With a particular focus on performance art practice, the three sessions will explore themes of personal freedom, awkwardness, social control, spectacle and, perhaps most crucially, the relationship between power and desire. Each session will unpack these ideas through the exhibited works, and those of various seminal choreographers, filmmakers and writers, from Yvonne Rainer through to Jack Smith.
In exploring these topics, participants will look at the wide field of performance art history, as well as relevant ideas from political theory, queer thought and performance studies.
Session 1: Spectacle/Tragedy
Ambivalence towards theatricality and spectacle – as artificial, manipulative, awkward – has a long and radical history in performance art and political activism. An exploration of these histories and how artists have responded to them will lead to a discussion of restaging live works. This practice, common in the theatre, takes on a different meaning when it comes to re-exhibiting the work of a performance artist in their absence.
Session 2: Desire/Power/Agency
Taking Ian White’s Democracy (2008) as a starting point, this session will examine how queer theories of desire, authority and individual agency have informed contemporary art, particularly the field of performance.
Session 3: Solidarity/Being Together
Building upon the reading of democratic, anti-spectacular performance in the first session, and queer critiques of individual agency in the second, this seminar looks at ideas of artistic collaboration and political solidarity. We will examine how the ideas discussed in the first two sessions have given birth to new understandings of creative partnership and social collectivity that are not based on consensus or shared identity.
Paul Clinton is a writer, critic and curator based in London. For four years he was a senior editor at Frieze magazine, to which he still contributes as well as writing for Art Monthly, Art Review, London Review of Books and many other publications. Previously curated exhibitions, screenings and events include at Focal Point Gallery, Southend, ICA, London, South London Gallery and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen. Invitations to speak include at HEAD, Geneva, Museum Tinguely, Basel, Fargfabriken, Stockholm, Oslo Pilot, Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Modern, Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths College. Forthcoming projects in 2018 include a queer artist's book fair, which he is co-curating at South London Gallery, a show in Paris on sexual liberation and the publication of Other Hunting (Ma Bibliotheque, 2018) the first part of his Mediocre Sex project. He is currently a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art, London.