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IMMA proudly presents the seminar Protest – Remembering Derek Jarman. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Jarman’s death yet his work still feels urgent and contemporary.

What is Jarman’s legacy as an artist and activist, today? Special guests and close working associates of Jarman’s offer a series of keynote reflections that brings you deeper into the creative worlds, controversies and friendships that surround Jarman’s pioneering career. Speakers include: Seán Kissane (Curator, IMMA); Olivia Laing (author/ writer, UK); Elisabeth Lebovici (art historian); Dr Robert Mills (Professor, UCL,UK); Charlie Porter (Writer, UK); Richard Porter (artist / Pilot Press, UK); Jon Savage (writer, broadcaster, UK); Dr Catherine Silverstone (Queen Mary University of London); Peter Tatchell (Human rights campaigner, UK), Karim White (Thames & Hudson Publishing): Tonie Walsh (Civil rights activist, Ireland) and others.

This seminar focuses critical attention and the artists’ unique interdisciplinary approach to his practice. Considered by many as one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century British culture. While known as a prolific film director, writer, diarist, stage designer, gardener and political activist, Jarman saw himself primarily as a painter. A range of iconic works will be explored in the context of the highly anticipated IMMA exhibition, Derek Jarman, PROTEST! opening on 15 November 2019. This significant retrospective comes 25 years following Jarman’s death from AIDS-related illnesses and offers the timely opportunity to explore queer thinking and Jarman’s love of painting, literature, nature, popular culture, performance and his activist work, that continues to resonant with the concerns of today’s creative practitioners.

This seminar launches the highly anticipated exhibition Derek Jarman, PROTEST!. The seminar is followed by the exhibition preview and drinks reception from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome.

With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

More Details

Through the prism of Jarman’s work the seminar will trace key social, political and cultural shifts of the period 1960 – 1990s. Exploring many of the socially volatile topics that charged Jarman’s activities, his feelings of alienation, and associations with the punk movement, and protests by intellectuals against the repressive totalitarian state of Thatcher England and Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. Topics of discussion include: Painting and Life; Memoir and Writing; Protest and Personal Freedom; the HIV/AIDS crisis; cultural memory and stigma, and LGBT and civil rights.

Curators, artists, writers, critics, educators and activists will share their views on Jarman’s contemporary relevance and the precarious cycle of politics today. Speakers include; Sean Kissane (Curator, IMMA); Olivia Laing (author / writer, UK); Elisabeth Lebovici (art historian, critic, France): Dr Robert Mills (Professor, Medieval Studies, UCL,UK): Charlie Porter (Writer, Turner Prize Juror, UK); Richard Porter (artist / Pilot Press, UK); Jon Savage (writer, broadcaster, UK); Dr Catherine Silverstone (Reader, Queen Mary University of London); Peter Tatchell (Human rights campaigner, UK), Karim White (Thames & Hudson Publishing. UK), Tonie Walsh (LGBT rights activist, journalist, Ireland) and others.

About Speakers

Annie Fletcher is the Director of IMMA.

Seán Kissane is Curator of Exhibitions, IMMA and Curator of Derek Jarman, PROTEST!.

Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. She’s the author of To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring, and The Lonely City, which has been translated into 15 languages. She writes for many publications, including the Guardian and New Statesman, and is a columnist for Frieze. In 2018 she was awarded the Windham Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her latest book is Crudo, a real-time novel about the turbulent summer of 2017. It was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and a New York Times notable book of 2018 and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. She is currently working on Everybody, a book about bodies & freedom. See more details here

Elisabeth Lebovici
Elisabeth Lebovici is an art historian and art critic, whose research, writings and lectures investigate the intersection of feminism, gender studies, queer politics, LGBT activism, and contemporary art. Among numerous publications, she is the author, of a new book Ce que le sida m’a fait: art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle (‘What AIDS has done to me. Art and Activism at the End of the 20th Century’, Zurich: JRP Ringier, 2017). Restoring the voices of friends in the fight against AIDS; articulating the “I” and the “we” of then and now; examining facts and affects little known to the French and European public; analysing the epidemic of representation which followed the emergence of AIDS: such is the agenda of this book, conceived by Elisabeth Lebovici as a “discourse on method” in which the personal is always political, and public and private spheres are closely intertwined. Engaged alongside French and American AIDS activists, Elisabeth Lebovici was a privileged observer, as an art historian and journalist, of the debates of the 1980s and 1990s. In this book, Lebovici analyzes the relationships between art and activism at this pivotal moment, which she revisits from her memory as witness and survivor. See more details here.

Charlie Porter
Charlie Porter is a writer from London who contributes to the Financial Times. He is known for his writing on fashion, most recently as men’s fashion critic for the FT, but has a life-long interest in art. He has worked at titles such as The Guardian, GQ and Fantastic Man, and has written for Luncheon, i-D and Love. Porter is a jury member of the Turner Prize 2019 and recent curated his first exhibition Palimpsest, Lismore Castle Arts’ main gallery exhibition for 2019. See more details here.

Richard Porter
Richard Porter is an artist based in London. Blending an interest in materiality, spirituality and queerness with conceptual and autobiographical ideas, his practice moves fluidly between sculpture, painting, installation, video and performance. He founded Pilot Press, a not-for-profit publishing venture founded in 2017 to shed light on contemporary queer lives and provide a platform otherwise not offered by mainstream publishing and cultural institutions His publications include; Not here; A queer anthology of loneliness, Over there; A queer anthology of joy and A queer anthology of rage are available in Tenderbooks and Donlon Books in London, and Printed Matter Inc, Mast Books and McNally Jackson Books in New York City.

Robert Mills
Robert Mills is Professor of Medieval Studies and Head of the History of Art Department at UCL. Between 2015 and 2018 Mills directed qUCL, UCL’s LGBTQ research network. Previously he was director of the Queer@King’s research centre at King’s College London, where he also taught Old and Middle English literature. Books include Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005) and Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015). Mills also contributed the medieval section to A Gay History of Britain (2007). Mills’s most recent book, Derek Jarman’s Medieval Modern (2018), uses Jarman’s longstanding interests in medieval art and literature to open a window onto questions of anachronism and the politics of time. Taking in the filmmaker’s major features, as well as unrealised screenplays and short experimental films, the book considers Jarman’s engagement with medieval poetry; with saints and mystics from Joan of Arc to Julian of Norwich; and with numerous paintings, buildings and objects from this so-called ‘middle’ time. Mills is currently working on a book on animals and sovereignty in medieval art. He has also recently completed an article on Derek Jarman and notions of apocalypse. See more details here.

Jon Savage
Jon Savage is the author of England’s Dreaming: Sex pistols and Punk Rock and Teenage: The Creation of Youth, 1875 – 1945. He has written sleevesnotes for Wire, St. Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys, among others, and his compilations include: Meridian 1970 (Heavenly/EMI 2005); Queer Noises: From the Closest to the Charts 1961 – 1976 (Trikont 2006); and Dreams Come True: Classic Electro 1982-87 (Domino 2008). See more details here.

Catherine Silverstone
Catherine Silverstone is Reader in Theatre and Performance at Queen Mary University of London. Her research is focused on the cultural politics of performance, with particular interests in sexuality and death. Catherine edited a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s death in 2014. She is also the author of a monograph — Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance (2011) — and articles on topics including Jarman, queer club performance, and coming out films. Other publications include an edition of Titus Andronicus for The Norton Shakespeare (2015) and the co-edited collections, ‘On Affirmation’ for Performance Research (with Fintan Walsh, 2014) and Tragedy in Transition (with Sarah Annes Brown, 2007). She is currently working on a project on queer legacies in performance, which develops her work on Jarman. Catherine is also a founder member of the Sexual Cultures Research Group at QMUL. See more details here

Peter Gary Tatchell
Peter Gary Tatchell has been campaigning for LGBT+ equality and other human rights for over half a century. London-based, in the 1990s he worked for LGBT+ rights through the direct action group OutRage! with the support of Derek Jarman. He staged the first LGBT+ protest in a communist country (East Germany in 1973), twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on charges of torture (1999 and 2001) and was in 2007 beaten by neo-Nazis in Moscow when he went there to support Russian LGBT+ activists. In protest at the Iraq war, he ambushed Tony Blair’s motorcade in 2003, forcing it to halt. Peter is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation which promotes human rights in the UK and internationally. See more details here.

Tonie Walsh
Tonie Walsh civil rights activist, historian, journalist. In 1985, at the age of 24, Tonie Walsh was the first openly gay person to stand for election to Dublin City Council. Although unsuccessful, he was compelled to run in the Dáil elections of 1989, highlighting the unjustness of existing anti-gay legislation. During the 1980s he was a prime mover behind Dublin’s LGBT resource, the Hirschfeld Centre, and also worked as a journalist on OUT, Ireland’s first commercial lesbian/gay periodical. He was the founding editor of GCN, Ireland’s most successful queer publication. Using earlier collections, he founded the Irish Queer Archive in 1997, later transferred to state ownership at the National Library of Ireland. A former president of the National LGBT Federation, Walsh was grand marshal of the Dublin LGBT Pride parade in 2008.A longtime advocate for safer sex and improved sexual health strategies, Walsh became HIV Positive in 2005 after being raped. He has been an outspoken critic of Government inertia around new HIV and STI infections, and a onetime board member of Gay Health Network. On World AIDS Day 2016, he launched a campaign to build an Irish AIDS Memorial. After almost a decade working as a full-time carer, Tonie Walsh returned to public life with I Am Tonie Walsh. A meditation on friendship, family and community, the one-man show, produced by critically acclaimed Thisispopbaby, premiered at Dublin’s Project Arts Centre in November 2018. Walsh is currently busying himself with a number of other research and writing projects. He continues to independently curate for the Irish Queer Archive.

Karim White
Karim White, is Editor of the IMMA publication, Derek Jarman, PROTEST! with Thames and Hudson Publishing.

And Others.

Tickets and Booking

This is a Free and Ticketed event. Tickets are limited for this seminar. If tickets are no longer available and you are keen to attend please write an expression of interest to [email protected] by the closing date of Friday 8 November 2019.

Additional Resources 


Additional Resources


Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

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