Sunday 7 February 2016, 7pm


No Longer Available

*Please note that due to urgent family circumstances, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump are no longer able to perform live.*

The Dialectics of Liberation was a unique gathering in July 1967 in London, England. The purpose of the conference was to demystify human violence in all its forms, the social systems from which it emanates, and to explore new forms of action. The conference was organized by psychiatrist, Dr Joseph Berke. Invited participants included artist Carolee Schneemann, poet Allen Ginsberg, psychiatrists Dr Leon Redler and R.D. Laing, writer Susan Shearman, activist Stokely Carmichael, anthropologist Francis Huxley and philosopher Herbert Marcuse.

“The Dialectics Conference was an attempt to gain a meta- perspective about war and violence using, in particular, the tools and insights of psychoanalysis. The organizers hoped that their ideas would engage and inter-relate with the views of the invited scholars, activists and participants at the Conference, and in an informal and non-academic format. To some extent this happened. But many of the discussions followed old patterns and clichés. Our goals were too high. We did not effect significant social change. But many micro-social experiments, especially in psychiatry, have continued 50 years after the Dialectics took place.” – DR JOSEPH BERKE, PSYCHIATRIST & DIALECTICS OF LIBERATION CURATOR

“I do think we have to start with ourselves and our relationships when it comes to the seeds of violence in our world…big mistake to not do that, and psychoanalysis can help, as can spiritual teachings that understand the roots of violence in ‘me’-centred, or ‘we’-centred (‘our’ nation, ethnic group, religion, subculture, ) ways of being. But we have to continue from there to see and transcend those limitations and find ways of collective action that enable us to say, ’yes, yes!’” – DR LEON REDLER, PSYCHIATRIST


8–8.10: Leon Redler introduction.

8.10–8.50: Screening of 'Fuses' and Q and A with artist Carolee Schneemann

8.50–9.40: Panel discussion with Leon Redler, Jacky Ivimy, Peter Davis, Shiri Shalmy and Heathcote Ruthven

9.40–10.30: Screening of 'Anatomy of Violence' followed by discussion with director Peter Davis

10.30–11.00: Geraldine Swayne live performance

“Since the featured participants were “some of the most brilliant but unclassifiable thinkers in the world today” – sharing a deep commitment to clarify political consciousness, risking professional stability for a radical, reconstructive vision – since that was true – was it also possible that many of them would resent the participation of a woman, in a particular a young woman, whose contribution would be a sort of “unclassifiable” physical extension, a sensory equivalence to energies explored/released in the course of the congress? The quotation, now ten years past, clarifies the bias underlying the actual hostility, ostracism, and sabotage which my work received.” – CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN, ARTIST

The Dialectics of Liberation: Reconvened is an exploration of the ideas and goals behind the original 1967 conference. We will also embark on a new discourse into its relevance today with those who have been inspired by its legacy.  The event is curated by musician and legal academic, Dee Sada.

Discussion themes include:

  1. Dialectics & Gender: Carolee Schneemann and Dee Sada In Conversation (Due to health reasons, Carolee is unable to join in person but will be partaking in a live Skype discussion and audience Q&A)
  2. The meaning of ‘Radical’ and the role of the Anti-University – Dr Leon Redler
  3. The Anatomy of Violence, UK/Canada 1967, 30 mins, Documentary screening & Introduction by filmmaker, Peter Davis
  4. An Interview with Jacky Ivimy on her upcoming production, DIALEKTIKON


Please note that due to urgent family circumstances, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump are no longer able to perform live.

Carolee Schnemann

*Due to health reasons, Carolee will be joining our event via Skype.

Carolee Schneemann is a multidisciplinary artist. Transformed the definition of art, especially discourse on the body, sexuality, and gender. The history of her work is characterized by research into archaic visual traditions, pleasure wrested from suppressive taboos, the body of the artist in dynamic relationship with the social body.

Painting, photography, performance art and installation works shown at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and most recently in a retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York entitled “Up To And Including Her Limits”. Film and video retrospectives Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Film Theatre, London; Whitney Museum, NY; San Francisco Cinematheque; Anthology Film Archives, NYC.

She has taught at many institutions including New York University, California Institute of the Arts, Bard College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recipient of a 1999 Art Pace International Artist Residency, San Antonio, Texas; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1997, 1998); 1993 Guggenheim Fellowship; Gottlieb Foundation Grant; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Maine College of Art, Portland, ME. Lifetime Achievement Award, College Art Association, 2000.

Schneemann has published widely; books include Cezanne, She Was A Great Painter (1976), Early and Recent Work (1983); More Than Meat Joy: Performance Works and Selected Writings (1979, 1997). Forthcoming publications include Imaging Her Erotics, from MIT Press. A selection of her letters edited by Kristine Stiles is also forthcoming.

Dr Leon Redler

Leon Redler qualified in Medicine in New York (1962) and left a psychiatric residency there when invited to work with Maxwell Jones and R D Laing in the UK.

"Joe Berke introduced me to Laing who, in turn, invited me to join him and his colleagues in what he hoped could be an asylum and refuge from an increasingly dysfunctional world for some of the founders, Laing, Esterson, Cooper, Briskin and others…but especially an asylum, or place where one wouldn’t be violated, for people immersed in ‘mental’ (but can it really be isolated?) suffering and/or feeling or being felt to be disturbed and disturbing to others."

He remains one of two honorary members of the Philadelphia Association, albeit in a more peripheral role, continuing to constantly question and challenge the direction and nature of the Association in an evolving and increasingly regulated field. In his own words; "Perhaps there are times when playing at the margins, as well as playing with the margins (taking an inspiration from the late philosopher Jacques Derrida, in diverse texts and contexts) is a better option than the alternatives."

He remains in London, practicing psychotherapy and teaching. His paper, We All Go Astray, can be read at the on-line journal, Radical Psychology (Volume 7, Issue 2)

Francis Huxley, Anthropologist

Francis Huxley

Francis Huxley is the is the son of the biologist Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, nephew of the writer Aldous Huxley, half-nephew of the Nobel laureate Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, grandson of the writer Leonard Huxley and great-grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley. He is a botanist, writer, photographer and anthropologist.

Francis Huxley's interests seem to be as broad as the world itself.  Born in 1923, he has studied hippos in Gambia, remote tribes in Brazil, mental patients in Canada, Voodoo in Haiti, and shamans everywhere…  The titles of his books  give some indication of  his range: The Cosmic Serpent, The Dragon, The Way of the Sacred, People of the World.  He has been an Oxford lecturer, a co-founder of Survival International (dedicated to the preservation of tribal societies), and a member of RD Laing's Philadelphia Association where he co-authored The Tao of Therapy with Laing.  One of the leading figures of the study and re-shaping of cultures in the last century, he now lives in Northern California.


“My involvement in the Dialectics Congress goes back nearly 6 years, when Leon Redler gave me a radio play he'd constructed out of the Congress material. I thought at once that what was said then was directly relevant to the enormous problems we face today and have been doing my best ever since to bring those great characters and their visions back to life.

In 2012, I constructed an event featuring six of the key speeches which I took to three London venues including Occupy London, and since then I've completed a full-length script.

The treatment of Carolee Schneemann and the whole down-played role of women in the conference are very important questions for me. The form I've devised for the play gives back power to the women.”

Peter Davis, Filmmaker

Peter Davis

Villon Films has been independently producing and distributing award-winning films since 1970. With a strong focus on socio-political documentary, the collection spans such issues as government, history, ecology, culture, health and science, women’s issues, biography, and the apartheid period of South African history, among others.

Villon Films was founded by Peter Davis, who has written, produced, and directed more than seventy documentaries. His work has been shown on every major television network on the globe including CBC, CTV, BBC, CBS, NBC, Swedish Television, German Television, and NHK Japan.

Davis was born and raised in England. He completed his masters degree at Oxford University before emigrating to Sweden and then North America. His early career included positions as scriptwriter for the National Film Board of Canada; director-cameraman for BBC, CBC, Swedish TV, Danish TV, Australian Broadcasting, and WNET; as well as producer for Swedish TV, London’s Rediffusion Television, BBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Polytel (West Germany), WNET, the United Nations, UNICEF, and C.A.R.E.

The Villon Films collection includes biographies of spies such as CIA agent and Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt and U2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers, and of the World War II Foreign Service officers who were accused of “losing China”; a satirical history of the American annexation of the Philipines; and a sociological history of the Jewish experience in the Catskills.

The Peter Davis Collection at Indiana University represents over 50 years of work. It includes not only films, but also corresponding outtakes, photographs, audio cassettes, and manuscripts, all available for research and study. The South African material spans the period of the most intensive struggle for human rights in that country, and also includes historical footage dating from the beginning of the century. Among the documentaries held there are Remember Mandela!, In Darkest Hollywood, White Laager and Generations of Resistance.

Geraldine Swayne

Geraldine Swayne

Geraldine Swayne creates intimate yet powerful works painting with enamel on small copper or aluminium panels. Swayne’s small paintings feel like historical miniatures but feature contemporary subjects from sources as diverse as pornography, landscape painting and portraits of friends. The paintings feel completely self contained and accomplished, and yet have a subtle brevity of form and lightness of touch. A portrait of a fading rock star painted in jewel like tones on enamel takes on a completely new meaning in her intimate and compelling style.

Swayne is also a member of the celebrated band ‘Faust’ and has often blurred the boundaries between her work as a painter as a musician. Not only does she paint her musical collaborators but she also incorporates painting into her on-stage performances and documents her experimental performances in her paintings.

Swayne is noted for navigating the complex relationships between painting, music and film. Her multifaceted and distinguished career includes winning a Northern Arts Travel award to paint and make super-8 films about Voodoo in New Orleans.  She moved to France in 1991 painting portraits and large outdoor paintings for the Marie of St Jean de Fos. Since 1999, she has made numerous experimental films including the world’s first super-8 to Imax film 'East End', produced by Cathy Shaw, and narrated by Miriam Margolyes with music by Nick Cave.

After leaving the film industry in 2004 she worked as an assistant for Jake and Dinos Chapman rebuilding 'Hell'. Although better known as a painter she joined experimental rock group …bender in 2005 and in the following year, the seminal 'Krautrock" group 'Faust' with whom she has recorded two albums and toured widely, making musical improvisations and live paintings at venues such as the Wrexner Centre for the Arts in Ohio, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art and CalArts.

As a painter she has been exhibited in numerous group and solo shows at including the Barbican, Calvert 22, L-13 and Fred, London. In 2010 she was a finalist in the John Moores painting prize, Walker Gallery, Liverpool. In 2014 she was awarded a live/work residency at Acme Fire-station in East London, where she now lives and paints.

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