INTRODUCTION TO THE SYMPOSIUM
Beauvais Lyons, “Llhuros – A Personal Story”
Lyons first learned about “The Civilization of Llhuros” in 1981 as a graduate student at Arizona State University. At the time he was working on a project fabricating and documenting an imaginary civilization from the “Hindoo Kush” region of Afghanistan. Norman Daly’s Llhuros had a significant impact on how he thought about archaeological fiction, and over subsequent years they regularly corresponded, and later co-authored an article about Llhuros that was published in Leonardo, the Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Daly was also part of a session titled “Artists’ Visions of Imaginary Cultures” that Lyons chaired in 1988 for the College Art Association. In this plenary presentation, Lyons will offer reflections on Norman Daly as both a mentor and influential artist, while also outlining goals for the symposium.
Beauvais Lyons is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of Tennessee where he has taught printmaking since 1985.As the Director of the Hokes Archives, his various fictive art projects have been presented in one-person exhibitions at more than 80 galleries and museums in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
THE EXHIBITION – THEN AND NOW
Marilyn Rivchin, “A Curatorial Conspiracy”
Rivchin recounts her role as a staff member (assisting museum director Thomas Leavitt) at the A.D. White Museum of Art at Cornell University where she worked with Norman Daly in organizing and presenting “The Civilization of Llhuros” in 1972. Rivchin also photographed Daly as he completed the works for the exhibition. She also worked with him to coordinate its many aspects which included the presentation of nearly 150 objects, as well as sound, poetry and explanatory texts. Rivchin also played a key role in the design and production of the exhibition catalogue. Her paper will offer a first-person account of the curatorial process in the showing of “The Civilization of Llhuros.”
Marilyn Rivchin is a filmmaker, photographer and videomaker who taught filmmaking and digital media at Cornell University from 1979 to 2012 in the department of Theatre, Film and Dance (currently Performing and Media Arts). Since retiring from full-time teaching. she continues living in Ithaca, New York, creating digital media work as a producer, director and/or editor of documentaries and experimental work. Marilyn received her B. A. from Barnard College in Art History, did graduate work in the History of Art at Cornell, completed an intensive program in 16mm Filmmaking at U.C.L.A. for professionals in other fields, and an M.F.A. from Cornell in Fine Arts in Photography and Cinema Theory. At Cornell she began a seven-year career in museum work, in 1967, first as an history of art graduate curatorial assistant; then assistant to the director at the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art where she co-curated the 1972 exhibition “The Civilization of Llhuros“.
Linda Fisher, “Wake Up! The Llhuroscian Soundscape”
In the creation of “Llhuros,” Norman Daly envisioned an interweaving of the visual installation with an energetic and emotional sound dimension. Time-based ‘objects’ flow freely into space, enlivening the ‘fixed’ visual objects a visitor encounters. Fisher will avoid an impulse to “sharply delineate, focus or draw logical conclusions” in the words of Norman Daly. She will share her discoveries, in particular the way the sound elements embrace or diverge from the narrative that underpins “Llhuros.” Finally, she suggests their relationships to perspectives, artifacts, characters, or events – or not. Join a journey into the imagined sonic world of everyday Llhuroscians, their gods and their rituals.
As a youngster, Linda Fisher knew Norman Daly as her mother’s artist friend. At the age of 23, now a musician in the synthesizer ensemble Mother Mallard, she attended the 1972 world premiere of “Llhuros” along with her mother, who had given voice to the Temple Virgin–a main musical theme composed by Daly. Experimental music composition and performance, web design, Buddhist study, semi-monasticism and other interlocking themes have defined Fisher’s life. Since 2008 she has been assisting David Daly in projects which support his father’s artistic legacy.
Elif Kamişli, “Llhuros and the 2019 Istanbul Biennial”
More than 100 artifacts from Norman Daly’s “The Civilization of Llhuros” were presented at the Pera Museum as part of the 16th Istanbul Biennial held in Istanbul, Turkey from September 14 – November 10, 2019. Curated by Nicholas Bourriaud, the biennial drew its premise from “The Seventh Continent,” the name given to the Great Pacific garbage patch—the 3.4 million square kilometer floating mass of mostly plastic debris adrift in the Pacific Ocean. In an effort to consider aspects of the Anthropocene, the biennial used Bourriaud’s concept of “Relational Anthropology” to present artworks that investigate the failure of human institutions and systems. As the first work of archeological fiction, the inclusion of “The Civilization of Llhuros” in the biennial served as a paradigm for “xenology,” a concept that regards culture as invasive. In this presentation, Kamişli will consider the role and impact of Llhuros in relation to the larger themes of the 16th Istanbul Biennial.
Elif Kamişli is an exhibition-maker and writer based in Istanbul, Turkey where she has been the exhibition manager of the Istanbul Biennial since 2014. Her recent book Notebooks was published by NEON Foundation, Athens, and her exhibition projects have been presented in Turkey, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Kamişli is a regular contributor to Sanat Dünyamız, a leading art magazine in Turkey.
NORMAN DALY THE EDUCATOR
T.K. Davis, “Color, Form and Space: Learning to See in Norman Daly’s Course”
Drawing from course archives on the “Civilization of Llhuros” website, as well his reflections on his studies in Norman Daly’s ‘Color, Form and Space’ course, Davis recalls the formative impact of taking this survey course in 1973-74 on his education. Some aspects of the course included Daly’s use of an intense Socratic method of questioning and visual analysis of form using two by three-foot color reproductions of artworks that were individually propped on the chalk tray of the lecture room. Aspects of this analysis included relationships of the work to contemporary art, as well as religious, economic, political and social influences on the works under consideration. As part of the course, Daly presented his own invented Llhurosian culture during the last class session when it was framed as a bona fide “archeological interest” of the artist, with the reveal of the fiction only in the course’s final moments, much to the astonishment of the students.
Thomas K. Davis is Professor of Architecture in the College of Architecture + Design at the
University of Tennessee Knoxville, where he has taught for 28 years. He was a Bachelor of Architecture student at Cornell University from 1972-1977, and later he received a Master of Architecture degree at Cornell in 2003. In 1973 and 1974, he was twice a student in Norman Daly’s ‘Color, Form and Space ‘course, a period in which the ‘Civilization of Llhuros’ was first being exhibited in the United States and Europe.
Debra Bermingham, “Color, Form and Space: Seeing a Mountain Move”
Informed by her studies with Norman Daly at Cornell University in 1974, Bermingham reflects on the ways in which Daly’s course “Color, Form and Space” impacted her as both artist and vigneronne. To this day, Bermingham applies the formal and creative lessons from Daly’s course in her creative life. Through this presentation, she will reflect on her time as Daly’s student, presenting different aspects of his teaching, including his principles of compositional “mechanics.” These include the use of dominant, subordinate and minor directions of attention, various uses of line, methods of breaking-up the picture plane, balance, sequence, and principles of unity and variety. As part of her talk, Bermingham will recount a specific lesson by Daly in which he presented an analysis of Cezanne’s painting “Mont Sainte-Victoire,” and through close and guided attention, helped his students see the image of the mountain “move.”
Debra Bermingham is an artist and co-owner of Bloomer Creek Vineyard in Hector, NY. Her work as an artist has been exhibited widely, and she has been awarded The Louise Nevelson Award in Art through the American Academy of Arts and Letters; The Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Medal from Cornell University; as well as two individual fellowships through the National Endowment for the Arts. From 1996 to 2003, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at Cornell University.
Andrea Simitch, “The Soul of the Object”
Using “The Civilization of Llhuros,” as well as other cultural examples (including the wunderkammer) as resources, in the Fall of 2021 Simitch assigned her architecture students a project in which they developed a collection of found objects and subsequently designed systems of display for the collected artifacts. The assignment examined the multiple narratives embedded within a discovered object, and how the construction of an archive, either as inventory, preservation, pre-dation or imaginary, had the capacity to redefine and expand individual narratives. The paper investigates how the container as context for the archive mediates the collection, how it is constructed to not just house a collection of objects but becomes complicit in its meanings.
Andrea Simitch is Professor of Architecture and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University and previous Chair of the Department of Architecture at Cornell University (2017-21). Simitch became acquainted with ‘Llhuros’ when she was an undergraduate at Cornell in the late 1970s.
The original symposium included a paper by Ali Blum titled “Mentor and Friend.”
We regret that Ms. Blum will not be able to participate in the symposium due to personal obligations.
LLHUROS AS A PARADIGM
Val Warke, “A Berserk Tale”
Warke presents a fictive art project that was first produced during a 2016 residency at the Bær Foundation in Hofsós, Iceland. The work ostensibly presents the research of two Swedish archeologists, the second of whom was charged with producing an appreciation of his senior colleague’s work for an intended festschrift. The subject of the research was a site in northern Iceland that was determined to have been the refuge of an outlawed Norse berserker, the subject of the elder scholar’s most celebrated work. However, in revisiting the work of his predecessor and with the assistance of the draftsman who originally documented the site, an entirely new—and troublingly antithetical—reconstruction emerges. The project manipulates various forms of archeological surveying and employs the strategy in Daly’s “The Civilization of Llhuros” of testing the critical sensibilities of the museum-goer.
Val Warke is Associate Professor of Architecture at Cornell University. He has been published in a number of journals, including Assemblage, A+U, and the Harvard Design Magazine, as well as many essays and texts on the work of “Morphosis.” Warke was an undergraduate student at Cornell from 1972-1976 when he studied with Norman Daly.
James Mansfield, “Lost in Llhuros?”
In the role of his alter-ego Dr. James Lattin, Mansfield will examine “Llhuros” in relation to the concept of “wayside archaeology,” a term coined to describe the study of everyday objects and locations. The paper will examine ways of upending concepts such as ‘historic landmarks’ and ‘museum treasures’ to inform our understanding of Llhuros today. Dr. Lattin sees “Llhuros” not just as an ancient civilization as presented by Norman Daly, but also a wider world of archaeological speculation, going back in time and into the future.
James Mansfield is an artist living and working in London, UK. He is the founder of the Imaginative Press, which produces a variety of artists’ publications, and is working on a PhD about the use of fiction in contemporary art practice.
Brooke W. Day, “Excavating the Gods of Llhuros and Capturing Mvohc”
Day will present her 2021 MFA thesis in Sculpture at Clemson University, which, like “The Civilization of Llhuros,” seeks to excavate and explore realities about the human condition through the guise of a fictive narrative. Like Daly, Brooke Day’s exhibition involves a narrative presenting fictional scientists who interpret the evidence presented as part of her exhibition. For her thesis project, the scientists develop new technology to reveal and understand zoological creatures living among us, which she calls ‘Mvohc’. Mvohc are morphic vessels of human consciousness, creatures that live among us, feed on our thoughts, and to some extent have domain over our minds. Day will also address commonalities shared between Mvohc and the sacred bird-god Aar-Tenn of Late Archaic Llhuros, and the relationship between these creatures and consciousness.
Brooke Day is an artist based in East Tennessee and is the two-time recipient of Honorable Mention in the 2017 and 2021 International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award. She received her MFA in Sculpture from Clemson University in 2021.
Thomas Doyle, “The Aura of the Object: From Fictive Archaeology through Arkology”
Doyle examines the concept of “aura” attributed to ancient artifacts, and ways they communicate—however obliquely—information about their time and place of origin. In this way, ancient artifacts share a commonality with contemporary art objects, which are sought by collectors for their scarcity and valued as vehicles that convey the human experience. In his paper Doyle connects the fabrication and documentation of artifacts from Llhuros, often weathered and coated with the kind of patina we might see on items encased in a museum vitrine, to his work with the American Arkology Society. The AAS is a fictional academic research organization which collects and analyzes “arks,” or time capsules with artifacts from the future. Doyle also relates the creation of AAS to the ways that Daly employs an institutional aesthetic, as well as a variety of artistic media in his construction of ‘Llhuros.’
Richard Purdy, “Schematic Methods in Culture Building”
Canadian artist Richard Purdy has created a variety of fictive art projects dating to the 1970s. His projects have included imaginary cartography, entomology, architecture, ethnography, and archaeological fictions such as his 1975-1980 “Ba Pa” project, an ancient southeast Asian culture, which was re-presented in 2005 at the Musée des Beaux-arts du Québec. As part of his paper, Purdy will address the challenges of creating coherence in the fabrication and documentation of an imaginary culture. Purdy also considers the role of schematics as a central driving force in culture building, and the role of an ethos that links all the manifestations of a culture together. For this presentation, he will also examine the ways that cultural forms are transmitted through history by creating a series of hand-made copies of copies (of copies) of reproductions of images of Llhuroscian art.
Richard Purdy is Professor Emeritus from the University of Quebec, Trois Rivieres and an interdisciplinary artist who has exhibited internationally and has created more than 19 public art projects in Canada.
LLHUROS IN CONTEXT – KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND DISCUSSION
Antoinette LaFarge, “Ancient and Artificial: The Civilization of Llhuros and Creative Ruination”
LaFarge examines the implications of the ruin, both real and fabricated as a source of aesthetic pleasure and cultural value. The paper positions works of archaeological fiction in this context. LaFarge addresses ways that Norman Daly created a wide range of ruined artifacts, from eroded bronze objects to broken ceramics to painting fragments, often derived from contemporary 20th century household objects. She also examines the use of ‘facsimiles’ as a concept in Daly’s presentation of “Llhuros.” The paper considers ways that “The Civilization of Llhuros” examines our underlying assumptions about knowledge, value, and power. It also considers the dual nature of presence and absence that afflicts ruins, thereby placing viewers into a state of cognitive dissonance.
Antoinette LaFarge is Professor of Digital Media, Department of Art, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine. She is author of the 2021 book Sting in the Tale: Art, Hoax and Provocation (Doppelhouse Press, Los Angeles).
Symposium Discussions Facilitated by Buzz Spector
Spector will wrap up each session by making some observations of his own and facilitating a discussion between presenters and the online audience. The final discussion, following LaFarge’s keynote address, will bring all the session themes, presenters and audience together.
Buzz Spector is an artist, writer, and emeritus professor of art at Washington University in St. Louis where he served as the dean of the College and Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts (2009–2013). Prior to this he was the chair of the art department at Cornell University (2001-2009).
Banner Image: Norman Daly’s ‘Votive of Stilt Walkers’ from the Early Archaic period of Llhuros. – Photo by Linda Fisher