A Weekend of Weird

From: Sat 26 November, 10:00am
To: Sun 27 November, 4:00pm

A Weekend of Weird: Where does the real end and the unreal begin?  Can we even distinguish one from the other?

About the Weird: The Weird is an emerging field that encompasses literature, film, music, art and performance. Its world is subtly strange, uncanny, irrational, inexplicable, questioning our everyday environments and perceptions and implying that our world is far more bizarre and disturbing than we would like to believe.

A Weekend of Weird brought together writers, performers, filmmakers, artists, publishers, academics, enthusiasts and celebrants to ask: what is the Weird? Where did it come from? Where is it going?

About the Weekend: The weekend comprised panel discussions, live performances, film screenings and a specialist book fair. Organised by Radar this event was made in collaboration with Nick Freeman and Dan Watt from Loughborough University’s School of the Arts, English and Drama. Contributions throughout the weekend were made by John Hirschhorn-Smith, Andrew Michael Hurley, Alison Moore, Timothy Jarvis, James Machin, Rosalie Parker and Mark Valentine speaking as part of panel discussions.

These sessions were interspersed with live performances and a series of specially curated film programmes. For this programme Radar commissioned new works by Joey Holder, Ben Judd, Tai Shani and artist collective Reactor. There will also be screenings of work by Sidsel Christensen and Pauline Curnier Jardin.


A Weekend of Weird Programme
Martin Hall
Main Theatre

Saturday 25 November
10.30 – 7.30pm

Panel Discussion - Welcome to the Weird
Nick Freeman, Dan Watt
10.30am – 11.30pm
Old maps marked unknown lands 'Here Be Dragons'. A Weekend of Weird, organised by Radar, Loughborough University’s contemporary art strand, in collaboration with Nick Freeman and Dan Watt from Loughborough University’s School of the Arts, English and Drama, explores these strange realms in the company of writers, artists, critics, publishers, performers, and puppets. Nothing will be quite as it seems once you step through 'The Door in the Wall'. Meet 'The Gold Ones'. Be menaced by 'an intensely horrible face of crumpled linen'. Experience the Phantasmagoregasm. Discover what lurks in 'The Inner Room', and enjoy readings from Weird writers past and present.

Panel Discussion – Machenalia
James Machin, Nick Freeman, Dan Watt
11.30am – 12.30pm
The Welsh novelist Arthur Machen (1863-1947) is widely regarded as a founding father of Weird fiction, with stories such as The Great God Pan (1894), 'The White People' (1904), and his account of the 'Angels of Mons', 'The Bowmen' (1915). H.P. Lovecraft hailed his ability to create 'cosmic fear'; subsequent admirers include the film director, Guillermo del Toro, the musician Mark E. Smith, and the comedian Stewart Lee. This session will examine the reasons for Machen's enduring influence and consider his current importance for Weird writers.

Performance - Who Can Seperate Us Now?, Ben Judd 
12.45 – 1.30pm
Netball Badminton Centre, Towers Way, Loughborough University (less than 5 minutes walk from Martin Hall)

For A Weekend of Weird this new commission considers the university as an institution that encourages students to be both free thinkers and part of the student body. This paradox of belonging and not belonging, of being together and separate, will be explored in a performance on campus that tests this position through a series of orchestrated movements and song. Structured movement and choral singing are suggestive of the choreographed, synchronised elements of religious ritual; incorporating handmade costumes that refer to the university’s gowns, the work will examine the blurred boundary between a dramatic performance and a liturgical drama. 
Performance – The Gold Ones, Reactor
1.45 – 2.30pm
Look through the walls of the Cosmic Care Home, and listen in on voices from the other side. The place the Gold Ones inhabit resembles what Reactor would describe as a ‘total institution’. They appear to be predominantly cut off from a wider community, and lead an enclosed and bureaucratically controlled existence. Here, now, you can step inside the Cosmic Care Home, where the real action is, surrounded on all sides by the Five Gold Ones.

Panel Discussion - European Weird
Timothy Jarvis, Dan Watt, John Hirschhorn-Smith

2.30 – 3.30pm
European literature and folklore are Weird in many ways, and strikingly distinct from those of the English-speaking world. This session will involve discussions on key figures of the European Weird, including Gustav Meyrink, Hanns Heinz Ewers and Stefan Grabi?ski, and ways in which their influence has been most significant. This session will also feature readings by Alison Moore and Timothy Jarvis.

Performance – Phantasmagoregasm, Tai Shani
4 – 4.45pm
For A Weekend of Weird a chapter from Tai Shani’s ‘Dark Continent’ is told through the Phantasmagoregasm, a supernaturally sensitive creator of daring gothic fictions. Both humanized buildings and a plastic body double becoming decay, becoming violence. A Frankensteinian creature of concrete and flesh in eternal flux of promethean self-actualization. Dark Continent Productions is an ongoing project, currently iterated through character-led installations, films, performances and experimental texts.

Panel Discussion - Sounding His Horn: The Weird World of Sarban
Nick Freeman, Ray Russell, Mark Valentine
5 – 6pm
1950s' Britain was unprepared to imagine worlds in which the Nazis had won the Second World War, women were married to bears, the goddess Artemis appeared to Yorkshire schoolboys, and sinister doll-makers animated wooden bodies with human blood. That these fantasies were those of one of Her Majesty's diplomats makes them all the Weirder. This session considers the author of these bizarre tales, John William Wall (1910-89), alias Sarban, with contributions from his biographer, Mark Valentine, and Ray Russell, whose Tartarus Press has played a crucial role in making his work available once more.

Live Theatre - Casting the Runes, Box Tale Soup
6 – 7pm
Award winning Box Tale Soup invite you to the edge of your seat, on a journey to the darkest corners of the night. Expert on the so-called supernatural, Edward Dunning is a scholar and a sceptic. But when he crosses paths with the mysterious Mr. Karswell, Dunning's life becomes a waking nightmare. Join us for a chilling new adaptation of M.R. James' classic supernatural thriller, Casting the Runes.
Our advice? Don't come alone...

Sunday 26 November
10.30 – 4.30pm

Panel Discussion – Aickmania
Nick Freeman, Ray Russell, Dan Watt

10.30am – 12.30pm
The writer and anthologist Robert Aickman (1914-81) is increasingly recognised as one of the most original proponents of the Weird Tale. His fiction entwined the fantastic with the mundane in bold and startling ways, transforming the familiar into the bizarre and uncanny. In what Aickman called 'strange tales', everyday objects and events - clocks, telephones, church bells, trains - assume menacing new guises. This session features discussions of Aickman's work and influence, and includes screenings of the Tartarus Press documentary, Robert Aickman: Author of Strange Tales and HTV's television adaptation of his story, 'The Inner Room', unseen since 1987.

Panel Discussion – Where are we? Being Weird Now
Catherine Spooner, Timothy Jarvis, Alison Moore, Andrew Michael Hurley
2.30 – 4pm
Writers and critics consider the current state of the Weird. What is it? Where is it going? And what sorts of relationship do today's Weird writers have with their predecessors? Expect lively discussion and debate! This session will also feature readings by Andrew Michael Hurley from his Costa Prize-winning novel, The Loney.


Throughout the whole weekend...

Weird World - Joey Holder
Theatre Foyer, Martin Hall

Joey Holder has taken on board influences of H P Lovecraft to modify the institutional environment of the foyer and cafe by installing ‘cyclopean’ imagery of strange aquatic creatures and beasties. The work is inspired by the symbolism from Lovecraft’s ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ in which ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ entangle and disintegrate. Rather than adhering to binary definitions, everything here becomes mutated mesh, not limited to human systems of definition and categorisation.

Weird Films

Day is Done - Reactor
Leonard Dixon Studio, Martin Hall - 10.30am – 5pm

Artist collective Reactor present Day is Done, a selection of films offering interpretations and regurgitations of culture; from dancing bird-headed humanoids, to fantasy roleplay, Goths, hillbillies, mimes and demons. Each of the works use dance and performance as a backbone, reconfiguring and replacing body parts and cultural identities as required.

[SFM] Berdst friend, 2016 (01:40)
[SFM] Trunk Trumpets, 2015 (00:46)
[SFM] We like to party, 2014 (00:43)
[SFM] Off Limits, 2014 (01:20)
An0nymooose’s YouTube videos take characters and objects from the video game world using the Source Filmmaker [SFM], and bend them into various forms, replacing heads with those of a bird, making an elephant-humanoid play their own trunk, and mashup usually straightforward video game forms. Operating outside the artworld, these works appeal to the joy of seeing normality rearranged, with An0nymooose’s YouTube channel clocking up over 36 million views.

Carmen Argote
Everything is in its place, but Everything is everywhere, 2016 (28:12)
The work is a portrait of Alejandra Argote, the artist’s sister. Surrounded by visual and physical clutter, props, stacked boxes and various creations, we are allowed a glimpse of both the siblings’ relationship and that of Alejandra’s fantastical otherworld. The re-arrangement of objects in the confined room presses home that her fantasy is a complex lexicon, and hints at the possibilities presented by various alternate identities. The video is part of a body of work entitled Alex’s Room, an ongoing collaboration between the two women.  

Mike Kelley
Day is Done, 2005-6 (169 min)
Kelley’s carnivalesque opus is a genre-smashing epic in which vampires, dancing Goths, hillbillies, mimes and demons come together in a kind of subversive musical theater/variety revue. This riotous, feature-length theatrical spectacle unfolds as an episodic series that forms a loose, fractured narrative. The video comprises parts 2-32 of Kelley’s multi-faceted project Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions, in which trauma, abuse and repressed memory are refracted through personal and mass-cultural experience. The source materials are high school yearbook photographs of ‘extracurricular activities’; or what Kelley terms ‘socially accepted rituals of deviance'; Kelley then stages video narratives around these found images. Here these re-stagings take the form of 'folk entertainments' that Kelley memorably subverts.

Simon Raven
The Crippled Gherkin, 2015 (05:53)
Golden Rage, clips, 2015 (01:52)
Noise Tent, 2013 (03:53)
These three video works span varied collaborations, impromptu and evolving performances, and workshop outcomes. We see crude provocations garnering responses from festival goers using typical camping gear, or using literal puns such as ‘Charity Gherkins’, performed in front of the Damien Hirst sculpture ‘Charity’ and iconic London building ‘The Gherkin’, that bring cultural cliches together into visual tableaux that address topics such as cuts to disability benefit.

And finally...

Special screenings of Sidsel Christensen’s A Conversation at the Edge of the Object (2014) and Pauline Curnier Jardin’s Le Salon d’Alone (2010)



Loughborough University Arts

Martin Hall Building

Loughborough University

Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK


01509 222 948

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