo / provided by Tom Harris, courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
a flag printed with a design of Earth encased caged in structural frame that is engulfed in smoke.
Design Earth, Act As If Our House Is on Fire (2019), Orléans Biennale. photo / provided by Luca Galofaro
Six illuminated vertical boards with low gravel piles at their bases, in a gallery space
Installed in Milstein Hall dome, Far Above, by Jorge Otero-Pailos (B.Arch. '94, M.Arch. '95), is a new and unexpected way to experience Cornell University's iconic view of Cayuga Lake. William Staffeld / AAP
People seated on bleachers in an auditorium.
Symopsium organizer and assistant professor of architecture Tao DuFour, foreground, during presentations in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. photo / Andy Chen (B.Arch. '20)
A person silhouetted against a screen in an auditorium.
Otero-Pailos presenting in Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
Figure wearing a bear's mask holding a sheet of paper, standing on an orange marker.
Symposium speaker Rania Ghosn, associate professor of architecture and urbanism at MIT School of Architecture and Planning and founding partner of the practice Design Earth, with her installation Flag the Earth. William Staffeld / AAP
Four woman holding glasses and smiling.
Guest speaker Peg Rawes, center, professor of architecture and philosophy at the The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, with students during the Thursday evening reception. William Staffeld / AAP
Man gesturing while speaking into a microphone.
Guest speaker James Nisbet, associate professor in the Department of Art History and Ph.D. program in visual studies at the University of California–Irvine during a question and answer session in Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
A group of men and women seated at a table under a projection screen with audience members in the foreground.
Symposium participants taking questions from the audience. photo / Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20)
Man holding a microphone with a group of men and women seated at a table.
DuFour introducing the panel discussion in Milstein Auditorium. photo / Alp Demiroglu (B.Arch. '21)
Woman speaking into a microphone while seated at a table with 3 other people
Symposium participant Rania Ghosn, speaking during the panel discussion. Photo / Dora Yui Kei Lo (MS AAD '20)
People seated around tables in a large room.
The Saturday morning seminar with symposium speakers, Ph.D., graduate, and advanced B.Arch. students was the symposium's final event. photo / Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20)
Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Old US Mint, San Francisco (2016). Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos The Ethics of Dust at Westminster Hall (2016), by Jorge Otero-Pailos. An Artangel commission. photo / provided by Marcus J. Leith Jorge Otero-Pailos cleaning the wall of the Alumix factory in 2008. photo / provided by Patrick Ciccone Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Maison de Famille Louis Vuitton (2015), detail of the casting process, Louis Vuitton Collection. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust: Maison de Famille Louis Vuitton (2015), panels seven and two of the heptaptych, Louis Vuitton Collection. photo / provided by Jorge Otero-Pailos Design Earth, After Oil (2016), installation view, Kuwait Pavilion, Venice Biennale of Architecture. photo / provided by Giulio Boem Design Earth, Trash Peaks (2017), installation view, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. photo / provided by Kyungsub Shin Design Earth, Pacific Aquarium (2016), installation view, DOGA, Oslo Architecture Triennial. photo / provided by Rania Ghosn Design Earth, Cosmorama (2018), installation view, U.S. Pavilion, 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. photo / provided by Tom Harris, courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Design Earth, Act As If Our House Is on Fire (2019), Orléans Biennale. photo / provided by Luca Galofaro Installed in Milstein Hall dome, Far Above, by Jorge Otero-Pailos (B.Arch. '94, M.Arch. '95), is a new and unexpected way to experience Cornell University's iconic view of Cayuga Lake. William Staffeld / AAP Symopsium organizer and assistant professor of architecture Tao DuFour, foreground, during presentations in Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. photo / Andy Chen (B.Arch. '20) Otero-Pailos presenting in Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP Symposium speaker Rania Ghosn, associate professor of architecture and urbanism at MIT School of Architecture and Planning and founding partner of the practice Design Earth, with her installation Flag the Earth. William Staffeld / AAP Guest speaker Peg Rawes, center, professor of architecture and philosophy at the The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, with students during the Thursday evening reception. William Staffeld / AAP Guest speaker James Nisbet, associate professor in the Department of Art History and Ph.D. program in visual studies at the University of California–Irvine during a question and answer session in Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP Symposium participants taking questions from the audience. photo / Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20) DuFour introducing the panel discussion in Milstein Auditorium. photo / Alp Demiroglu (B.Arch. '21) Symposium participant Rania Ghosn, speaking during the panel discussion. Photo / Dora Yui Kei Lo (MS AAD '20) The Saturday morning seminar with symposium speakers, Ph.D., graduate, and advanced B.Arch. students was the symposium's final event. photo / Ihwa Choi (B.Arch. '20)

Overview

Preston H. Thomas Memorial Symposium

Earth: Projections 50 Years after Earth Art, the fall 2019 Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lecture Series symposium at the Department of Architecture at Cornell University, will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Earth Art exhibition at Cornell's then Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art in Ithaca. The symposium presents a significant moment to critically reflect on the legacy of this seminal event, and project on its significance for art, architecture, and design in the contemporary situation defined by planetary issues of environmental crises. Curated by Willoughby Sharp on the invitation of museum director Thomas Leavitt and featuring in situ works by land and environmental artists Jan Dibbets, Hans Haacke, Michael Heizer, Neil Jenney, Richard Long, David Medalla, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Günther Uecker, the 1969 exhibition instituted a paradigm shift in the understanding of the materiality and environmentality of art practice. Half a century later the prescience of the exhibition constitutes a profound provocation for an ethical and political reorientation toward Earth as the fundamental ecological horizon of life.

The symposium aims to situate the Earth Art exhibition in the contemporary context of political-ecological thought. It proposes to widen our understanding of the historical conditions motivating the work of land artists of the time, including the work of women land artists such as Agnes Denes, Mary Miss, Nancy Holt, and Helen Mayer Harrison. In the face of anthropogenic climate change, epistemological frameworks once thought to be secure are breaking down as the atmosphere itself becomes understood as a cultural production through human-induced carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside new theories of nature/culture and human/nonhuman entanglements in disciplines such as anthropology and science and technology studies, artists and designers — including architects and landscape architects — are turning toward the provocations of land artists to problematize purely technical and instrumental understandings of the environmental implications of design. Such approaches include modes of experimental preservation and speculative practice and activism as a mode of political-ecological design practice. In projecting contemporary theoretical and ethical perspectives back onto the tradition of earth art, the symposium aims to bring this historical art praxis into the present in a way that challenges not only our historical understanding, but provokes a fundamental transformation of our modes of knowing and being with/in the earth as our shared, interspecific environing world.

The symposium will feature four lectures from eminent scholars in art and architectural history and philosophy, and design practitioners, each approaching the legacy of the Earth Art exhibition from different but related perspectives. Speakers include:

  • Peg Rawes, professor of architecture and philosophy, The Bartlett School of Architecture University College London
  • James Nisbet, associate professor of art history and visual studies, University of California–Irvine
  • Rania Ghosn of Design Earth and associate professor of architecture and urbanism at MIT
  • Jorge Otero-Pailos (B.Arch. '94, M.Arch. '95) of Otero-Pailos Studio and professor and director of historic preservation at Columbia University

The symposium will open with an introduction and film screening by Marilyn Rivchin (M.F.A. '91) of her original film footage for Earth, documenting the artists at work in 1969, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of design work specifically commissioned for the symposium by Design Earth and Otero-Pailos Studio.

The Preston H. Thomas series is funded through a gift to Cornell's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning from Ruth and Leonard B. Thomas of Auburn, New York, in memory of their son, Preston. The symposium events are free and open to the public.

Organized by Tao DuFour, assistant professor of architecture; coordinated by Ainslie Cullen (B.Arch. '19) with Hallie Black (B.Arch. '19) and Evan McDowell (B.Arch. '19) assisting; and student ambassadors CoCo Tin (B.Arch. '19) and George Tsourounakis (M.Arch. '21).

Schedule

Thursday, November 7

2 p.m.
Introduction by Assistant Professor Tao DuFour

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Opening remarks by Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture Andrea Simitch, Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow

2:30 p.m.
Earth, film screening by Marilyn Rivchin (M.F.A. '91)

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

3 p.m.
"The Earth Art Complex," lecture by James Nisbet

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

4:30 p.m.
Coffee Break

Milstein Hall dome

5 p.m.

"Other Worldings: Dust, Fields, Earth-works, and Planets," lecture by Peg Rawes
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

6:30 p.m.
Exhibition Opening and Reception

Milstein Hall dome

Friday, November 8

1 p.m.
"Flag the Earth," lecture by Rania Ghosn

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

2:30 p.m.
Coffee Break

Milstein Hall dome

3 p.m.
"Haze of the Twenty-First Century," lecture by Jorge Otero-
Pailos
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

4:30 p.m.
Closing discussion and remarks moderated by Associate Professor Lily Chi and Associate Professor Martin Hogue

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

Saturday, November 9

10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Seminar with symposium speakers, Ph.D., graduate, and advanced B.Arch. students

Wood floor, L. P. Kwee Studios, Milstein Hall

Speakers

Peg Rawes

""Peg Rawes is a professor of architecture and philosophy at the The Bartlett School of Architecture University College London. Trained in art history and philosophy, her research and teaching focus on material, political, technological, and ecological histories and theories of contemporary architecture and art. She is the author of Space, Geometry and Aesthetics: Through Kant and Towards Deleuze (2008) and Irigaray for Architects (2007), and the anthologies, Architectural Relational Ecologies: Architecture, Nature and Subjectivity (ed., 2013) and Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts (co-ed., 2016), which publish architects alongside practitioners in the arts, environmental, human rights, social, and medical research. Recent publications include "Insecure Predictions," E-Flux Architecture, July 24, 2018; "Dissimilarity: Spinoza's geometric ratios and housing welfare" in Spinoza's Philosophy of Ratio (2018), B. Lord (ed.); "Housing biopolitics and care," in Critical and Clinical Cartographies (2017), A. Radman and H. Sohn (eds); and "Planetary Aesthetics," in Landscape and Agency (2017), E. Wall and T. Waterman (eds).

James Nisbet

""

James Nisbet is an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Ph.D. program in visual studies at the University of California–Irvine. Nisbet's research addresses modern and contemporary art, theory, and criticism, with particular interests in environmental history, modern science, and photo-based media. He is the author of Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s (MIT Press, 2014), which examines the breadth of ecological thought across artistic and social practices during these formative decades for environmentalism. His writing has appeared in publications including American Art, Artforum, Art Bulletin, Art Journal, Grey Room, Modernism/modernity, Photography and Culture, and X-TRA, in addition to many edited volumes and catalogs. Current projects include a book manuscript in progress on site-specificity and duration, and an interdisciplinary volume coedited with Lyle Massey on the postwar American desert. Nisbet was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society for the Humanities and Department of the History of Art at Cornell University in 2011–12, and has been supported by residential fellowships from the Georgia O'Keeffe Research Center, Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies program, and Getty Research Institute, where he is currently a fellow and Consortium Scholar during the 2019–20 academic year.

Rania Ghosn

""Rania Ghosn is an associate professor of architecture and urbanism at MIT School of Architecture and Planning and founding partner of the practice Design Earth with El Hadi Jazairy. Her design research explores aesthetic forms of environmental engagement — notably the architectural drawing, exhibition, and publication — to visualize how technological systems change the Earth and to speculate on ways of living in the age of climate change. Design Earth was commissioned for international architectural events, including the 2016 and 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture; Oslo Triennale (2016); Seoul Biennale (2017); Sharjah Biennale (2016); MAAT Lisbon (2018), Milano (2019), Orleans (2019); and their work was exhibited at Sursock Museum (Beirut, 2016), Times Museum (Guangzhou, 2018), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, 2019) and collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her honors include the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects, Boghossian Foundation Lebanon, and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design awards for outstanding work in architecture and related environmental design fields as a critical endeavor. She is the founding editor of the New Geographies journal and editor-in-chief of NG 2: Landscapes of Energy (2010). Ghosn is a coauthor of Geographies of Trash (2015) and Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment (2018), which has received support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Ghosn holds a bachelor of architecture from the American University of Beirut, a master of geography from University College London, and a doctor of design from Harvard GSD.

Jorge Otero-Pailos

""

Jorge Otero-Pailos (B.Arch. '94, M.Arch. '95) works at the intersection of art, architecture, and preservation. He is professor and director of historic preservation at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. His work has been commissioned by and exhibited at major museums, foundations, and biennials, notably, the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Victoria and Albert Museum, Louis Vuitton Galerie Museum, Artangel Trust, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Otero-Pailos is the founder and editor of the journal Future Anterior, author of Architecture's Historical Turn (2010), and contributor to scholarly journals and books including the Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics and Rem Koolhaas's Preservation Is Overtaking Us (2014). He is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico and has received awards from major art, architecture, and preservation organizations including the Kress Foundation, the Graham Foundation, the Fitch Foundation, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and, in 2012, the UNESCO Eminent Professional Award. Otero-Pailos studied architecture at Cornell University, holds a Ph.D. from MIT, and was a founding faculty member of the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico.