Nevada Museum of Art’s Art + Environment Conference transitions to a virtual format with the potential to expand audiences and present more diverse perspectives on Land Art.
One of the lasting outcomes of the pandemic has been the normalization of meetings taking place in virtual spaces. Artist talks, lectures, and panel discussions that were only offered to in-person spectators can now be “attended” by audiences anywhere with an internet connection.
While we have seen a return to in-person events of late, institutions have come to embrace the transformation to digital and the widened access such virtual dialogues offer to audiences far and wide.
The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno is one such institution, announcing that its Art + Environment Conference, previously presented as a traditional three-day conference on a triennial basis, will be offered this fall as a subscription series of virtual talks and panels taking place over two months. Land Art: Past, Present, Futures will be presented over thirteen virtual discussions from September 23 through November 19, 2021, featuring preeminent scholars and artists in the field of Land Art.
The shift from an in-person conference to a virtual series offers a change in format with both pros and cons, according to William L. Fox, director of the Center for Art and Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.
“The next conference was scheduled to take place in 2020, but with the onset of the pandemic, that clearly was not going to be possible,” Fox says. “We took the postponement as an opportunity to think more deeply about the international community we’ve drawn together through the conference, and we saw that the era of streaming we’ve suddenly entered can offer these far-flung people a more extensive series of discussions, with a wider range of perspectives.”
Fox adds that transitioning to a virtual format has the potential to expand the audience, reaching those who may not be able to travel to Reno for a weekend, but who would be interested in tuning in to talks about Land Art from a variety of perspectives presented over several weeks.
Fox acknowledges the inevitable downsides as well as the benefits to virtual-only programming. “What’s lost, of course, is the sense of collegiality that comes from an in-person gathering,” he says. “What’s gained is a program that is in some ways more ambitious and does a more effective job of reaching artists, scholars, and the public.”
With coronavirus cases yet again on the rise around the country, a return to an in-person conference at this time would undoubtedly present unknown variables and potential risks. With their many conveniences and benefits, virtual conferences and discussions may prove an enduring mainstay of a post-pandemic world.
The lineup of speakers and topics covered in the Art + Environment series of talks present an array of differing critical perspectives on Land Art, such as Indigenous and feminist perspectives, and expands conversations beyond the largely white male land artist canon.
Fox says, “Land Art is now a fifty-year-old genre in contemporary art with roots that extend back to Aboriginal Australian mark-making 50,000 years ago” as an art form that is “performative as much as object making… site specific… often ephemeral… [and relating] to both sky and ground.”
The expanded field for looking at Land Art and its predecessors encompasses artistic and cultural practices from around the world.
“Once curators adopted the larger viewpoint, they were able to locate artists both in the near past and current times with practices that they could identify as Land Art,” Fox points out. “This brought into their purview previously under-examined artwork, particularly by women, Native Americans, Black, and Hispanic artists.”
The result is a program that is enticing in the diversity of perspectives, including a conversation between art historians Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon about Land Art’s global roots, a discussion between Cannupa Hanska Luger and Raven Chacon on an “Indigenous future,” and a talk with artist Justin Favela and art historian Emmanuel Ortega on disrupting the “conventional boundaries of the Land Art canon.” Other scholars and artists featured in the series include Lucy Lippard, Judy Chicago, Edgar Arceneaux, Andrea Zittel, Oscar Tuazon, Rose B. Simpson, and Cauleen Smith.
In addition to the subscription series of virtual talks, the Nevada Museum of Art also presents a survey exhibition of Land Art from the museum’s permanent collection that highlights prominent and lesser-known artists working with the land, along with solo exhibitions by Simpson, Chicago, and photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni. The Art + Environment Season also includes a live performance by Simpson in Las Vegas as well as a major new publication.
More information on how to register can be found on the conference website.