John Berger Now

Canterbury Campus, North Holmes Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 1QU
Arts and Humanities
Tuesday 12 (09:00) - Wednesday 13 September 2017 (17:00)
For further information about this event please contact the organisers. To book please use the blue Register for the conference button on this page.

‘The death of the artist is a dividing line’ wrote John Berger in 1966. ‘Every artist’s work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive … [His work] will have become evidence from the past, instead of being … a possible preparation for something to come.’

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  • Professor Vikki Bell (Goldsmiths)

  • Dr. Tom Overton (editor of Landscapes and Portraits; currently writing John Berger’s biography)

Roundtable discussion

Professor John Bowen (York), Dr. Rochelle Simmons (Otago), Professor Hugh Haughton (York) and Professor Jeff Wallace (Cardiff Metropolitan)

Public Events

Accompanying the conference will be a series of public events to which conference attendees are warmly invited:

John Berger and Film: A Day of Screenings Mon 11 September 1pm - 6pm Free Entry

This is a rare opportunity to see a selection of extraordinary and varied films, including two remarkable TV documentaries Berger made with Ways of Seeing collaborator Mike Dibb, Timothy Neat’s playful adaptation of Berger’s story, Play Me Something, starring Tilda Swinton and Berger himself, Taskafa, Andrea Luca Zimmerman’s wonderful visual essay about Istanbul’s street dogs, featuring a voiceover by Berger, and Boat People, Sarah Woods’s rich meditation on migration and exile. Curated by Gareth Evans (film curator Whitechapel Gallery), in association with Whitstable Biennale.

For times and more on the films, visit

At the Canterbury Curzon Cinema

The Seasons in Quincy Wed 13 September 5pm £10

Introduced by director Colin MacCabe

The Seasons in Quincy is the result of a five-year project by Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth to produce a portrait of the intellectual and storyteller John Berger. It was produced by the Derek Jarman Lab, an audio-visual hub for graduate filmmaking based at Birkbeck, University of London, in collaboration with the composer Simon Fisher Turner.’

At the Sidney Cooper Gallery

Libby Hall: Portraits of John Berger Thu 7 – Sat 23 September Free Entry

This exhibition of photographs by Libby Hall examines how the photographer looks at her subject: John Berger (1926-2017). Accompanying the series of extraordinary photographic portraits of Berger from 1966 are touching vernacular images of Hall and Berger throughout their many years of friendship.

Celebrating John Berger: Creativity and Hospitality Tues 12 September 7pm £5

Join a wonderful panel comprising theatre maker Chris Goode, poet David Herd, and novelist and filmmaker Tessa McWatt to discuss Berger’s remarkable creative legacy, and importance for our cultural and political moment. Chaired by Gareth Evans.’

The beginning of 2017 sadly marked the death of John Berger, two months after his ninetieth birthday. As the life of an extraordinary writer about art and photography, Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and polemicist came to an end, so we have seen the first steps being taken in the formation of his posthumous legacy. John Berger Now seeks to build on the wave of recent scholarship presented at conferences on John Berger (University of Gdansk, 2011 and 2012, Kings College London, 2012 and Cardiff Metropolitan, 2014), and in On John Berger (ed. Ralph Hertel and David Malcolm) and seeks also to respond to and build upon the reception to his death in the weeks since January.

The title of this conference speaks to the bracing process of seeing Berger and his body of work from our position on the other side of the dividing line. It also seeks to stress the importance of a writer whose work speaks directly and urgently of and to the state of the world at this moment in time. To these ends it welcomes contributions from across the many disciplines that Berger’s work encompasses.

For additional information on public events, please visit or @JohnBergerNow


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Last edited: 07/12/2017 14:59:00