Visiting Scholar Seminar: Oliver Botar

"Becoming Active Partner" with Moholy-Nagy: The Theory and Practice of a Non-Visual Art of Experience in the "Dynamic-Constructive System of Energies"
Seminar, 30 March 2001

Visiting Scholar Oliver Botar presents his research.

Early 20th century discourses around nature affected architecture and art. Cultural historians, in my view, have failed to adequately contextualize Modernism, and therefore to properly historicize current practice. When not ignoring the interconnections between nature-centric ideology (what I refer to as “Biocentrism”) and Modernism, they have been denying it, emphasizing, instead, its anti-natural “mechanistic” aspects. Late Romantic and biologistic impulses characterize the phenomenon of Biocentrism most succinctly. Yet, it was not only those working in a biomorphic Modernist style whose work was informed by Biocentrism. Early 20th century Modernist cultural practitioners as diverse in their styles of production as Mies van der Rohe, Hannes Meyer, Herman Finsterlin, Hans Arp, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Bruno Taut, Raoul Hausmann, Lazar el Lissitzky, and László Moholy-Nagy, were steeped in one or another aspect of the Biocentric discourse intersection. This seminar focuses on the work of László Moholy-Nagy, and his “Dynamic-Constructive System of Energies”.

Oliver Botar obtained his Master in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Toronto. He continued to study Art History and received his PhD at the University of Toronto in 1998 with a dissertation entitled: “Prolegomena to the Study of Biomorphic Modernism: Biocentrism, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s ‘New Vision’ and Ernö Kàllai’s ‘Bioromantik’”. He has taught at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, and the University of Guelph. Since 1996 he has been assistant professor at the School of Art of the University of Manitoba. He has been involved as a curator, contributing to exhibitions and catalogues on Hungarian and Canadian modern art and design. As an editor of Hungarian Studies Review, he has greatly contributed to the study Hungarian modern art, architecture and urban planning.

Oliver Botar was a Visiting Scholar at the CCA in 2000-2001.

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