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David Salle + Iain McGilchrist

Which Side of the Brain Controls You?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist is concerned that our society is betraying signs that our left side of the brain is ruling the usually dominant right side, leading us to petty, short-focussed behavior. He engages with painter David Salle on what constitutes the ideally balanced human brain.
Iain McGilchrist posits a very interesting argument that the division of the brain into two hemispheres is essential to human existence, making possible incompatible versions of the world, with quite different priorities and values. It shows the hemispheres as no mere machines with functions, but underwriting whole, self-consistent, versions of the world: the right hemisphere possessing a holistic, wide-range view, the left a specific focused-on-the-task-at-hand view. Through an examination of Western philosophy, art and literature, his new book The Master and the Emissary reveals the uneasy relationship of the hemispheres being played out in the history of ideas, from ancient times until the present.According to David Cox in the London Evening Standard, McGilchrist is “a giant in his vital field who shows convincingly that the degeneracy of the West springs from our failure to manage the binary division of our brains.” Together with painter David Salle they demonstrate the tension between the two versions of the world in our minds.

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist who graduated from Oxford in 1975, and began researching neuroimaging at John Hopkins in 1992. His research stems from the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise. In The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.
He has also written numerous articles on literature, medicine, psychiatry, and neuroimaging that were featured in the Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, The Sunday Times, British Journal of Psychiatry, and American Journal of Psychiatry.

David Salle has helped define the post-modern sensibility by combining figuration with an extremely varied pictorial language. His paintings have been shown in over 100 museums and galleries worldwide, including major exhibitions at the Whitney; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; MoCA Chicago; Stedelijk Museum; MoMA Vienna; Menil Museum; Houston, Haus der Kunst, Munich; Castello di Rivoli; and the Guggenheim, Bilbao.
Although known primarily as a painter, Salle’s work grows out of a long- standing involvement with installation art and performance. Over the last 25 years he has worked extensively with choreographer Karole Armitage, creating sets and costumes for many of her ballets and operas. Their collaborations have been seen at theaters in Europe and America, including The Metropolitan Opera House; The Paris Opera; The Opera Comique; Lyon Opera; Opera Deutsche, Berlin; and La Fenice, Venice. Salle received a Guggenheim fellowship for theater design in 1986 and in 1995 directed the feature film Search and Destroy, starring Griffin Dunne and Christopher Walken. Salle is also a prolific writer on art and his essays and interviews have been published in Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, Modern Painters, The Paris Review, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs and anthologies.