“The Ethics of Seeing”: Kaira M. Cabañas on Creative Care and Art’s Histories

“To me it doesn’t seem like a crisis in art history, but a crisis for a privileged subject position, for who could write art history and determine which art histories count.... Women, LGBTQ, and people of color were and are writing art history, and [these] histories of artistic production, as well as those of the global south, are reconfiguring art history from within. For me this is an accomplishment, not a crisis.” 

In this episode

Caitlin Woolsey continues the miniseries focused on sound, media, and visual art, in conversation with Kaira M. Cabañas, professor of art history at University of Florida. Kaira describes how her early studies helped her think about the relations and discontinuities between cultural contexts and reflects on artists who practice film “otherwise.” She shares her most recent project focused on transatlantic exchanges in art and psychiatry, and questions what is often perceived as the current “crisis” in the discipline, asking: a crisis for whom?


Kaira M. Cabañas

Kaira M. Cabañas is professor of art history and affiliate faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies and Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is the author most recently of Immanent Vitalities: Meaning and Materiality in Modern and Contemporary Art (University of California Press, 2021), as well as of Learning from Madness: Brazilian Modernism and Global Contemporary Art (University of Chicago Press, 2018), which received the Arvey Foundation Book Award Honorable Mention from the Association for Latin American Art and was a Modernist Studies Association Book Prize Finalist. She has also published Off-Screen Cinema: Isidore Isou and the Lettrist Avant-Garde (University of Chicago Press, 2014) and The Myth of Nouveau Réalisme: Art and the Performative in Postwar France (Yale University Press, 2013). In 2012, Kaira was guest curator for the exhibition Specters of Artaud: Language and the Arts in the 1950s at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and served as the catalogue’s editor. Her writings on art and film in Europe and Latin America have appeared in numerous international magazines and academic journals, including Artforum, October, Grey Room, Les Cahiers du Musée national d'art moderne, O que nos faz pensar, and Oxford Art Journal, and she regularly writes for Artforum, featuring women, LGBTQ, and Latin American artists’ contributions to art’s histories.  

This conversation was recorded on July 9, 2021.

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