Salty about missing Kanye’s talk at Oxford? We’ve got you culturally covered this month – from Marina Abramović’s ex-lover Ulay to Edward Snowden
Still smarting from missing Kanye’s history-making talk in Oxford this past Monday? Make it up to yourself by taking in some of London’s equally fantastic cultural offerings. You won’t learn about the harrowing ennui that accompanies sitting in traffic in your BMW, but you might soak up a little something else, whether that be the history of representing STDs in comics or the curious brilliance of celebrity curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Here are ten of London’s most interesting talks on offer this month.
GRAPHIC SEX AT THE WELLCOME COLLECTION
The Wellcome Collection has spearheaded some pretty cool projects; they have an entire space dedicated to culturally contextualising medicine and health, and an exhibition on sex research, The Institute of Sexology, which runs into September. In keeping with the theme of its current exhibit, the Collection will host a talk that examines sexuality, gender identity, sexism, and sexually transmitted diseases in comics. Wellcome Library Insights, the program which the talk is part of, is known to showcase rare items, so even the biggest comic buffs might see some things they haven't before.
On March 26
HOW TO BECOME A #FAILEDINTELLECTUAL AND WHY AT UCL
If you’re not familiar with Nein Quarterly, there’s a good chance you’ve been living under a rock. When professor of German Eric Jarosinski realised he wasn’t going to finish his book in time, he ditched his plans for tenure and came up with a hilarious nihilist Twitter feed instead (the subhead of which is “A Compendium of Utopian Negation”). Now he’s coming to London as part of his Failed Intellectual Goodwill Tour. In response to whether the tour is a lecture, art, or philosophy, Jarosinski has responded with a resounding Nein.
On March 16
FUTURE FEST AT VINOPOLIS
FutureFest is hosted by Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase the UK’s innovation capacity. The weekend festival is packed with debates, performances, installations, and demonstrations that aim to “excite and challenge perceptions of the future.” Speakers include Edward Snowden - speaking via web link – and Vivienne Westwood – speaking in person like everyone else who isn’t a high-profile whistle blower. FutureFest will also feature the world’s first neurological thrill ride, which is reason enough alone to attend.
Runs March 14-15
WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL AT SOUTHBANK CENTRE
In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, Southbank Centre is hosting a global festival of talks, workshops, and performances celebrating women and girls. The varied festival espouses a feminism that is both populist and intelligently intersectional. Learn about the “transgender tipping point,” hit up a reading of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, hear the story of Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, and attend a conversation between anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali, ‘honour’-based violence activist Jasvinder Sanghara, and Turkish MP Safak Pavey. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. WoW brings the added benefit of a mass “speed mentoring” session.
Runs March 6-8
CULTURE NOW: ULAY AT THE ICA
You might remember Ulay from his tearjerker of a reunion with Marina Abramović during her 2010 performance blockbuster The Artist is Present. Abramović’s lover and collaborator for twelve years, Ulay is also a canonical conceptual artist in his own right, a pioneer of body art, performance art, and polaroid art. He also started introducing himself to everyone he met as “Water” in 2011, so there’s that. Hear him chat about his artistic practice and personal philosophy with Catherine Wood, Tate Modern’s Curator of Contemporary Art and Performance.
Culture Now: Ulay takes place March 6, and more details can be found here
THE EXTREME PRESENT AT THE EMMANUEL CENTRE
Debate-staging, organisation extraordinaire Intelligence Squared consistently nails it with eminent and engaging panelists, and its upcoming event The Extreme Present: An Evening of Self-Help for Planet Earth is no exception. This evening of debate will look at the challenges that the internet and ubiquitous networkedness pose to the planet and its frazzled humans. Hans-Ulrich Obrist, celebrated public intellectual and “the curator who never sleeps,” will be speaking; also on the panel will be Douglas Coupland, the artist and novelist who famously penned Generation X in 1990-91. See you there.
On March 5
THE POLITICS OF SELF-CUTTING AND OVERDOSING AT SOUTH LONDON GALLERY
Speaking of contemporary anxiety, South London Gallery is hosting a three-part seminar series on the biochemical production of subjectivity. It’s some heady stuff – the word ‘pharmacopornographic’ comes up twice in the brief event description – worthy of an evening of intellectual grappling. (My prescription? Stop by the gallery bar for a comfortably large glass of red beforehand.) In the next talk of the series, The Politics of Self Cutting and Overdosing: from Welfare State to Neoliberalism, researcher Chris Millard will consider the ways in which shifting social settings have changed behaviours thought of as self-harming, from concern over overdose in the 50s to self-cutting in the 80s.
On March 6
LONDON CULTURE INDUSTRY NOW AT GOLDSMITHS
Explore London’s changing culture industry – and indeed, the very notion of culture as an industry – at a series of three lectures organised by the Goldsmiths MA in, you guessed it, Culture Industry. Cultural historian Robert Hewison will address the widely held notion that “creative industries” are what make urban centres tick; in response to the controversial privatisation of the Balfron Tower in East London, a panel of artist-residents, writers, researchers, and planners will discuss the relationship between culture and urban regeneration; and feminist cultural theorist and MA co-founder Angela McRobbie will rely upon interviews with London and Berlin-based designers, policy-makers, and fashion producers to think critically about high and fast fashion.
Runs March 11, 18, 25
THE MAKING OF MEANING AT SOUTHBANK CENTRE
The XDs, or The Experience Design Group, is a young, interdisciplinary design collective with a passion for collaborative problem solving. This month, they kick off a yearlong series of talks and workshops at Southbank Centre that aim to explore “what is meaningful and why.” This first event’s array of brainy speakers include a researcher on what happens to people’s data post mortem, a specialist in meaningful network-building, a cognitive neuroscientist who organises community workspaces, and the design strategist who cofounded The XDs.
On March 11
SCOTT MCCLOUD: THE SCULPTOR AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY
Ever the overachiever, the British Library doesn’t stop with 14 million books: it also hosts some pretty neat events. Next up, cartoonist and comic theorist Scott McCloud discusses his first fictional graphic novel The Sculptor in celebration of its 2015 release. (His 1993 nonfiction work of comics, Understanding Comics, is a cult classic.) In the admiring words of Neil Gaiman: “The Sculptor is the best graphic novel I’ve read in years. It’s about art and love and why we keep trying. It will break your heart.”
On March 6