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Experiments in Art Writing

Podcast – Adrian Rifkin

  • 21 April 2021
  • The British Art Talks podcast is an audio series from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. It features new research and aims to enhance and expand knowledge of British art and architecture.

Adrian Rifkin joins Anna Reid to share a set of texts that speak of the formation of his own practice as a renowned art historian and creative writer.

This series, Experiments in Art Writing, features a set of highly innovative UK-based art writers, asking them to describe the encounters, materials, voices and texts that have shaped the very form of their writing.

This programme contains a description of suicide taken from the novel La Fin De Cherí, by Sidonie Gabriel Collette. If you’d prefer to skip over that, it’s between 14:43 - 16:08. If you need support, you can the Samaritans - any time of day or night - on 116 123. Or visit www.samaritans.org.

Works referenced in this episode

  • Adrian Rifkin, ‘A Roman Holiday’, Parallax 8, no. 4, (2002): 4–7.
  • The Shangri Las, ‘Long Live Our Love’, Red Bird, originally released in 1966.
  • Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, La Fin de Chéri (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1926).
  • Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. H T Lowe Porter (London: Martin Secker, 1927).
  • Edgar Wind, ‘The Fear of Knowledge’, Art and Anarchy Reith Lectures (London: BBC, 1960).
  • Franz Schubert, ‘Der Lindenbaum’, with Lottie Lehmann (soprano), Wintereisse, Columbia, 1940.

About the speaker

  • Head and shoulders portrait of man against purple background.

    Adrian Rifkin: Throughout the eight years after leaving a university post as either a professor in art writing, fine art or visual culture, and a prior two decades of teaching critical studies for artists as well historical studies and cultural studies in Portsmouth Polytechnic, the exposition of my thinking turned to performance. This is to say something that I called enunciative events, distant from the lectern, with archives, power points, musical and filmic material, pieces of furniture, props of one kind or another, improvised into temporary maps of possible propositions. A number of these can be found on YouTube and other sites, although their point was that they were throw away, flying against the criterial of an RAE or an REF. Covid-19 brought this to an end and since then I have been working on the archives with which I set out in 1968, a certain kind of French art history that developed between 1900 and 1914. I have been thinking about this in part as an alternative to the now dominant Hamburg model, through which I was myself initiated by exiled members of the Warburg circle. In the podcast I hope to give an overview of a singular relation between research processes and their involuntary but triumphant poetic. My first essay in this direction will be published with Ma Bibliothèque later this year as Future Imperfect: The Past Between my Fingers.