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Presenting Raymond Williams' Keywords

— March 2013

Associated media

Sunil Gupta, Heaven, from the tape-slide  project London Gay Switchboard, 1980, 35mm, colour slide projection © Sunil Gupta, courtesy the artis

27 March – 18 May 2013
Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in partnership with Tate Liverpool, presents ‘Keywords’, an exhibition and talks programme based on Raymond Williams’ study of the vocabulary of culture and society, drawing on iconic works from the Tate collection together with key loans.  

Artists include Sonia Boyce, Willie Doherty, John Dugger, Rita Donagh, Sunil Gupta, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Inventory, Derek Jarman, Louis Le Brocquy, Gustav Metzger, Donald Rodney, Guy Tillim, David Wojnarowicz, Stephen Willats and Carey Young. The talks programme includes speakers Linda Bellos, Leo Bersani, Douglas Crimp and Geeta Kapur.

First published in 1976, the book Keywords is a seminal work in the study of the English language. It contains over 130 short essays, giving an account of each word’s current use, its etymology, and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams understood ‘keywords’ as those words that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society, its institutions and practices, including terms such as: democracy, reform, consumer, ideology, industry, liberation, popular, unconscious and art.

Raymond Williams said that he often wished some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ for his project, a format which would reflect how words form networks of meaning in relation to one another, instead of in an alphabetical list. This exhibition attempts to invent such a format, by considering words through works of art, which come together in ‘clusters’ in order to explore, interrogate and expand their meaning.

Spread across two locations, Iniva in London and Tate Liverpool, the exhibition is put together from the Tate collection and includes works from 1976 (the year of the book’s publication) to the present, with an emphasis on the 1980s and early 1990s. In addition, a film programme curated by Kodwo Eshun will include seminal works from this period in a separate gallery screening. As well as reflecting the meaning of specific words, the selection of artworks also hopes to have an affinity with Raymond Williams’ ethos – his political concerns, his progressive understanding of the arts, his contribution to cultural studies and its relationship to the multi-cultural society emerging at that time which was transforming Britain as well as the English language. Any contemporary study of English words must take into account how the language has been shaped by exposure to other cultures, through historical processes of colonization and migration, through American English, and through the emergence of Diaspora communities and cultures, which have transformed the language from within, subverting the mainstream and producing the English which is spoken in 2013.  
A new series of words including theory, sex and equality, will be explored in an ambitious new Keywords talks programme spanning London and Liverpool. A free workshop at Iniva, led by Adrian Rifkin with Christian Nyampetaand and Rebecca Bligh, will invite the general public to develop their own words which will become part of the ‘Keywords’ project online.

‘Keywords’is curated by Grant Watson, Senior Curator and Research Associate, Iniva and Gavin Delahunty, Head of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Liverpool and presented by Iniva, the Institute of International Visual Arts in London and Tate Liverpool. Works in the exhibition will be brought together in a structure designed by artists Luca Frei and Will Holder.

Keywords events – all events are at Rivington Place unless otherwise indicated:
Keyword Lectures:
Linda Bellos – Equality: 28 March, 6.30p.m., £7 (£5)
Ex-politician, activist and businesswoman, Linda Bellos, discusses the keyword, Equality.

Douglas Crimp – Theory: 3 April, 6.30p.m., £7 (£5), Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL London
Seminal art critic, curator, editor and activist, Douglas Crimp, unpacks the keyword, Theory.

Leo Bersani – Sex: 8 May, 6.30p.m., £7 (£5), Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL London
Theorist and writer on art, literature, film and psychoanalysis, Leo Bersani, considers the keyword, Sex.

Geeta Kapur – Practice: 11 May, 6.30p.m., £7 (£5)
Art critic and curator, Geeta Kapur, discusses the keyword, Practice.

Keywords Investigations: From 3 April, 6.30-8p.m., deposit required
A 10 week workshop series, led by Alan Rifkin, in which participants are invited to explore the meaning, genealogy and significance of contemporary ‘keywords’.

Militant Image 16 May, 6.30p.m., £7 (£5)
This event, programmed by Ros Gray and The Otolith Group, includes screenings of Channel 4 films from the 1980s followed by a discussion with Kodwo Eshun and guests.

Curators’ Tour: 18 April, 6.30p.m., free Curators Grant Watson and Gavin Delahunty lead a tour of 'Keywords' expanding on its concept and content.

Dislocation: 18–27 April, free. Works by students of Central Saint Martins led by artist Erika Tan, exploring curatorial & artistic frameworks through green screen technology practices.

Family: 2–25 April, free. Working with Stoke Newington Secondary School students and a team of cultural practitioners, this exhibition explores the different notions of family we carry in our minds and their origins.

On Family 18 May, 1p.m., free
A presentation by Lyn French, Director of A Space, in conversation with art therapist Camilla Waldburg, head teacher Prue Barnes and Reva Klein, author and psychotherapist.

On Art Therapy 11 May, 1p.m., free
As part of the Family exhibition, Lyn French, discusses art therapy with therapist, Diana Kalafa.

Stuart Hall Library Reading Group: 11 April & 9 May, 6.30p.m., free
Join the group to discuss a text exploring the themes of the 'Keywords' exhibition.

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