Past Events

Art Criticism and the Pandemic II - Wearing Out

Research Lunch – Chris McCormack, Leigh Claire La Berge, Marc Aziz Michael, Dante Micheaux, Raqs Media Collective, Oreet Ashery, Jackson Davidow

  • 6 May 2021
  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm
  • Art Criticism and the Pandemic II is organised in collaboration with Chris McCormack (Associate Editor) at Art Monthly, the UK’s leading magazine of contemporary visual art. It brings together a range of art critics, artists and art historians to discuss the implications of current conditions for their work and the broader field of art criticism and writing on art and culture.
  • Zoom Webinar

Art Criticism and the Pandemic II continues and reshapes the discussions had at two events in 2020 which considered how the structures of a globalised art world had been interrupted or changed and whether, in the context of renewed activism, the art world is addressing problems of inequity and injustice in its own order. These ideas remain urgent as the art world negotiates the legacies and ramifications of making, thinking, and writing about art in the context of a global pandemic. Two live research lunch events across two days will provide spaces for testing out ideas voiced by a panel of speakers, followed by discussion and questions from attendees.

Session 2: Wearing Out

Under the violent normalisation of austerity, the pandemic has exacerbated conditions of increased work surveillance and precarity, deepening an awareness of the consequences of chronic exhaustion. The now commonplace discussion of contemporary fatigue, anxiety, and depression points us, as Lauren Berlant states, ‘to the way living also becomes a scene of the wearing out of life’. From caregivers to lives more at risk of infection through socioeconomic consequences of structural racism and underpayment, how might kinships ‘wear out’ together and apart, how might artworks play a part in redefining the public sphere or enable us to consider the interrelations of equity and collective care.

  • Leigh Claire Le Berge (Associate Professor of English, City University of New York)
  • Marc Aziz Michael (American University, Beirut)
  • Dante Micheaux (Poet)
  • Monica Narula and Jeebesh Bagchi (Raqs Media Collective)
  • Oreet Ashery (Associate Professor of Fine Art, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford)
  • Jackson Davidow (Independent Researcher)


Session 4: Wearing Out

Papers from Leigh Claire La Berge, Marc Aziz Michael, Dante Micheaux, Monica Narula and Jeebesh Bagchi, Oreet Ashery, and Jackson Davidow.

About the speakers

  • Chris McCormack standing in front of building complex

    Chris McCormack is a writer, associate editor of Art Monthly, co-deviser of The Producers, a series of talks in collaboration with Art Monthly and Newcastle University and co-founder and judge of the Michael O’Pray prize for new writing on moving image with Film and Video Umbrella. He is the editor of Charlotte Prodger’s forthcoming monograph (Koenig), commissioning editor of ON&BY Andy Warhol (MIT/Whitechapel) and has contributed numerous essays and texts for catalogues, including James Richards’s Requests and Antisongs. He also writes fiction and has collaborated with numerous artists including Hilary Lloyd and Ursula Mayer, while his research into vocal development was published as part of Richards’s Welsh Pavilion in Venice, Voce di testa. He also curated the exhibition and edited the book Anarchic Sexual Desires of Plain Unmarried Schoolteachers

  • Leigh Claire La Berge standing behind a desk with arms crossed

    Leigh Claire La Berge is Associate Professor of English at the City University of New York and will be Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Freie University in Berlin from June 2021 to June 2022. She is the author of Scandals and Abstraction, on finance and postmodern American literature, and of Wages Against Artwork, on the relationship between contemporary labor and socially engaged art. La Berge is currently working on a new book about Marxism and animality called Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary. Follow her @marxforcats.

  • Marc Aziz Michael in a white shirt in front of a stone building

    Marc Aziz Michael teaches Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University in Beirut. He has previously taught at NYU and NYU in Abu Dhabi. Beyond academic venues, his writings have appeared in Al Jazeera, Jadaliyya, The World Today, CounterPunch and OpenDemocracy. He is currently writing a book about the history of commercial banking. In his spare time, he is training as a group analyst. 

  • Dante Micheaux in a white shirt and pink tie

    Dante Micheaux is the author of Amorous Shepherd (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010) and Circus (Indolent Books, 2018), which won the Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the T. S. Eliot Foundation. His poems and translations have appeared in African American Review; The American Poetry Review; Callaloo, Literary Imagination, Poem­-A-Day; Poetry, PN Review, and Tongue – among other journals and anthologies. Micheaux’s other honors include the 2020 Ambit Magazine Poetry Prize, and fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and The New York Times Foundation.

  • Monica Narula (front) and Jeebesh Bagchi (top left) sit on a blue staircase with Shuddhabrata Sengupta (top right)

    Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1992, by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. The word ‘raqs’ in several languages denotes an intensification of awareness and presence attained by whirling, turning, being in a state of revolution. Raqs take this sense to mean ‘kinetic contemplation’ and a restless and energetic entanglement with the world, and with time. Raqs practices across several media; making installation, sculpture, video, performance, text, lexica and curation. The members of Raqs Media Collective live and work in Delhi, India. In 2001, they co-founded the Sarai program at CSDS New Delhi and ran it for a decade, where they also edited the nine volume Sarai Reader series. They have exhibited internationally. Most recently, they were the Artistic Directors of the Yokohama Triennale 2020, ‘Afterglow’.

  • Oreet Ashery standing against a dark background

    Oreet Ashery is a visual artist working across world-leading arts institutions and grassroots social contexts. Her distinct multiplatform projects combine video, performance, sound, photography, textiles and writing. The work is situated, participatory and expands the remits of contemporary practice. Ashery narrate stories of marginal and precarious identities, combining autoethnography, collective-knowledge, and biopolitical fiction. In recent years Ashery questioned how the boundaries between illness, life and death, body and self are transformed by digital technologies.

  • Jackson Davidow Headshot wearing black polo neck

    Jackson Davidow studies modern and contemporary art and visual culture from a transnational perspective, with a focus on queer, feminist, decolonial, and Black aesthetic practices of activism and therapy. He has published scholarship, criticism, and interviews in American ArtArt in America, ASAP/J, Boston Review, Critical Inquiry Review, Thresholds, Urban Omnibus, and X-TRA Online, as well as in the book Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories. He received his PhD in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture from MIT, with a dissertation titled ‘Viral Visions: Art, Activism, and Epidemiology in the Global AIDS Pandemic’. He is turning this study into a book. His research has been supported by fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Ryerson Image Centre, the Center for Creative Photography, the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, and Duke University Rubenstein Library.