Panel Beating #4 — The Cenotaph Project & the public sphere

Stuart Brisley, The Cenotaph Project, 1987-91, Installation (with Maya Balcioglu). Image: Maya Balcioglu.

Stuart Brisley, The Cenotaph Project, 1987-91, Installation (with Maya Balcioglu). Image: Maya Balcioglu.

I am delighted to be participating in an event on 24 October 2014 with Stuart Brisley, Maya Balcioglu and Dr Sanja Perovic, as part of the Kings Arts and Humanities Festival 2014.

This is an output of an ongoing research collaboration exploring Brisley’s deployment of the Republican Calendar in works produced since 1973. This revolutionary calendar was created by Sylvain Maréchal in 1788 and implemented during the French Revolution. Maréchal was a poet, avant-garde playwright and newspaper editor and his decimal calendar was used by the French government between 1793 to 1805, and briefly by the Paris Commune in 1871. Dr Perovic is a leading researcher in this field, and her groundbreaking book on the subject, The Calendar in Revolutionary France, was recently published by Cambridge University Press.

Also drawing on my research with Stuart Brisley is a recent short story ‘High-Lands’, which was commissioned as part of Remote Performances, a recent broadcast collaboration between London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm. There is more info about ‘High-Lands’ on my Tumblr, here. The story was broadcast as a live performance with a soundscape created by Johny Brown of the legendary Band of Holy Joy direct from Outlandia, London Fieldworks’ unique, tree house field station for artists, which is situated high above Glen Nevis in the Highlands of Scotland. Free audio of that performance of ‘High-Lands’ is now up on SoundCloud.

Here is the blurb for our event on 24 October, which is to be held in the chapel at King’s College London:

This panel revisits Stuart Brisley and Maya Balcioglu’s Cenotaph Project (1987-91). The British painter, sculptor and performance artist Stuart Brisley is widely regarded as a key figure in British art. Along with his frequent collaborator, Maya Balcioglu, he has unflinchingly probed the political, cultural and social mores of his time in a career now spanning its sixth decade. Cenotaph literally means an empty tomb (from the Greek kenos, empty and taphos, tomb.) It both conceals remains that are lost or buried elsewhere and serves as a powerful signifier of military and state power. It thus raises questions about the relation between what is ‘above ground’, state-sanctioned, revealed and what remains underground, buried and concealed. For this project the artists exhibited replicas of the Whitehall Cenotaph, scaled down to match the typical height of a council flat ceiling, in six locations across the country. From a mute signifier of ‘official history’ the various, smaller cenotaphs opened a space for a critique of history and the possibility of change.

Video still © Inga Tillere, 2014

Video still © Inga Tillere, 2014

The discussion concludes with a reading by author Tony White from a new work of critical prose fiction, which will use the figure of the cenotaph to focus on revolutionary aspects of Stuart Brisley’s work since the early 1970s.

This event results from a loose collaboration between Balcioglu, Brisley, Sanja Perovic (Lecturer in French, King’s College London) and Tony White that has been made possible by White’s appointment as creative entrepreneur in residence at King’s College, London, supported by CreativeWorks London.

A cenotaph will be on display in the Chapel for the duration of the festival and can be viewed 10am-10pm weekdays, except while Chaplaincy or Festival events are taking place.


Chapel, King’s Building Strand Campus

24/10/2014 (19:00-20:30)

Part of the Arts & Humanities Festival 2014: underground.

This event is open to all and free to attend, but booking is required via Eventbrite.

Presented by the Department of French & the Centre for Enlightenment Studies, King’s College London.