This year's event is titled "Notes from the Underground" and features the collective Test Dept with cultural critics Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb.
"There is something very timely about the return of Test Dept … [they] have arrived just in time for the deep crisis of neoliberalism in the UK"
Mark Fisher, 2015.
When he visited Test Dept’s DS30 installation in Newcastle, Mark Fisher found much to inspire him and met with the group. In a subsequent article he described their work as an example of radical 'popular modernism' which could still be highly relevant in the present day. Inspired by this, the group have worked with Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb to explore their legacy and its relevance to now.
Fisher described the documentation of their work in the book Total State Machine (2015) as an 'invaluable archive, an inventory of strategies, gestures and techniques'.
This two-part event will feature a new film work exploring Test Dept’s archive with a commentary by Alexei Monroe and Paul Jamrozy exploring their legacy through the lens of some of Fisher’s key concepts. This will be followed by conversation and Q&A facilitated by Peter Webb.
Test Dept worked intensively in and around Goldsmiths and the local area in the 1980s. The film and the conversation that follows will explore a series of key themes and questions, relating Test Dept’s history and current work to the multiple political, social and cultural challenges of 2021.
Can popular modernism still have an effect in the 21st Century, as Fisher believed it could? What lessons are there for today in the way that Test Dept operated in harsh environmental, economic and political conditions? How did Test Dept create its artistic "fuel to fight" from ruinous conditions and spaces and is it possible to imagine something like this in our own increasingly ruinous political and economic conditions?
For Test Dept:
Graham Cunnington /Test Dept Core Creative from 1981–1998 and 2013–Present
Paul Jamrozy / Test Dept Core Creative from 1981–1998 and 2013–Present.
Angus Farquhar / Test Dept Core Creative from 1981–1990 and 2013-2015.
Together, they co-authored the book on Test Dept, Total State Machine (2015)
Cultural theorists Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb who, alongside their multiple research, writing and other cultural and critical involvements, also co-edited Total State Machine.
Photo: © Colin Davison.
Dates & times
|Date||Time||Add to calendar|
|29 Jan 2021||6:00pm - 8:00pm|
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