The ICA is one of my favourite London venues. It’s had an incredible history, staging a legendary discussion with the Situationists, exhibiting Throbbing Gristle’s Cosey Fanni Tutti’s controversial art about the sex industry (the original display is now on show at the Tate Modern’s rather dull Pop Life show) and, of course, that notorious Einsturzende Neubauten performance...

I’ve seen loads of great talks there (and, admitting an interest, helped put on a few). One fascinating evening saw a discussion between ex-Angry Brigade John Barker and ex-Weather Underground Bill Ayers. Another, a truly bizarre meeting of the late G.A. Cohen -- author of Why Not Socialism? -- and Slavoj Zizek. Unfortunately, I missed the night where satirist Chris Morris heckled Martin Amis for his anti-muslim comments.

As well as the talks and the great cinema (where else would you be able to see the new film of Coetzee’s Disgrace or the documentary about Derrida?), the ICA has one of the best bookshops in the country. I visit regularly for their large selection of the latest theory titles.

Last year, I was saddened to see the long-standing and excellent talks' organisers James Harkin and Jenn Thatcher leave, and this Saturday’s Guardian gives clues as to why this may have happened. It seems that the financial crisis has bitten deep and even more redundancies are expected -- there is a fear that the debt is insurmountable.

This is both an important cultural venue and a key independent bookshop in the life of the capital. Have you not been before? It’s just off Trafalgar Square , 5 minutes from Charing Cross Road station -- you can fit it in on the way to Buckingham Palace! I urge you to use it -- to lose a place like this would be a tragedy.


Readers Comments

  1. Charles Lambert Thursday 28 January 2010

    It would certainly be sad to lose the ICA. I wonder if anyone remembers Paul Johnstone, who ran the publicity or promotions department (I think) in the late 70s. Longish red hair, chain-smoker, hard drinker? He'd been involved in the Cambridge Poetry Festival before that, and ran a sort of art dealership from his girlfriend's flat in Canonbury after his ICA stint...

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