Glenn Ligon: Call and Response

Camden Arts Centre, London, United Kingdom
10 Oct 2014 - 11 Jan 2015

Glenn Ligon: Call and Response

Glenn Ligon 'Come out Study' © the artist, courtesy : Camden Arts Centre

In October 2014, Camden Arts Centre presents an exhibition of new work by celebrated American artist Glenn Ligon. Bringing together the breadth of Ligon’s work, this solo show is his first in a UK public gallery. The exhibition will include a new text-based neon work and multi-layered silk-screen paintings, as well as a major new video work. Glenn Ligon: Call and Response opens on 10 October 2014 and runs until 11 January 2015 and admission is free.

One of America’s most distinguished contemporary artists, Ligon (b.1960) has been deeply engaged with the written word throughout his career. Drawing attention to the problems of language and representation, he addresses pressing and challenging topics of race, language and sexuality. His works reconsider and re-present American history, especially narratives of slavery and civil rights, within a contemporary context. Best known for his stencilled text based paintings, he weaves together wide-ranging influences from literature, visual arts and popular culture. Over the past 10 years, Ligon has also been dedicated to interrogating these themes through his prolific and astute writing and interviews.

For his exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, Ligon presents a new series of large paintings based on the 1966 seminal taped-speech work, Come Out, by Minimalist composer Steve Reich. Come Out is drawn from the testimony of six black youths arrested for committing a murder during the Harlem Race Riot of 1964. Known as the ‘Harlem Six’, the case galvanised civil rights activists for a generation, bringing to attention police brutality against black citizens. Echoing Reich’s overlapping repetition of words and phrases, Ligon’s silkscreen paintings overlay the words to create slowly shifting and rhythmic effects.

Ligon is creating a new neon work, which draws on the words of Daniel Hamm, one of the ‘Harlem Six’, describing the police beatings. Neon letters, suspended for visitors to walk amongst, blink on and off in a cycle reflecting Reich’s work. Ligon’s neon works continue his interest in pushing text and speech to the point of abstraction. As with his paintings, they encourage the viewer to oscillate between reading and looking.

A new multi-screen video work uses footage of comedian Richard Pryor’s 1982 stand-up performance, Live on Sunset Strip. Ligon has reorganised and refilmed the recorded material to emphasise Pryor’s emphatic body language, movement and expressions, removing articulated words to focus on body language and the performative delivery of speech.

Introductory Talk: Glenn Ligon
Thursday 9 October
5.45 – 6.30pm
Glenn Ligon discusses his exhibition with Mark Godfrey, Curator of International Art at Tate Modern, prior to the Exhibition Preview. Free, but booking is essential.
The talk will be broadcast live on our website and at thisistomorrow.info


Create a Scene
Friday 10 October
11.00am – 1.00pm
A tour and discussion session for older generation art enthusiasts based around the Glenn Ligon exhibition, Call and Response. Create a Scene is a friendly and welcoming space for adults who are seeking creative inspiration for viewing and making art in a group environment.


Christian Nyampeta – Reading Group
Wednesdays, 22 October & 19 November
7.00 – 8.30pm
Artist Christian Nyampeta leads the first of two reading group sessions discussing texts which respond to themes prevalent in Glenn Ligon’s work. A reading list will be posted on the website in coming weeks.


Exhibition Talk: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Sunday 2 November
3.00 – 3.45pm
Artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye leads a gallery tour of Glenn Ligon’s exhibition Call and Response.


Panel Discussion: Blackness – Ghosts of Past, Present and Future 
Saturday 10 January, 2.00 – 3.30pm
An afternoon looking at how we can move away from constructs of ‘colour’ when we are in an age that is haunted by a history of racial oppression, with a keynote presentation from Avery F. Gordon, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Tickets: £7 / Friends and Concessions: £5
Includes a complimentary drink in the Café
Broadcast live on our website and at thisistomorrow.info


Exhibition Talk: Sophie Williamson
Sunday 11 January

3.00 – 4.00pm
Drawing on key themes which Glenn Ligon addresses in his exhibition, Sophie Williamson, Exhibitions Organiser at Camden Arts Centre leads a 45-minute tour followed by an open discussion with the audience.



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