Pressly Forum: Kate Cowcher, "This is Lenin! Demystifying Revolution in Socialist Ethiopia"

Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 11:30 to 13:00
Kate Cowcher

Dr. Kate Cowcher is the 2017-2018 Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection. 

Her talk is drawn from her current book project on art and visual culture in the Ethiopian revolution. This project stresses the centrality of images in the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie and in the construction of a "popular," putatively Marxist-Leninist revolution that followed. Artists were immediately called upon to develop a new typology of images: blatant and blaring graphic design that affronted Ethiopia's Imperial tradition of veiled modes of communication. Close examination of works that seem easy to dismiss as mere "propaganda," however, reveals slippages in translation from the greater communist sphere, ideological inconsistencies and a creeping sense of apathy amongst those who had once fought for radical change. Rather than simply "demystify" the revolution, Ethiopia's revolutionary graphic art provides a rich chronicle of shifting allegiances and growing anxieties in the midst of domestic turmoil, on the final frontier of the Cold War in Africa.

The Pressly Forum is named in honor of its founder, Bill Pressly, a Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology for 25 years. Bill began the forum, originally known as the "Faculty Forum," in 2009 with the goal of fostering community within the department by bringing faculty together in an informal setting to share their current work with colleagues. A light lunch will be available at 11:30 and the lecture will begin at noon.

4213A Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building
3834 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20742