Navigating the Site 2017



“Navigation is not only a survey of landscape whose full scope is not given; it is also an exercise in the non-monotonic procedures of steering, plotting out routes, suspending navigational preconceptions, rejecting or resolving incompatible commitments, exploring the space of possibilities, and understanding each path as a hypothesis leading to new paths or a lack thereof – transits as well as obstructions.” Reza Negarestani

Navigating the Site focuses on navigation both as a series of gestures, instruments and figures shaping and generating new cognitive and concrete landscapes and as a key concept in contemporary philosophical and artistic debates.  

When trying to orientate within a site: where do we begin?

The landscape. It starts with a border. Or from a border.

The figures. Intentional or non-intentional, they cross borders by choice or by accident, and they, (un)intentionally bring or leave something behind or forward: travelers, refugees, cartographers, wanderers, smugglers, sailors, astronauts, traders…  

The vehicles. Ships (cargos, rafts, canoe, fishing boats, yacht), aircrafts, blimp and rockets, trains, cars, tanks, interfaces and platforms, algorithms, a border wall, LSD…

The instruments. Technological equipment and innovation (wheel, jet engine, computer chip), apparatuses of measure (astrolabe, GPS, algorithms), and fuel (wind, oil, human, animal or gravitational power, cognitive abductions). There is always potential for accident and failure and improvisation is often necessary.  

The landscape, figures and instruments co-determine the navigational path. Starting always from a specific locality (a coast, a town, the foot of a mountain) to navigate demands to mentally conceive of what the  ‘global’ space of navigation is or ought to be.

There are multiple forms of navigation (colonial or non colonial, led by the fury of gods, driven by psychedelic substances, forced by states violence, impelled by economic needs, touristic or for luxury pleasures…) which can never be immune from ideology and are implicitly or not driven by political agendas. Navigating cannot therefore be detached from questions of trade, globalism, infrastructure history, economy, as well as their political and social implications.

The small town of Marfa in West Texas as well as Houston were shaped by a concrete history of navigation and transportation: from the first ships crashing on the coast of Texas, to the birth of Marfa as a railroad waterstop; from the 1956 arrival in the port of Houston of the ship SS Ideal X with 58 steel containers on board tracing the route for what would become the new standardized global economy to the mass diffusion of the car economy shaping the urban topology  of Houston and transforming Marfa into an artistic hub open to the international tourism; from the first rocket launch in history to the circulation of oil. If the train, the car, the container and the rocket shaped our contemporary geo-social and cognitive terrains, what are today’s landscapes, vehicles, navigational instruments and figures? In the sea of big data, the abysses of post-truth politics, or platform capitalism, where do we begin? And what kind of commitment and gestures can artists produce within these stacked up sites?

Those questions will be explored over the year through two seminars, organized respectively in Houston (Cargo and Carriers), and Nantes (Bleeding at the Edges), inviting speakers from various fields to address those new navigational landscapes; a three-week intensive studio in Houston and Marfa with 14 graduate students from the University of Houston and Nantes School of Art (Plot Manifest #2) and in collaboration with a group of graduate students from HEAD-Geneva; and Marfa Sounding 2, a series of site-specific performances, sound installations, and conversations curated by Jennifer Burris Staton, and exploring the intersection of music and the visual arts in the development of Minimalism (co-produced with Marfa Live Arts).  

blue_hobo_code PROGRAM – HOUSTON

Cargo and Carriers: Sites, Zones, Borders

Cargo and Carriers: Sites, Zones, Borders is a program organized by Abinadi Meza at the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at the University of Houston. The program consists of seminars, public lectures, concerts, readings and film screenings that explore contemporary spatial practices through concepts related to inter-agency, interventions, transference and transmission. The featured practitioners and methods engage poetic sites as well as concrete geographies, social and material relations, systems of containment, communication and control, and the emergence of the unexpected.

January 17, 5:30PM–8:30PM

Juan Garcia, David Dove & Ivette Román-Roberto

Acuerdo de Música Libre (Free Music Agreement)

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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January 31, 5:30PM–8:30PM

Roberto Minervini

A Cinema of the Real

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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February 14, 6:00PM–8:30PM

Eyal Weizman

Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability

Moore’s School of Music 108, 3333 Cullen Boulevard, University of Houston
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February 21, 5:30PM–8:30PM

Brandon Lamson

Un-caging Voice: Carceral Spaces and the Poetic Imagination

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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February 28, 5:30pm–8:30pm & February 29, 1-3pm

Jill Magid

Traps as Artworks and Artworks as Traps

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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March 7, 5:30pm–8:30pm & March 9, 5-7pm

Jeff VanderMeer

Storytelling in the Anthropocene

Honors College Commons, MD Anderson Library, University of Houston
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March 20, 4-5pm

Scott Magelssen

The Creation of the American Astronaut

Honors College Commons, MD Anderson Library, University of Houston
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March 22, 5:30-8:30pm

Ed Keller

From Planetary [Human] Timescapes to the Cosmopolitical Gesture

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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April 4, 5:30pm–8:30pm & April 6, 8-10pm

Jacob Kirkegaard

A Matter of Sound

Fine Arts Building 110 & SITE Gallery Houston, 1502 Sawyer Street
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April 11, 5:30pm–8:30pm & April 12, 1-3pm

Mariam Ghani

Speculative Histories

Fine Arts Building 110 & Architecture Building 143, University of Houston
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April 18, 5:30pm–8:30pm

Geoff Manaugh

A Burglar's Guide to the City

Fine Arts Building 110, 4188 Elgin Street, University of Houston
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blue_hobo_code PROGRAM – NANTES

Bleeding at the Edges

Bleeding at the Edges is a series of interventions drawing its title from Robert Smithson’s statement “my thoughts as well as the material that I’m dealing with are always coming loose, breaking apart and bleeding at the edges”, organized by Ida Soulard at the Nantes Art School during the spring and autumn of 2017. Guest speakers are invited to reflect on the texture, topology and materials of contemporary landscapes (be they algorithmic, sonic, technological, ecological, geological,…) and to determine modes of navigation within them through the presentation of their own artistic practices. The seminar is divided in two parts, a conference open to the public and a series of studio visits understood as a moment of intensification for the students participating to the DUST studio.

March 15th at 6:00PM–8:00PM

Melanie Bühler

Responsive Topographies and Humming Networks
Where Artworks live Today

Nantes Art School Amphitheater
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March 22th 6:00PM–8:00PM

Fabien Giraud

Le site comme sécession

Nantes Art School Amphitheater
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blue_hobo_code Marfa Sounding

DUST is collaborating with Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa to present Marfa Sounding over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29, 2017 (Marfa, TX).  This program consists in a series of free site-specific performances and conversations in locations around Marfa and explores the intersection of music, dance, and the visual arts in the development of Minimalism.

Organized by Marfa Live Arts, this concert series emerges from Staton’s 2015 residency hosted by Fieldwork: Marfa. Marfa Sounding is produced by JD DiFabbio with support from Cate Cole Schrim.

May 26th at 7:00PM

Anna Halprin

Screening of Documentary Films that Showcase Anna Halprin’s Work and Influence
Introduction by Nina Martin and Jennifer Burris Staton

Crowley Theater, Marfa
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May 27th 7:00PM

Stephen Petronio

Evening with Stephen Petronio

Building 98, 131 Bonnie Street, Marfa
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May 28th at 5:00PM

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener

New Work by Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, with music by Phillip Greenlief

Antelope Hills Road
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blue_hobo_code STUDIO

Every year a group of students from Nantes and a group of students from Houston travel together to Marfa. They spend three weeks in the region creating new work and their stay is concluded by an exhibition in Marfa. The works produced in Marfa are exhibited later in Houston and Nantes, at the two schools or in partner venues.

The DUST studio course is offered on an application basis to a limited number of graduate students from École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Nantes Metropole and the College of the Arts at the University of Houston. Participation is also available to international partner programs.


Plot Manifest #2

Houston & Marfa
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Léa Bouanich
Sarah Bonnet
Michaël Branchu
Margaux Foucret
Karl Heymann
Zitian Pang

Charis Ammon
Erin Carty
Jimmy Castillo
Alton DuLaney
Jesus Gonzalez
Karen Martinez
Alex Naumann
Melissa Noble


Abinadi Meza
Ida Soulard
The University of Houston
Fieldwork: Marfa


Beaux Arts Nantes
Place Dulcie September
44000 Nantes, France
+33 2 40 35 90 20

college of the arts

3333 Cullen Blvd, Room 120
Houston, TX 77204-4017



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