At this lecture and performance, Princeton University’s D. Graham Burnett and artist Sal Randolph, both members of the research consortium The Esthetical Society for Transcendental and Applied Realization, or ESTAR, will explore the group of archival documents known as the Nachtigall Convolute. They will sift through the compelling sources that have emerged from this uncertain archive, which is thought to reflect the activities of an intimate sodality of scholars, artists, and intellectuals (the Order of the Third Bird) based in Istanbul in the early 1940s. Attendees will have an opportunity to experiment with the techniques of “figuration” that seem to be at issue in these puzzling materials.
From Burnett and Randolph:
A bundle of 22 sheets rolled into a tube and tied with twine, the Nachtigall Convolute derives its name from a shared saliency of the documents thusly cylindricated: the majority allude conspicuously to an unnamed personage by means of a fetching cryptonym—to wit, “Nachtigall” (the German term for that familiar and musical bird known in English as the nightingale). Do these materials bear on the historicity of the Order of the Third Bird? It seems likely. Did this cosmopolitan cohort engage in ritualized practices of sustained attention to made things? There is evidence they did. And is it possible that their activities included the hitherto unattested effort to attend to an object not actually present—which is to say, a “missing” or “lost” object? Here is where things become urgent.
ESTAR, which now incorporates the Society of Esthetic Realizers, is an established body of private, independent scholars who work collectively to recover, scrutinize, and (where relevant) draw attention to the historicity of the Order of the Third Bird.
This program is presented in conjunction with the Harvard Art Museums’ forthcoming special exhibition From the Philosophy Chamber: Harvard’s Lost Collection, 1766–1820.
The event will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level.
Free admission. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway.
Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.