Bold Thinking by La Trobe | NGV Friday Nights

NGV Friday Nights returns this summer and this time, La Trobe University is along for the ride. Together, we’re presenting a series of thought-provoking talks about the surrounding forces of two of the most significant and influential artists of the 20th century.

Set amidst the Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines exhibition, join us for clever conversations along with all those NGV Friday Nights vibes – including DJs, New York City street food and an 80s dance floor.

At La Trobe, we’re home to experts in art history and theory, as well as the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. Hear from multidisciplinary academics about the themes that feed into the works of Haring and Basquiat.

Art is more than what you see on the surface. Discover new insights into the fascinating world of contemporary art and pop culture in the 80s, street art, community intelligence and collaboration.

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Pop-up talks

The emerging queer cultural world – 13 December 2019

It was the golden age of gay life. At least, that’s what some people called the period between the emergence of gay liberation and the onset of AIDS. New spaces flourished. Gay men and women became self-confident and open.

In this public lecture, hear about the efflorescence of gay culture in New York in the early 1980s, when Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat created their iconic works.

Dennis Altman

Professor Dennis Altman

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows

Dennis Altman is currently Emeritus Professor and Professorial Fellow in Human Security at La Trobe University. He is the author of thirteen books, most recently Queer Wars and Unrequited Love: Diary of an Accidental Activist. Altman has been President of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific and is a patron of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the Pride Foundation.

The onset and first decade of the AIDS epidemic – 27 December 2019

Discover how Keith Haring played a role in the cultural response to the AIDS epidemic in Ronald Reagan's America, and how complex community responses from major organisations such as Gay Men's Health Crisis stepped forward in the absence of adequate government support.

Dennis Altman

Professor Dennis Altman

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows

Dennis Altman is currently Emeritus Professor and Professorial Fellow in Human Security at La Trobe University. He is the author of thirteen books, most recently Queer Wars and Unrequited Love: Diary of an Accidental Activist. Altman has been President of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific and is a patron of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the Pride Foundation.

Microtopias and art from the margins: Community building and change making through creative practice – 3 January 2020

Microtopias are spaces produced when artists, audiences and art objects, installations or performances work in collaboration. Other possible worlds are not only theorised, but may momentarily appear. They depend on space, time, collaboration and complex relations. But because these factors can never be stable and therefore permanently maintained, microtopias flicker in and out of existence. They are against 'the clean slate'.

Explore the importance of supporting creative practice from the margins, and microtopias as liminal spaces that create connection, build community and support significant social change.

Quinn Eades

Dr Quinn Eades

Tracey Banivanua Mar Fellow, Philosophy, La Trobe University

Dr. Quinn Eades is a writer, researcher, editor, gutter philosopher and poet, whose book Rallying was awarded the 2018 Mary Gilmore Award for the best first book of poetry. He is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body and is a Tracey Banivanua Mar Research Fellow at La Trobe University

Defacement as creation – 10 January 2020

Acts of destruction, defacement and erasure were central to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s creative process. Beginning with the literal defacement of walls with the ‘SAMO’ tag in the late 1970s and later overpainting imagery and erasing text, Basquiat was a master of harnessing destruction as a creative force. Take a close and critical look at one key work where defacement is at the core of its production.

Karen Annett-Thomas

Dr. Karen Annett-Thomas

Public Programs Coordinator (La Trobe Art Institute)

Dr. Annett-Thomas obtained her PhD in Visual Arts at La Trobe University in 2007. Her background in visual arts research and as a practicing artist strongly informs her work in the field of informal learning through visual arts. In her current role at La Trobe Art Institute, Karen is responsible for the delivery of all education outreach and public programs associated with the University galleries and collections. Her current research interests include creative and object-based learning opportunities within museums and galleries and participatory programming and art practice.

Keith Haring: Accessible to all – 17 January 2020

When Keith Haring arrived in New York in 1978, he embarked on an artistic practice that pushed the boundaries of what constituted public art. Working in the subways and other public spaces, Haring believed in creating socially relevant art that was accessible to everyone, not, as he wrote in his diary, a “bourgeois art for the few”.

In this talk, Dr Vincent Alessi will explore notions of public-ness and performance in Haring’s practice, with a particular focus on his early subway murals.

Vincent Alessi

Dr Vince Alessi

Senior Lecturer (Creative Arts)

Dr Vincent Alessi is a Senior Lecturer (Creative Arts) in Visual Arts and Design at La Trobe University. His research interests include the life and work of Vincent van Gogh, mid-late nineteenth century European art, nineteenth century popular graphic illustration and Australian contemporary visual art and curatorial practice. Alessi still aims to one day become a rock star.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Everything's a surface – 24 January 2020

Throughout his career, Jean-Michel Basquiat painted and drew on endless supports.  Canvas. Found objects. Walls. Appliances in his friend’s apartments.

In this talk, Dr Vincent Alessi will discuss the relationship between the painted object and its location of origin, exploring notions of place and connection found in the work of Basquiat.

Vincent Alessi

Dr. Vince Alessi

Senior Lecturer (Creative Arts)

Dr Vincent Alessi is a Senior Lecturer (Creative Arts) in Visual Arts and Design at La Trobe University. His research interests include the life and work of Vincent van Gogh, mid-late nineteenth century European art, nineteenth century popular graphic illustration and Australian contemporary visual art and curatorial practice. Alessi still aims to one day become a rock star.

Scenius: Community intelligence – 31 January 2020

There are creative people – artists, musicians, writers, thinkers – history remembers as lone geniuses. But they were not. The concept of ‘scenius’ is a way of thinking about creativity. Musician Brian Eno described it as where great ideas are recognised to be birthed by groups of creative individuals, rather than the myth of the single creative genius.

In Show Your Work, Austin Kleon explains that these geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas”. Kleon declares, “Genius is an egosystem, scenius is an ecosystem”.

Learn about scenius and how it can reframe the lives, works and legacies of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Kent Wilson

Dr. Kent Wilson

Senior Curator, La Trobe Art Institute

Dr. Kent Wilson is a contemporary art curator, writer and exhibition-maker working in Melbourne, Kyneton and Bendigo. He is the Senior Curator at the La Trobe Art Institute, Bendigo and Co-director of Kyneton Contemporary Inc. Wilson produces freelance arts projects across various venues and writes for print and online platforms.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Between the streets and the museum – 7 February 2020 / 14 February 2020

Jean-Michel Basquiat moved from the streets to the studio. He was exhibited in The Times Square Show, heralded as “the first radical art show of the 80s”, alongside Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer and Kenny Scharf. He was in a brief relationship with Madonna. Andy Warhol was his landlord, who Instagrammed their friendship before there was Instagram.

Join us to discuss an artist who helped define the 1980s New York art scene.

Anna Dzenis

Anna Dzenis

Lecturer (Creative Arts)

Anna Dzenis lectures at La Trobe University in the Screen Studies program. She is co-editor of the online journal, Screening the Past, and has published various essays on different aspects of the cinema. Her research focuses on the nexus between cinema, photography and screen memory, and she is currently working on several essays on the photo-filmic in the film and photographic work of Tracey Moffatt.

Reciprocal influence: A case study of the swings and roundabouts of contemporary art and popular culture – 21 February 2020

Defacement as creation – 28 February 2020

Acts of destruction, defacement and erasure were central to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s creative process. Beginning with the literal defacement of walls with the ‘SAMO’ tag in the late 1970s and later overpainting imagery and erasing text, Basquiat was a master of harnessing destruction as a creative force. Take a close and critical look at one key work where defacement is at the core of its production.

Karen Annett-Thomas

Dr. Karen Annett-Thomas

Public Programs Coordinator (La Trobe Art Institute)

Dr. Annett-Thomas obtained her PhD in Visual Arts at La Trobe University in 2007. Her background in visual arts research and as a practicing artist strongly informs her work in the field of informal learning through visual arts. In her current role at La Trobe Art Institute, Karen is responsible for the delivery of all education outreach and public programs associated with the University galleries and collections. Her current research interests include creative and object-based learning opportunities within museums and galleries and participatory programming and art practice.

Basquiat, Haring and the politics of death – 13 March 2020

Through their art, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring both demonstrated an acute sensitivity towards the lives of marginalised subjects, along with the politics of disease and death.

Each of them also experienced marginalisation and stigma, and both died relatively young: Basquiat of a drug overdose and Haring of AIDS-related illness. Their deaths – like their art – were shaped by social, political and legal forces.

This talk explores these forces, offering insights into the politics of disease and death three decades on, as HIV remains a global challenge, and as overdose deaths are surging around the world.

Associate Professor Kate Seear

Honorary Associate Professor at The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS)

Kate Seear is an expert in drug law and policy. She is the author of four books on drugs and the politics of disease. She is an Associate Member of the DruGS (drugs, gender and sexuality) program at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, Associate Professor in Law at Monash University and a broadcaster with the ABC.

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) conducts social research on sexuality, health and human relationships. It works collaboratively and in partnership with communities, community-based organisations, government and professionals in relevant fields to advance knowledge and promote positive change in policy, practice and people's lives.

Kate Seear will be introduced by ARCSHS Director, Professor Suzanne Fraser.

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