Touch without Sight: Futurist Tactilism

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F. T. Marinetti, Sudan-Paris, 1920 (detail). Mixed media, including sponge, sandpaper, grater, wool, brush, silver-coated paper, silk, velvet, and feathers, on cardboard, 63 x 37 x 10 cm. Private collection

Lectures & Symposia

Touch without Sight: Futurist Tactilism

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

In 1921 F. T. Marinetti announced a new direction in Futurist artistic practice with the presentation of his first tactile panels on the stage of the Théâtre de l’Œuvre in Paris, followed by two manifestos, the “Futurist Manifesto of Tactilism” (1921) and “Toward the Discovery of New Senses” (1924). Tactile panels were composed of variously textured materials whose qualities were to be understood solely by touch; participants were blindfolded or otherwise temporarily deprived of sight in a “journey of the hands.”

In this lecture, Emily Braun, Distinguished Professor, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, documents how Marinetti’s Tactilism had specific roots in his personal experiences of trench warfare, the educational methods of Maria Montessori, and contemporary experimental psychology. As always, Marinetti’s creative endeavors had an ideological agenda and his Tactilism was no exception; nor was it intended as merely another form of avant-garde provocation. Instead, his emphasis on touch and its curative effects acknowledged the vulnerability of the “human machine” in the aftermath of the Great War. An exhibition viewing follows the lecture.

$12, $8 members. Free student tickets are no longer available; students with valid ID may purchase tickets for $5.