Pedro Lasch's Curricular Intervention in Venice

Friday, August 28, 2015
Humanities Writ Large

HOW TO KNOW: The Protocols and Pedagogy of National Abstraction, a new piece by visual arts professor Pedro Lasch, was presented recently as part of the 2015 Creative Time Summit at the Venice Art Biennale. It is part of a larger series of highly collaborative projects called Abstract Nationalism & National Abstraction. The first installment, which drew on the expertise of a number of artists, performers, and scholars at Duke, was presented last year at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.

It is Lasch's intention that the piece should grow and change from one presentation to the next. The performance in Venice drew on much the same material as the one at the Phillips, but it was recast to fit the occassion and the available forces. Here is part of his program note:

HOW TO KNOW, a new work by Pedro Lasch, frames the 2015 Creative Time Summit: The Curriculum at the Venice Biennale, and is part of a larger series. Social interventions, visual compositions, flag displays, and musical works enable audiences to understand national anthems of other countries in their own language, while their own anthem becomes incomprehensible. For those speaking several languages, or having strong associations with more than one anthem, the experience is even more layered and representative of today’s cultural pluralism.

Each of the forty-eight flags of the installation at the Teatro alle Tese, in the Arsenale, combines four countries, so that all of the world’s countries are represented, in alphabetical order.

The flags are set in motion through simple choreographed movements by members of a color guard, here called the curricular guard for the multilingual terms and phrases that appear on their shirts; together the flags and color guard propose a re-envisioned curriculum for All of the World’s Futures.

Read more in the DukeArts Journal.

Referenced People

Associate Research Professor, Art, Art History & Visual Studies