On the occasion of the exhibition Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue at the Serpentine Gallery, artists, historians, writers and theorists gathered to discuss Leon Golub’s extraordinary oeuvre and activism in the context of the contemporary geo-political landscapes. Participants included Jon Bird, Adam Curtis, Michaela Crimmin, Samm Kunce, Philip Golub, Avery Gordon, Oscar Murillo, John Roberts and Martha Rosler.
Leon Golub’s art has always engaged with the politics and realities of conflict and the trace of violence upon the body. From Vietnam to Abu Ghraib, covert operations to contemporary geo-politics, his art presents scenarios of how power flows unequally and catastrophically across the social world, tracing its roots in archaic cultures and the myths of the Judeo-Christian world, to the contemporary imperial politics of post-war nation states. This symposium will address these themes and concerns in Golub’s art and seek to raise questions about the role and effectivity of the contemporary visual arts in investigating and reflecting upon the intersections of the aesthetic and the political. Can art construct visual and other imaginative worlds equal and appropriate to the task of bearing witness to atrocity, conflict and inequalities, and what role might artists fulfil in figuring new forms and possibilities for justice and democracy?
10:30am: Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist
10:45am John Roberts, Empathy and Negation: Leon Golub's Realism
11:30am: Jon Bird
12:25pm: Oscar Murillo, De marcha, ¿una rumba?... no, solo un desfile con ética y estética (sound piece, 35min)
2:00pm: Martha Rosler in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist
2:45pm: Panel, including Philip Golub, Samm Kunce, John Roberts. Moderated by Emma Enderby and Lucia Pietroiusti
3:45pm: Afternoon break
4:15pm: Adam Curtis in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist
5pm: Panel, including Jon Bird, Avery Gordon, Oscar Murillo, Martha Rosler. Moderated by Michaela Crimmin
6pm: Closing remarks
Programmed in collaboration with Middlesex University Professor in Art and Critical Theory, Jon Bird and the Royal College of Art
Assistant Curator: Claude Adjil
This symposium was preceded by a screening of documentaries about Leon Golub, on Thursday 30 April, 8:40pm at the Hackney Picturehouse.