PNCA Press Center

Thomas Zummer Comes to PNCA for Artist Residency and Exhibition

Release date: 06/18/12

Media Release
June 12, 2012

Lisa Radon, Communications Specialist 971-255-5528

Becca Biggs, Director of Communications 971-255-5511

Thomas Zummer Comes to PNCA for Artist Residency and Exhibition, Thomas Zummer: a partial retrospective of works I should have done

Exhibition | Thomas Zummer: a partial retrospective of works I should have done
Feldman Gallery + Project Space – PNCA 1241 NW Johnson, Portland
June 21-August 5, 2012
Opening reception, June 21, 2012 5:30 pm

Swigert Commons, PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson, Portland
June 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm

PORTLAND, OR – JUNE 12, 2012 – The Feldman Gallery + Project Space and the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies at the Pacific Northwest College of Art bring internationally acclaimed philospher and artist Thomas Zummer to Portland in June for a residency, lecture, and exhibition of his works entitled, Thomas Zummer: a partial retrospective of works I should have done, which opens June 21 with a reception at 5:30 pm in the Gallery and runs through August 5, 2012. The exhibition spans the course of Zummer’s career with more than 30 drawings, prints, and sculptures. Zummer’s work is enriched by the fruits of his rigorous philosophical investigations and critical theoretical work focusing on continued exploration of ideas of Michel Foucault, for whom Zummer was a research assistant at Berkeley, and the history of technology including his obsession with robots.

Zummer’s residency is hosted by the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program, chaired by Tracey Cockrell. While in residence at PNCA, Zummer will give a public lecture on June 21 at 6:30 pm in Swigert Commons at PNCA’s Main Campus building at 1241 NW Johnson. Zummer will also be working closely with PNCA’s Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program as a guest participant in classes and conducting studio visits with MFA candidates. This is not the first time Zummer has come to PNCA. At the invitation of MK Guth, then chair of the MFA in Visual Studies program, Zummer came to PNCA in 2009 as an artist in residence with MFA candidates at Caldera.

Thomas Zummer: a partial retrospective of works I should have done is subtitled in the artist’s hand on the gallery wall, “and a few that I did do.” It is an exhibition about photography that has no photography in it. Rather, it’s a show about the apprehension, arrestment, fixation of an image, of what happens to it when we try to capture and image. It is about the relationship between representation (re-presentation) and reference, that to which the photo refers or purports to capture. It is about the complex performance process in which we engage to capture images, and the passage of those images through various states via various media which point to the invisible apparatus for the production of that image. So in a sense, it is an exhibition about the archeology of contemporary image. At the same time, as his hand-inscribed wall text will suggest, this is an exhibition about the duality inherent in the word, “abstraction,” which means both to draw away from and to draw out of such that any representation, no matter the aim at fidelity, participates in both eliciting from and departing from the content of the original. And of course, as the title suggests, this partial retrospective is a show with a sense of humor, seen especially in his absurd architectural proposals such as his beautifully impossible rotating UN building.

This exhibition is part of the Feldman Gallery 2012-13 exhibition series which has been supported by a $40,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This is the College’s first grant from this prestigious national foundation. With exhibitions from New York’s Drawing Center, Chicago’s Threewalls, the Critical Art Ensemble, and a group show in honor of the 100th birthday of John Cage, the series includes painting, drawing, object, and installation topped off with thought-provoking public programs.

Thomas Zummer is an independent scholar, writer, artist and curator. His drawings, media, and sculptural works have been exhibited worldwide, and he is the author of various essays on philosophy and media. He is currently completing a book-length study, Intercessionary Technologies: Database, Archive, Interface, on the early history of reference systems, and a small book on photography. Mr. Zummer has curated exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, CinéClub/Anthology Film Archives, Thread Waxing Space, the Katonah Museum of Art, and the Palais des Beaux-Arts/Brussels. In 1994 he curated CRASH: Nostalgia for the Absence of Cyberspace, with Robert Reynolds, one of the first major exhibitions to have a significant portion of works as digital/online or other forms of transmission. He and Mr. Reynolds also edited the book accompanying the exhibition. In 1995 he won 5th Prize in the ACA/CODA Architectural Design Competition for the City of Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics.

Thomas Zummer is a frequent lecturer on philosophy, aesthetics, and the history of technology, and has taught at Brown University, New York University, The New School, Rhode Island School of Design, the Transart Institute/Linz, and Tyler School of Art/Temple University. He is currently a Regular Visiting Professor in the Transmedia programme/post-graduate at the Hogeschool Sint-Lukas/Universite Leuven in Brussels, and Faculty in Philosophy at the Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinare Studien/European Graduate School (EUFIS/EGS), Saas-Fee, Switzerland. In the US he is Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Graphic and Information Design at Central Connecticut State University. Thomas Zummer holds a PhD in Philosophy and Media/Communications Studies, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

With an extensive educational background that originated in paleozoology, philosophy, and cinema, Zummer increasingly focused on philosophy, studying with Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida at Yale University in the Comparative Literature department in the 80s, then working as a research assistant to Michel Foucault at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1981-86 Zummer studied with Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Paul Ricoeur, and John Searle at the University of Toronto, Institute for Semiotics and Structural Studies.

PNCA prepares students for a life of creative practice and has been an influential force in art and design education in the Pacific Northwest since its founding in 1909. Today, PNCA enrolls over 600 students in 15 undergraduate and graduate programs, and another 1,500 students through its continuing education programs. PNCA’s graduate programs are part of its Ford Institute for Visual Education (FIVE): an MFA in Visual Studies, a Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies, an MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, an MFA in Collaborative Design, and an MFA in Applied Craft and Design developed with the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the first inter-institutional degree of its kind in the US.

PNCA is actively involved in Portland’s cultural life through exhibitions and a vibrant public program of lectures and internationally recognized visiting artists, designers, and creative thinkers. Portland Monthly, in its January 2012 issue, called PNCA “a creative class crown jewel.” With the support of FIVE, the College has an operating partnership with the nationally acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Craft. For more information, visit

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