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Quorum Drama Seminar Series: David Getsy – Wednesday 3 May 2017

3rd May 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


All are invited for a discussion of the work, the event is free in the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, and refreshments will be served.

Rubbish and Dreams: Stephen Varble, Anti-Commercialism, and Genderqueer Performance on the Streets of 1970s New York

Performance artist, playwright, and fashion designer Stephen Varble (1946–1984) was a fixture on the streets of SoHo in the 1970s, but his ephemeral practice has largely gone unrecognized in histories of art. His guerrilla practice aimed at disruption — of commerce, of gender roles, and of the institutions of art and celebrity. In elaborate sculptural garments made of street trash, Varble held unauthorized gallery tours through SoHo and protest performances in banks, Fifth Avenue stores, and in the street. A favourite of photographers such as Greg Day, Peter Hujar, and Jimmy DeSana, Varble’s art performed gender transformation and hybridity for both popular and art audiences in the 1970s. Over the past five years, David Getsy has been recovering the story of Varble’s work through interviews and private archives. He will discuss Varble’s work and the struggle to write the first history of this performance artist who left little behind and who was antagonistic to art’s institutions.

David Getsy is Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London (2017) and Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His books include Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (2015); Scott Burton: Collected Writings on Art and Performance, 1965-1975 (2012); Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (2010); and, most recently, the collection of artists’ writings, Queer, for the Whitechapel Gallery’s ‘Documents of Contemporary Art’ book series (2016). His current major projects focus on queer and genderqueer performance art in the 1970s.


3rd May 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Lock-Keeper’s Cottage
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road, E1 4NS
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