28 February – 11 May 2014
Press view 27 February 2014

Tate Liverpool in partnership with Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) presents Keywords, an exhibition and talks programme based on Raymond Williams’s study of the vocabulary of culture and society. Artists include Sonia Boyce, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Sunil Gupta, Derek Jarman, Richard Hamilton, Lubaina Himid and Donald Rodney. The exhibition will be presented in a specially designed space by artist Luca Frei and designer Will Holder.

First published in 1976, Keywords is a seminal work in the study of the English language. Williams understood ‘Keywords’ as those words that repeatedly crop up in our discussion of culture and society. The book contains over 130 short essays on words such as ‘theory’, ‘criticism’, ‘technology’, ‘violence’ and ‘art,’ providing an account of the word’s current use, its origin and the range of meanings attached to it. Williams hoped another form of presentation could be devised for the book, to reflect how words form networks of meaning in relation to one another. This exhibition invents such a format, by considering words through works of art which come together in ‘clusters’ in order to explore, interrogate and expand their meaning.

The first incarnation of the exhibition is presented at Iniva between 27 March – 18 May 2013. Following a series of public talks and workshops, the exhibition will be further developed and a new, larger iteration with additional artworks and several commissions will open at Tate Liverpool in Spring 2014. The exhibition across both sites includes works from 1976 (the year of the book’s publication) to the present, with an emphasis on the 1980s.

A series of words including ‘theory’, ‘sex’ and ‘equality’, will be explored in an ambitious talks programme spanning London and Liverpool, which will help shape and inform the Liverpool presentation of Keywords. The talks programme, running from April – December 2013, will include speakers such as Linda Bellos, Leo Bersani, Douglas Crimp and Geeta Kapur. Information on upcoming talks will be updated throughout the year online at For information on Iniva’s London talks and workshops visit

Keywords is curated by Gavin Delahunty, Head of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Liverpool and Grant Watson, Senior Curator and Research Associate, Iniva