Uncaptioned image.
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The Jean Fisher Archive Reading Group - Session 1

15 June 2022, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Nine Elms

Michelle Williams Gamaker leads a reading group working through articles and objects from the archive of the late Jean Fisher (1942-2016).

Together with guest speakers, the sessions will bring materials from the archive into conversation with artworks, videos, sounds and objects taking questions written by hand in the margins of Fisher’s notes as starting points.

Fisher was a critic and writer whose work often explored colonial legacies and sites of conflict including Ireland, Native America, the Black Atlantic and Palestine. She championed artists including Francis Alÿs, Sonia Boyce, Willie Doherty, Jimmie Durham, Edgar Heap of Birds, Susan Hiller, Tina Keane, Gabriel Orozco, Anne Tallentire and Steve McQueen. She taught widely including at Middlesex University, Byam Shaw and the Royal College of Art. Fisher had a long-standing and productive working relationship with Matt’s Gallery and our director Robin Klassnik, often writing on artists that were shown here and sometimes penning press releases for the gallery.

To join: Spaces are limited. To apply for a place please send a sentence or two (written or recorded) explaining your interest in the project to info@mattsgallery.org by 5pm on Monday 6 June.

Session 1, Box no 1 Imaging the Other

Wednesday 15 June 2022, 18:30-20:30

Guest speaker Anne Tallentire

Main readings (to be sent to participants):

· Jean Fisher’s lecture Colonial Discourse: The Irish Question, Middlesex Seminars: Imaging the Other, Autumn 1996
‘England’s colonial enterprise began –- and continues – with Ireland. Examined are some of the historical factors that established the terms of colonialist/imperialist racial ideologies.’

· Jean Fisher's essay Dancing on a Tightrope (For Anne Tallentire) (1999)

To share at Session 1:

· Context document: Module Outline: Semester 1: 1997/1998, Imaging the Other: Visual Representation and Cultural Difference, History and Theory of Visual Culture, Middlesex University.
A breakdown of Jean’s Middlesex Semester 1 lectures from the 1997/98 series (History & Theory of Visual Culture)

· Slides: Anne Tallentire and work-seth/tallentire

· Moving image: Anne Tallentire THE GAP OF TWO BIRDS (1990)

Optional additional reading:

· Fisher’s lecture Middx 3 From Primitivism to Multiculturalism (1996/97 version)

Fisher’s summary:
"Both primitivism and colonialism are central to the development of modernism. We need to consider whether the global encounters between the West and Rest produced not one but several modernisms, each with its own local geographical inflection. Recent attempts to address the racialized hierarchies of the western art system are discussed through some of the following international exhibitions, ‘Primitivism” in 20th Century Art’, ‘Lost and Found Traditions’, ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, ‘The Other Story’, ‘America: Bride of the Sun’, ‘Seven Stories from Africa’."


Alongside a conversation with Anne Tallentire to contextualise the texts and to bring anecdotal/memory-based content to the session, we will use Jean Fisher’s questions about notions of ‘othering’ to guide our session.

Oct 7th 1997, from Fisher's module introduction:

What do we mean by the stranger or foreigner; the exile and the immigrant; home/away; lack/plenitude?

Michelle Williams Gamaker notes: Particularly interested in Jean’s annotated thoughts on the existence of the term ‘The Other’, which sets up a duality and points to the failings or inadequacies of language. We can use these questions for session 1.