Thursday Keynote: Professor Celia Lury

Prof Celia Lury, University of Warwick, Composing Methods: On the Limits of Problem Spaces 

Thursday 24th of June, 1.30pm - 2.15pm 

An inspiration for the book Problem Spaces was Richard Serra’s claim that ‘Drawing is a verb’. His artwork Verb List (1967–68) serves as a kind of manifesto for this pronouncement. In pencil, on two sheets of paper, in four columns of scripts, he lists the infinitives of 84 verbs—to roll, to crease, to fold, to store, for example—and 24 possible states or conditions—of gravity, of entropy, of photosynthesis, of nature among others. In interview, Serra says, ‘The problem I was trying to resolve … was: How do you apply an activity or a process to a material and arrive at a form that refers back to its own making?’.  The art critic Rosalind Krauss suggests that the list describes Serra’s practice in terms of action that ‘simply acts, and acts, and acts’ (1985: 101). Serra himself draws attention to the relations in which the action that ‘simply acts’ takes place: he describes the list as a series of ‘actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process’ (Buchloh 2000: 7, my emphasis). Problem Spaces tries to describe what this might involve at a time when the epistemic infrastructures in which knowledge is produced are undergoing radical change.  


Celia Lury is Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick. 

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First published: 1 June 2020