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2016 BIENNIAL: Abject/Object Empathies

The 2016 CCA Biennial focus is on the cultural production of empathyThe upcoming biennial will address the ways in which feeling is form and explore how the objects, buildings, clothing, machines, languages, and images we construct are shaped by our intentional or implicit emotional, interdependent relationship to others. Whether by framing a connection that already exists or by providing the condition for new connections, what we create can either merely extend our own personal desires, goals, and directives, or can alternatively function as a bridge between who I am and who you are so that aesthetic experiences are interdependent, collaboratively generated and inherently reciprocal.

Ideas of interdependent form in art have been addressed recently in theories of relational and participatory practices, but theories of art's generation out of an intentional acknowledgement of the other—whether viewer, audience, citizenry, crowd, or globe—is often understood as rhetorical anticipation rather than actual co-authorship. It is the structure of inter-subjective experience that we hope to understand through a variety of ways of thinking about form as the political, aesthetic, and societal distinctions between "me" and "we."

Looked at from a wide perspective, ideas and experiences of empathy are expressed in many disciplines and forms, including many that would not immediately or characteristically be understood as empathetic: affordances in architecture and design, artificial intelligence in computation, mirror neurons in developmental psychology, network applications in information studies, responsive environments in media, synthetic biology in science, are but the few that come to mind.

Read more at The Cornell Chronicle.


2016 Biennial Artist-in-Residence2016 BIENNIAL ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: PEPÓN OSORIO
A multimedia artist with a background as a social worker, Pepón Osorio accepted an invitation to work with Cornell faculty to understand the university as a representational system and a site of overlapping social realities. Treating objects like artifacts, Osorio develops multimedia installations over time after getting to know a place from the people who know it best. He will develop a site-specific installation for the Arts Quad, opening April 2017. He considers the final work “the debris” of the process of researching and creating it.

An installation made for conversations about fantasies of Founding Brothers, artist Caroline Woolard has created a social space under the dome of Sibley Hall. Five tables, placed in a pentagonal formation, resemble the she-wolf that raised Romulus and Remus. Surrounding stools can be stacked together to form a life-size Roman column or tipped on its side and used as a bench. The she-wolf tables and column sections form a fifteen-foot diameter installation that welcomes dialog about power.

Lebanese artist Teresa Diehl, in collaboration with the Cornell University Chorus, will create an adaption of her work titled Revolution. The work – a sound and light installation – will turn the Willard Straight Hall Art Gallery into a space of contemplation about the war in the Middle East providing a sensorial experience that metaphorically places the viewer in the place of conflict, fostering empathy as it prompts critical reflection.

DESERT OF LIGHTDesert of Light
A black comedy by Palestinian-Syrian writer Rama Haydar, Desert of Light reveals the tragic absurdity of the Syrian civil war. Co-translated from the Arabic by the playwright and PMA Assistant Professor Rebekah Maggor, who also directs, the play is set outside Damascus in the Yarmouk refugee camp.

By rethinking our relationship with objects, we open up possibilities for empathizing with objects. A project by CODA (design practice led by Caroline O'Donnell), Urchin rethinks the common plastic chair whose aggregation forms a space in which the chair itself loses its meaning as an object that affords sitting and becomes instead an architectural surface whose formal and material qualities are allowed to come to the fore.

Department of Architecture faculty member Aleksandr Mergold '00 investigates Simeon DeWitt's 1792 map of the Military Tract of Central NY as an instrument of projection of power. By visualizing this old map—making it loom large, uncomfortable, but also evocative, beautiful—the project expresses both the constructive and destructive act of drawing a line.

By redefining space and atmosphere between musicians and their audience, Hear Me addresses the clear boundary in classical music that imposes an uncomfortable distance between the musician and the audience, preventing dialogue and empathy towards the subtlety and expression that truly makes the music come alive. Musically and spatially, Min Keun Park's project breaks down the barrier and brings about a new form of intimacy where architecture, music, and people blur.

Queer Rocker(s)QUEER ROCKERS
A series of chairs based an open-source model of design that artist Caroline Woolard created with the re-invention by Cornell students last spring, the Queer Rockers are plywood rocking chairs/sculptures distributed across campus as a gateway to the ideas furthered by her installation in Sibley Dome. Working remotely and directly with students in art, architecture, landscape architecture, economics and design with the CCA, Woolard's  “Free, Libre, Open Source Systems and Art (FLOSSA),” exhibition applied the share economy to re-thinking the work of art in the post-capitalist world.

Race & Empathy ProjectRACE & EMPATHY PROJECT
Inspired by existing oral history archives and student-focused social justice initiatives, this project, conceptualized by Human Development faculty Corinna Loeckenhoff and Anthony Burrow in collaboration with Francois Guimbretiere (Information Science) and Cornell's Intergroup Dialogue Project, aims to record, archive, and share the everyday stories of Cornellians that evoke racial empathy or the ability to identify and understand the feelings of someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Inspired by the 2016-17 theme of empathy and the international immigration crisis, Music professor Ariana Kim, in collaboration with Cooperativa Selene and Periscope for Arts, works to bring together the worlds of music, art, architecture, and humanitarianism.

The Traveling Tool Library – a handcrafted public resource and social sculpture initiated by the student organization, Building Community – is a physical assembly of tools organized within a structure that travels between sites of creative activation. Built of materials sourced from the upstate New York region, the Library connects people and craft traditions through active mobilization of resources.


CCA 2016 Biennial
Lead Dean, CCA Kent Kleinman | Curator Stephanie Owens | Program Coordinator Erin Emerson
Curatorial Assistant Mariko Azis | CCA Interns Prateek Rath & Maggie O'Keefe

Curatorial Committee Andrea Inselmann (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art & Photography,
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art)
| ED Intemann (Senior Lecturer, PMA) |
Kevin Ernste
(Associate Professor, Music; Director Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center) |
Maria Goula
(Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture) | Caroline O’Donnell (Associate Professor, Architecture) | Kathleen Gibson (Associate Professor, Human Ecology, on leave 2016)

Frank Parish AAP Facilities Director | Jason Cragle Cornell Facilities Project Manager |
Danny Salomon Rand Shop Manager | Sara Garzon | Cameron Neuhoff '16 | Dan Aloi Cornell Chronicle | Jason Koski University Photography | Robert Barker University Photography