‘The King’s Two Bodies’ considers a cast-metal replica of the building where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968. An object intended for manual as much as visual apprehension, the replica compels a return to a discrete past moment as though this were the prologue to a set of effects very different to the ones handed us. Rather dull and somewhat leaden, the replica is at the same time something full and yet not fully accomplished, something that promotes more heterodox narratives of democratic culture without preempting any particular ones. This talk traces some of the paradoxes stemming from an object that trains the gaze on the juncture where a body met a bullet that would fatally wound it—when that’s not at all what one is meant to see.
Darby English is the Carl Darling Buck Professor at the University of Chicago, where he teaches courses in modern and contemporary art and cultural studies. He is the author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT, 2007), 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (Chicago, 2016), and To Describe a Life: Essays at the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (Yale, forthcoming autumn 2018).
The Centre for American Art Seminar Series brings leading speakers in the field to The Courtauld to present their research with the aim of showcasing the most exciting work in American Art today. The series invites three speakers in the autumn and spring terms each year.
This event is held in collaboration with this year’s Sackler Lecture Series – 1968.