Aestheticising Disaster

A Discussion on the Politics of War and the Atomic Sublime in Photography

4—4 may 2011


A not-for-profit accompaniment to our regular exhibition programme, Daniel Blau lectures and film screenings provide a critical and intellectual framework with which to consider themes related to photography.


Though the poetics of the atomic sublime might reassuringly couch its explosive potential in the language of nature, still it was a product of man, of culture.” – Peter B. Hales, The Atomic Sublime

Wednesday 4 May 2011, 7-10pm.

Speakers include David Birkin, Simon Morgan- Wortham and Hager Weslati. The evening will be introduced and chaired by Daniel Campbell Blight.


David Birkin’s work explores the proposition that photography is as much about what cannot be seen as what can be depicted visually. Combining sculpture, performance art and lens based media with a conceptual approach, his practice deals with the ephemeral: loss, transience, the photographic trace and a recurring tension between the hidden and the revealed. After studying Human Sciences (Anthropology) at the University of Oxford, Birkin received a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL where he is currently completing a postgraduate degree. He was awarded a bursary by the National Media Museum in 2009 and in 2010 won the Sovereign Art Prize for ‘Diptych’ from the series Confessions ex- hibited at the Barbican. His work has featured in exhibitions at the Courtauld Institute, Paradise Row, Michael Hoppen Gallery, Trolley, Hot Shoe, James Hyman, Photomonth Krakow and Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow. He lives and works in London.

Simon Morgan-Wortham is Professor of English and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, London. He is co-director of the London Graduate School. His recent books include Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006), Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber, co-edited with Gary Hall (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), Encountering Derrida: Legacies and Futures of Deconstruction, co-edited with Allison Weiner (London and New York: Continuum, 2007), Derrida: Writing Events (London and New York: Continuum, 2008) and The Derrida Dictionary (London and New York: Continuum, 2010).

Hager Weslati is lecturer in Critical Theory and American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University, London. Her research interests are focused on interpretations of Hegelian philosophy and on the critical theories of space with particular interest in nomadology, heterotopias and mobility. Her book chapters include “Travel in Disguise: On Travel Writing and Cultural Governance” in Not So Innocent Abroad: the Politics of Travel and Travel Writing (CSP, 2009); “Deserts in Literary and Religious Fundamentalism” in Literary Encounters of Fun- damentalism (Heidelberg UP, 2008); “Aporias of the As If: Derrida’s Kant and the Question of Experience” in Derrida After Kant (Clinamen, 2003). Articles include: “La pensée du désert: the Paradox of Theory and the Narrative of Boom and Bust in Cultural Studies” Tropismes (October, 2010); articles on Lacanian psychoanalysis, philosophy and transferen- cein Journal for Cultural Research ( January, 2007) and Anamorphosis. A Journal of the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis and the San Francisco Society for Lacanian Studies.