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Arts Week 2016


  • Artwork by Euan Griffith: How can we understand the world around us? Using multi-disciplinary techniques, Euan Griffith's artworks explored photorealistic still life representations of everyday objects. He works in materials from gouach/watercolour and oil, to clay, metal and glass, and he sees sculpture as a way of experimenting with new media and processes. Griffith is originally from Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, and has exhibited both there and in London, where he currently lives, paints and works in the School of Arts.
  • RELAPSE – Identity: Performing Bodies, Crossing Borders: RELAPSE collective's exhibition was based around 'identity' and centred on thoughts around displacement, the self and one's place within space underlined the work displayed.

Monday 16 may 2016

  • Digital Us: Are We 'Together' in a Networked Culture?: Interactive theatre-maker Tassos Stevens (Coney) and Birkbeck lecturers Scott Rodgers (Media Studies) and Seda Ilter (Theatre and Performance Studies) came together to discus the consequences of longing to belong in contemporary society and how theatre responds to these changing realities.
  • Conceiving Histories: Artist Anna Burel, and Birkbeck literary historian, Isabel Davis explored the history of pre- and early pregnancy with a dialogue between disciplines to discover some of the creative possibilities of archival materials concerned with the pre- or just- pregnant body.
  • Curating Difficult Objects: In general we think of exhibitions as displaying valuable or beautiful objects. Three curators considered exhibitions they have worked on, in which the objects on show were controversial or uncomfortable – terrorism; blood within Judaic religion and culture; and sexualities and emotions in Victorian literature and culture. 
  • D'ye ken King Knut? Create your own Old English or Old Norse Kennings: An interactive session where participants devised kennings - riddling poetic metaphors used by Old English and Old Norse poets - to celebrate the millennium of the siege of London by the Danish king Knut (Canute). 
  • Her-story on Screen: Bringing the Scandalous Lady Seymour Worsley to BBC TV: Lady Seymour Worsley excited sexual controversy in eighteenth-century aristocratic society. Playwright, screenwriter and Birkbeck lecturer David Eldridge's The Scandalous Lady W, his BBC dramatisation of her story.
  • Indigenous Filmmaking in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia: See the photography and film made by Arhuaco director, Amado Villafaña. The director spoke about working with his indigenous team in one of the most incredible parts of Colombia. 
  • Local Government Sustaining the Arts: an Oxymoron for Heretics: Local government in England invests more in the arts than the Arts Council. In November 2015, the Comprehensive Spending Review saw funding to local government fall by a further 24%. Councils have to make difficult decisions. Carole Stewart, Assistant Director of Arts Heritage and Libraries at London Borough of Ealing explored the changes and the ways in which councils are responding to the choices in funding and sustainability for the arts.
  • Photographic Experience of Space: Patrizia Di Bello (Birkbeck) introduced Andreia Alves de Oliveira, Annalisa Sonzogni and Alexandra Tommasini for this demonstration of a typical Ph workshop on recent projects, including two exhibitions and one research paper where the visual met the spatial in a critical and creative interaction.
  • Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration: Speakers Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside), Felix Driver (Royal Holloway) and Michael Bravo (Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge) discussed arctic archives, broken lands, and Victorian relics.
  • Picturing Covent Garden Piazza: the First Two Hundred Years: Thom Braun hosted an illustrated walk around Covent Garden piazza, discussing the creation of it as an upmarket residential location was begun in 1631. The building that takes up most of the piazza today was opened two hundred years later, in 1830, to accommodate the ever-expanding flower, fruit and vegetable market even though little remains of Covent Garden's physical structure as it was between 1631 and 1830.
  • Gendering Austerity: The symposium focused on how austerity measures have transformed gender and culture, not only in terms of the 'impact' of these policies, but in the way that these policies have been resisted and challenged. 

TuesdAY 17 May 2016

  • Writing from Life: Writers Joanna Walsh, Kirsty Gunn and Gabriel Josipovici and Julia Bell (Birkbeck) discussed the current popularity of Non Fiction, and what makes a piece of Non Fiction 'creative', the difference between memoir and autofiction and how to approach writing from life.
  • Fallen Women, Spaces of Psychoanalysis and Lux Imperium: New Film Projects: The Derek Jarman Lab presented three new productions which combine research and film in new ways. Fallen Women was an AHRC-funded film by Lily Ford, exploring the Victorian response to unmarried mothers and the work of the Foundling Hospital. Bartek Dziadosz's film Spaces of Psychoanalysis combined the reflections of Birkbeck academics on the relevance of Freud's writing to their research with an evocative collage of imagined spaces. Finally Francis Gooding and Noah Angell introduced Lux Imperium, their project based on hundreds of home movies made in and of the British empire just as it was beginning to disintegrate.
  • At Swim-Two-Birds: a Workshop on Flann O'Brien's Novel: The great Irish comic writer Flann O'Brien died on April Fool's Day 1966. Fifty years on, a special workshop explored his debut novel At Swim-Two-Birds (1939). 
  • Tim Hincks: in Conversation:: Tim Hincks is President of Endemol Shine Group. As a Creative Director, he has worked in television since 1990, developing landmark programmes such as Newsnight. He discussed his work with Birkbeck film and television studies specialist Janet McCabe.
  • Can Journalism Change the World?: This panel discussion - including Emily Maitlis - award-winning journalists reflected on the relationship between journalism and social change in a post digital, post Snowden world. 
  • Collecting and Archiving the Victorians: Speakers from the National Portrait Gallery, Guildhall Art Gallery, the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, and the Salvation Army Archive, who host prestigious internships with the Birkbeck MA in Victorian Studies. They discussed the joys and challenges of collecting, curating, preserving and researching the Victorians. 
  • Film as Research: This discussion brought speakers together, including Dr Joanna Callaghan (Sussex); Professor Sue Clayton (Goldsmiths); Professor Laura Mulvey (Birkbeck); John Wyver (Illuminations) to consider the ways in which film can create new forms of research and new ways of looking at research materials.
  • Indigenous Filmmaking in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia: See the photography and film made by Arhuaco director, Amado Villafaña. The director spoke about working with his indigenous team in one of the most incredible parts of Colombia.
  • Modernism in Bloomsbury? A Counter-Intuitive Walking Tour, Part I: Leslie Topp and Nic Sampson of Birkbeck's Architecture Space and Society Centre led two linked but self-standing tours unearthing the hidden and not-so-hidden traces of architectural modernism in Bloomsbury. 
  • Patrick Marber: in Conversation: After a career in TV comedy, Patrick Marber wrote the award-winning play Dealer's Choice. His other plays include Closer, Howard Katz, and The Red Lion. He has also adapted plays and novels for films, such as Closer and Notes on a Scandal. The result was an illuminating conversation about his work.
  • Theatre Scratch Night: Students from our theatre and creative writing programmes, from BA to PhD, shared their work in progress. 
  • Artist-Researcher Collaborations: A roundtable conversation about the potential of artist-researcher collaborations with Ella McCartney (artist), Professor Zhu Hua (Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck), Gabriel Koureas (Birkbeck, History of Art); John Timberlake (Bow Arts) and Toby Litt (writer and lecturer).
  • Wishbone's Mountain High Valley Low: Exploring Bipolar on a Bicycle: Theatre-makers Paul Murray and Karen Glossop (Wishbone) presented a 15 minute performance about a woman with bipolar disorder who attempts to manage her illness by taking up long-distance cycling. 
  • Shakespeare in Action: Renaissance playhouses were thrillingly innovative spaces for early audiences. A panel of lecturers and teachers including Professor Martin White (Bristol) suggested how to bring performance into the classroom, and discussed the value of doing so.
  • Renaissance Bodies: In poems, portraits and physic, and from the Italian anatomists to Descartes' 'thing which thinks', the body was at the heart of the changes of the Renaissance. Panellists explored the body and text in the Reformation; John Donne's bodies, and why you probably shouldn't send for the midwife. Speakers included Stephen Clucas, Isabel Davis and Susan Wiseman (Birkbeck).

Wednesday 18 May 2016

  • The Apparitional: films by Barbara Hammer and Sandra Lahire: This screening and discussion explored Terry Castle's idea of the lesbian 'apparitional' through the films of the radical lesbian feminist filmmakers Barbara Hammer and Sandra Lahire. 
  • Birkbeck Creative Writing Alumni Showcase, featuring the announcement of the Kit de Waal Scholarship: Birkbeck's creative writing courses foster some of the country's most exciting new writing talent. This reading event showcased four recent graduates whose first novels were released in 2016: Julia Gray, Nicolás Obrégon, Nadim Safdar and David Savill. 
  • Max Porter: Grief is the Thing with Feathers: Max Porter's debut novel, Grief is the Thing With Feathers (Faber, 2015) tells the story of a family torn apart by the sudden death of a mother. Attendees heard Max Porter discuss his critically acclaimed book with Birkbeck academic and novelist Mark Blacklock.
  • Magic Town, a New Book of Poems by Larry Kearney: Launch Event: Larry Kearney was born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved to San Francisco in 1964 and became involved with the group of poets centred around North Beach, generally described as the San Francisco Renaissance. At this event he discussed the poetry of Jack Spicer.
  • Modernism in Bloomsbury? A Counter-Intuitive Walking Tour, Part II: Leslie Topp and Nic Sampson led two linked but self-standing tours unearthing the hidden and not-so-hidden traces of architectural modernism in Bloomsbury.
  • Rediscovered! The Story of Birkbeck's Manuscript and Rare Medieval Books Collection: A celebration of the recent rediscovery of the small manuscript and rare medieval books collection in Birkbeck Library where Birkbeck's Anthony Bale and Isabel Davis discussed what their story of loss and rediscovery says about the practice of keeping and studying early books. 
  • The Contemporary: an Exhibition: A 'pop-up' museum of the contemporary with Birkbeck postgraduate students presented a rich mixture of art, photography and dramatic performance. 
  • The Mediated City: a Tour of Media and Mediation in West End London: A guided walking tour, given by Joel McKim and Scott Rodgers (Birkbeck) which explored West End London as a lens into the media in city life and its environments. 
  • Poetry and Political Guilt: An evening of readings which explored poetry's representation and enactment of political guilt.
  • What's My Cue?: 'Part Scripts' were a Shakespearean rehearsal method. The best way to understand them is by experiencing them. Artists from the MFA Theatre Directing presented a workshop performance exploring the idiosyncrasies of part scripts.
  • 'Bitter, Black and Tragical': Tragic Performance on the Shakespearean Stage: Professor Tiffany Stern (Oxford) revealed 'tragic' staging, 'tragic' ways of walking ('strutting', 'jetting' and 'stalking'), 'tragic' ways of speaking ('ranting' and 'canting'), and showed how these performance strategies shaped Shakespeare's tragic sensibility.
  • Small Spaces: A panel discussion which Fiona Candlin, Swati Chattopadhyay and Leslie Topp addressed questions of power and knowledge from the vantage point of micromuseums, bookshelves and cells.

Thursday 19 May 2016

  • The Salt of the Earth: Screening of a Film on the Photography of Sebastian Salgado: The Salt of the Earth, is an award-winning and controversial film by Wim Wenders with Juliano Salgado on the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who spent forty years documenting the hellish and the beautiful, humanity and the inhumane. The screening was introduced by Colin Jacobson.
  • Vectors: 50 Years of Digital Art Practice: Joel McKim and Nick Lambert, the current and former directors of the Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology (Birkbeck) traced the historical and contemporary landscape of digital art practice in the UK and beyond.
  • Ephemeral Ruins: the Fragility of Holocaust Memory: The talk looked at questions including whether or not nature should overtake and completely efface the concentration camps and whether preservation can ensure remembrance, among others, from the multiple perspectives offered by memorial museums, visitors and contemporary artists. 
  • In the Archive(s) of Sexuality: Collection / Speculation / Activism: This panel discussion brought together speakers who reflected on the role of the archive in sexuality research. 
  • Performing Bodies, Crossing Borders: A roundtable discussion which explored the concept of identity, staged to coincide with the exhibition RELAPSE - Identity at the Peltz Gallery. 
  • Rebellion and the Rising: Dublin 1916: Rebellion is an acclaimed five-part television drama set against the events of the 1916 Rising in Dublin. Written by Colin Teevan, Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck, Rebellion was hugely popular when broadcast on Irish television. The screening of the first episode was followed by a panel discussion on the significance and reinterpretation of the 1916 Rising, with guests including Roy Foster, Birkbeck Fellow and Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford.
  • Running Wilde: outdoor exercise & the peculiar history of the treadmill: Writer and academic Vybarr Cregan-Reid discussed his book, Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human (Ebury Press, 2016), a literary and philosophical study of running and modern life. He read from a chapter about why so many people dislike running in a gym, and how the treadmill began its life as the harshest form of punishment short of the death penalty, endured by many, including Oscar Wilde.
  • Specimen Daze: During the American Civil War, Walt Whitman worked in a field hospital with wounded young men, nursing them and writing to their families. This new performance by Theatre North explored some of these letters and their unexpected aftermath for the young men, and for the poet.
  • Brutalism: from New to Neo: This talk from Professor Mark Crinson sifted through attempts to separate what brutalism they say about our present preoccupations from what they say about the past. 
  • An Evening of American Poetry: Featuring readings by Rob Halpern, Peter Gizzi and Matvei Yankelevich, this event showcased the recent work of three of the most vital poets writing today, whose writing emerges from the complexities of translation and of lived experience.

FridaY 20 MAY 2016

  • Hollywood Depictions of Portugal: Jean Negulesco's The Conspirators is a 1944 thriller set in Lisbon, in a time in which the city was a hub of exile and espionage. Following a screening of the film, panellists discussed Hollywood depictions of Portugal and Europe during the Second World War and the Cold War. 
  • Sex, Scandal and the Stuart Court: Lives from Images: A guided tour of the politics and power plays of the Stuart era which attempted to reconstruct some of the careers of those at the courts of James I and VI and his son – and the lives of those who fell from favour. 
  • Celebrating Barbara Hardy (1924-2016): A distinguished group of panellists, including Isobel Armstrong, Laurel Brake, Tom Healy, Hilary Fraser discussed the life and writings of Birkbeck literary critic and poet, Professor Barbara Hardy.
  • Theatre Conversation: The Complete Deaths: The show's director Tim Crouch (An Oak Tree, The Author, Adler & Gibb) and critic Andrew Dickson (New Yorker, New Statesman, Guardian) came together for a conversation about the deaths incarnated in Shakespeare's plays and the show's distinctive approach to re-imagining them.
  • You must Mutate: Toby Litt and Caroline Edwards Discuss the Future of Fiction: Taking Toby Litt's new collection of non-fiction essays, Mutants (Seagull Books, 2016), as a starting point, Toby and Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck) discussed developments in contemporary fiction as it attempts to deal with an increasingly fast-paced technological world.
  • Tudormania?: Comparing historical accuracy and modern myth, panellists, including Tudor scholars Lou Horton and Samantha Smith, Macmillan Non-Fiction Editorial Director, Georgina Morley and novelist Elizabeth Fremantle explored some of the Tudors to illustrate some of the stories we tell ourselves. 
  • Moving People: Creative Writing and the Refugee: This event looked at work done in creative writing workshops in Palestine and the UK to explore how geographic and cultural displacement change what people can say and write. Led by the Watadd Research Network, it including a reading, discussion and some live writing.