Test Dept:
Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture 2021

The Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths has just announced the fourth annual Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture.

Taking place online, on Friday 29th January 2021, this year’s event features Test Dept in collaboration / conversation with Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb, building on an article Mark wrote about the band back in 2015 for Frieze.

There were a bunch of excellent primers produced on Test Dept a few years back, when they reemerged out of the steelwork back in 2015. Check out these features for Fact Mag and the Quietus.

You can find more information and get free Eventbrite tickets here, and you can read the event description below.

“There is something very timely about the return of Test Dept … [they] have arrived just in time for the deep crisis of neoliberalism in the UK”

— Mark Fisher, 2015.

When he visited Test Dept’s DS30 installation in Newcastle, Mark Fisher found much to inspire him and met with the group. In a subsequent article he described their work as an example of radical ‘popular modernism’ which could still be highly relevant in the present day. Inspired by this, the group have worked with Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb to explore their legacy and its relevance to now.

Fisher described the documentation of their work in the book Total State Machine (2015) as an ‘invaluable archive, an inventory of strategies, gestures and techniques’.

This two-part event will feature a new film work exploring Test Dept’s archive with a commentary by Alexei Monroe exploring their legacy through the lens of some of Fisher’s key concepts. This will be followed by conversation and Q&A facilitated by Peter Webb.

Test Dept worked intensively in and around Goldsmiths and the local area in the 1980s. The film and the conversation that follows will explore a series of key themes and questions, relating Test Dept’s history and current work to the multiple political, social and cultural challenges of 2021.

Can popular modernism still have an effect in the 21st Century, as Fisher believed it could? What lessons are there for today in the way that Test Dept operated in harsh environmental, economic and political conditions? How did Test Dept create its artistic “fuel to fight” from ruinous conditions and spaces and is it possible to imagine something like this in our own increasingly ruinous political and economic conditions?

And don’t forget: this year’s memorial lecture afterparty has also moved online. Hosted by ICA London the following evening, tickets are also free and available here.

Update: The memorial lecture will be streamed live on YouTube here:

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