A Little Sun and a Whole Lot of Light

What would you do with your very own little sun? Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen created this solar-powered LED lamp in an effort to get affordable and reliable light to areas across the globe without electricity. Five hours of charging yields three hours of bright light. Learn more at Phillips after 5 on Feb. 6, where we’ll be screening a short film on the Little Sun Project, and join in on some Twitter trivia for a chance to win one!

The February Phillips after 5 celebrates all things light with the Nordic embassies, from innovative Nordic lamp design to gallery talks on how artists use light in their work to an aurora borealis-inspired light show outside of the museum and in the Music Room. Follow the Phillips on Twitter that evening and answer #NordicLights trivia questions for a chance to win one of five Little Sun lamps (and other fun prizes).

Celebrating Pakistani Voices

Images of Pakistani artists with their work and around The Phillips Collection

Top: Artists (left to right) Muhammed Zeeshan Younas, Sehr Jalil, Farah Khan, Naira Mushtaq, and Aneela Khursheed, in discussion with moderator Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Phillips Educator Rachel Goldberg, and US Department of State Regional Coordinating Officer Attia Nasar. Middle: At the reception after the panel, artists discussed their work with Georgetown University School of Foreign Service students and VIP guests including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Bottom: Panelists and artists Yusra Muhammad Baig, Sophia Mairaj Malik, Sumbal Mushtaq, Rabia Rabail, Ammar Savul, Ruby Guy Shah, Qurat Ul Ain, and Huma Arshad Warraich, with Pakistani artist, actor, and activist Jamal Shah. Photos: Pepe Gomez

In November, thirteen emerging artists whose work is featured in Pakistani Voices: In Conversation with The Migration Series visited the United States for an 11-day cultural exchange program, touring museums in DC and New York and also visiting one of the Phillips’s partner schools, Takoma Education Campus. Five of the artists participated on a panel at the Phillips to discuss their work with Rachel Goldberg in Pakistan and their trip to DC.

Artist Muhammed Zeeshan Younas shares his thoughts about what the experience has taught him:

  • For me art is not only for the artists—art is for everyone. Everyone should understand what you are trying to say through your artwork. That is why I’ve been learning all kind of tools of art—I started as a sculptor, and then I went to painting, and now I am working on videos and animation. Talking to so many people from kids to elders on this trip has inspired me—I say to them, “What inspires you? Who are you?” and they express themselves. Sometime they tell me about their problems, about what they like, what they dislike. I already know what people in my country think, and when I came here and talked to Americans, I really feel no difference, even from the kids. People are so friendly—they respond to me. And I want to incorporate this into my art because when we use the term social change, it means we need to know what our society needs and how to communicate these problems in art. Because art is for society so we must understand it what society wants and needs.

Talking Culture in the Global Classroom

Klaus Ottmann, seated right of center, lecturing at Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s RPX classroom to students in Washington, DC, and Doha, Qatar. Photo: Eliza French

Klaus Ottmann, seated right of center, lecturing at Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s RPX classroom to students in Washington, DC, and Doha, Qatar. Photo: Eliza French

On Tuesday October 8, 2013, Director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and Phillips Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann gave a special bi-local lecture to Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service students in Washington, DC and Doha, Qatar at Georgetown University’s  Polycom RealPresence Experience (RPX) classroom. The RPX classroom allows the students to meet face-to-face in real time for discussion and interaction despite being separated by continents and time zones. The lecture was part of “Globalization, Diplomacy, and the Politics of Exhibitions,” a new collaborative course presented by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and The Phillips Collection.

The session on October 8th was unique in that it included students in Doha in addition to students in DC who meet regularly, either on Georgetown’s campus or at our Center for the Study of Modern ArtShiloh Krupar, Assistant Professor of Culture and Politics in the School of Foreign Service, is the lead instructor for GU, and guest lectures are given by Phillips staff members, among them director Dorothy Kosinski, curators Sue Frank, Vesela Sretenovic, and Klaus Ottmann, and educator Rachel Goldberg. As part of the course, students will attend the 2013 International Forum Weekend, presented in partnership with Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. The program, titled “The Power of Culture/The Culture of Power,”  will focus on cultural diplomacy and will be a culminating event for both the students and the institutions involved in the collaboration.

In his lecture entitled “Art & Contemplation,” Ottmann focused on two highly contemplative permanent installations unique to the Phillips, the Rothko Room and the Laib Wax Room, making a case for art that is “engaged in a materialist formalism, based in part on a structuralist analysis of the world, which attributes ideological meaning to the materials themselves and in part on a participatory humanism, a renewed involvement in the question of being, in transcendence, and in the social.” Ottmann calls this type of formalism, which is at once spiritual and social, “spiritual materiality.”

After the lecture, Ottmann answered questions from students in Doha and in Washington.

Ottmann’s lecture on Tuesday marked an important moment for both Georgetown University and The Phillips Collection. With our collaboration, both organizations are hoping to maximize our global reach while educating the next generation of diplomats. By facilitating discussion among students over 6,000 miles away or convening global artists and diplomatic leaders together with students during the International Forum Weekend, the partnership expands the idea of the physical space a classroom can encompass and enables students and instructors to engage in the actual work of cultural diplomacy during “class” time. We look forward the many opportunities this collaboration will bring to engage students, professors, global leaders, and our members in the “global conversation through the language of modern art” Duncan Phillips envisioned.

Eliza French, Manager of Center Initiatives