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Who is this who is coming? Arts Writing Symposium

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  • Fine Art
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


A two-day symposium convened by myself in collaboration with Gavin Butt which discussed the practice of contemporary art writing at Whitechapel Gallery, London, as part of my role as Writer-in-Residence there. 18-19 June 2009. Day one (Who is this who is coming?) was organised and chaired by myself. My aim was to prospect the shore of M.R. James’ 1904 supernatural short story Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad as a suggestive yet speculative proposition on how to approach the production and reception of contemporary art writing, examining where meaning might take place and reasoning backwards. Day two (Performing/Knowing), organised and chaired by Gavin Butt, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London, highlighted the creative potential of performance in the space of knowledge production across the areas of art practice, traditional scholarship, and everyday life. It raised issues about the efficacy of performance as 'convincing' scholarly argument; the ethics and politics of performance presentation; and the relationship of performance to the written text of criticism. Speakers included: Adrian Heathfield; Oreet Ashery; Kate Love and Aaron Williamson. This event formed part of a series of symposia organised by Birmingham City University, Chelsea College of Art and Design, Goldsmiths and Reading University to develop an Art-Writing Research network, initiated by David Burrows.

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