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Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain
Tate Liverpool: Exhibition
28 February 11 May 2014

Adult £8.80 (without donation £8)
Concession £6.60  (without donation £6)
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  • Image of Sunil Gupta's Heaven, from the tape-slide project London Gay Switchboard 1980

    Sunil Gupta
    Heaven from the tape-slide project London Gay Switchboard 1980
    35 mm colour-slide projection

    Courtesy the artist
    © Sunil Gupta

  • Rita Donagh, 'shadow of six counties (c)' 1980

    Rita Donagh
    shadow of six counties (c) 1980
    Pencil and gouache on printed paper map
    image: 360 x 362 mm support: 360 x 362 mm frame: 597 x 584 x 25 mm
    Purchased 2006 Rita Donagh

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Donald Rodney, 'Visceral Canker' 1990

    Donald Rodney
    Visceral Canker 1990
    Perspex, wood, paint, silicon tubing, gold leaf ,blood bags and electrical pump
    unconfirmed: Panel 1 (wood and perspex sheet) 1220 x 910 mm; Panel 2 (mixed media and 2 perspex sheets) 1220 x 910 mm; Panel 3 (wood and perspex sheet) 1550 x 910 mm; Panel 4 (mixed media and 2 perspex sheets) 1550 x 910 mm
    Presented by Tate Members 2009 The estate of Donald Rodney

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Cornelia Parker, 'Object That Fell off the White Cliffs of Dover' 1992

    Cornelia Parker
    Object That Fell off the White Cliffs of Dover 1992
    Crushed silver plate teapot
    displayed: 120 x 225 x 200 mm
    Purchased 1998 Cornelia Parker

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Bill Woodrow, 'Car Door, Ironing Board and Twin-Tub with North American Indian Head-Dress' 1981

    Bill Woodrow
    Car Door, Ironing Board and Twin-Tub with North American Indian Head-Dress 1981
    Mixed media
    displayed: 1865 x 2830 x 1570 mm
    Purchased 1982 Bill Woodrow

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  • Barry Flanagan, 'a nose in repose' 1977-9

    Barry Flanagan
    a nose in repose 1977-9
    Hornton stone and wood (elm)
    object: 895 x 751 x 305 mm
    Purchased 1980 The estate of Barry Flanagan, courtesy Plubronze Ltd

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  • Stephen McKenna, 'An English Oak Tree' 1981

    Stephen McKenna
    An English Oak Tree 1981
    Oil on canvas
    support: 2000 x 1500 mm
    Purchased 1982 Stephen McKenna

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  • Sir Anthony Caro, 'Emma Dipper' 1977

    Sir Anthony Caro
    Emma Dipper 1977
    Painted steel
    object: 2130 x 1700 x 3200 mm
    Presented by the artist 1982 Anthony Caro/Barford Sculptures Ltd

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  • Harry Holland, 'Lovers' 1982

    Harry Holland
    Lovers 1982
    Lithograph on paper
    image: 136 x 115 mm
    Purchased 1983 Harry Holland

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Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain, is a new take on how the changes in the meaning of words reflect the cultural shifts in our society. This dynamic exhibition takes its name and focus from the seminal 1976 Raymond Williams book on the vocabulary of culture and society.

An academic and critic influenced by the New Left, Williams defined ‘Keywords’ as terms that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society. His book contains more than 130 short essays on words such as ‘violence’, ‘country’, ‘criticism’, ‘media’, ‘popular’ and ‘exploitation’ providing an account of the word’s current use, its origin and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams expressed the wish some other ‘form of presentation could be devised’ for his book, and this exhibition is one such interpretation.

Keywords focuses on British art from the 1980s. This was a tumultuous decade in Britain, marked by many forms of oppositional politics which had a direct impact on culture – from the miners’ strike, to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, race riots, gay liberation and feminism to an ongoing insurgency against British rule in Northern Ireland. These viewpoints are represented in contrasting forms by a generation of British artists familiar with the ideas that Williams and other cultural theorists were exploring at the time.

Almost sixty works by artists such as Rita Donagh, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, John Latham, Stephen McKenna, Carl Plackman, Donald Rodney, Jo Spence, and Anne Tallentire are grouped in relation to key words from Williams’s book. Words such as ‘liberation ’, ‘behaviour ’, ‘unconscious’ and ‘romantic’ will be juxtaposed with works, encouraging further exploration and debate. To represent the impact of oppositional politics in Liverpool we are displaying all 20 original copies of The End, a fanzine with a political overtone produced during the 1980s by musician Peter Hooton and Phil Jones.

Jo Spence Libido Uprising Part I 1989

Jo Spence, Libido Uprising Part I 1989

Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
© Estate of Jo Spence

In addition to Tate collection works and key loans, a number of artworks are being uniquely re-presented including One for Sorrow Two for Joy 1976, a pioneering performance from Rose Finn-Kelcey, Sunil Gupta’s controversial London Gay Switchboard 1980 and Helen Chadwick’s notorious Carcass 1986.

Central to Keywords has been its public talks programme by major figures from the spheres of art, theory, activism and politics. To date this has included lectures by Linda Bellos on Equality, Douglas Crimp on Theory, Geeta Kapur on Practice, Leo Bersani on Sex and Tony Bennett on Culture. This outstanding line-up was completed with a lecture from Baroness Lola Young on the meanings of the word ‘Ethical’.

Keywords was previously on view at Iniva (the Institute of International Visual Arts), London 27 March – 18 May 2013 ahead of being relocated to Tate Liverpool. The exhibition is organised by Tate Liverpool in collaboration with Iniva, London.

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Organised by Tate Liverpool in collaboration with Iniva, London.