Tate Liverpool open Keywords: Art, Society and Culture in 1980s Britain Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist

Tate Liverpool present Keywords: Art, Society and Culture in 1980s Britain Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist on view 28 February–11 May 2014.

Left: Design: Luca Frei and Will Holder. Commissioned for the exhibition Keywords: Art Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, Tate Liverpool, 2014. Right: Richard Hawkins, Ankoku 9 (Index World Flower), 2012. Courtesy Jay Sanders, New York.

Left: Design: Luca Frei and Will Holder. Commissioned for the exhibition Keywords: Art Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, Tate Liverpool, 2014. Right: Richard Hawkins, Ankoku 9 (Index World Flower), 2012. Courtesy Jay Sanders, New York.

Tate Liverpool presents an exhibition based on Raymond Williams’ seminal book Keywords – A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Williams distinguished keywords as those words that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of ‘the practices and institutions, which we group as culture and society.’ These include, for example, aesthetic, bureaucracy, equality and wealth, considered in a series of short essays that give an account of each word’s use, its origin, and meanings. The book is alphabetical and Williams said that he often wished some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ because the alphabetical list can suppress the way that words are embedded in social situations and belong to networks. His hope was that ‘other kinds of connections and comparisons’ would be made and the curators of Keywords propose one such attempt by juxtaposing words from the book with works of art.

The artist Luca Frei in collaboration with Will Holder has painted the following keywords directly onto the gallery walls: Structural, Private, Folk, Violence, Criticism, Liberation, Formalist, Myth, Anthropology, Native, Materialism, Unconscious and Theory. The words can be read in a line running around the room or as individual captions that establish imperfect connections with the works, or as markers that suggest a series of themes. Conversely the works in the show can be used to reflect on the words themselves which then become the object of scrutiny. Artworks cover the period from 1976 to 1996, with a focus on the 1980s, from a generation of artists who, one can speculate, had read Keywords or at least been exposed to Williams’ ideas. This period was marked by forms of oppositional politics which had a direct impact on culture: from the miners’ strike to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, from opposition to the Poll Tax, to the race riots and an insurgency against British rule in Northern Ireland. Almost all are from artists who practiced in Britain and consequently they reflect, investigate or contest the term ‘British’ as it underwent a paradigm shift.

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain is curated by Gavin Delahunty, Head of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Liverpool and Grant Watson, Senior Curator and Research Associate, Iniva.

Keywords includes a film programme curated by Karen Alexander, Senior Tutor, Royal College of Art, Curating Contemporary Art, The Otolith Collective and Catherine Wood, Curator, Performance & International Art, Tate Modern.

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool L3 4BB
Open daily, admission free
T 0151 702 7400

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