Sandbox: We are young and we are friends of time, part I

Sandbox is a little corner of the web that is dedicated to Iowa City artists working to engage the public in an interactive environment. Find out more here.

During the Affect & Inquiry symposium sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies (March 27-29) here in Iowa City, Ann Cvetkovich spoke at Public Space One about her interest in making scholarship into a creative practice. In my writing project at PS1, I’ve been interested in exploring this site of scholarship and creative writing. I’m trying to bring together disparate strands of research, to learn how to trace—in language—an attention to the surface of an artwork as well as to the corrugated surface of a relationship over time.

Untitled, no. 1 of 24, from the portfolio, Hours of the Day, Louise Bourgeois
Untitled, no. 1 of 24, from the portfolio, Hours of the Day, Louise Bourgeois

In an earlier conversation on the role of art in affect theory, both Lauren Berlant and Cvetkovich spoke to the goal of asking: What does it mean to be thinking with artworks, to be changed by a piece—not to master the work, but to wonder about what the work makes possible?

As cultural theorists associated with affect theory ask how scholarly writing might be more creative—necessitating more attunement to affect, to the senses, to the use of the personal—there are art writers who are similarly seeking other modes of writing alongside or through artworks, as opposed to taking an authoritative stance, common in art criticism, that suggests the critic’s mastery over an artwork. Writer Maria Fusco, with others, offers that in new forms of art writing, “The art work may be intensely engaged with, or it may be the starting point for fictional and poetic developments.”

B2 cap
Untitled, no. 24 of 24, from the portfolio, Hours of the Day, Louise Bourgeois

In my project, I’m beginning from certain works of art, circling around them and my experiences of distorted time. They are artworks that open up spaces for thinking through questions of temporality, synchronicity and love. In Part II, I will write specifically about these artworks and the questions, or spaces for questioning, they’ve generated for me.



The title of this post—and the current title of my project, as a whole—is borrowed from a piece by the artist Moyra Davey, which can be found here.

The phrase is an inscription from a building in front of Trinity Cemetery in New York, referenced in a piece of writing by Davey entitled “Index Cards” from Speaker Receiver, which can also be found via Murray Guy, as well as in Animal Shelter (Issue 2), a spectacular journal out from Semiotexte.

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  1. Thanks for posting Carolyn. As a visual artist, it will help me to try to develop the kind of critical relationship to artwork you are describing here, to things I am making.

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