6th Dec 2018: Tremble Tremble and At the Gates; Tour and Discussion by James Clegg

Come along to the Talbot Rice Gallery (The University of Edinburgh, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL) at 11.30 am – 1.30pm for a talk by James on the Tremble Tremble and At the Gates exhibition and a leisurely lunch kindly provided by the Talbot Rice Gallery. The event is open to all and a chance to hear thoughts in relation to the art which he helps curate…


Title of talk:

Tremble Tremble and At the Gates; Tour and Discussion


Talbot Rice Image

Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

Talbot Rice Gallery’s current exhibitions Tremble Tremble and At the Gates. I will be talking about the ideas that run across them, which include: feminism, historic and contemporary oppression, witchcraft and power. Through the tour and discussion I will also give general insight into contemporary art practice, the politics of display and exhibition making.

A few paragraphs on your subject:

From the exhibition curator’s introduction, Tessa Giblin, Director of Talbot Rice Gallery, and Commissioner & Curator of Ireland at Venice: Inspired by the tidal wave of change that has been sweeping the world Tremble Tremble and At the Gates are exhibitions celebrating the distinctive and powerful voices of artists engaging with social histories and personal politics. Often brushing up against the law, or institutions of power, the works in these exhibitions have amplified the global struggle towards female self-empowerment, and in the case of Ireland’s historic fight against the Eighth Amendment, the right to bodily self-determination.
Jesse Jones’ Tremble Tremble speaks to the struggle against the oppression of women across the ages, and particularly in relation to the law. Originally created to represent Ireland at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, it was conceived in the context of Ireland’s then-growing momentum to attempt once again to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and effectively legalise abortion. The artwork takes a woman’s body as the primary ground of her exploitation and resistance to capitalism and the state, and creates a new law to supersede man-made laws, the law of In Utera Gigantae. Tremble Tremble has been re-designed and expanded for the Georgian Gallery and is performed each day during the Gallery’s opening hours, looping after 30 minutes.
At the Gates presents seven international artists and collectives who rub up against the law or institutions of power, in artworks that tell stories of violence, campaigning, rehabilitation and exploitation in and around women’s histories. Drawing strength from Tremble Tremble, the exhibition is motivated by the complex struggle of women to find, protect, and even rehabilitate their voice. These artists and their individual projects attest to the volume of these voices, images, banners, objects and artworks as they amass and become part of a public discussion.
The title, At the Gates, is partly inspired by Franz Kafka’s parable Before the Law. This is a story about a man who spends his life standing at the gates of the law awaiting permission to enter. The title also borrows from American suffragist Lavinia Dock who said in 1917: ‘The old stiff minds must give way. The old selfish minds must go. Obstructive reactionaries must move on. The young are at the gates!’
These exhibitions celebrate artists who are not waiting for permission, to quote Ailbhe Smyth (co-chair of Together for YES, Ireland’s official abortion rights campaign) speaking at the opening of Tremble Tremble in Dublin, ‘It is about understanding that you first have to disturb, you first have to disrupt, there first has to be an upheaval… Where flesh becomes stone, and stone becomes flesh… you knew, in witch-like fashion, exactly what we needed to do and to hear and to see and to fear.’
In the context of these two exhibitions we are delighted to host Silvia Federici for a public lecture on the 23rd November in partnership with Collective. We are also thrilled to announce that Silvia Federici will be awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2020. Something of a spirit-guide for these exhibitions, Federici’s writing is very much part of both Tremble Tremble and At the Gates. With sincere thanks to all of the collaborators, supporters and lenders, but most of all to these magnificent artists, and their inspiring artworks.

A few paragraphs about you:

James is an Assistant Curator for Talbot Rice Gallery. Passionate about contemporary art he has curated and helped to curate lots of exhibitions for the Gallery since 2010. He is specifically interested in artists that work across disciplinary boundaries and he works hard to create meeting points for different types of practitioner and different types of audience. This includes public events that see academics, performers and poets coming together to create new dialogues around specific ideas. It also includes talks and tours with a range of different groups, including ones connected to the Scottish Refugee Council, Crisis Scotland and various colleges and adult education groups.
Seeing a close connection between education and creativity he has organised events with The Ragged University since 2016. In particular, he is interested in approaches to learning that do not assume that the world will ever yield easy or permanent answers. ‘acts of dis play’, an exhibition he made in 2016 with the artist Rob Kennedy foregrounded this principle by emphasising the relative ‘jeopardy’ of live experience over and above the reductive explanations that are usually offered in this context. In this way, act of dis play – which featured a nine- metre tree apparently held in place by debris and a leaning scaffold tower – placed emphasis on audiences’ self-learning and discovery.
Other exhibitions James has curated include John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (21 October 2017 – 27 January 2018) and Stephen Sutcliffe’s Sex Symbols in Sandwich Signs (28 July – 30 September 2017). He also writes occasionally as an art critic for Art Review and Art Monthly.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

The Exhibition Guide can be accessed here:

Images of the exhibition can be found on the Gallery’s exhibition pages:
You can watch artist Jesse Jones talking about Tremble Tremble when it was in Venice here:

Information about the Eights Amendment can be found here:
Other artist’s websites / pages:
On Teresa Margolles:
What are your weblinks?
Website – https://www.ed.ac.uk/talbot-rice
Twitter – @JCwritercurator @talbotrice75 #talbotrice
Facebook – Talbot Rice Gallery
Public Email – [email protected] and [email protected]

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