Tate Liverpool Workshop

Against Ordinary Language

Sarah Browne, studio research, 2017

Join artist Sarah Browne for a gym-inspired installation and series of artist films.

Transforming Tate Exchange Liverpool into a gym-like environment, Browne will introduce sculptures that can be touched, handled and used. Made and constructed from gym equipment and disability aids, they have been produced to be used as training tools, even if their purpose is not obvious.

This one week project at Tate Exchange, Liverpool takes its title from an essay of the same name by Kathy Acker. In this essay, Acker – known for her feminist & queer approach to literature and for her appropriation of existing language in particular – attempts to find words to talk about her experience of bodybuilding, in a gym. She describes the gym as a 'geography of no language' as the bodies that work there tend to be vocal without being verbally articulate:

I am in the gym three out of every four days. What happens there? What does language look like in this place? According to cliché, athletes are stupid. Meaning: they are inarticulate... but my experience when I am in the gym is that I am immersed in a rich and complex world.'

Much like a gym, the programme for the week’s activities is fixed. For the full schedule of events, please see below.

Monday 20 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Sarah Browne, Report to an Academy, 2016

28 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo

Report to an Academy is an adaptation of the Kafka story of the same title, exploring the contemporary academic environment as a neoliberal workplace. Where in Kafka's story, an ape delivers an address to a gathering on his transition into human life, this video features an octopus who speaks of her motivation to escape and transform herself from human material in search of new forms of articulacy and agility.

Tuesday 21 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Imogen Stidworthy, Barrabackslarrabang, 2010
9 minutes, 13 seconds, HD video, Colour, Stereo
With Donna Berry, Cliff Higgins, George “Buster” Swaby and Christine Quarless
Barrabackslarrabang was shot in two Liverpool pubs (The Vines and The Lion Tavern), both locations strongly associated with informal chat and the birth of the railway and local underground slang, Backslang. The film interweaves tropes of class and race, trade and desire in the hidden backwaters and idealised forms of the voice.

Wednesday 22 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Jenny Brady, Going to the Mountain, 2015
10 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo
Brady is interested in subjects who don’t have a coherent language and with Going to the Mountain, came to look at pre-verbal babies in thinking about how we become a subject in the world through our entrance into language.

Thursday 23 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Stuart Marshall and Neil Bartlett, Pedagogue, 1988
10 minutes, SD video, Colour, Sound
Pedagogue was made in 1988 as a response to a law known as Clause 28. This law banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by anyone working in education or local government. No one was ever prosecuted under Clause 28 yet it remained in British Law until 2003.

Friday 24 November, 10.00 – 15.00

Fearghus Ó Conchúir, Match, 2006
6 minutes, HD video, Colour, Stereo
Match is a choreography for two men set against the backdrop of Croke Park, Ireland’s iconic stadium of traditional Gaelic games. The film was commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and by RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, and was an opportunity to make strangely familiar bodily experiences that are often unacknowledged.

Friday 24 November, 15.00 - 16.30

Letting the Body Speak for Itself: on Autistic Presence
Discussion with Dr. Stuart Murray.
This talk will focus on autism in terms of an idea embodied difference. It will explore how we might think of the condition in terms of sensory and proprioceptive responses to the external environment, and how the expression of these can suggest an idea of presence and agency. It will also discuss the ways in which autism is characterised in other settings - whether clinical/diagnostic or cultural narrative - and how this creates other ideas of bodies and subjectivity.

Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 November, 10.00 – 16.50

Sarah Browne and dance artist Leah Marojevic will be working together to develop movement in response to the objects in the space.

Artist Biographies

Sarah Browne is an artist based in Ireland. She is particularly concerned with how socially-engaged art projects can develop methodologies that are not solely discursive, in order to address non-verbal, bodily experiences of knowledge and justice. She is currently artist in residence at University College Dublin, College of Social Sciences and Law. Imogen Stidworthy is an artist based in Liverpool whose work focuses on aspects of the voice. Central in her research is to engage with others who exist in very different paradigms of language, shaped by experience, or by physical, neurological or social conditions. She is also a lecturer at Liverpool School of Art and Design. Jenny Brady works with the moving image to explore ideas around speech, translation and the nature of communication. Stuart Marshall was an educator, writer, and independent film and videomaker. His work focuses on the historical and political construction of homosexual identity as a deviant, ‘outsider’ category. Neil Bartlett is a director, author and performer based in London. In 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Brookes University Oxford in recognition of his body of work and of his pioneering and continuing commitment to gay culture and civil rights. Fearghus Ó Conchúir is a choreographer and Artistic Director of The Casement Project. Brought up in the Irish-speaking area of Ring in Ireland, he completed degrees in English and European Literature at Magdalen College Oxford, before training at London Contemporary Dance School. He recently completed a PhD in Geography at Maynooth University as the inaugural Irish Research Council Employment-based Scholar. Stuart Murray is Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where he is also the Director of the University’s Centre for Medical Humanities. He began working on autism following the diagnosis of his two eldest sons in 2002, and is the author of Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination (Liverpool UP, 2008) and Autism (Routledge, 2012), and the co-editor of the Cambridge Companion To Literature and Disability (Cambridge UP, 2017). More widely, he has written articles on disability in modern and contemporary British, American and Postcolonial writing, as well as Hollywood film. His recent work is on the intersection between disability and ideas of the posthuman and his next book, to be published by Liverpool University Press, is Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Minds and Cultural Futures. Leah Marojevic dances, makes dances, teaches dancing and writes. Originally from the UK, she graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Dance in Melbourne 2013. Leah was the recipient of the Australian Council for the Arts, ArtStart Grant 2015 and received the Orloff Family Trust award for ‘Most Outstanding Dancer’ in 2013. She has worked closely with makers and companies, including Theo Clinkrd, Colette Sadler, Candoco Dance Company, Clod Ensemble, Mirjam Gurtner, Becky Hilton and Seke Chimutengwende. Leah was Rehearsal Director for Skänes Dansteater in Malmö, Sweden in 2016 for Ben Wright's To See the World while the Light Lasts, and this year she premiered Colette Sadler’s new creation, Learning from the Future.


Sarah Browne would like to thank Marabouparken Konsthall & Fire Station Studios, Jenny Richards, Esther Eriksson, John Beattie, Ciarán Patterson and Lee Bury for their assistance with 3D fabrication.

Supported by UCD Parity Studios in partnership with Create, Ireland’s national development agency for collaborative arts, and the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP) which is funded by Creative Europe.

Tate Liverpool

Tate Exchange Liverpool

Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
Liverpool L3 4BB
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20–26 November 2017