Maggie L. Popkin & Katherine Balch

Monday, March 8, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Color photograph of a very pale green ancient glass vessel painted with architectural elements, horses, and geometric patterns

Detail of the Populonia Bottle (ca. 275–325), which was likely made as a souvenir, in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass

Maggie L. Popkin
Reimagining the Roman Empire through Its Sports Souvenirs

Although often overlooked by scholars in favor of more monumental art and architecture, souvenirs of places, people, and events from the Roman Empire played a critical role in shaping shared memory and knowledge and constructing imagined cultural affinities. This talk presents work in progress about ancient souvenirs and material popular culture related to Roman circus racing and gladiatorial combat. In many ways the equivalent of modern sports merchandise, these seemingly ordinary objects illuminate perceptions of athletes in antiquity, emerge as technologies of power that structured social relationships both in and out of Rome, and cause us to rethink the role of Rome in the popular imagination.

Maggie L. Popkin is the Andrew Heiskell Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies and Robson Junior Professor, Associate Professor, in the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University.

Katherine Balch
Play Time: Found Objects and Explorations of Process in My Recent Work

For her shoptalk, Katherine Balch will share a bit about her recent compositional process, with particular attention to the role of “found sounds” in her work. Her interactions with quotidian objects—thimbles, chopsticks, aluminum cans, plastic bags, gravel, you name it—increasingly inform the sonic gestures and textures she imagines, then try to write down. In this way, her work resonates with composer John Cage’s query: “What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life—not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.”

Katherine Balch is the Elliott Carter Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition and a composer based in New York.

The shoptalks will be held in English.

Video is not available for this event.