News & Events, Fall 2018

Thursday 01/10/2019

Photo of Jennifer Kabat by Marco Breuer in artist Ellen Lesperance’s "Congratulations and Celebrations" at the Nike nuclear missile site in Marin, CA

Quijote Talk: Jennifer Kabat

January 24, 2019, Thursday
132 West 21st Street, 6th floor
Free and open to the public
Blue has become a quest that might make Jennifer Kabat as crazy as Quixote, or driven to what painter Chris Ofili calls the “blue devils.” When we look at our various screens, the icons, apps, social media logos are all blue. In a Word doc or an email, the formatting is blue, the highlighting is blue, and Jennifer Kabat needs to understand why. Our screens are proverbial windows, a landscape that is exported around the world. Everyone sees the same view, the same blues, yet they are all created in a tiny sliver of the world, by a tiny sliver of the population – mostly male, mostly in the Western U.S., and she is sure the color means something. What do these blues say about us now? Silicon Valley speaks of itself in language encoded with freedom, creativity, the self, individuality, and personal expression. Yet many of their technologies are cloaked in blue and encoded with deeply American values. Here, blue is an artifact that could just be an afterthought or digital detritus, but for Jennifer, it is worthy of examining because it is underlined with ideology. Trying to decode blue might leave her a bit unhinged as the designers behind it talk about blue’s symbolism, neutrality, trust, and idealism. Meanwhile the history of the Internet is so brief, we can see these blues encapsulate its meaning right before our eyes.

Awarded a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for her criticism, Jennifer Kabat teaches at the New School, and will begin teaching in the Art Writing program at SVA next fall. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Harper’s, BOMB, Frieze, McSweeney’s, The New York Review of Books, The Believer, and The White Review. With the New Zealand artist Kate Newby, Jennifer has been working on an ongoing collaboration, “The January February March,” to explore specific sites and landscapes. The project was featured at The Poor Farm (Waupaca, WI). She has contributed to catalogues for the V&A and others, and her writing has been included in group exhibitions at Arnolfini (Bristol UK) and Index in Stockholm. Her essay “Rain Like Cotton” is in Best American Essays 2018, and she’s working on a book about grief and modernism. She lives in rural upstate New York, and her proudest achievement is joining her local fire department.
Quijote Talks take place in our library on 21st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues in Chelsea, usually on Thursdays at 6:30 pm. Named after our favorite after-lecture hangout, El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel, and inspired by the knight errant himself, this new series consists of pointed talks and discussions about relevant pasts and possible futures. See our full lecture series archive here