London School of Economics – Lecture on Lifting the Curtain

Posted on January 3, 2016


I have been asked to give a lecture on my ‘Lifting the Curtain’ work at the London School of Economics. My lecture will be an optional event for students taking the LSE100 Course–an interdisciplinary course for undergraduate students which is designed to broaden and deepen their engagement with social scientific analysis.

In Lent Term they teach a 5 week module on poverty and inequality which begins with a historical look at the Booth studies–hence the link with my work. LSE also maintain part of the Booth archive.

The lecture is scheduled for 28th January and is intended for LSE folk so I am not expecting it to be open to the general public. In the week leading up to the lecture we also plan to show a looping video of my work in the main entrance hall of the library. This is still subject to gaining the agreement of the estates team at LSE. We chose a video projection as exhibition space is very limited as they have a major building redevelopment programme in progress at the moment.

This is very exciting and rather curiously refers back to an earlier post where I was discussing options for presenting ‘Lifting the Curtain’. To quote my previous post:

Lifting the Curtain links Charles Booth’s 1889 socio-cultural survey to the modern day East London. One way I can strengthen this link further is by ‘echoing’ Booth’s approach to presentation. He published his work in three forms:

  • A published book – in 1902-3 the final version of his work covering the whole of London was published in seventeen volumes.
  • A display of his Descriptive Map of London Poverty, 1889 – this was a huge display some 16 feet across. The map was exhibited at both Toynbee Hall and Oxford House in East London (both were philanthropic organisations helping the poor).
  • A lecture format – Booth gave a series of lectures about his work

This would suggest that the book format, displays of prints and a lecture format are the most appropriate forms for me to deploy. All three would also offer the potential for a design that encourages the the type of interaction between the viewer/reader and the work I am hoping for. They allow juxtaposition of image and text to encourage the viewer/reader to connect them; image and text can be displayed so that they are perceived as having equal standing; and the reader/viewer can decide how much time to spend viewing the work and is able to move backwards and forwards between each image and it associated text. These design elements encourage the active and thoughtful engagement of the viewer/reader in interpreting the work.

I have therefore decided to focus my attention on an exhibition of prints, and a book. The lecture format I will put to one side at the moment. (I see this something that might follow on on from successful publication of the book, as in Booth’s case)

Well it seems that a lecture is indeed to follow on from the book.

I have produced  a short video (6 mins) which I hope will be displayed on a loop. I have not included a sound track as it will be on show in a public place and I find that the silence adds some gravitas to the images and text. I had to pull this together over Xmas as I have had very little notice and am away for the next few weeks. I hope it does the job!

Video is available here