Blog post

"To understand history, one needs a political language"—John Berger and Gareth Evans in conversation to launch Portraits: John Berger on Artists

19 November 2015

John Berger and Gareth Evans launched Portraits: John Berger on Artistsedited by Tom Overton, at the British Library on 18th September 2015. 

"To understand history, one needs a political language. For a political language to exist and be striking, it has to have some relation to proposed actions."—John Berger, in conversation with Gareth Evans

Footage: Telesur

"Today we live in a period of 'Angry Old Men', and they are angry because the world in which we are living in—the world of fascist finance—is a world which reduces attention and priorities on decisions, which affect the entire planet, to the perspective of an instant: the instant of a deal. And so the notion of a different future, the recollection of a past, the present company of the dead, the imagined company of future generations who will be different—all of that which is so essential to the sensation of being human—you could call it history but its more complicated than that—that is being systematically destroyed by the information with which we are surrounded."—John Berger, in conversation with Gareth Evans

Tom Overton, who edited and introduced Portraits, novelist and writer Ali Smith, and Jamie Andrews‎, Head of Culture and Learning at The British Library, also spoke at the launch event. Read Ali Smith's speech, 'A Gift for John Berger', at the New Statesman.

Read more:

- 'Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)' by John Berger—an extract from Portraits: John Berger on Artists

'I have to turn this prize against itself'—John Berger on accepting the Booker Prize for Fiction, 23 November 1972