February 28, 2014 - Tate Liverpool - Keywords and Richard Hawkins
February 28, 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.

Keywords: Art, Society and Culture in 1980s Britain
Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist
28 February–11 May 2014

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool L3 4BB
Open daily, admission free

T 0151 702 7400

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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.

A new edition of Raymond Williams’ Keywords is published by 4th Estate on the occasion of this exhibition with a cover designed by by Luca Frei & Will Holder.  

List of artists: Adrian Berg, Sutapa Biswas, Stuart Brisley, Anthony Caro, Helen Chadwick, Tony Cragg, Cathy de Monchaux, Norman Dilworth, Willie Doherty, Rita Donagh, John Dugger, Rose English, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Barry Flanagan, Elisabeth Frink, Paul Graham, Sunil Gupta, Lubaina Himid, David Hockney, Harry Holland, Malcolm Hughes, Alexis Hunter, Derek Jarman, Anish Kapoor, Peter Kennard, John Latham, Louis Le Brocquy, Yve Lomax, Peter Lowe, Kenneth Martin, Stephen McKenna, David Medalla, John Murphy, Eduardo Paolozzi, Cornelia Parker, Carl Plackman, David Robilliard, Donald Rodney, Jo Spence, Anne Tallentire, Keith Vaughan, Stephen Willats, Gillian Wise, and Bill Woodrow.

Presented concurrently will be the first UK museum exhibition by LA-based artist and polymath Richard Hawkins. Since emerging in the 1990s, Hawkins has created an eclectic body of work across a range of disciplines that defies easy categorisation. For Hawkins, collage provides his primary artistic medium and a philosophical device to unite contradictory ideas and visual elements. The exhibition presents Hawkins’ collages to explore how western figurative art can be interpreted or ‘twisted,’ creating ideas far beyond those usually associated with art history.

It presents mid-century artworks by figures including Francis Bacon and Hans Bellmer. These are selected to reveal their inspiration for Japanese choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata during his development in the 1960s of Ankoku Butoh, a performance art movement that reveled in themes of darkness, corporeality and eroticism as well as ideas drawn from surrealism and French decadent literature. The influence is revealed through Hijikata’s scrapbooks, which feature in the exhibition, challenging accounts that Butoh constituted a response to Japan’s post-World War Two trauma. Hawkins’ Ankoku collages both translate scrapbook pages and channel Hijikata’s voice as a ‘poetic guide,’ speculating on further overlaps across different artistic disciplines on different continents to rethink ideas of artistic influence and historical process.

Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist is curated by Darren Pih, Exhibition & Displays Curator, Tate Liverpool

Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain is supported by Liverpool City Council, Tate Liverpool Members and The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist is supported by Tate Liverpool Members and The Richard Hawkins Exhibition Supporters Group.

For further information please contact Tate Liverpool Press Office:
T +0151 702 7444/5 / liverpool.press [​at​] tate.org.uk


Tate Liverpool presents Keywords and Richard Hawkins
Tate Liverpool
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