Locating Nancy Holt

Wednesday 16 January 2019, 4.15PM

Speaker(s): Dr James Boaden (History of Art, University of York)

In 1974 Nancy Holt spent a week staying at 39 Locust Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts. The building was the home of her aunt Ethel, who at the time was in hospital having a malignant tumour removed from her breast. During her time in New Bedford Holt photographed the interior and exterior of the building and later used the images as the basis for her single channel video work, Underscan (1974). The tape juxtaposes the photographs with Holt’s monotone reading of Ethel’s letters sent to her across the course of a decade – the letters combine Ethel’s daily life with the physical state of her home. The same year Holt exhibited the installation Points of View at the Clocktower Gallery in New York – this work juxtaposes four monitors each showing a view of Manhattan with various art world insiders describing what they see on the monitors voiced over the top. Taken together these two works continue the preoccupation across Holt’s career of working with the idea of location – yet here this question develops into a crucially affective one, distance in Underscan is estrangement as it becomes intertwined with questions of care, location is developed discursively in the conversations of Points of View. This paper will consider how Massachusetts might function as a provincial elsewhere to downtown Manhattan at this moment and how life narrative is used to bring it closer.

Dr James Boaden is lecturer in Modern and Contemporary art with a focus on American art from the mid-twentieth century to the present. His research looks in particular at the crossover between experimental film culture and the art world in the mid Twentieth Century. James has published essays in journals including Oxford Art Journal, Art History, Tate Papers. He has organised film screenings at BFI Bankside, Tate Modern, Nottingham Contemporary, and The Hepworth Wakefield.

Contact: Nicoletta Asciuto or Hannah Roche.

Location: SLB/005, Spring Lane Building, University of York Heslington West Campus

Admission: All welcome