About the Event
For the 25th Annual Graduate Student Symposium on the History of Art, Jonathan D. Katz will deliver an online keynote lecture titled “A Viral Theory of Art: AIDS and the Aesthetics of Protest.” Registration is free for this lecture and for the online symposium, which takes place February 26 and March 5.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) once compared his art to the workings of a virus, saying, “I want to be like a virus that belongs to the institution.” At the time, the virus that was killing him provided a model for his relationship with the museum world. The defining characteristic of HIV is its ability to camouflage itself within the immune system—to appear to be part of the system it is intent on destroying. In this talk, Katz traces the history of this viral approach to art, from the Pictures Generation through the upheavals of the AIDS epidemic and into contemporary activist art, exploring how and why protest today so often resembles the very forms it works against.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres. "Untitled", 1991. Photo by Sang Tae Kim. Courtesy of Samsung Museum of Art. © Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Courtesy of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation
About the Speaker
Jonathan D. Katz
Katz, a pioneering figure in the development of sexuality and gender studies in art history, is Associate Professor of Practice, History of Art, in the University of Pennsylvania’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program. An active curator as well as a scholar, he has written extensively on postwar American art.