Coaches: Ye He
Tuesday, April 12th
2:00 PM

Empty Landscapes: Orientalist Photography and the Beginnings of ‘Ruin Porn,’

Sarah Cornett, Whitman College

Kimball Theatre

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

With the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, photography became the newest visual medium to depict the Middle East as consumable to European and American audiences. British and French photography depicted the Holy Land and Egypt as a region in deterioration, with ruins that referenced ancient pasts. Photographers rendered these sites as empty and depopulated, without regard for contemporary life. Intentionally or not, they framed the region as available for the taking and in need of intervention from the West. These images, preoccupied with emptiness and crumbling sites, were the first photographs to glorify decay, embodying the “ruin porn” tropes now popular with images of deteriorating urban landscapes in cities such as Detroit. In their glorification of emptiness, early Middle East landscape photographs stand as the first to enframe, capture and fetishize degeneration, a photographic tradition that continues today.

2:15 PM

Locating Chinese Contemporary Art: Ai Weiwei in Walla Walla

Kyra Arnett, Whitman College

Kimball Theatre

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

In the summer of 2015, a series of artworks by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei arrived in Walla Walla. Almost simultaneously, Ai was given several of his first solo exhibitions in China. While Ai Weiwei has received critical and popular acclaim in the United States and Europe, his work remains at the fringe of China's art scene. This disjuncture signals larger problems surrounding international and domestic perceptions of contemporary Chinese art. My presentation considers the relationships and institutions that allow Ai's art tostand for contemporary art in China, particularly though not exclusively in the United States. Ai's dominance in Western discussions of Chinese contemporary art suggests an attraction to Chinese artists and artwork that confirm the cultural and political superiority of Western liberal democracies.

2:30 PM

Intertwined: Life and Death in Latino/Spanish Graphic Narrative

Abby Seethoff, Whitman College

Kimball Theatre

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

I examine the portrayal of death in three graphic novels from Spanish-speaking countries: Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez and el Duelo by Esteban Hernandez. Each work resists the trope of death as a tragedy, ultimately offering a more hopeful understanding of it. Specifically, I analyze how the visual technique of braiding links various series of repeated images throughout each text that favors a non-linear reading, resists the finality of death and involves the reader in the act of narrative creation.

2:45 PM

Werewolves and Aliens: Borders, Trauma and Transformation in Feeding Ground and El mundo gira

Jenna Stanley, Whitman College

Kimball Theatre

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Physical and metaphorical borders between the United States and Mexico are the subject of both Feeding Ground, a graphic novel, and El mundo gira, an X-Files episode. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben's theory of the werewolf and Anne Whitehead’s theory of trauma fiction, I argue that the visual repetitions that characterize these distinct visual media emphasize the trauma of being an immigrant and of living on the border, or the in-between, amidst differing cultures, languages and identities. Ultimately, Feeding Ground and El mundo gira present themselves as works of the horror genre but with a commitment to social justice, fusing so-called high and low culture and setting an important precedent for other works of popular culture.

3:00 PM

Aesthetic Representation of Autism in Two Spanish Graphic Novels

Jeremy Nolan, Whitman College

Kimball Theatre

3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

I examine the aesthetic representation of autism in two contemporary Spanish graphic novels that successfully counteract the typical medical presentation of disability: Maríay Yo (2007) and María Cumple 20 Años (2015), both written and drawn by Miguel Gallardo with his daughter Maria. Each text incorporates purposeful visual techniques in order to present the peculiar characteristics of Maria's autism as well as her father's preoccupations with her future. I share how their presentation facilitates educational discourse, empowers the disabled and their families, and reflects the capability of the graphic novel to give authority to groups who are often overlooked.