Test The West

A conversation with T.J. Clark about art and capitalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania


André Dombrowski


Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award/Kaja Silverman

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Test the West," a talk and conversation with art historians T.J. Clark and Kaja Silverman, on Monday, October 13, 2014 from 6:30-8:30pm. The event has been organized by André Dombrowski, with the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and the support of Kaja Silverman's Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award.

The evening will begin with a talk by Clark about consumerism and its image-world. Specifically, he will explore the implications of an image he once took in Berlin, Germany of a billboard advertising a brand of cigarette under the slogan "Test The West." His talk will be followed by further conversation with Kaja Silverman about art and capitalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the relation of visual depiction to what he has referred to elsewhere as the "sales-pitch-world."

This event has been organized in conjunction with another lecture by T.J. Clark, "Joachim's Dream, or What Can Art History Say about Giotto?," on Tuesday, October 14th from 5-7:30pm in College Hall 200 at the University of Pennsylvania.

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T.J. Clark is a London-based art historian and writer, and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent book is Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica.

He has been influential in developing the field of art history, examining modern paintings as an articulation of the social and political conditions of modern life. In 2005 Clark received a Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award, and in 2006 he received an honorary degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Over the decades, Clark has also been deeply committed to socio-cultural activism and advocacy. He was a former member of the Situationist International, and was involved in the radical group King Mob. In 1976, he became a founding member of the Caucus for Marxism and Art of the College Art Association. More recently, he co-authored the book Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (2005) as a member of Retort, a Bay Area-based collective of radical intellectuals.

Kaja Silverman is a visual and film theorist and the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs professor of Contemporary Art in the Department of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. At Slought, she recently curated Edgelands, an installation by artist Knut Asdam exploring place and placelessness in all of its contemporary forms.

"But it seems to me that this is because [artists] now put a premium on what I want to call the non-discursiveness of the visual depiction; that is, on its radical wordlessness; on the possibility of at least partial escape from the time and place of the slogan, the sound bite, the sentence, the image-that-obeys-the-logic-of-a-sound-bite/brand-name/sales-pitch-world."

"You could say that the aesthetic turn has happened because the anti-aesthetic alternative -- the effort at dialectical mimicry -- has finally eaten its own tail."

-- T. J. Clark, "The End of the Anti-Aesthetic," Texte zur Kunst 3, 2011