Recent research has resulted in the first book to consider Lyotard’s work in the context of his life and times. Published in the series ‘Critical Lives’ by Reaktion books it includes new research from interviews, archives and lesser known works, taking an interdisciplinary approach to Lyotard’s involvement in philosophy, art, literature, politics, teaching and writing. The hesitation which dominates the tone of the book, an uncertainty with regard to the genre of biography, was echoed in two symposia which Kiff Bamford programmed together with Leeds Beckett colleague and performance artist, Harold Offeh. Held at the Tetley, Leeds and ICA, London, the symposia were titled ‘Performance and Uncertainty’ and brought together international artists and writers to question the role of re-performance, to confront collective assumptions about authenticity and the changing role of the artist’s body, through presentations, discussions and performances.
Dr Kiff Bamford is a Reader in the School of Art, Architecture and Design with research interests in Performance art and Continental Philosophy. He is author of 'Lyotard and the figural in Performance, Art and Writing' (2012) and 'Jean-François Lyotard: Critical Lives' (2017).
The question of how to respond to art, especially performance, is an ongoing concern in Bamford’s research, an issue that is questioned through his writings, readings and performance. An unexpected, and underexplored, guide accompanying this search has been the French philosopher J-F Lyotard whose own approach to writing never ceases to question the limits of its own abilities.
PhD research was undertaken at the University of Manchester, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, under the supervision of Professor David Lomas (Art History and Visual Studies) and Professor Dee Reynolds (French Studies), with Professor Amelia Jones as an academic advisor. The resulting thesis was published by Continuum in 2012 in their series Studies in Continental Philosophy; it was re-issued in paperback by Bloomsbury in 2014. Titled 'Lyotard and the figural in Performance, Art and Writing' it argues for the relevance of Lyotard’s philosophy to considerations of writing on art, in particular performance art and its attending issues of documentation.