Congress for Curious People

‘Reclaiming Spectacle’: A two-day symposium concluding the Congress For Curious People, London 2013


Tickets - £20 for full weekend, £12 for 1 day: BUY TICKETS (CLICK HERE)


Every spring since 2007, Coney Island USA has convened ‘The Congress of Curious People,’ a 10-day theatrical gathering of strange and unique individuals celebrating the subversive and exciting power of the sideshow in its native environment. In 2010, ‘The Congress for Curious People’ was added to this heady mix; organised by the Coney Island Museum and the Morbid Anatomy Library, this series of lectures, performances exhibitions and symposia was created to introduce a scholarly component to the performances with which to explore the ideas of curiosity and curiosities, and particularly why we so enjoy collecting, creating, and contemplating them.

The theme of the 2013 London edition of the Congress for Curious People is ‘Spectacular Cultures’ and will take place from August 29th to September 8th in multiple venues around London. Produced by Morbid Anatomy, Preserved! and Strange Attractor, the Congress will consist of a variety of lectures, performances, open houses and tours which aim to open up a discussion, entertain, and bring an audience to amazing spaces in London that deserve more attention.

The Congress ends in this two-day symposium on ‘Reclaiming Spectacle’ held at The Horse Hospital, which will include panels of academics, museum professionals, rogue scholars and artists discussing the intricacies of collecting the spectacular, the politics of bodily display, non-human spectacles, religion and the occult.

Generally, the word spectacle refers to an event that is memorable for the appearance it creates. In nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholarship, spectacle has been frequently described as simultaneously enticing, deceptive and superficial, but above all as the domination of mass media, consumption and surveillance, which reduces citizens to spectators by political neutralisation. From this elitist view the audiences for spectacles have been described as passive consumers while the agency of those creating content is rarely addressed. We want to exactly challenge the very opposition between viewing (or writing about) and acting. How one can actively translate and interpret scientific spectacles and how can the boundaries between looking and doing be blurred: What can we learn from an encounter with performers, objects and spaces that create spectacles? Can counter-spaces and interventionist critiques be created?

The symposium programme can be be downloaded HERE

For more details on the full programme of the Congress for Curious People, visit