Posts tagged the avant-garde

Socialism, Literature and the Radiant Future seminar

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Wednesday 7th March, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
Room 257, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Matthew Taunton (Queen Mary, University of London)
‘Socialism, Literature and the Radiant Future: Before and After 1917’

Abstract: The idea that a “radiant future” (in Zinoviev’s phrase) was just around the corner was central to the Soviet myth. But how were Western ideas about the future affected by the advent of the Bolshevik revolution? This paper will suggest that the bright eyed visions of the future prevalent in the fin de siècle and the Edwardian period were increasingly replaced, after 1917, by sectarian debates about Russia. The future had become a spatial, rather than a purely temporal entity – whether it was to be welcomed as the true democracy (Shaw, the Webbs) or feared as a totalitarian nightmare (Orwell, Koestler, Nabokov). Speculative fictions like those of Morris, Bellamy, and Wells gave way to anti-Communist texts like Darkness at Noon, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Bend Sinister, and endorsements of Stalinism by Day Lewis, Shaw and others. This paper explores a range of ways in which ‘the future’ had to be rethought in light of the events of 1917.

PLEASE NOTE: We have changed seminar rooms this week and will be in Regent Street room 257.

Scratch Orchestra Dealer Concert Report

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Stefan’s report on the most excellent Scratch Orchestra event at the Culturgest, Porto, as part of their Cornelius Cardew: The Freedom of Listening exhibition, is now available here and also below the break.

Continue reading Scratch Orchestra Dealer Concert Report

The Modernist Muse Programme Announced

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Westminster English Colloquium #15
“No Hawkers: No Models”: The Vicissitudes of the Modernist Muse
Saturday 19th June 2010, The Pavilion, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W1W

10.00  Coffee
10.15  Introduction

10.30 – 11.30  Becky Bowler (Sheffield), The strange poses of an untrained dancer’: performance and visual identity in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage

11.30 -12.30  Hana Leaper (Liverpool), ‘Caught and tangled in a woman’s body?’: The dualities of the artist’s body in self-portraits by Vanessa Bell, Gwen John and Laura Knight

12.30 – 2.00  Lunch

2.00 – 3.00  Emma West (Independent Scholar), This is My Life: Kay Boyle and Modernist Women’s Autobiographics

3.00 – 4.00 Lucy Howarth (Plymouth), ‘Dress address name’: Fashioning the Modernist Self

4.15 – 5.15   Jane Goldman (Glasgow), Laughing Torso: Muse, Model, Creatrix (The Vicissitudes of Nina Hamnett, Modernist Bohemian, Artist and Writer)

5.15 – 5.30  Roundtable discussion

See the Call for Papers here.

Revisiting the Scratch Orchestra

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The IMCC’s resident activist artist, and ex-member of the Scratch Orchestra, Stefan Szczelkun, will be taking part in a performance, with Keith Rowe and Carole Finer, as part of Cornelius Cardew and the Freedom of Listening, curated by Dean Inkster, at the Culturgest, Porto on Saturday 15th May. Later on the same evening Stefan will also be in conversation and showing a selection of excerpts from his Active Archives video project.

The Porto exhibition traces the career of the English avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew, and includes scores and vast archival material of the experimental performances developed by Cardew and the members of the Scratch Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1969, along with posters from the period following Cardew’s decision in the mid-1970s to renounce his work as an avant-garde composer and devote his energy to politics.

Archigram Archival Project

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Congratulations to our colleagues in Architecture. The magnificent Archigram Archival Project, some four years in the making, launches at Westminster’s Regent Street building on April 19th. Days of online browsing lie ahead.

Once it’s up and running on the 19th, the website will be here:

The Modernist Muse: Call for Papers

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Westminster English Colloquium #15
“No Hawkers: No Models”: The Vicissitudes of the Modernist Muse
Saturday 19th June 2010, The Pavilion, University of Westminster, 101 New Cavendish Street, London W1W

Keynote speaker: Jane Goldman (University of Glasgow)

In the spirit of Rhythm magazine’s (1911-1913) declared editorial remit – to cover the widest ‘manifestations of modernism in every province of art’ – this conference will seek to expand those categories structured round the hegemony of painting, sculpture, and literature, by looking especially at what might be considered gestural modernism, that is the experimental social aesthetics, or self-fashioning which vied with bourgeois norms. The impact of modern life on the founding processes of subjectivity was expressed in newly considered metropolitan modes of the material of identity – dress, interior décor, dance styles, cabaret/performance, photography, cinema, music, and sex. While modernist masquerades of virile masculinity were adopted by Augustus John and Wyndham Lewis, the swaggering style of the gipsy, or the apache, required emancipated women to support it. This conference aims to explore the especial difficulties and excitements of negotiation undergone by women in pre-WW1 London in their cultural positioning as artist, muse or model, or as was often the case, in these interchangeable roles.

Papers are invited on unnoticed or sidelined texts and the ways that they explore the artistic self, both structured and structuring, and that look at how modernist women produced their artistic identity or ‘enacted biography’. Possible subjects for papers: Vorticist artists sidelined by their male contemporaries: Helen Saunders, Jessica Dismorr, Kate Lechmere, and others; Jean Rhys, Katherine Mansfield and Mary Butts, who fictionalised their experiences as variously chorus girl, artist’s model, film extra, witch, dope addict and prostitute; the memoirs and anecdotes of ‘celebrity’ artists’ models, e.g. Dolores, Puma (Minnie Lucy Channing), Betty May, Viva (Booth) King, Euphemia Lamb, Lillian Shelley; the work of dancers such as Margaret Morris, Gertrude Hoffmann, Alice Mayes, Lydia Sokolova …

Proposals of around 300 words should be sent by no later than May 1st to Anne Witchard:

The game of war

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Tuesday 16th February, 3.00-5.00pm
Westminster Forum, 5th Floor, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, W1T 3UW

Richard Barbrook (University of Westminster)
‘What’s the actual title? The Game of War: Understanding Situationist’

Hosted by our nextdoor neighbours in the Centre for the Study of Democracy, colleague and fellow traveller Richard Barbrook talks about Guy Debord and Class Wargames. Free to all.

Find out more about Class Wargames here.

The Future Papers, Part One: Cunningham & Noys

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As promised, we present here the first in a short selection of transcriptions of talks from the recent series on ‘The Future’ at the David Roberts Art Foundation. In the following post we have David Cunningham’s introduction to the series along with Ben Noys’s Ballard paper (which can be found up on his own blog). Further papers by Stephen Melville and Garin Dowd will be posted soon. Enjoy.

1. ‘Introduction: The Tomorrow That Never Was

David Cunningham 

I want to begin with a short story by the writer William Gibson, entitled ‘The Gernsback Continuum’ and published in 1981. You can read it here. In the story, Gibson’s narrator (a hack photographer) is engaged to work on an illustrated history of ‘American Streamlined Moderne’, with the working title The Airstream Futuropolis: The Tomorrow That Never Was: ‘“Think of it … as a kind of alternate America: a 1980 that never happened. An architecture of broken dreams”,’ one of the story’s characters tells him. ‘And as I moved among these secret ruins’, the narrator continues, ‘I found myself wondering what the inhabitants of that lost future would think of the world I lived in.’ Thus progressively propelled into a state of half-paranoiac and half-melancholic delirium, accompanied by hallucinations of a ‘dream Tucson thrown up out of the collective yearning of an era’ – a city ‘soaring up through an architect’s perfect clouds to zeppelin docks and mad neon spires’ – the narrator is only finally returned to the sanity of the present by an immersion in the very seediest aspects of a very contemporary reality. 

Continue reading The Future Papers, Part One: Cunningham & Noys

Allan Stoekl public lecture

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Professor Allan Stoekl (Penn State University), ‘The Drift: Surrealism, Situationism and Postsustainable Strategies of Gleaning’

Friday 27 November, 17.30-19.00, followed by reception
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R

Free Admission! All welcome!

Organised in association with the conference Surrealism, Post-War Theory and the Avant-Garde

Surrealism, Post-War Theory and the Avant-Garde

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Friday 27 – Saturday 28 November 2009

17.15 – 19.00, 27 November

10.00 – 18.30, 28 November (with registration from 9.30)

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London


Special Keynote Address: Professor Allan Stoekl (Penn State), ‘The Drift: Surrealism, Situationism and Postsustainable Strategies of Gleaning’

Friday 27 November, 17.30-19.00, followed by reception

Saturday Speakers: Lucy Bradnock (Getty Research Institute), David Cunningham (University of Westminster), Jonathan Eburne (Pennsylvania State University), Jill Fenton (Queen Mary, University of London), Patrick ffrench (Kings College, University of London), Steven Harris (University of Alberta, Edmonton), Alyce Mahon (Trinity College, Cambridge), Gavin Parkinson (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Michael Richardson (independent scholar).

Ticket/entry details: £10. Please send a cheque made payable to ‘Courtauld Institute of Art’ to: Research Forum Events Coordinator, The Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, clearly stating that you wish to book for the ‘Surrealism, Post-War Theory and the Avant-Garde conference’. Or call 020 7848 2785/2909 to make a credit card booking. Or, for further information, send an email to

Programme can be downloaded here.


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A series of events programmed by the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster, at The David Roberts Art Foundation Fitzrovia as part of their current exhibition ‘Sculpture of the Space Age’, curated by Raimundas Malasauskas.

Thursday November 5th 2009, 6:30-8:30: THE FUTURE

Tom Corby (new media artist; cultural ecologist; University of Westminster)
David Cunningham (academic, aesthetician, University of Westminster)
Benjamin Noys (author of The Culture of Death and Georges Bataille, University of Chichester)
John Timberlake (painter, photographer, Head of BA Fine Art, Middlesex University)

Thursday November 12TH, 2009, 6:30-8:30: THE FUTURE IS HISTORY

Jon Cairns (fine arts, Central Saint Martins College, University of the Arts)
Sally O’Reilly (art critic, Founder of Implicasphere, author of The Body in Contemporary Art)
Uriel Orlow (multi-media installer, historian, narrator of the impossible, University of Westminster)

Saturday November 21st, 2009, 2-4: THE FUTURE IS TOMORROW

Lennard J. Davis (author of books on normalcy, obsession, and genetics, University of Illinois at Chicago)
Chris Horrocks (author of books on Foucault, McLuhan, and Baudrillard, Kingston University)
Ben Watson (independent music critic, Marxist theorist, poet, and author of books on Frank Zappa, art and class, and Derek Bailey)

Thursday November 26th, 6:30-8:30: THE FUTURE IS NOW

Garin Dowd (Deleuzian commentator on film & writing, Thames Valley University)
Sue Golding (philosopher of time and space, University of Greenwich)
Stephen Melville
(critic of modernity and the avant-garde; Ohio State University)

Chair: David Cunningham and Marquard Smith, University of Westminster, London