• DeathLecture
  • 2020-11-19—2020-11-19

    Death of the lecture – A ‘lecture-performance’ on the subject of a ‘lecture-performance’

    The Virtual Lectures by Frank Wasser

    Register here for free tickets.
    Streamed live 4–5pm, Thursday, 19th November 2020


    ‘I am here. And there is nothing to say.’ The opening lines of John Cage’s ‘Lecture on Nothing’ written in 1959 and included in his 1961 collection of texts Silence mark the questioning of knowledge production pertinent in the avant-garde art practices of the early 1960’s. ‘Lecture on Nothing’ can be considered as a starting point in considering the history for the lecture-performance.

    In 1964, the American artist Robert Morris presented his performance 21.3. The lecture-performance, which was presented in the context of the Judson Dance Theatre circle, was in the form of a traditional lecture in which the artist lip-synched and gesture-synched to a recording of a methodological lecture by the art historian Erwin Panofsky from 1939. Lecturing is drag. Morris used the reflexive format of the lecture, arguably for the first time as an artistic medium, to question the established conceptions of the ‘lecture’. The catalyst for this work came from the artist’s ongoing resistance to an art history bound only by categorisations based on period and style or cultural preservation. Assimilation framed as performance is a key characteristic of the early examples of the lecture-performance and can also be noted in the works of Yvonne Rainer, Chris Burden and later in the works of Andrea Fraser and Mark Leckey. 

    The ‘lecture-performance’ incorporates elements of both the academic lecture and of performance in contemporary and modern art history. This slippery categorisation often functions simultaneously as a meta-lecture and as meta-performance, and as such challenges established ideas about the production of knowledge and meaning within the formal components to which they refer, that is educational institutions, cultural institutions and the academic norms of lecturing (Ladnar, 2014).

    Join the lecturer/performer as he investigates through an anthology of examples, the history of these forms and asks why artists have turned and continue to turn towards this format while testing the limits of such categorisations.


    Frank Wasser is an artist, writer and art historian from the Liberties, Dublin who lives and works in London. He works across an array of materials and mediums that often concern writing and performance (on and off-page) and educational pedagogies. He has exhibited and lectured internationally. Recent Projects include: ‘The Slow abrogation of the…’ A solo performance at Jerwood Arts, London, Survey, a group show, BALTIC centre for contemporary arts, Newcastle, G39, Cardiff and The Bluecoat, Liverpool, THE LIVING NEWSPAPER (with Elaine Reynolds and Chris Timms), Tate Modern, London.

    Wasser will publish his first book ‘Slip’ with the imprint MA Bibliotheque in April 2021. He is currently a Dphil candidate at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford and he lectures regularly at Tate Modern and Tate Britain. In 2018 Wasser was the recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary.

    For individual lectures, please contact frank@thevirtuallectures.com
    or visit  The Virtual Lectures

    Pallas Projects/Studios is funded by The Arts Council