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2020 SPE Annual Conference Schedule

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DIALOGIC: Women, Humor, Empathy and Representation

Emily Peacock (I), Mona Hajiaghabozorgi (I), Elizabeth Claffey (I), Abbey Hepner (L)

Friday, March 06 - 1:00PM to 2:45PM
Galleria III&IV

Comedy: The Gatekeeper of Empathy, Emily Peacock
The human condition is absolutely absurd. It is hard, sad and devastating sometimes the only thing left to do is laugh. I use humor in my work to confront social stigmas around death and mental illness. For decade, I have collaborated with my family to create videos and photographs which examine and celebrate this bond. Family history and relationships, domesticity, and personal loss and tragedy are the foundation of my work. In the last four years I have experienced divorce, the passing of my mother, getting remarried, and the birth of my child. Navigating these experiences is strangely humorous.

Objet Fatale: Photography and Representations of Female Subjects, Mona Hajiaghabozorgi
Contemporary global society too frequently treats women like objects at the expense of their well-being and their human rights. Today's contested political and cultural climate necessitates a reconsideration of photography as indicator of power, gender, and identity reflecting or deflecting the objectification of women. As an artist creating the photo-sculptural body of work Objet Fatale, I reveal the possibility to change (or at least interrogate) the epidemic formula of narrowly objectifying representations of female identity. While also highlighting the paradoxical nature of simultaneous value and oppression, my work communicates the idea that objectification of women occurs across countries, societies, and religions.

Matrilinear: Including Women's Knowledge and Experience in the Public Narrative, Elizabeth Claffey
This presentation examines the role of women's knowledge and storytelling in developing identity, a more global historical narrative, and deep connections within the community. The pieces discussed span several bodies of work that address invisible labors, domestic space and its influence on personhood, and the materiality of family life. 

Virtual Reality: An Empathy Machine? Abbey Hepner
Virtual Reality works such as "The Machine to be Another" (BeAnotherLab) and journalistic stories presented in 360-degree photos and video, suggest that VR activates mirror neurons, placing a viewer in someone else's shoes. In 2018, I created a series of 360-degree photographs of anatomical and operating theaters, former mental institutions, and in present-day digital anatomical theaters--spaces where visualization technologies are used to view the body such as MRI machines. This work led me to research and question the idea that the immersive perspective of VR increases empathy, and ask: what might be the positive outcomes or recourse in believing this?


Abbey Hepner
Abbey Hepner
Elizabeth Claffey
Elizabeth Claffey
Emily Peacock
Emily Peacock
Mona Hajiaghabozorgi
Mona Hajiaghabozorgi

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