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Gavin Butt / What Do We Need Art For?

Gavin Butt is a British scholar of modern and contemporary art, whose work contributes to the fields of visual culture, performance and queer studies and popular music studies. Trained as a fine artist and art historian, he is a writer, curator and filmmaker. Butt was the keynote speaker at the symposium organised in conjunction with the exhibition Lost and Found: Queering the Archive, presented at Bildmuseet in 2010. 

On the 40th anniversary of Bildmuseet Butt turns to a moment in history just over four decades ago when the question of whether art was needed at all was being asked by his students at UK art schools. He considers how the history of "art-pop" music might offer up unlikely object lessons for thinking about the continuing world-making capacities of art – and of art education – today.  

Gavin Butt is currently a Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. Between 2009 and 2014 he was a director of Performance Matters, during which he made his first feature-length documentary film, This Is Not a Dream (with Ben Walters). He is the author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 and Seriousness (with Irit Rogoff). His next book, No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2022.

What Do We Need Art For? / Programme 29–31 October 2021

Fri 29 Oct, 13:00 / Katarina Pierre, Umeå

Welcome by the director of Bildmuseet and host of the anniversary forum What Do We Need Art For?.

Fri 29 Oct, 14:00 / Katarina Pirak Sikku, Jokkmokk

Artist Katarina Pirak Sikku gives a personal account of art’s significance for herself and people around her.

Fri 29 Oct, 15:00 / Gavin Butt, Newcastle

Professor Gavin Butt considers the history of "art-pop" music and the world-making capacities of art today.

Fri 29 Oct, 16:00 / Stina Oscarson, Stockholm

Dramatist and writer Stina Oscarson talks about the importance of art in reminding us that we are human.

Fri 29 Oct, 17:00 / John Akomfrah, London

Artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah answers the posed question in conversation with director Katarina Pierre.

Sat 30 Oct, 13:00 / Cedric Nunn, Mangethe

South African photographer Cedric Nunn talks about the context in which he is a politically active artist.

Sat 30 Oct, 14:00 / Maria Lind, Moscow

Curator Maria Lind on contemporary art as a form of understanding and tool for relating to existence.

Sat 30 Oct, 15:00 / Sofia Jannok, Umeå, & Dennis Lyxzén, Vännäs

Musicians Sofia Jannok and Dennis Lyxzén on what art and culture have meant in their lives.

Sat 30 Oct, 16:00 / Tone Olaf Nielsen, Copenhagen

Curator Tone Olaf Nielsen discusses artistic and curatorial responses to the refugee crisis.

Sat 30 Oct, 17:00 / Jumana Emil Abboud, Jerusalem

Artist Jumana Emil Abboud performs a reading about walking in the Palestinian landscape.

Sun 31 Oct, 13:00 / Mats Caldeborg, Järnäsklubb

Artist Mats Caldeborg reflects on the significance of art and the human ability for abstract thinking.

Sun 31 Oct, 14:00 / Lars Strannegård, Stockholm

Professor and president Lars Strannegård on why art and culture become even more important in a digital world.

Sun 31 Oct, 15:00 / Grada Kilomba, Berlin

Artist Grada Kilomba gives her answer to the question posed in a conversation with director Katarina Pierre.

Sun 31 Oct, 16:00 / Antonia Alampi, Berlin

Curator and director Antonia Alampi addresses the multifaceted roles that art and cultural practices play.

Sun 31 Oct, 17:00 / Naeem Mohaiemen, New York

As his contribution to the online forum, Naeem Mohaimen shows us the new film work Against Regret (23 min).