Cultural perspectives on flesh from the 1980s to now., 19 November 2016

DRAF Studio | Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Cultural perspectives on flesh from the 1980s to now.

DRAF invites art historians, writers and activists to discuss the changing meaning of flesh from the 1980s to the present day. Their research encompasses the AIDs crisis, emergent technologies and concepts of ‘fluid identity’, and their impacts on flesh as cultural material.

This event coincides with Streams of Warm Impermanence, a group exhibition of contemporary artworks that articulate visions of informed flesh, and historical works that point to key moments of shift in artists’ engagement with the body. As they infect, pollinate or mutate through networks, all bodies have the potential to be “trans-” in its literal meaning: across, through, beyond. This event will be streamed live on this page, in partnership with This is Tomorrow.

PROGRAMME

2pm

Writer Matthew McLean responds to the premise of Streams of Warm Impermanence. Seeking to characterise models of corporeality in the practice of today’s
emerging artists, his talk incorporates perspectives from writers including Mark Greif, Marquand Smith and Paul Preciado.

3.30pm

Writer Tommaso Speretta and art historian and activist Simon Watney give a historical and theoretical overview of the AIDs crisis in the US and UK respectively, and discuss its cultural legacies. They are joined in conversation by writer Olivia Laing, whose forthcoming book Everybody asks “what it means to inhabit a body… that must necessarily age, sicken and die, that is subject to violence, and yet which remains a potent vehicle for both human connection and political liberation”.

5pm

Lecturer and Researcher Cadence Kinsey presents ‘Lo Fidelity’, a new paper exploring the exhibition theme of ‘fluid identity’ in terms of a challenge to representation. Focusing on the current wave of interest in the concept of ‘trans’ and its relationship to early debates in the 1990s, she looks at how emergent networked technologies reconfigured models of the subject and presented both new possibilities and new problems for the representation of the body.

The exhibition Streams of Warm Impermanence will be on display 12-6pm.

Dr Cadence Kinsey is a Lecturer in Recent & Contemporary Art at the University of York. Her research focuses on the relationships between art and technology, with a focus on questions of gender, sexuality and subjectivity.

Olivia Laing is a columnist for frieze and writes on art and culture for the Guardian, Observer and New York Times. Her most recent book is The Lonely City (2016, Canongate).

Matthew McLean is a writer and editor based in London. He is a regular contributor to frieze, and in 2016 co-edited the frieze A-Z of Contemporary Art.

Tommaso Speretta is an independent writer, editor and curator who has worked for the Venice Biennale and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway. He is the author of the book REBELS REBEL. AIDS, Art and Activism in New York, 1979–1989 (MER. Paper Kunsthalle, 2014), and his articles and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Domus, Flash Art and 032c. With artist Bjarne Melgaard he co-organised the MA program ‘Beyond Death: Viral Discontents and Contemporary Notion About AIDS’ at the IUAV University in Venice, as well as the exhibition Baton Sinister as part of Norway’s contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale. He is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of the Arts London, focusing his research on the relationship between AIDS and video art in the 1980s.

Simon Watney is a British writer, art historian, and AIDS activist. He is author of the seminal 1987 article, ‘The Spectacle of AIDS’, and has published books including Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS and the Media, 1987 and Imagine Hope: AIDS and the Gay Identity, 2002. He has been actively involved in AIDS education and service provision since the early 1980s, and has written widely about and been closely involved with questions of AIDS and representation in areas ranging from from the mass media to fine art practices.

Schedule

  • Tue 25 October 2022

    Art Night / performance commission by Tai Shani at Fabric, London

    Art Night and the Museum of London are pleased to announce the presentation of a new performance commission by Tai Shani at Fabric, London this Autumn, at 8pm on 25th October. The performance will take the form of a chamber play and is Shani’s first major performance project since DC: Semiramis for which she was nominated and collectively won the Turner Prize in 2019. It will be one of her most ambitious works to date. The collaboration is a precursor to Art Night’s transition to a national, biennial contemporary art festival, with the first new model festival planned for 2023 and to be announced in the Autumn. This work by Tai Shani will be re-staged for the 2023 festival.

    The play will premiere at London’s iconic nightclub Fabric, adjacent to West Smithfield, the Museum of London’s soon-to-be new home. The special “one-night only” show will be broadcast live on digital channels to enable access for a global audience with the assistance of media partner This is Tomorrow. My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be. (Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life) draws upon Smithfield’s history as one of London’s earliest execution sites and oscillates between somatic histories of political evil and love as an emancipatory power.

    The collaboration also celebrates the Museum of London’s impending relocation to West Smithfield and follows the launch of the Museum of London Docklands’ major exhibition Executions, which traces the history of public executions from the 12th to the 19th century.

    My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be. (Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life) is inspired by various sources; classic works of literature including Destroy, She Said by Marguerite Duras, the writing of scholars including Jackie Wang and works by filmmakers such as Jacques Rivette. Shani’s commission is a poetic meditation on various historical resistance movements and groups, the spiritual dimensions of anti-supremacism, intersectional queer feminism, communism and revolutionary thinking to recognise the emancipatory power of love and pleasure as a catalyst for radical change.

    Typical of Shani’s practice, My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be will deploy a skillful interplay of dialogue and narration. Shani will use recurring moods and motifs to explore eroticism, dark powers, mystical experiences, feminist theory and the theme of Revolution – embodied in this performance as a ghost.

    The play will feature an original live score composed by Shani’s long term collaborator Maxwell Sterling and Richard Fearless (Death in Vegas) alongside digital animations by Adam Sinclair also Shani’s long term collaborator. The play will also feature jewellery and set design by Shani.

    The commission is accompanied by a dedicated creative engagement programme developed in collaboration with All Change led by arts educator and creative producer Dhiyandra Natalegawa. The creative engagement programme will consist of a series of participant-led workshops and creative outcomes, shaped around the key themes and creative approaches in Shani’s work. The project is part of All Change’s B Creative programme: an arts activism programme for young women by young women, working with inspiring artists.