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)


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March 2018

The Object is Alive Exhibition - Mike Cooter - The Mimic, the Model and the Dupe

March 2018

The Object is Alive Exhibition - Mike Cooter - The Mimic, the Model and the Dupe

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Radar has invited artist Mike Cooter to actively engage with New Walk Museum’s collection, taking inspiration from the work of Polish artist and theatre maker Tadeusz Kantor, whose work was concerned with the role and status of the object. The Mimic, the Model and the Dupe, will draw on Kantor’s Anti-Exhibition (1963) and Leicester-born naturalist Henry Walter Bates’ (1825 -92) research into a form of mimicry that would take his name. Working across holdings from fine art, natural history, industrial design, decorative arts and material cultures, the exhibition will look to explore how the objects in the collection both perform and reproduce themselves through their own agency and in symbiotic relationship with organisations that host them.

Kantor has been extensively researched by Dr Dan Watt, Senior Lecturer in Drama, Loughborough University. The exhibition is part of a wider programme, entitled ‘The Object is Alive’, that has invited artists to develop new exhibitions in response to the work of Kantor and their own interest in the agency of the object. The exhibition will be accompanied by a major symposium on the influence of Kantor taking place at Loughborough University on the 28th April 2018.

Associated Events

Symposium - Kantor and his influence
Saturday 28th April, 10am-5pm
Martin Hall, Loughborough University
Free / Ticketed
More information & bookings

Exhibition Walk-Through with Mike Cooter
Saturday 5th May, 2pm
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, 53 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA
Free / Ticketed
Artist Mike Cooter will guide you through his exhibition, introducing his thinking and the works themselves.
To book, please click here


April 2018

Talk - Vikki Jessop

April 2018

Talk - Vikki Jessop

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Vikki will give a talk about ways in which different artworks can be installed in different places. She will share examples of best practice including how to plan and prepare for such work.  In this talk Vikki will share her own professional experience as well as examples from others. This session is designed for students but all are welcome.

Vikki Jessop currently works in the Department of Ancient Egypt & Sudan at the British Museum. After finishing her A-Levels, Vikki’s career in the arts began by volunteering in galleries and museums across Birmingham and Liverpool, she then undertook an apprenticeship at Ikon, Birmingham.

Following this she moved to London to work at Whitechapel Gallery with Rachel Whiteread on her permanent site-specific commission for the building.

Vikki then joined the V&A’s technical services team, whilst still working at Whitechapel Gallery as a Duty Manager and installation technician. Within a year of being at the V&A, Vikki was appointed Head Technician for the Disobedient Objects exhibition which opened in 2014. Alongside work at the V&A, Vikki has also freelanced for several galleries across the UK and also worked on mount- making for Banksy’s 2015 Dismaland project.



Mike Cooter Exhibition.jpg

April 2018

Symposium - Kantor and his influence

April 2018

Symposium - Kantor and his influence

Click to read more


One of the speakers has had to withdraw from the symposium and combined with a low number of advance bookings we have decided to postpone this event until later in the year. Please keep checking our website for announcements on a new date. We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment caused.

The work of the Polish artist and director, Tadeusz Kantor, frequently challenged the nature of the object, whether through surreal détournement of the function of a thing, or the bizarre fusion of the performer and the object into a hybrid, struggling identity, striving for new forms of expression, Kantor was haunted by the idea of the possible ‘liveness’ of materials.

This symposium aims to respond to the work of contemporary artists, commissioned by Radar, who are also responding to Kantor, through particular relationships to things, sites, museums and galleries. How might Kantor’s culturally specific ‘poor object’ find itself transformed across decades into a new Europe and a new media age?

Including guest speakers on Kantor and contemporary art practice and panel discussions on objects, Kantor’s history and performance practices (from actors, artists and academics), the symposium offers an opportunity to discuss the legacy of Kantor and the impact of object-based practice today.

Confirmed speakers:

Dr Dan Watt, Loughborough
Dan Watt is Programme Director for Drama at Loughborough University. He gained his PhD from Sussex in 2003, where his thesis explored fragmentary writing in the work of Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett and J.M. Coetzee. He joined Loughborough in 2006. His research interests include philosophical and literary influences on theatre and performance in the twentieth century, specifically in the work of Tadeusz Kantor, and his research includes investigating the nature of abject objects.

Dr Richard Allen, Worcester
Richard Allen is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Worcester. He graduated from Wimbledon College of Art with an MA in Visual Performance (2008) and a PhD in Performance Practice from Aberystwyth University (2014). His work investigates the agency and theatricality of objects through the making of performances, films, essays and publications, including writings about the bio-objects of Kantor.

Noel Witts, Professor of Performing Arts
Noel Witts was born in Swansea and did a degree in English at the University of Leeds, where his theatrical interest started. For the last 10 years he has been busy developing undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the Performing Arts at a variety of UK universities. He has developed international contacts for young theatre practitioners in Poland, Romania, Armenia, and other European countries and is interested in the theatre of Kantor.

Dr Klara Kemp-Welch, Courtauld Institute
Klara Kemp-Welch is Lecturer in 20th-century Modernism at the Courtauld Institute. Klara Kemp-Welch was educated at University College London and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (BA French and Art History, 1999; MA Russian and East European Literature and Culture, 2001; PhD History of Art, 2008). She has published writings about Kantor, and her next book, Networking the Bloc: International Relations and Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1968-1989, will be published in 2018.

Dr Martin Leach, DMU
Martin Leech is Senior Lecturer in Dance at DMU. Martin’s first degree was in English and Drama at the University of Hull. After graduation he won a Polish Government scholarship to study theatre directing in Poland from 1982–1983. He recently successfully completed his PhD thesis, a philosophical study of Kantor: ‘Even the thing I am …’: Tadeusz Kantor and the Poetics of Being.

Mike Cooter, Artist
Artist Mike Cooter  has  lectured  widely,  written  on  the  history  of  exhibitions  and  recently  completed a PhD at Goldsmiths, London. His current exhibition The Mimic, the Model and the Dupe at New Walk Walk Museum, Leicester (commissioned by Radar) explores the role of objects through the Museum's collection and is inspired by Kantor's work. His work investigates  the  structural  agency  of  objects,  be  they  sculpture,  cinematic  props or other anthropological artefacts - objects co-opted or created to drive narratives, fictional or otherwise.

Image: Research photograph (with thanks to Michael Asher), Mike Cooter, 2017. Boiler heating the Abbey Pumping Station, home of Leicester City Council’s Industrial History Museum.


Loughborough University Arts

Martin Hall Building

Loughborough University

Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK


01509 222 948

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