Liverpool, England 2015



The idea for this conference came from a previous meeting in Toronto. Sitting over oysters at the top of the Drake Hotel on Queen Street, Elke Grenzer was thinking about where the next Scenes of Innovation conference should be staged. I was about to move from Sydney Australia to Arts at Liverpool, and so the answer was obvious. Come to Liverpool and let’s explore the intersections of mobility, culture, capital, migration, and desire there, in short let's rewire the libidinal circuitry of this fascinating city, and let’s do it in word, poetry, art and film, as well as through the frames of cultural critique, sociology and architectural understanding.

The notion of a Libidinal Circuit, borrowed from Lyotard, has been variously interpreted across the speakers, works of art and installations that are gathered under the programme for these three days. Speakers note the torrents of capital that rush through the arteries of some cities, or trickle malodorously through others, leaving wealth or destitution or desperation along the route. We examine the ways in which people, animals, ideas and emotions are mobile or static or indeed inert – whether in urban settings or on the roads that lead to the desired uncertainty of metropolitan existence. Del Favero shares his view of recent Australian migration history,

Professor Stephanie Hemelryk Donald
Head of School of the Arts, Liverpool University.

where the circuits of need and desire are washed up on unforgiving shores, lost in leaky boats, or left to drift in an unforgiveable derive offshore. The Byzantium installation reaches out to the poetry of the city – the fleeting and arresting power of the word, the phrase, the stanza, to leak into other spaces and make space audible.

Our speakers and our artists, all of you, have travelled to be here, or just made effort and time to be with us, and we are so grateful for your commitment to international dialogue and to the intersections of aesthetic practice, academic writing and creative political thinking. Arts at Liverpool is about how we think collaboratively and how we make that visible to the world in which we work and live. We do this best in the company of with creative friends and co-locutors.

There are several people I need to thank, Roger McKinley at FACT for his enthusiasm in making the partnership work; Elke Grenzer and Alan Blum for the original idea and the chance to work withCulture of Cities; Richard Koeck at School of the Arts and CAVA, Filomena Saltao, Belinda Tyrell, Ian Crook and Alex Halliwell Bray in the professional services team here at Arts, and, of course, the splendid and extraordinary Emily Baker who has made this project her own. She should take a libidinal lap of honour.


Please click on the image above to view the conference program for Libidinal Circuits.