School of Arts

Art Matters at the Turner Contemporary

‘Art Matters’ is a regular series of events organised to compliment the exhibitions programme at Turner Contemporary, bringing together a variety of speakers and disciplines to reflect on a wider theme arising from the current show.  The idea was launched by the History of Art department at the University of Kent in 2014.

Art and Risk, Dec 2015

On this occasion we collaborated with Francesca Cavallo, co-curator of the ‘Risk’ show, which took place in autumn 2016.

Born from the encounter between danger and opportunity, the modern understanding of risk has introduced human choice into the territory that once belonged to chance. Equally, the making and viewing of art has increasingly been seen as a voyage into the unknown, in which the artist may have little idea how a work will end up and sees as productive the possibility that something may go wrong.  The spectator too is invited to embrace risk, potentially drawn into unfamiliar, perhaps uncomfortable, sensations and thought processes.  What, then, can art reveal about the strategies we adopt towards risk and its constant assessment and management in the wider contemporary world? The event will bring together perspectives from creative practice, art history, curating, philosophy of art and sociology.


FRANCESCA LAURA CAVALLO, Associate Curator, Risk: Introduction
The modern understanding of risk in relation to chance and danger and what art can reveal about risk (and what risk can reveal about art?)   

MICHAEL GUGGENHEIM, Sociology, Goldsmiths: Producing risk.
In this talk I will argue that risks are not something that exists out there in the world, and that we can take or not take. Rather, risks are collectively created, not only as dangers, but also as something that becomes reality through words and things.  Using examples from the cold war and its aftermath, I will show that first the risk of atomic war was created as all encompassing risk, and then replaced by a multiplicity of smaller risks.

MARGARET IVERSEN, Art History and Theory, University of Essex: Contingency
Writing on the subject of contingency, Mary Ann Doane argues that photographic and phonographic technologies seem to make possible what had previously been beyond the grasp of representation, particularly the unexpected, the rupture in the fabric of existence. I argue that in Circle Theatre (1936) Edward Hopper wanted to show the effects of using a car or other vehicle as an apparatus that frames a contingent field of vision.

MATTHEW KIERAN Philosophy and the Arts, University of Leeds: Creative Risk?
'Creative Risk?' will consider what (good) creative risk taking looks like and what kind of characteristics promote or undermine it (e.g. arrogance, complacency, ignorance, courage etc.) in art and life.


1 – 2.00 Lunch Break

PETER KENNARD, artist: in conversation with ELE CARPENTER Art, Goldsmiths.
Peter Kennard is a British artist and activist working predominantly with photomontage. His images have been the voice of the antinuclear movement in the UK and beyond. Ele Carpenter is curator of the Nuclear Culture research project investigating contemporary nuclear aesthetics. Their conversation will revolve around civil defence propaganda and artistic responses to nuclear threat from the cold war to the present day

CLAIRE FONTAINE, artist collective: Pretend to be Dead
Claire Fontaine is a collective artist based in Paris that declares herself a “readymade artist”. Her practice can be described as an on-going interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seem to define contemporary society today. Her ready-mades often consist of objects and tactics to manage risks, from self-defence to theft protection. Claire will discuss their work and how it determines different shifts in the perception of risk.

HILLEL SCHWARTZ, poet and cultural historian: Proximity Fuses
Given that any determination of risk entails a calculus of distance, is talk about "risk" in art a means for narrowing the distance between artist, artifact, and audience? Or is it more starkly a rhetoric meant to distance the ventures of an avant-garde from those of venture capital?   




School of Arts - © University of Kent

Jarman Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7UG, T: +44 (0)1227 764000

Last Updated: 07/03/2016