Jack Halberstam, professor of gender studies and English and director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University, will deliver the lecture “An Aesthetics of Collapse” at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Sheldon Museum of Art. The talk is being held in conjunction with “The Nature of Waste: Material Pathways, Discarded Worlds,” an exhibition showing at Sheldon.
The lecture addresses Alvin Baltrop, a Black photographer who has been celebrated for his images of gay men cruising on New York City’s West Side Piers in the 1980s. As Halberstam said, Baltrop left an archive that, when examined closely, offers an aesthetics of collapse, orienting viewers away from queer bodies — vehicles for current configurations of desire, location software, and capital — and towards abstract forms of the erotic.
“An Aesthetics of Collapse” will serve as the keynote talk for the “Nature of Waste” exhibition which explores waste from a variety of perspectives, including postcolonial theory and LGBTQ+ studies. Supported by a grant from the Daugherty Water for Food Institute at UNL, the exhibition presents a holistic investigation into waste streams, by surveying artworks that use as inspiration our castoffs, leftovers, junk, detritus, scarcity and ruins. In so doing, the works contribute to contemporary conversations on the Anthropocene, the current geological age.
Halberstam is the author of seven books, including his latest, “Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire” (Duke University Press, 2020). Places Journal awarded him its Arcus/Places Prize in 2018 for innovative public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality and the built environment.
The lecture is sponsored by the School of Art, Art History and Design; College of Fine and Performing Arts; Water for Food Institute; and Sheldon Museum of Art.