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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Artist talk: Oliver Doe in conversation with Dr Marc Botha

14th August 2019, 18:00 to 20:00, Vane Gallery, Newcastle, Oliver Doe and Marc Botha

In association with his solo exhibition at Vane, ‘Somewhere In Between’, Oliver Doe will talk about his work and exhibition with Dr Marc Botha, Assistant Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Theory and Co-director of Durham’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience.

The UK and the rest of Europe have made great leaps forward in LGBTQ+ rights legislation this century, such as the repeal of Section 28, the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Despite this, queer people remain not only subject to violence, which has drastically escalated in recent months, but are still so often reduced to harmful stereotypes within popular cultural representations. Particularly in conversations around trans rights, HIV/AIDS, and relationships, LGBTQ+ people are portrayed as immoral or untrustworthy, with the often-difficult reality of queer lives and cultures becoming increasingly abstract to mainstream audiences.

Newcastle-based artist Oliver Doe’s exhibition, ‘Somewhere In Between’, questions the way that we see queer people, turning this abstraction on its head in order to proudly demonstrate LGBTQ+ bodies as a defiant site of political and cultural difference. Queer erasure is rendered into boldly coloured minimalist paintings, defiantly present in the space, and yet containing a pervading sense of absence in their reduced forms. The shapes in these images take their cues from bodily forms, viewed close up and magnified so that the actual bodies, their gender or identity, become unrecognisable. These forms then overlap, confusing the sense of positive and negative space between the figures, blurring the limits of these queer bodies further.

The colours in Doe’s works recall the oblique language of the varying pride flags, or indeed the notorious ‘hanky code’, each hue or combination implying an identity. And yet, whilst these broadly painted planes of colour are so obviously visible to the audiences, their actual meaning or coding remains implicit, and open to our interpretation. Viewers are left to cruise the colours of the gallery in search of meaning and identity amongst the abstraction.

The talk is free but places are limited. Please contact the gallery to book a place at info@vane.org.uk or 0191 261 8281

Contact m.j.botha@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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