A Bacchanal of Truth

Day: Thursday 5 April

Aron Vinegar (University of Oslo)

Session Abstract

‘Look out!’ I read this headline for the Annual Conference as a provocation launched in extremis. In the spirit of such an interpretation, this session is an exploration of the logic and passion of exaggeration, extravagance, hyperbolics, extremist positions, and excessive statements in and around art, art history, criticism, visual studies, philosophy and politics. It is an attempt to plumb the possibilities for and the necessity of exaggeration in order to generate new modes and thresholds of truth that do not entail adding knowledge to knowledge. Quintilian defined hyperbole as ‘the proper straining of the truth’; Thoreau wrote, ‘I am convinced that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression’; Badiou notes that, ‘(All) truths are woven from extreme consequences. Truth is always extremist’; and Hanna Arendt provocatively states that ‘all thought is exaggeration’. This panel is not primarily interested in obvious examples taken from high modernism – ‘the age of extremes’ in art and politics – but rather in exploring modes of exaggeration concerning art’s relationship to aesthetics, truth, and politics in and for our time.

Are there different modalities or new techniques that we need to invent, and that we might add to those like hyperbole, assertion, tautology, rage, ellipses, or polemos? Does postmodernism and much of its aftermath necessarily mark the emergence of a postextremist state of consciousness, a ‘neo-mediocre climate’? If capitalism is predicated on its ability to produce and absorb all excess, what are we to do? What about our current political climate and its extremisms?

Speakers and Papers

Tom Wilkinson (The Warburg Institute, London) Honest Dollars: Why did money start telling the truth during the German Hyperinflation, and could it do the same today?

Ingrid Halland (University of Oslo, Norway) ‘Nothing better than a touch of ecology and catastrophe.’ On Jean Baudrillard’s attempt to destroy the environment, 1970

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (Queens’ College, Cambridge) Reality Machine: Contested (visual) regimes of truth in a postfactual era. One exhibition, two Latin American cases

Amanda Boetzkes (University of Guelph, Canada) Annie Pootoogook’s Realism and the Plenitude of the Object

Naomi Vogt (University College London) Where’s my magnetic trains and my electricness? Exuberance as form in the work of Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch

Emily Watlington (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) Decorative, Domestic, Dumb: Lily van der Stokker’s feminist flatness

Alison Alder (Australian National University School of Art and Design) POSTED EXTRAVAGANZAS: The art of
exaggeration and the political poster

Larne Abse Gogarty (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) Too Much: Excess and commitment in contemporary art and criticism