‘The death of the artist is a dividing line’ wrote John Berger in 1966. ‘Every artist’s work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive … [His work] will have become evidence from the past, instead of being … a possible preparation for something to come.’
The beginning of 2017 sadly marked the death of John Berger, two months after his ninetieth birthday. As the life of an extraordinary writer about art and photography, Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and polemicist came to an end, so we have seen the first steps being taken in the formation of his posthumous legacy. John Berger Now seeks to build on the wave of recent scholarship presented at conferences on John Berger (University of Gdansk, 2011 and 2012, Kings College London, 2012 and Cardiff Metropolitan, 2014), and in On John Berger (ed. Ralph Hertel and David Malcolm) and seeks also to respond to and build upon the reception to his death in the weeks since January.
The title of this conference speaks to the bracing process of seeing Berger and his body of work from our position on the other side of the dividing line. It also seeks to stress the importance of a writer whose work speaks directly and urgently of and to the state of the world at this moment in time. To these ends it welcomes contributions from across the many disciplines that Berger’s work encompasses.