The 1980s: An Internet Conference, 2005

The 1980s: An Internet Conference. moderated by Maurice Berger, Oct 31–Nov 13, 2005. Issues in Cultural Theory 10, Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, U. of MD Baltimore County, and Georgia O’Keefe Museum Research Center, Santa Fe. 2007. Publication of online conference Oct 31 – Nov 13, 2005.

Lorraine O’Grady’s posts

Moderated by Maurice Berger, Oct 31 – Nov 13, 2005.  O’Grady’s replies to Berger’s questions, both reproduced here, were extensive.  The conference, with 30 posters and hosted on the Georgia O’Keefe Museum website, provided an opportune moment to re-think her 80s work in its larger historical context.

31 October – 1 November: Introduction

Maurice Berger:

I would like to welcome everyone to “The 1980s: An Internet Conference.” The conference will be organized into two-day sessions, each of these devoted to a particular topic. I would like to dedicate the first session to the general question of the “legacy” of the “The 1980s”–the issues and events that matter most about it, then and now. . . .

As a means of introduction, I would like each of you to speak to the issue of legacy: What issues or events of the period matter most to you now? What of that time–whether in the context of art and culture or of society in general–have the greatest implications for the

present day? Feel free to select a single issue, problem, or event or several. Be as general or specific as you like; we will have time to explore these issues over the next two weeks.

Lorraine O’Grady post:

I’ve been having a hard time getting started. “Legacy” seems such a grand word for the vague memories I have, more a string of minute details, not necessarily sequential. I spent the first years of the ’80s doing performances and shows railing against exclusion but the last years were spent hardly knowing who the President was, in a kind of sympathetic dementia with a mother in the last stages of Alzheimer’s. Most of what I do remember about the art world in the ’80s has to do with being an “insider-outsider” for the first time in my life—as opposed to the “outsider-insider” I’d been before. In June 1980, I arrived at the doorstep of the downtown black art world (how many people then or now know what that phrase means?). I’d spent my entire previous life in a succession of virtually all-white worlds: the all-white Ivy League world of the ‘50s; the all-white elite U.S. Government world of the early ‘60s; the all-white rock criticism and record company world of the ‘70s. I would still have an ( … )

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