Call for Papers: Hew Locke’s “The Procession”

The Paul Mellon Centre has extended a Call for Papers for a one-day workshop on Hew Locke’s installation, “The Procession”—convened by Indie A. Choudhury, Elena Crippa and Mark Hallett—to be held on October 11, 2022. The deadline for abstracts is September 4, 2022 (11.59pm, BST).

Description/Guidelines: ‘A colossal collage’; ‘An epic poem’; ‘A sort of puzzle’: Hew Locke’s own descriptions of his work The Procession, an installation which currently marches in frozen majesty through the Duveen Galleries at London’s Tate Britain, provide an eloquent indication of the piece’s complexity, scale and ambition. Locke’s monumental creation – made up of one hundred and fifty life-sized, handmade figures clothed in a kaleidoscopic array of multicoloured garments, carrying a series of spectacular flags, and shown as if moving forward in a great carnivalesque cavalcade – generated an extraordinary amount of critical praise on its unveiling as the Tate’s latest Duveen commission in March 2002 and has stunned and intrigued visitors to the gallery ever since.

Allied to its sheer visual power, the work claims sustained attention thanks to its multifaceted references to a wide range of highly charged issues, histories and themes. These include the narratives of carnival, protest and ceremonial gatherings, the topics of post-colonial trade, slavery, environmental disaster, empire and revolution, and the traditions of heraldry and insignia. The work is also open to being read in relation to the work of other modern and contemporary artists, to Locke’s own earlier practice and to the longstanding artistic tropes of monumental sculpture, history painting and collage. Numerous details address the history, architectural environment and extractive practices in Guyana. The Procession also consciously operates in active, critical dialogue with the spaces, collections and histories of the Tate itself, and marks a landmark moment in the career of this major Guyanese-British artist.

For all these reasons, the time already seems ripe to subject The Procession to sustained critical and scholarly analysis, and to explore the different ways in which it can be interpreted, contextualised and experienced. This one-day workshop, convened by Indie A. Choudhury, Elena Crippa and Mark Hallett, and organised as part of a wider project that will include the making of a feature-length film about The Procession, is designed to generate fresh and original perspectives on what is emerging as a major artwork of our time. The day will feature a session with the work itself, at Tate Britain; it will also incorporate a series of panels at the Paul Mellon Centre. Contributors will give short presentations focusing on a particular theme or aspect of the work. There will be plenty of time for general discussion, and for conversations with the artist himself who will be attending the proceedings.

Rather than formal proposals, we invite expressions of interest on the part of scholars and students who would be keen to participate in the event and deliver a ten-minute workshop presentation responding to The Procession. If you are interested in making such a contribution, please email a 150 word description of your proposed paper and a fifty-word biography in a single Word document to by midnight on Sunday 4 September.

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