The title of this exhibition is taken from a passage in World Within World, the autobiography (published in 1951) of the English poet and critic Stephen Spender. He was referring to what he and many others at the beginning of the 1930s regarded as a portentous and anxious-making domestic and international situation. Every generation, it seems, rediscovers this sense of unease. In recent years, the rise of fundamentalism has been accompanied by a politics of paranoia. Surveillance, offence taken and demands for atonement abound; new technologies have seemed to corrode, simultaneously, the culture they once revolutionised. Caught in a certain light, the present can resemble science fiction, while reprising Biblical imagery. “…hounded by external events…” has been conceived within the mood of such perceptions.
While addressing a world that can seem to be passing through the lingering twilight of postmodernism, the exhibition has been guided by Modernist and nineteenth century ideas about art, arts criticism and the role of the artist. Oscar Wilde’s decree, for example, that it is not the critic’s task to explain the mysteries of art but to deepen them, has been taken to heart.
Michael Bracewell is the author of six novels and four works of non-fiction, including England Is Mine (1997) and The Space Between: Selected Writings on Art (2012). His more recent publications include The Rise of David Bowie 1972 - 73 (with Mick Rock and Barney Hoskyns, 2016), A Letter To Kai Althoff (2015) and a forthcoming short story, The Way Ahead. Bracewell was co-curator of The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art at Tate St Ives, UK (2009) and The Secret Public: Last Days of The British Underground 1978 -1988 (Kunstverein Munich/ICA London 2007). He is currently writing a book on the nature of Late Work and an autobiographical novel, Germany Is Your America. In 2016, he was Research Fellow as guest of the Director at the International Institute for Cultural Studies in Vienna.
The gallery will be closed from 21 December until 3 January both days inclusive.
“…hounded by external events…”
Curated by Michael Bracewell