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20 April 2022

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Exhibition opens at St Hugh’s with artwork inspired by the poet, Bertolt Brecht

In the context of the English-language edition of Brecht’s works whose principal editor is St Hugh’s Fellow and Professor of C20 German Literature, Tom Kuhn, an exhibition has been launched in the College’s Hamlin Gallery featuring a piece of artwork whose titled is taken from the 1938 poem by Bertolt Brecht, “Parade of the Old New” – translated by Professor Kuhn.

The painting by New York artist, Zoe Beloff  is a panoramic history painting, an allegory of the American body politic since the 2016 US election.  Painted on cardboard panels, the finished work is 40 metres long, however in order to be able to display the work in the Hamlin Gallery, Zoe has made reduced high quality scans of the painting mounted on board.

Zoe aims to make art that both entertains and provokes discussion. With a focus on social justice, she draws timelines between past and present to imagine a more egalitarian future. Her projects often involve a range of media including films, drawings and archival documents organised around a theme. Her most recent book reproduces her panoramic painting Parade of the Old New and is also on display in the Hamlin Gallery. Further information on the painting can be found here.

Tom Kuhn said, ‘My work on Bertolt Brecht can take me in unexpected directions. So many people working in the creative arts have an interest and a stake in his writings and ideas. I met Zoe at a Brecht conference several years ago where she was presenting one of her films, Exile, a reflection on intellectual anti-fascist exile, in which two strangely (estrangedly) cast actors, an Iranian and an African American, embody Brecht and Walter Benjamin and use their words and ideas to think about their experience of displacement in the United States. I am delighted that Zoe decided to display her Brecht-inspired painting at St Hugh’s Hamlin Gallery and hope that visitors will be able to appreciate how she has portrayed a period of American political history in her unique artistic style, as one of hope as well as conflict.’

Visitors to the exhibition, which is open until Wednesday 25 May, should ask for directions at St Hugh’s Porters Lodge.

On Monday 9 May at 5pm there will be a roundtable discussion with Oxford experts and graduates with interests in US politics, art and protest, sponsored by TORCH and the Rothermere American Institute. This will be advertised on the TORCH website in due course: https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/whatson .

To learn more about Zoe and her work please visit: http://www.zoebeloff.com/.

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