Enlightenment Corner: 14-20 March
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In our relentless pursuit of truth, we're taking a good, hard look at our surroundings: our landscapes, our cities, and our politicians. We're also thinking about how they're all represented through the supposedly objective eye of the camera... and we're throwing psychedelics on top of all of that, just for fun.
Like virtually everything in existence, landscape is inherently tied to identity. Mountains, hills, plains, concrete streets canvassed in bird shit - all integral pieces in the development of a region's cultural character. Visual artist Rebecca Chesney is sitting down with art historian Rosemary Shirley to discuss how artists engage with rural landscapes in their works. How do viewers and artists relate to rurality, how do we make the unfamiliar familiar?
Ah, the Swingin' Sixties - an era when women literally ironed their hair, drinking and driving was chill, and medical researchers were getting mashed up on psychedelics whenever they could. What a time to be alive. The history of psychedelic research is usually only traced back to the mid-century, but IAS Visiting Research Fellow Dr Jelena Martinovic has unearthed a case of mescaline experimentation done by neurophysiologist Heinrich Klüver in the early 20th century. In this talk, she'll present her findings, and engage critically with the history of psychedelic experimentation as we understand it.
We have literally no idea what's going on anymore. All truth has slipped into the dodgy hinterland of relativity, and even the objective eye of the camera can't be trusted. That's pretty bleak. Join artist Kate Cooper, arts writer Liz Jobey, architect and researcher Christina Varvia and photography writer and journalist Sean O'Hagan as they discuss whether photography can still be said to uphold objective realities in a post-truth world, or whether nothing is real and we shouldn't even bother.
Is Britain having a crisis of leadership? Yeah, no shit. The ruling class have completely lost touch with the populace - just look at the clowns leading this country: Boris Johnson is a racist upside-down mop, Jacob Rees-Mogg looks and acts like a Victorian-era creepypasta villain, and everyone else is scurrying around the shambles of Brexit with their respective bits in their grubby hands. A panel of journalists and professors will be discussing the failings of Britain's current political elite, tracing the disintegration of our leadership back to the cultural upheaval of the 1980s.
Richard Sennett is a rock star in the world of academia, a kind of caped hippy scholar working to make urbanity more bearable, swooping into our cities armed with his words and above-average capacity for critical thought. His new book, Building and Dwelling, provides a roadmap for what he terms 'open cities' - where citizens actively hash out their differences and planners experiment with urban forms that make it easier for residents to cope. Catch him at LSE Tuesday eve - who knows, maybe you'll learn something.