How Not To Be Distant


Talks, Performances, Interventions with:

Adrian Rifkin, Nina Wakeford, Claire Potter, Hannah Black, Matthew McQuillan, Alison Ballance, Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh, Daniel Lichtman, JL Murtaugh

Saturday-Sunday 25-26 October 1-5pm
Free. RSVP to:
Refreshements provided

How Not To Be Distant will open up conversation about the freedom to be vulnerable, sentimental and honest in light of other, powerful modes such as paranoid, cynical and defensive.

Over the weekend three invited speakers and a selection of Concerning The Bodyguard artists will instigate discussion and debate with an audience by responding to the theme and works in the exhibition from the point of view of their own research and activities and by opening up to broader conversations.

The symposium emerges from Concerning The Bodyguard, a large-scale group exhibition currently at The Tetley. The exhibition takes American writer Donald Barthelme’s short story of the same name as a provocative starting point to consider how current modes of expression assume the distanced observer and represent, protect and expose the vulnerable subject.


0113 320 2323

The Tetley
Hunslet Road
LS10 1JQ



SATURDAY 25 October

Introduction by co-curator, Laura Morrison and Tetley curator, Zoe Sawyer.

Claire Potter will present a new text written for the symposium that gathers heterogeneous encounters with assumed power into an emphatic pronouncement of affect. Text includes social confusion in Papa John's and the morphing, dubious figure of Grandfather.

Matthew McQuillan: Through spoken word and a projected showreel, Matthew McQuillan, will give a personal account of his family's pets. The piece will focus on animal/human and pet/owner relations, and explore notions of attachment and dependency.

30 min break -

Hannah Black will appear remotely in recorded presentations that address the speakers and the panel.

Adrian Rifkin will present "Towards the gay bodyguard, or some notes on method" followed by a conversation with Nina Wakeford about history, memory, and sentimentality.

15 min break -

Panel discussion with speakers.

5.30pm End


SUNDAY 26 October

Introduction and summary of Saturday by Laura Morrison and Zoe Sawyer.

Alison Ballance will present "Said" - a new performance work using firsthand accounts of womens' experiences and Ursula Le Guin’s science fiction novel ‘The Dispossessed’ as starting points. In doing so it wants to understand the circumstances and consequences of knowing other people’s sadnesses and asks how this affects art making and story telling.

A reading from Barthelme's short story, Concerning The Bodyguard, followed by open discussion with the artists and audience.

break 30 mins -

JL Murtaugh will briefly examine the use of management as a medium in professional artistic practice, particularly in reference to the subjective distance doing so implies. The presentation will unite both views of artistic contemporaries and examples of his own activity over the last three years.

Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh will attempt to revisit the part failure of his performance 'Upward Infliction' at the opening of Concerning The Bodyguard at The Tetley. In the style of an AV confessional he will attempt to erase the shame and embarrassment brought on by a rouge actor in search of glory.

break 15 mins -

Daniel Lichtman will tell the audience about an unexpected encounter with law enforcement that he experienced in Brooklyn, New York in June 2012. He will use sound and video to explore relations of identity and agency within the personal anecdote and images of distributed, political narrative.

Closing discussion with curators, artists and audience.

5pm End

Adrian Rifkin has been Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds, Middlesex University and Goldsmiths, University of London. His current appointment is at Central St Martins, University of the Arts. He Trained as an Art Historian and blogs at

Nina Wakeford is a London-based artist and sociologist. She is Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is currently a D.Phil. candidate at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Her recent shows include Legion TV, London (2014); Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2013);  Null and Void, London (2013);
Embassy, Edinburgh (2012); Motel de Nowhere, London (2012); Academy of
Fine Art, Trondheim (2012).

Claire Potter is an artist and writer from Merseyside, currently based in Yorkshire. Her textual work has been distributed internationally both in print and online. Potter curated Shady Dealings With Language, an Arts Council funded event series, exploring the practical and theoretical intersections of art writing and performance. Her debut book, Mental Furniture, is published by VerySmallKitchen later this year.

Hannah Black is a writer and artist. She was a studio participant on the Whitney ISP 2013-14, in New York. She graduated from the MFA in Art Writing at Goldsmiths in London in 2013. She has performed and screened her work at a number of galleries including Cage and TEMP in New York and the Whitechapel, the ICA and Legion TV in London. Her writing has been published by, among others, Arcadia Missa, Eros Journal, Rhizome and The New Inquiry, where she also works as an editor. She currently lives in Berlin.

Matthew McQuillan is an artist based in London. Recent projects include ‘Soft Evidence’ at Legion TV and Winter Escape’, a weekend of talks and presentations, co-organised with Naomi Pearce, at The Common House. He is currently organising a group show at Cafe Gallery Projects, for spring 2015.

Alison Ballance is based in London. Future exhibitions and projects include SGFA::2014: What, in the historical present, might constitute an activist life in sound? LCC, London and an article in The Occupied Times: Art, Activism and Politics Autumn 2014. Recent exhibitions include Passport to Pimlico, London 2014; My/Your Art Licks, London 2013; Liminal Space TAP Southend, 2013.

Ciarán Ó Dochartaigh born in Derry currently based in London. He has received an individual artist award for the City of Culture Derry 2013 and Catalyst Arts Belfast. He co-curated ‘Proxy Special’ at Platform Arts Belfast in March 2014.Recent shows include ‘Instances of Agreement/ at Kao Yuan Art Center, '21st Century Program' at Chisenhale Gallery and 'Young London' at V22.

Daniel Lichtman, born 1982, is based in New York and London. Solo presentations include the Woodmill, London, National University of Colombia, Bogota and Chashama, New York. Recent and upcoming group exhibitions include the Drawing Center, Bronx Museum of Art, Exit Art and Scaramouche Gallery, in New York, Vox Populi in Philadelphia and the ICA, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art.

JL Murtaugh is currently a research student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, receiving an MFA from Goldsmiths College (2011) and a BFA from Columbia College (2008) following additional studies in design and architecture.