New publication from SMU Meadows School of the Arts examines artists' responses to historical traumas

"Places of a Present Past," edited by Chair of Art Noah Simblist, to launch in New York on Sept. 18

Places of a Present Past, a new book edited by Noah Simblist, chair and associate professor of art at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, and produced by Publication Studio Hudson, will have its official launch at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, September 18-20.

Places of a Present Past brings together three exhibitions, all showcasing the work of international video artists, that were presented at the Meadows School’s Pollock Gallery in 2014 and curated by Simblist and the Pollock Gallery’s 2014 curatorial fellow Sally Frater. These exhibitions shared a common theme: addressing the traces of trauma on particular sites and paying close attention to the lasting impacts of war. The exhibitions explored in the publication include Jin-me Yoon’s Extended Temporalities, which invoked the colonial relationship between Japan and Korea in the first half of the 20th century; the group show Where Are You From?, which included artworks by Aissa Deebi, Kamal Aljafari and Dor Guez recounting the story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; and the Sarah Morris film 1972, alluding to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, during which 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group – a film that pointed to the legacy of the Holocaust in Germany and beyond.

“The artworks in the book are bound together by a historiographical impulse,” said Simblist. “In some sense, these artists act as historians. However, they are less interested in the truth than the way we feel through the legacies of past traumas. They reveal the oblique ways that we repress historical trauma, burying it in the very sites of their origin. Places of a Present Past is filled with an archaeological ethic, metaphorically digging down, both spatially and psychologically, into the depths of transnational grief.”

Three events are currently scheduled, in North America and Europe, for the fall release of Places of a Present Past:

  • September 18, 7:30 p.m. at Wendy’s Subway, 722 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY
  • October 12 at Publication Studio Vancouver, 222 East Georgia St., Vancouver, British Columbia
  • October 25 at Publication Studio Rotterdam, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museumpark 25, Rotterdam, Netherlands

PDF versions of review copies of the book are available by contacting author Noah Simblist at Members of the public may purchase the book through the Publication Studio website.

For more information about Places of a Present Past, contact Patrick Kiley at Publication Studio,, or Noah Simblist at

About Publication Studio:

Publication Studio prints and binds books one at a time on-demand, creating original work with artists and writers we admire. We attend to the social life of the book. Publication Studio is a laboratory for publication in its fullest sense—not just the production of books, but the production of a public.

About Meadows School of the Arts:

The Meadows School of the Arts, formally established in 1969 at SMU, is one of the foremost arts education institutions in the United States. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, art, art history, arts management and arts entrepreneurship, communication studies, creative computation, dance, film and media arts, journalism, music and theatre. The goal of the Meadows School is to prepare students to meet the demands of professional careers. It is also committed to providing an ongoing opportunity for all SMU students to grow in the understanding and appreciation of the arts. The Meadows School is a leader in developing innovative outreach and community engagement programs, challenging its students to make a difference locally and globally by developing connections between art entrepreneurship and social change.

Photo: Patrick Kiley