BxNU Symposium: Cloudscape


BxNU Symposium: Cloudscape 
Responding to the theme of memory in the work of Lorna Simpson

Friday 6 June 2014 / 10.30-20.30
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead

Eventbrite - BxNU Symposium: Cloudscape

Eventbrite - Ticket Bundle: BxNU Symposium: Cloudscape + HeLa


BUY Symposium + HeLa Bundle: £40 / £32 concession / ON SALE NOW
BUY Symposium 6 June only: £30 / £25 concession / ON SALE NOW
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Concessions rate applies to over 60s, unwaged, students with valid NUS card.

In a body of work spanning three decades, Lorna Simpson evokes memory in the relationship of text to image, in the repeated performative gestures and re-enactments of her large-scale video works and in her use of thrift shop props and costumes. Simpson’s is not a collective but a collected memory, not autobiographical but anonymous. Conversations reverberate back and forth in time, creating a space for reflection and transformation in the critical gap between an original event and its simulation.

In response to Simpson’s relationship with memory, trauma and the body, this symposium will bring together eminent practitioners, artists and theoreticians in this field. Emerging from the research, practice and interests of three artists based at Northumbria University: Jane Arnfield, Christine Borland, and Sandra Johnston, and working with GemArts, a leading diversity arts organisation based in the North East, the symposium connects disciplines of visual, live and performing arts. This dynamic event will foreground new and critically acclaimed performances alongside presentations and panel discussion, interfusing live experience with critical dialogue, to consider ethical questions of representation and responsibility in histories re-told.

Thursday 5 June 2014: Pre-Symposium Programme
HeLa: Performance + Discussion / 19.30
On the evening before the symposium, a performance and discussion takes place at BALTIC, Gateshead. Tickets available separately or as a bundle with the symposium ticket.

HeLa, written and performed by Adura Onashile takes as its inspiration the true life story of Henrietta Lacks and the extraordinary life of the HeLa cell line. Following the performance, the audience is invited to join Christine Borland and Professor Volker Straub in BALTIC Kitchen for a discussion concerning the issues raised in the work: genetic identity, social responsibility and current ethical debates about human tissue research and ownership.

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Supported by GemArts

Lunch included. Paybar available.  


PERFORMANCE: Jane Arnfield will perform The Tin Ring, by Zdenka Fantlová originated and adapted from the book by Arnfield and theatre director Mike Alfreds. Zdenka Fantlová is one of a handful of Holocaust survivors still alive today. This is her story, born in Czechoslovakia Zdenka was 17 when the war began and the ring of the title was given to her by Arno her first love.  Zdenka kept it with her as a symbol of truth and hope from Terezin to Bergen Belsen. Produced by Human Remain.

PRESENTATION: Richard Kötter, How Should I Know Who I am, If I can’t be with a Past that is only of Myself, and a Future Just for Me? The talk will deal with biographical research in the social sciences, and personal and group identities shaped in part by war, conflict and trauma, as well as perspectives of agency, reconciliation and hope.

DISCUSSION: Arnfield and Kötter will be joined in discussion by Rupert Thomson and Anu Selva-Thomson, of Summerhall. 


PERFORMANCE: Sandra Johnston and Alastair MacLennan present a new collaborative work.

KEY NOTE PRESENTATION: Dr. Tracey Warr, Lorna Simpson: Reenact, Repeat, Gesture, Sway, Say. Warr will focus on Lorna Simpson's engagement with the history of African-American women in her work, examining her use of reenactment and repetition. She will discuss Simpson’s use of language, gesture and movement, and consider her enigmatic, pared down approach in works exploring identity, memory and desire.

PRESENTATION: Sally Madge will discuss her multidisciplinary practice in the context of age and gender.

DISCUSSION: Gender, Memory, Gesture, bringing together all contributions from the afternoon.


PERFORMANCE: Alastair MacLennan, TREE FREE' (2), a new durational performance.


Jane Arnfield, is Director of Fine & Visual Arts Programmes, Reader in Arts at Northumbria University. Arnfield specialises in sourcing first hand witness testimony and the transformation of this data into a theatrical landscape. She has specific research interests in abandonment and survival, resilience and risk taking, with a particular focus on genocide. Arnfield is extending her research of Theatre of the Real into new areas, investigating the impact performed host testimony imparts to both performer and spectator as surrogates, recipients of the original testimony. http://www.thetinring.com/ After the symposium The Tin Ring will be performed by invitation from the Defiant Requiem Foundation in Washington DC. http://www.defiantrequiem.org/

Christine Borland is BALTIC Professor. Through her research in laboratories, scientific and medical institutions, Borland has rendered visible people and practices which are usually inaccessible to a general public. Her works foreground historical and contemporary scientific research and methods, while freeing their metaphorical associations by introducing the imaginary, the aesthetic and poetic. A current international collaboration 'Circles of Focus' with artist Brody Condon, explores the dynamic of the anatomy dissection theatre and the potential for performance and role-play in this context.

Sandra Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Northumbria University, is a visual artist from Northern Ireland, working in the areas of site-responsive performance, drawing and video installations. Johnston’s research has often raised issues about the potential of creative interactions within ‘contested spaces’, especially approaches to the aftermath of trauma and acts of commemoration. Currently, she is interested in exploring concepts of human-scale monuments and creative actions that exist on the cusp of public visibility- both as artworks and as activist interventions. This research involves ideas of physical silence, proximity awareness and other subtle aspects of the act of encounter. Johnston has recently published her PhD research entitled, Beyond Reasonable DoubtAn Investigation Into Concepts of Doubt, Risk and Testimony Explored Through Consideration of Performance Art Processes In Relation to Systems of Legal Justice, with LIT (Berlin, Münster, Vienna, Zurich, London) in the series European Culture and Policy.

Richard Kötter, a Senior Lecturer in Economic and Political Geography at Northumbria University is concerned with discourses and representations of rights, obligations and justice. He is also interested in rights-based approaches to disaster-risk reduction and the working on issues concerning marginalised communities and individuals at risk. With a strong activist and organisational background through international, national, regional and local work voluntary work as a country campaign coordinator and trainer for Amnesty International, he also has sustained activity in Holocaust and Genocide Education within and outside of the university, both field-based (Poland, Germany) and city-based (Newcastle HMD working group) 

Alastair MacLennan is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art, at the University of Ulster, in Belfast. He is one of Britain's major practitioners in live art. Since 1975 he has been based in Belfast and was a founder member of Belfast's Art and Research Exchange. He is also a member of the European Performance Group called 'Black Market International.' During the 1970's and 1980's he made long durational performances in Britain and America, of up to 144 hours each, non-stop, usually neither eating nor sleeping throughout. Subject matter dealt with political, social and cultural malfunction. He is a founding member of Belfast's Bbeyond, performance art collective (2001).

Sally Madge trained in ceramics and sculpture at Central School of Art and Design and Newcastle Polytechnic, and obtained an MFA from the University of Northumbria. Her practice is multidisciplinary and includes sculpture, installation and performance. She has exhibited in many group and solo exhibitions and events, locally, nationally and internationally. Recent work has been included in the Jerwood Drawing Prize touring exhibition, the Freud Museum, as part of an event entitled Objects of Desire, and at West Dean College in a group show The Hearing Trumpet where work was shown alongside the resident collection of Surrealist art, including that of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. She has held a range of posts at Sunderland University, including Programme Leader for Performing Arts and Academic Tutor for Foundation studies in Art and Design. She also works with the Education and Public Programme team at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art as a freelance artist. 

Adura Onashile is a writer and charismatic performer with diverse experience in political, verbatim, site-specific and physical theatre. She has worked with companies including the National theatre of Scotland, National Theatre, Urban Theatre Projects, Australia's foremost site specific company, Chicago Shakespeare company, St Anne's Warehouse, The LIFT festival, The Clod Ensemble, The Belarus Free Theatre and Vox Motus. Adura has toured internationally with both the Foreign Commonwealth Office and the British Council.

Professor Volker Straub, Harold Macmillan Professor of Medicine at Newcastle University, has an international reputation in the study of neuromuscular disease. Professor Straub’s research interest is focused on the origin of hereditary muscle diseases, particularly the muscular dystrophies. Professor Straub is coordinating a network of excellence for translational research in rare inherited neuromuscular diseases funded by the European Commission. The ultimate goal of the network, is to accelerate the development of curative treatments for patients with neuromuscular diseases. To reach this goal the network is addressing the fragmentation currently hindering translational research for cutting edge therapies in these diseases. 

Anu Selva-Thomson is the Head of Education, Talent Development and Children’s Programme at Summerhall. She has sat on a number of boards and advisory panels over the course of her career, most recently, the Scottish board for the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. She was identified by Creative and Cultural Skills Scotland as one of Scotland’s future leaders in the Arts. Prior to working in the arts, Anu, who is originally from Singapore, was a lecturer in Philosophy. 

Rupert Thomson is the Artistic Director of Summerhall, Edinburgh, which is the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, now a creative hub for the arts with studio and workshop spaces. Rupert was named as one the awardees in the Theatre and Performance category of The Hospital Club 100 list of 2013, alongside the likes of actor Helen Mirren; Rupert is also the only Scottish-based nominee within this area. . Rupert is Visiting Fellow in Fine and Visual Art at Northumbria University. summerhall.co.uk

Dr. Tracey Warr has a mixed practice as writer, curator and teacher. She has taught at Oxford Brookes University, Bauhaus University and Dartington College of Arts. Warr has developed a mode of writing with contemporary artists as opposed to about them. She regards curating and art writing as part of a continuum with artists’ practice, rather than segregated categories. Her research work focuses on the body and site in contemporary art. Warr is editor of The Artist’s Body, a major survey book published by Phaidon and is on the Advisory Boards of Performance Research journal, New Welsh Review journal and the Canal & River Trust Arts Programme. She is currently working on In Outlandia, a book with London Fieldworks, and on Frontiers in Retreat, art-led research on remote, fragile ecologies in seven countries across Europe.


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