ALL TOO HUMAN: BACON, FREUD AND A CENTURY OF PAINTING LIFE @ Tate Britain, May 2018. Session 1: ‘The Gaze’

“Freud scrutinises his subjects with an unsentimental objectivity and the all-encompassing gaze”

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What is the gaze? Why does it make us aware of ourselves in an unexpected way? How does it shape our sense of who we are? What is the connection between the gaze and gender or between the gaze and objectification? Why might it be intimate, uncomfortable or disturbing to be subjected to someone’s gaze? How does the idea of the gaze change as we move from painting to photography to contemporary social media?

Join us on the 12th May, 19th May and 2nd June at Tate Britain’s Clore Auditorium and find out more about the sensuous, immediate and intense experience of life in paint, as captured by these painters who strove to represent human figures, their relationships and surroundings in the most intimate of ways.

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Each event will consist of a panel discussion followed by an additional seminar led by experts from CPVA, allowing a closer look at the philosophical texts and arguments in play.

What Makes Us Human: The Gaze

12 May 2018 at 13.00–15.00 and 15.30–17.30

This event is the first part of the three-part series: What Makes Us Human: Conversations on Art and Philosophy.

Bride 1994 by Paula Rego born 1935

Paula Rego, Bride 1994. Tate. © Paula Rego

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In this first of a three-part series responding to the All Too Human exhibition, Amalia Ulman (artist), Timothy Secret (philosopher) and Katharina Günther (art historian) will lead a discussion exploring the concept of the gaze within the visual arts, its power to objectify or be objective, create intimacy or distance. The event will be chaired by Sacha Golob, CPVA Director.

Join us afterwards for a discussion with the CVPA team from 15.30–17.30 in the Duffield Room. This two hour seminar explores some of the key philosophical issues raised by the notion of the gaze. The first half opens with Jean-Paul Sartre’s classic discussion: Sartre uses the story of a voyeur caught in the act to explore objectification and shame through the lens of the gaze. We’ll examine how the gaze relates to gender and subjectivity, and we’ll consider to what degree it might be a positive, as well as a negative, phenomenon. The second half broadens the discussion to look at the gaze across different formats – how should we understand it in the context of painting, photography, social media or even writing?

Each session will provide a concise introduction to the core themes and their significance for philosophy and the arts. We’ll then break into smaller groups for a guided discussion in which participants can explore the ideas and develop their own take on them in relation to the exhibition and to contemporary events.  No prior knowledge is required. There will be a 10 minute interval between the two halves.

The seminar will be led by Dr. Sacha Golob, Dr. Emma Syea and Vanessa Brassey from the King’s College London, Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to a research article on the relationship between philosophy and their experience of the All Too Human exhibition.

Leigh Bowery 1991 by Lucian Freud 1922-2011

Lucian Freud, Leigh Bowery 1991.Tate.©The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

This event is part of the three-part series: What Makes Us Human: Conversation on Art and Philosophy.

Sacha Golob

Sacha Golob is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at King’s College London and the Director of the Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts; before joining King’s, he was a Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He has published extensively on French and German Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Art. His current research explores contemporary conceptions of virtue and degeneration.

Katharina Günther

Katharina Günther is an art historian. Her work focuses on post-war and contemporary painting and photography. She graduated from the University of Cologne in 2009 and has since researched and published for the Estate of Francis Bacon at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and Tate Britain, the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation Monaco and the John Deakin Archive, and is currently working as project manager of the official website of the Estate of Francis Bacon, francis-bacon.com. She is in the final stage of a Ph.D. thesis exploring Francis Bacon’s relationship to photography at the University of Cologne.

Timothy Secret

Timothy Secret is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Winchester. His recent work focuses on death, mourning and madness in contemporary French thought. Since being awarded the title BBC & AHRC New Generation Thinker, he has made numerous media appearances and worked with a selection of artists. Timothy Secret is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Winchester. His book The Politics and Pedagogy of Mourning was recently published in paperback by Bloomsbury. Since being awarded the title BBC & AHRC New Generation Thinker, he has made numerous media appearances and worked with a selection of contemporary artists.

Amalia Ulman

Amalia Ulman (b. 1989) is an artist based in Los Angeles. Born in Argentina but raised in Spain, she studied Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins in London. Her works, which are primarily voiced in the first person, blur the distinction between the artist and object of study, often creating humorous, gentle deceptions, while exploring class imitation and the relationship between consumerism and identity. In addition to video, sculpture and installation work, her multidisciplinary practice has involved the use of social media, magazine photoshoots, interviews, self-promotion and brand endorsements as tools for the fabrication of fictional narratives. Ulman’s performance Excellences & Perfections was archived by Rhizome and the New Museum (New York) and exhibited at the Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery (London). Her most recent works are the video essay Annals of Private History (Frieze Live, 2015), and Privilege (online performance, 2016) and its subsequent solo shows: Labour Dance at Arcadia Missa (London), Reputation at New Galerie (Paris), Dignity at James Fuentes (New York), Intolerance at BARRO (Buenos Aires), Monday Cartoons at Deborah Schamoni (Munich), Atchoum! at Galerie Sympa (Figeac) and NEW WORLD 1717 at Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai).

‘Philosophy in the Gallery’ is a collaboration between The Centre for Philosophy and the Visual Arts at King’s College London and Tate, supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s.