Edge of an Era and Block Universe – 1980s Performance Art and Now (A Panel Discussion)

In the 1980s, the influential Performance Magazine (1979-1992) started presenting performance art events in London, including Art in Danger, At the Edge and Last Sweat of Youth at the Diorama and AIR Gallery. This culminated in EDGE 88, one of London’s first site-specific performance/installation festivals and the focus of the recent Edge of an Era project exploring performance art in the late 1980s.

EDGE 88 was a  forerunner of London based festivals that emerged in in the 2000s  such as Block Universe, Fig 1 and 2, SPILL Festival of Performance, Steakhouse Live, Tempting Failure and others, and this event brings together a panel of artists and curators from the 1980s and now to look at the context that EDGE 88 operated in and how that compares with the current landscape in which Block Universe presents its work. Featuring Rob La Frenais (original director of EDGE and co-curator of Edge of an Era), Helena Goldwater (artist and co-curator of Edge of an Era), Phoebe Patey Ferguson (academic, artist and curator of VFD, London), Jamila Johnson-Small (artist), Louise O’Kelly (Founding Director and Curator of Block Universe) and Alex Eisenberg (LADA and co-curator of Edge of an Era).

Some of the questions that the panel will address are: What are the changes in the artistic landscape and the visibility of performance art practices? What artistic lineages do artists identify with now and how does this affect their relationship to the history of performance? What are the political resonances between the late 1980s and now and how does this impact on the work that is being made and presented?

As part of the evening we will also screen a short film by Morgan Quaintance commissioned for Edge of an Era, 2019, Anne, Paul and Richard, which evokes  the spirit of the 1980s through the work of Bow Gamelan Ensemble (Anne Bean, Paul Burwell and Richard Wilson).


About Block Universe

Block Universe, is London’s leading performance art festival and international commissioning body, founded to support cutting-edge performance art at the cross-section of contemporary visual art, dance and music. The festival will return to London from 18 May to 2 June 2019, with an expanded 14 day programme of new work, premieres, talks, screenings and workshops, from a wide range of artists, both local and international. As the festival celebrates its fifth anniversary, Block Universe will also present a sister programme for the first time, expanding to continental Europe. This takes place in Germany at E-WERK Luckenwalde, as part of Berlin Art Week (14 September 2019). E-WERK Luckenwalde is a new Brandenberg institution set to open in 2019 in a former power station, an iconic site near Berlin.

Banner image credit:

Video still from EDGE 88, Told by an Idiot – Derek Kreckler, Adrienne Gaha and Sarah Miller, 1988

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