This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Search for order through tourism and travel

Excerpts from UB faculty member’s book part of anthology, Chicago art exhibit

Published: February 17, 2005

Contributing Editor

Excerpts from a book by a UB faculty member are included in an anthology of writing about travel, tourism and globalism that accompanies a major exhibition mounted by Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.

Mark Gottdiener, professor in the Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences, is the author of the award-winning book "Life in the Air: Surviving the New Culture of Air Travel," which, when published in 2001, inaugurated a new field, the sociology of air travel.

The new exhibit, "Universal Experience: Art, Life and the Tourist's Eye," which will be on display through June 5, is designed to engage viewers on many levels and heighten their awareness of what it means to be a tourist. It addresses such tourist-related issues as spectacle, architecture, authenticity, history, souvenirs and anthropology.

The exhibit represents 70 international visual artists and 85 writers whose work relates to tourism and living abroad. Trisha Van Eck, curatorial coordinator and curator of artists' books at MCA, edited the show's catalogue, which she calls "an anthology of critical texts, color reproductions and writings about the artwork."

"Self-discovery through a complex and sometimes arduous search for an Absolute Order is a basic theme of our civilization and of this exhibition," she says.

This search is the subject of Gottdiener's analysis and, says Van Eck, "can be traced through the travel-related stories of Odysseus, Aeneas, Chaucer, Christopher Columbus, Gulliver, Jules Verne, Jack Kerouac and Bruce Chatwin, as well as such phenomena as spiritual pilgrimages, diasporas, Western ethnography and Mao's Long March.

"What began as the quest of a hero (Gilgamesh) developed into the goal of an organized group (the Crusaders) into the mark of status of an entire social class (the Grand Tour of the British 'gentleman'), eventually becoming a universal experience (the tourist)," she adds.

Curated by Francesco Bonami, the Manilow Senior Curator at MCA, with assistant curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm, the exhibition will occupy the entire MCA building, as well as outdoor spaces. It will feature a broad range of works ranging from large-scale installations and sculptures to more intimate photographic and video work.

Artists represented include enormously influential conceptual artists Chris Burden, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol; filmmaker and installation artist Matthew Buckingham; Swiss installation artist Thomas Hirschorn; American poet, sculptor and installation artist Vito Acconci; and Doug Aiken, who pushes the limits of video, narrative and three-dimensional display to explore the nature of cinematography and art.

Gottdiener also is the author of other books about the sociology of travel and tourism, among them "Las Vegas—The Social Production of an All-American City" and "The Theming of America," the first book to explore the origins, nature and future of themed environments in our information-overloaded world.