Mixed media artwork

Psychedelic Promises

Panel discussion

Join us live at the Museum for a special panel discussion related to our current exhibition, Light & Darkness

Join artists, curators and scientists as they discuss how the utopian visions and legal difficulties of psychedelic drugs impacted art and science in the 1960s and now. Who was afraid of the psychedelic experience? Who was/is excited by it? And why was scientific research on psychedelic drugs discouraged for so long? 

What new understandings of these drugs are now emerging and how might they help tackle contemporary societal issues, such as trauma, anxiety and depression? 

The panel discussion will take place from 6–7.15pm. Following a short break for refreshments, the exhibition catalogue Light & Darkness: Late Modernism and the JW Power Collection will be officially launched by Suzanne Cotter, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). This will include a short Q&A with authors and editors Dr Ann Stephen and Katrina Liberiou and the opportunity to get your copy signed. The event will conclude at 8pm.

Light & Darkness is a co-publication from Sydney University's Power Publications and the Chau Chak Wing Museum edited by Ann Stephen. 

About the speakers

  • Convener: Professor Mark Ledbury is Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Sydney and the Director of the Power Institute. 
  • Dr Dilara Bahceci, PhD, is a neuroscientist who specialises in the therapeutic potential of psychoactive drugs, like cannabis and psychedelics. Dilara is currently working as a Research Fellow at the George Institute to facilitate clinical trials with psychedelics for psychiatric conditions and as a science communicator for Psylo, an Australian biotech company that is developing next-generation psychedelic-inspired medicines. 
  • Dr Joshua Berger is a researcher with a passion for neuroscience, surfing, mental health, and medicine. Josh completed his PhD studying synesthesia and is currently completing the final year of his Medical Doctorate at The University of Sydney. 
  • Dr Robert Gordon is a consultant psychiatrist in private practice and also a part-time member of the New South Wales Department of Health, Mental Health Review Tribunal. He was the Australian representative to the International Association of psychotherapy and while a senior consultant psychiatrist at Westmead, was the Director of The University of Sydney Master of Medicine in Psychotherapy training program. He has also conducted psychotherapy with the use of LSD. 
  • Emeritus Professor Andrew McNamara is an art historian focusing on modern and contemporary art. His latest book is Surpassing Modernity: Ambivalence in art, politics and society (2018). 
  • Dr Vince Polito is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Psychological Sciences and member of the Biomolecular Discovery Research Centre at Macquarie University. Dr Vince Polito is a cognitive scientist with a research focus on developing measures of how our sense of self changes in different contexts, clinical conditions, and altered states of consciousness. 

Header image: Peter Sedgley, Chromosphere, 1967 (detail), University Art Collection, PW1967.22