CIDRAL Open Event: Professor Brian Dillon (Royal College of Arts) "Ruin Lust"
|Starts:||17:00 18 Feb 2014|
|Ends:||19:00 18 Feb 2014|
|What is it:||Lecture|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
Ruins are paradoxical things. Fragments of classical architecture predict the end of our own civilization as clearly as they speak of past glories. Modern urban or industrial decay comforts us that there are still wild places among our sanitized cities and suburbs. Buildings destroyed by conflict may be preserved as monuments and warnings, but we fantasize about coming disaster, or about the lost futures that modern ruins seem to conjure. For centuries, artists have been periodically seized by an attraction to ruin. I will explore some of the varied and conflicting impulses behind this attraction in the work of JMW Turner, John Constable, John Martin, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Eduardo Paolozzi, Rachel Whiteread, Tacita Dean and Laura Oldfield Ford. Above all, ruins embody certain confusions regarding regret, nostalgia and future potential.
In recent years, and especially since the financial crisis, the motif of the modern ruin, formerly the preserve of relatively arcane art and literature, has returned to the aesthetic centrality it enjoyed in the eighteenth century. In the mainstream media’s frank obsession with images of decayed cityscapes (Detroit, failed architecture in China and North Korea, the very recent reports on London’s “Billionaire’s Row”), the ruin returns in all its capacity for sublimity and kitsch. Writing on ruination has ghosted the ‘new nature writing’ and the proliferation of books on Britain’s decaying modernity. In this talk I will ask whether any aesthetic or political potential remains in a category that has become so ubiquitous.
Brian Dillon is reader in critical writing at the Royal College of Art, and UK editor of Cabinet magazine. His books include Objects in This Mirror: Essays (Sternberg Press, 2014), I Am Sitting in a Room (Cabinet, 2012), Ruins (MIT Press/Whitechapel Gallery, 2011) and Tormented Hope (Penguin, 2009). His writing appears regularly in the Guardian, the London Review of Books, frieze and Artforum. He is curator of Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing — which opened at Turner Contemporary, Margate, in May 2013 and is currently touring — and Ruin Lust, opening at Tate Britain on 4 March 2014.
Travel and Contact Information
John Casken Lecture Theatre
Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama