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University of Iowa News Release

March 9, 2005

UI Symposium To Explore 'Collage As Cultural Practice' March 24-26

An online animation of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry singing a parody of "This Land Is Your Land" entertained millions of viewers during the 2004 presidential campaign, including University of Iowa professors Kembrew McLeod and Rudolf Kuenzli. But their interest went beyond the political satire. For them, the piece provided a high-profile example of collage, a form of cultural expression that they and other scholars will examine during the 2005 Obermann Humanities Symposium March 24-26.

"Collage as Cultural Practice," will bring together a group of 70 scholars to discuss social, political, and legal implications of this method of appropriation. All events are free and open to the public.

Collage has become a creative outlet for oppositional commentary across the cultural spectrum. The UI symposium will explore collage in literature, music, film, art, and online as well its place in discussions of race, gender, and politics. Symposium organizers note that collage takes many forms, from the leftist collages of the Dadaists and the Situationists to the unauthorized use of corporate trademarks and the more recent flurry of Internet-distributed antiwar video collage pieces that appropriate from the mainstream media in satirical ways.

The symposium begins Thursday, March 24 at 4 p.m. in the Lasansky Room of the UI Museum of Art with plenary lectures by Patricia Zimmermann, Ithaca College, speaking on "Reverse Engineering," followed at 5 p.m. by Douglas Kahn, University of California at Davis, speaking on "Sad News: Corrective Editing of News Programming and Personalities." After a dinner break, the program continues at 7:30 p.m. with Rosemary Coombe, York University, Toronto, speaking on "The Contested Commons: Creative Practices and Cultural Rights Principles." Zimmermann and Coombe are visiting the UI as Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors.

The symposium includes a series of 20 panel discussions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, in the Adler Journalism Building on topics including "Politics and Web Collage," "Feminist Politics and Collage," "The Beats and Situationists," "Post-Colonialism and Collage," "Cinematic Collage," and "Collage Poetry."

Following the panel discussions each day will be two plenary lectures and a performance in Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library. On Friday, March 25, four scholars and artists will present a plenary roundtable, "Illegal Art and Beyond," from 3:30 to 4:45. Participants include Carrie McLaren, Stay Free! Magazine; Philo T. Farnsworth, Owner, Illegal Art Label; Tom Forsythe, Independent Artsurdist; and Joshua Clover, University of California at Davis. Following the roundtable, Craig Baldwin, San Francisco Collage Filmmaker, will present "Chalk-Talk on Tactics: Jiu-Jitsu, Ventriloquism, and the Trojan Horse."

Friday evening's performance will feature The Tape-beatles, two artists who mix fragments of sound and video in live performance. Starting at 8 p.m., they will present "Good Times: An Expanded Cinema Presentation for Three Projectors and Sound." The performance in Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library, is free and open to the public.

Plenary lectures on Saturday, March 26, begin at 3 p.m. with Ximena Cuevas, a filmmaker from Mexico City, speaking on "How Green Was My Valley or the Island of the Lost Souls," followed at 4:30 p.m. by Pierre Joris, State University of New York at Albany, with "On the Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage."

Saturday evening's performance will feature a multimedia presentation by Mark Hosler, who will mix video and sound collages from his group Negativland, a "sound collage band." The performance "Adventures in Illegal Art: Creative Media Resistance and Negativland," begins at 8 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library, and is free and open to the public.

More information including a complete schedule is available online,

In conjunction with the symposium, Rudolf Kuenzli, UI professor of English and cinema and comparative literature, organized an exhibition on the use of subversive collages in zines in the North Lobby of the UI Main Library and is curating an exhibition at the UI Museum of Art, "Interventionist Collage: From Dada to the Present." Focusing on the connection between today's collage artists who creatively and critically respond to the flood of mass media images, messages, and sounds, and 20th century avant-garde movements, this exhibition includes pieces by John Heartfield, Georg Grosz, Hannah Hoech and Alice Hutchins as well as UI Professor David Dunlap and UI Emeritus Professor Hans Breder. The exhibition runs through April 3 in the Hoover-Paul Works On Paper Gallery.

Kuenzli and McLeod, both faculty members in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are directing the symposium, which is funded by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the Year of the Arts and Humanities.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: Kembrew McLeod, 319-621-4620,