Sponsored Working Group

Artwork in the 21st Century

The Artwork in the 21st Century Working Group brings together artists and scholars from a range of disciplines to explore fundamental questions of contemporary artistic and cultural production. In our current reality, artworks operate in complex fields of tension such as digitization, automation, the rise of artificial intelligence, immersive environments, stay at home orders, global warming and environmental disasters, racial reckoning, and the rise of nationalism and brazen authoritarianism. How does this impact possibilities for creativity and interaction between artworks? Which aspects of artworks are currently most salient? What role does nature play in 21st century artworks? Who is, or can be, the author of an artwork? How can artists collaborate meaningfully with thinkers from apparently distant disciplines? What kind of art works are innovative and forward-thinking and, at the same time, truly public in both scale and impact? What is the distinction and relationship between public and community-engaged art? What are the relationships, boundaries, and connections between authors and spectators? The Artwork in the 21st Century Working Group welcomes artists and scholars who are interested in exploring new and unexpected configurations for public-facing artistic and cultural production. This group of thinkers and practitioners will influence and inspire one another by sharing and discussing our own work, by studying important recent work by American and international artists and scholars, and by inviting talks from distinguished guests whose work intersects with our themes. 



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Scott Ordway (Music) is a composer and multimedia artist who has become recognized for his boundary-defying, mixed-media projects, creating widely-acclaimed work that has been called “exquisite” (The New York Times) and “arresting” (Gramophone), “hypnotic” (BBC) and “a marvel” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Drawing on his deep interest in literature, languages, and the humanities, Ordway’s remarkably diverse works fuse his music with text (frequently his own), video, digital soundscape, photography, and experimental theater to explore an array of contemporary, often urgent themes about ecology, architecture, protest and revolution, and urban life. Hailed as “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe, Ordway’s compositions are heard on major stages around the world. They have been commissioned or performed by the Hong Kong and Buffalo Philharmonics; Tucson Symphony; Hong Kong Arts, Beijing Modern, and Aspen Music Festivals; Tanglewood New Fromm Players; Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler; Sweden’s Norrbotten NEO; Yale Institute of Sacred Music; The Thirteen; Lorelei and SOLI Chamber Ensembles; Jasper, Momenta, Daedalus, and Arneis String Quartets; University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology; Haverford College’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities; and many other renowned ensembles and institutions. His music is also heard on the Acis and Naxos labels. His current projects include an in-progress opera on the Arab Spring, with an original libretto by the Algerian author, scholar, and journalist Meryem Belkaïd, workshopped by American Opera Projects, as well as The End of Rain, a multimedia symphony for Roomful of Teeth and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, featuring landscape photography alongside crowdsourced texts from hundreds of Californians impacted by wildfire and drought.


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Anette Freytag (Landscape Architecture) focuses on the history and theory of designed landscapes from the 19th century to the contemporary landscape with a particular focus on topology and phenomenology. Her latest book The Landscapes of Dieter Kienast (Zurich: gta publishers 2021) shows how this influential Swiss landscape architect sought a synthesis between design and ecology amidst a striking change in societal understandings of nature between the 1970s and 2000s. Kienast designed spaces to make the dissolving opposition between city and countryside legible and to enable aesthetic experience to help citizens cope with increasingly complex everyday life. In the edited volume The Gardens of La Gara (editor and main author), Anette Freytag takes an 18th-century manor as a case study to show how garden art, horticulture, social and religious history, the renovation and preservation of historical ensembles, as well as landscape management to enhance biodiversity, are all interlinked. Her current research focuses on how walking can prompt social and formal change. Together with Julia Ritter, Professor of Dance at Rutgers, Anette Freytag founded the AIR Collaborative (Arts Integration in Research) which prioritizes creative placemaking to foster spatial justice through multidisciplinary research and curricular agendas that benefit and strengthen the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus and surrounding communities. Their first project is the #March2RUGardens2021, a festive two mile-long walk from Cook Campus to Rutgers Gardens with multiple performances that advocates for pedestrian accessibility to Rutgers Gardens. Anette´s research has received multiple awards, such as the European Garden Book Award 2018, the German Garden Book Award 2016, the DAM Architectural Book Award 2016, the Theodor Fischer Prize 2012 and the ETH Medal for Outstanding Scientific Research 2011.