Transart Foundation Presents “Houston Hauntology” Symposium

by Glasstire January 25, 2024

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Core Program Critic and Glasstire contributor Valentin Diaconov has organized Houston Hauntology, three evenings of dialog between Houston artists, architects, art historians, and critics at the Transart Foundation, a Houston space that highlights art and anthropology. The symposium, which begins this week, will feature conversations and presentations addressing the transient nature of Houston’s cultural landscape. 

The concept for the symposium came out of an exhibition Mr. Diaconov organized in 2019 when he was curator of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. The show, he says, explored “the theological and esoteric underpinnings of Soviet underground art.” Surpik Angelini, the founder of Transart, learned about this show and believed that a similar study could be made of Houston’s visual culture, so she brought on Mr. Diaconov to curate the symposium.

A designed graphic promoting Houston Hauntology 2024 presented by the Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology.

Mr. Diaconov told Glasstire about his organizing concept behind the three-day series: “Houston is a young place even relative to the United States as a whole, so it does not have a need to conserve its past or even think about presenting a coherent narrative of its history…I was inspired by No Zoning, a 2009 show at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, that based Houston art in its municipal policies. Houston Hauntology goes in a different, but complimentary, direction. It showcases the parade of apparitions and specters in a city that never stops growing and rebuilding. Things and people are erased, but present.”

The description of the symposium emphasizes that its goal is to, in a sense, historicize the underseen and under-documented aspects of a city that is always changing, growing, tearing down, and rebuilding. Mr. Diaconov noted to Glasstire that the intention of the event is to “figure out how a place like [Houston] stores memories,” and went on to say that the event’s “contribution is to the future, when a proper history of Houston will be needed.” 

The symposium is free, but seating is limited. Email [email protected] to RSVP to a specific session. See a full schedule for the program below. Recorded versions of the conversations and lectures will be available online after the program.

January 26
6 p.m. Stephen Fox (Anchorage Foundation of Texas) on the legacy of Eugene Aubry.
7 p.m. Cameron Amstrong on repressed architectures, in conversation with Stephen Fox.
8 p.m.. Terrell James and Terry Suprean on summoning Virgil Grotfeldt.

January 27
6 p.m. Lynn Randolph in conversation with Ilana Gershon (Rice U).
7 p.m. Pete Gershon (The Orange Show) on Bert Long Jr.
8 p.m. Angel Lartigue in conversation with Aisen Caro Chacin.

February 3
6 p.m. Mary Ellen Carroll and Rebecca Matalon (from the CAMH) in conversation.
7 p.m. Jillian Conrad and Salle Vaughn in conversation.
8 p.m. Susan Plum and Arielle Masson in conversation.
9 p.m. Valentina Jäger on conversing with the dead.

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