Alexandra T. Vázquez
To See What We Hear. To Hear What We See
The Museo Reina Sofía’s Juan Antonio Ramírez Chair invites Alexandra T. Vázquez, an associate professor of NYU’s Institute of Performing Arts at the Tisch School of the Arts, to participate in its programme of master lectures, an annual event which reflects upon the historiography of art, coinciding with the start of the academic year of the MA in Contemporary Art History and Visual Culture, organised jointly by the Autonomous University of Madrid, the Complutense University of Madrid and the Museo Reina Sofía.
The programme for this edition includes a seminar and a lecture concerning music’s relationship with different experiences, objects and spaces, and also the methods, modes and approaches around what we feel we know about the visual.
Alexandra T. Vázquez is a researcher, writer and associate professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). Her study focuses on music, race and ethnicity, and she has worked at Princeton University (2008–2015) and been a postdoctoral researcher on the Program in Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale University (2006–2008). Moreover, she has published numerous works in academic journals and publications, and her first book Listening in Detail: Performance of Cuban Music (Duke University Press, 2013) won the American Studies Association’s Lora Romero Prize in 2014. More recently, she has published The Florida Room (Duke University Press, 2022) and is currently working on her next project: Music and Migrancy: Sounds Out of Place.
This encounter takes place in two parts: the first presents, through a set of surprise objects, certain ways of incorporating the intuitive revelations that underly thought and the writing of each one into research practice. How can we capture those small and difficult fragments of the ephemeral which can influence us by making our erudition sharper? What can we do when the archive disappoints? What or who should we go to when we want to break the relationship between who we are and our objects of study? These are a few of the questions addressed here.
The second part explores the interview format and its relationship to biography. Understood as a genre, the interview enables us to speak to people about writing, which in turn becomes a device which is able to take research in fascinating directions.
Nouvel Building, Study Centre
What would happen if music were a usual, expected and key component of any project and format from the art world? And if, for instance, the absence of music upon contemplating a painting or performance was perceived as uncomfortable restraint out of harmony with people? This lecture advocates music as a carrier of landscapes, extraordinary difficulties, seriousness and of vital and visceral knowledge with huge importance for education. In other words, with dimensions that go beyond the pleasure or usual physical enjoyment associated with music.
This lecture seeks to transit the different songs which illustrate and reveal how music manages to create visionary relations towards and between objects and different forms of expression. Music does not appear as “something that must be studied” from the acquisition collections of any museum, but is instead “something that must be brought” from productions on the street, in the cabaret or in the conservatoire. Music, built sound by sound across the centuries, can activate and expand, to a large degree, the way in which we perceive its aesthetics — and with teachings that take us far and wide. This is documented by the strident examples in this lecture, which come from Havana, the state of Bahía and al-Ándalus.
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and online platform