Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Drawn Word

Professor Stephen Farthing, Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing, has co-edited the book The Drawn Word with Dr Janet McKenzie.  The book is the product of a research project funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council networking grant that explored the relationship between writing drawing and literacy. As such it is collaborative publication between Studio International, the University of the Arts London (UAL) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT).

It is the first of a proposed series in which Studio International will link with educational institutions to publish academic papers and research outcomes. The Drawn Word presents the papers from the third conference Drawing Out (2013) organised between UAL and RMIT in Melbourne. This publication focuses on explaining the relationship between writing and drawing; the ideas raised at the symposium are expanded and clarified, with the inclusion of artists’ and academics’ contributions from sources as diverse as Oxford professor emeritus Martin Kemp – who has written on the Leicester Codex by Leonardo da Vinci and Professor Asa Briggs (a leading British historian and a key code-breaker at Bletchley Park during the second world war) – who discusses, “Drawing as Code”.

The essays are organised into five key sections: Definition; Transmission; Application; Representation; and “All Writing is Drawing”, an exhibition remit for artists in Australia and the UK.

For more information, visit Studio International’s website.

Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location

Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location -25th to 29th March 2014- pools the energies and interests of Dan Smith, Critical Practice Research Cluster (a cluster of individual artists, researchers, academics and others aimed at supporting critical practice within art, the field of culture and organization), architect Amy Butt and other utopographers and interested publics.  Marsha Bradfield, CCW Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Critical Practice, says this about the event:

The project grows out of a workshop held at Baltic 39 in September 2013 and will progress through four phases. In keeping with the spirit of Utopography, these will explore the projection and criticism of ideal societies, the interactions of space and temporal narratives, the creation of social dreams and the reality of working within and through the present. This project also furthers Critical Practice’s ongoing research into value and evaluation as dynamic processes for making sense of our increasingly complex world(s). Critical Practice is fascinated by utopographic methods and eager to understand how they may advance the embedded, specific and localised characteristics that distinguishes the cluster’s practice-based research. 

Phase One: Facilitated by Amy Butt and Charlotte Knox-Williams, two participatory workshops offered space to play with ideas surrounding utopography while linking this with Critical Practice’s ongoing research into evaluation and the cluster’s self-organised ways of working.  We unwrapped surprises and made models en route to envisioning our collaborative utopographic experience. We talked about combining analogue and digital, making networks manifest through a massive hammock-like roof and weaving together our disparate desires and sensibilities in heretofore unimagined forms of collaborative macramé.

Phase Two: International utopographers from Paris, New York and elsewhere joined with Dan, Critical Practice and other Chelsea locals to create a network-like roof across the Triangle Space by tying cords between batons secured to the walls. We discovered through practice that looping the cords in a particular way makes the shonky mesh more robust. We also ‘raised the roof’ by tying key threads to pillars and radiating them outwards like a maypole. There was disagreement about where to focus our energies. While some enjoyed ornamenting the network, others were committed to extending it. Will ornament be a crime in the utopia we’re building? Consensus on this remains forthcoming. ‘Threaders’ came and went over the three days; it was surprisingly tiring and tough work but also deeply satisfying. 

Phase Three: Fitted with a networked roof designed to support the program through being reconfigured in response to specific events (suspended artefacts, sectioning the space, etc) the Triangle will host an experimental program: performances, radical screenings, no-holds-barred debates, games, audio environments, swarms and tournaments of evaluation. This phase is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Join us for an immersive and emergent experience. Up-to-the-minute details can be found on the Critical Practice wiki.

Participants include: Jill Belli (City University of New York), Francis Brady (Chelsea Alumni), Amy Butt (BPR Architects), Nathaniel Coleman (Newcastle University), Contemporary Land Theatre (Featuring Stephanie Dickinson and Michael Tyack), Critical Practice (Chelsea), Ruth Desseault (Emory University), Karel Doing (www.doingfilm.nl), Eddie Dorrian, Future Records, The Gluts, Hayley Jukes (Chelsea), Charlotte Knox-Williams, Mathilda Oosthuizen (Chelsea Alumni), Blanca Regina (whiteemotion.com), Prof. Kazue Kobata, Adoka Niitsu, Dan Smith (Chelsea), Adam Stock (Newcastle University), Sissu Tarka and others to be confirmed.

Phase Four: We will generate a publication that knits together new knowledge spun through our collaborative work and play. Funded by the Graduate School, and provisionally edited by Dan Smith, this publication will bring together reflections from all those involved. Titled Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location, it will be disseminated via the Critical Practice wiki in keeping with the cluster’s commitment to creating knowledge resources that are public and accessible. Visit the Critical Practice wiki for more info. 

The Optical and its Limits

Chelsea MA Fine Art student, Milena Michalski, is recipient of The Arts Club Aldeburgh Beach bursary and winner of the Chelsea College of Arts residency.  It will take place 1-6 April 2014, with a show on Saturday 5th April 2014, 11-4pm and drinks 12-2pm.

‘The theme I have chosen for my residency at The South Beach Lookout in Aldeburgh is “the optical and its limits”. These words originally referred to the visual properties of the sea, but I have extended their meaning to encompass the creation of works which are both visual and tactile, combining optics and haptics.

‘Traditionally, the Lookout is a point from which to observe outwards, yet for me, with this residency, it is also a place offering the chance to look inwards, to re-assess how I work. My practice centres on film and video, as well as print-making, using both analogue and digital media. During the residency I plan to use my surroundings to affect my work physically, by introducing elements into the material of the pieces. I shall use painting on film to engage the public, and I will use a Super 8 camera to record parts of the residency, but I also intend to use film as a sculptural object. Similarly, I shall print on paper, but also with the aim of working with its materiality in ways beyond using it as a carrier of an image. In keeping with the beautiful simplicity of the Lookout, perhaps most importantly and most challengingly, I would like to incorporate drawing in my work there.

‘The Lookout residency is the perfect opportunity to take artistic risks I would not take otherwise, to think and work in new ways, in new surroundings. It is, of course, a little daunting, but above all it is deeply exciting and inspiring.’

Find more information about Aldeburgh Beach Lookout visit their website.

Drawing Life- Living the Line

Angie Brew, CCW PhD student, is running a drawing symposium called Drawing Life- Living the Line at Chateau Lamostonie in the Dordogne 16-18 April 2014.  She will be leading the symposium with fellow instructors Viyki Turnbull and Natasha Freedman. Following from the workshops they ran at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in October 2013 they will explore, in more depth, the fine-tuning of perception and visual thought through movement and observational drawing. They will consider uses of drawing, connecting views from drawing practice and the science of drawing and cognition, continuing conversations began at the annual Thinking through Drawing symposia (see International Drawing and Cognition Research).

On the second day a workshop will take place in the Peche Merle caves (like Lascaux, but people can go in the original caves rather than replicas, as at Lascaux), surrounded by the drawings made by Cro-Magnon people, tens of thousands of years ago.

The Brew International Drawing School was founded in March 2013 by Clare and Angie Brew, as a platform for teaching and researching drawing and cognitive skills across disciplines. Angie Brew teaches a weekly class called Drawing Growth at Brockwell Park community greenhouses, focusing on the drawing process and its potential for growth and learning.

More information about Drawing Life can be found on Facebook and on the Brew International Drawing website.

Art and Queer Culture

Art and Queer Culture is a panel discussion that will attempt to highlight such concerns as part of an ongoing movement against queer invisibility, unnecessary silences, cultural forms of oppression, censorship and state controlled funding that does not support the arts. CCW Graduate School is hosting this discussion between Richard Meyer, Editor of Art and Queer Culture, and Irene Revell, Director of Electra, and it will be chaired by Dr Stephen Wilson, University of the Arts London, in the Lecture Theatre at Chelsea College of Art, Thursday 20 March at 5:30pm.

Inside a section of the recently published Art and Queer Culture entitled, ‘Document G – Queer Worlds (1995-present)’, the editors state that ‘queer’ has been reclaimed by gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and other sexual minorities as a deviant means to self-description. To call oneself ‘queer’ is to confront but also to defy the violent uses to which that word has been put in the past, ‘queer’ suggests a thoroughgoing critique of gay and lesbian normalisation and of the ‘positive’ images of homosexual dignity, patriotism and community that accompany it.

How are these attitudes reflected back into the art institution? Is there a point in recent history when art institutions, public spaces and national museums have confidently reclaimed queer history? There are collected artworks from around the world that demonstrate an exciting past full of examples of gay and lesbian pride hung on institutional walls. What is great to witness and look at can also be spoken about.

Further information about the panel discussion and booking can be found here.

Taste After Bourdieu: an interview with Malcolm Quinn

CCW Graduate School spoke to Malcolm Quinn, CCW Associate Dean of Research and Director of Graduate School, about the forthcoming conference that the Graduate School is hosting, Taste After Boudieau.  Quinn proposed the conference because CCW Graduate School has a commitment to promote cultural debate through the Graduate School themes of Environment, Identity, Social Engagement and Technologies. Taste After Bourdieu deals with the relationship of identity and social engagement in art and design practice and theory.

Why is CCW Graduate School hosting a conference about taste?

Many practitioners and theorists at UAL, from Elizabeth Wilson to Grayson Perry have engaged with the social dimension of art and taste, and CCW is following this with the UAL panel convenors and speakers for Taste After Bourdieu, who represent our current institutional engagement with contemporary debates on taste.  It is also the case that the publicly funded art school in England emerged from a political debate about public taste and cultural exclusion in the 1830s, so it makes sense to re-engage with those themes in 2014, at the end of a phase when the rhetoric of cultural inclusiveness and social mobility was the norm. In contrast, the current government have been described as ‘selective philistines’ (Catherine Bennett, The Observer, 2 Dec 2012) who are content for the population of Newcastle to embark on its own version of the Dark Ages, ‘while Downing Street’s connoisseurs blag £888 Wagner tickets or hanker for a Tracey Emin.’

Who was Pierre Bourdieu?

Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) was a French sociologist. His seminal text Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste was based on fieldwork that Bourdieu conducted in the 1960s, yet its analysis of the social formations of taste, and its central concepts of ‘cultural capital’, ‘habitus’ and ‘field’, are still influential in studies of culture and society and are now part of the lingua franca of cultural policy.  For example, the UK currently boasts an ‘Institute of Cultural Capital’ (ICC) in Liverpool dedicated to ‘debates concerning the social and economic value of cultural interventions’.

Why is Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of taste important to CCW/UAL?

Bourdieu thought that taste was a symbolic practice in the domain of culture that we use to enhance our life chances and where individual identity and social recognition is at stake. He thought that the institutions of art were crucial to the affirmation of differences between groups and social classes and in the reproduction of those differences. His work was marked by an analysis of culture ‘from the ground up’ that emphasised the importance of individual practices of cultural engagement and reception in everyday life. He claimed that institutions of art and culture such as art schools, galleries and museums divide those who feel confident in their expressions of taste from those whose upbringing and education inhibit them from using personal taste as a means of gaining social approval and recognition. Rather than seeing radical and avant-garde art as a challenge to social convention, Bourdieu saw artists as complicit with the moneyed middle classes in excluding whole sectors of the population from the game of taste and the possibility of gaining social recognition and approval.  Bourdieu opposed Theodor Adorno, who saw the individual artwork as holding out the possibility of social change through a challenge to the existing forms and conventions of art. Instead, Bourdieu claimed that the artwork and the artist are only socially legible if contained within a cross-cultural analysis of social distinctions. Bourdieu saw Marcel Duchamp as an exception that proved this rule, because Duchamp’s subversion of belief in the power of the individual artist disclosed the modus operandi of the entire field of art.

What are some of the current challenges to Bourdieu’s analysis of taste?

Bourdieu was one of the great academic ‘Mythbusters’ of the twentieth century, who wanted to demolish the myths of art and philosophical aesthetics in order to reveal the social reality of taste. This meant that art practice was both ‘out of place’ and ‘in place’ in his analysis.  Bourdieu thinks that art is ‘out of place’ because it distorts a clear view of the field of cultural practices and he thinks that it is ‘in place’ when someone like Duchamp discloses the way things really are with art and the social world. Bourdieu suggests that art and design practice is crucial to the formation of taste because taste is vital to social positioning. But perhaps art is crucial to the debate on taste because it suggests that not everything is in position. While we are obliged to negotiate social conventions of taste, we do not have to accept that these conventions tell us how things are with the world. The overwhelming power that Bourdieu accords to the role of social distinction in the game of culture can also introduce its own distortions, in which cross-cultural analysis is used to describe a game of culture built around the drive of dominant social groups to reproduce themselves. This means that your point of entry into the game of culture determines your level of engagement. In Taste After Bourdieu, our four domains of gallery, museum, street and home are there to allow for a cross-cultural account of how conventions of taste might operate across and between each domain, but they do not describe levels of cultural attainment. Student involvement is an important part of this conference and a group of CCW Graduate School students are preparing an intervention that will allow us to see new points of entry into these debates. Above all, our conference is directed to debate that will allow conventions of taste to be considered ‘after Bourdieu’ and his description of the social meaning of art and taste.

For more information about Taste After Bourdieu and booking, please visit the conference website.

Taste After Bourdieu

CCW Graduate School is pleased to announce the programme for Taste After Bourdieu. The conference brings together UK and international speakers from arts practice, art education, curation, sociology and cultural criticism to ask – what is the current relationship between aesthetic judgement and social distinction? In response to the influential twentieth century analysis of taste proposed by Pierre Bourdieu, how should we construct a cross-cultural analysis of taste in the twenty first century? Taste After Bourdieu offers an analysis of taste across four key domains – the Museum, the Gallery, the Street and the Home – to re-evaluate the relationship of aesthetic judgement to social distinction for a new era.

Taste and the Museum, considers the fate of the ‘post-taste’ museum in Europe, which, while it is no longer required to deliver the self-cultivation of the individual, is facing new strictures on what kinds of taste building it can now assume. Taste and the Gallery, charts a course between the either/or of the sociological reduction of aesthetic experience and an uncomplicated assertion of the autonomous individual subject of taste. Taste and the Street adopts an Asian perspective on public taste that uses examples from street fashion, popular culture and high art to challenge the co-ordinates of a Bourdieusian analysis. Taste and the Home, adopts the cross-cultural ambitions of a Bourdieusian analysis while questioning whether the very act of switching from one context to another or from one geographical space to another, undermines the social mechanisms of distinction that Bourdieu has described.

Working within and across these four domains enables us to embrace the Bourdieusian idea of a cross-cultural analysis of taste while questioning the reduction of aesthetics to social distinction that has accompanied it.  On the one hand, the reduction of aesthetic value to social distinction has proposed an end to the separation of high and low culture and anxiety about status and respectability. On the other hand, this same reduction of aesthetic value to social distinction is supported by new kinds of personal and cultural anxiety, new forms of cultural institution and new expressions of social and political power.

Keynote Speakers:

  • 15 May: Prof Tony Bennett, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney
  • 16 May: Prof Penny Sparke, School of Art and Design History, Kingston University

For more information and registration visit the conference website

Follow us on twitter #tasteUAL

CCW Graduate Teaching Scheme

CCW Graduate School runs a Graduate Teaching Scheme which offers CCW Doctoral students the opportunity to teach on selected CCW BA and MA courses.

The programme offers PhD students an insight into the nature of teaching at Higher Education level at CCW and to provide working introductions to relevant courses, staff and students. It has been designed to induct those who have no or little teaching experience, but can be configured to suit those with experience of teaching. Graduates gain work experience, a CV item and material that should feed into any Personal Development Planning.  CCW Graduate School has pioneered this scheme within UAL.

Katie Elliott, an AHRC funded PhD student at CCW, has taught in the Theatre and Screen department at Wimbledon College of Arts. ‘I am a costume designer and a full-time PhD student at CCW, where my practice-led research is exploring the significance of the costumed-body in theatre and performance.  As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, I work in the Theatre and Screen department at Wimbledon College of Art; presenting lectures and leading seminars on aspects of my research in the Contextual Studies Programme and in the BA Costume Design pathway.  Teaching has been a way for me to place my research into other spaces (conversation-spaces/activity-spaces), and has caused me to re-evaluate my methodology in terms of its potential value for costume designers and theatre practitioners.   Selecting these “valuable” elements, and constructing sessions around them that might facilitate discussion, interaction and debate, has cast new illuminations on how I view my research and its future uses.  The relationship of “value” and “teaching” is something that I would like to explore further as a GTA.  In particular, I am interested in the connection between what I am investing as “valuable” knowledge (ways of thinking, watching, testing the costumed-body as a significant component of performance) alongside the value of other spaces (conversations and activities between myself and theatre students engaged in their own practices) to myself as a developing costume designer.’

Elliott’s practice-led costume research, titled ‘A Practice-Led Investigation into the Significance  of Costumed-Bodies through a Study of Tanztheater Wuppertal’ uses a selection of works by this dance-theatre company to explore how the material identity of the costume produces meaning in addition to character and/or narrative. Her research interests include costume design, drawing, and sign theory.  She has disseminated her research at the 2013 TaPRA conference (Scenography Working Group) and will present a paper about her costume practice to the New Scholars Forum at the upcoming 2014 IFTR symposium. She has also published a short piece in the peer-reviewed journal JAWS, the Journal of Academic Work for and by Students (Issue 1, 2012).

The Rhythm of Action: Rock Against Racism

Mark Sealy MBE, Director of Autograph ABP, Syd Shelton and Professor Carol Tulloch are collaborating on a book about the Rock Against Racism (RAR) Movement, 1976-1981, when black and white people came together through gigs, demonstrations and carnivals, graphic design and personal styles to address the escalating rise of racism in Britain. Shelton, as a committee member of RAR (London), photographed many of its events and the contextual narratives that informed RAR. Shelton was also one of the graphic designers of the movement. His work during this period is the basis of the book that will be published by Autograph ABP.

In this discussion Shelton, Sealy and Tulloch will consider the processes they have engaged in to document a particular moment of activism that has lead to their collaboration. This discussion is hosted by TrAIN Research Centre.

The publication of the book follows the 2008 exhibition, A Riot of Our Own, originally shown at Chelsea SPACE, which was an archival narrative on the RAR movement. It was told through the personal archive of Ruth Gregory and Syd Shelton, both RAR (London) committee members.

There’s a Ghost in my House

Friday 7 March 2014, 1.00-2.30pm, Tate Britain, Clore Auditorium

This event is the first of two Paint Club events hosted by Tate Britain this spring. It addresses the issue of what kind of working relationship contemporary artists might hope to have with the paintings (both historical and recent) in a ‘Museum’ collection. Does new painting, to gain significance, always have to genuflect to art of the past? Are works of art, once acceded to a Museum collection, insulated from further contention and reinterpretation, just as they may be rescued from the vicariousness of the marketplace?

Artists Andrew Cranston, Dougal McKenzie and Ann-Marie James (a recent graduate from the Wimbledon MA Fine Art course) have been invited to discuss their relationship with particular paintings from the new Tate Britain displays. The event is chaired by Dr Jo Melvin.  Their choices are all works by artists who have known, to a greater or lesser extent, fluctuations in public esteem. You can see the artists’ choices from the Tate displays here (where there are also links to book tickets and send in questions for discussion by the panel)

Paint Club was set up by staff and research students of UAL as a research network, open to anyone with an interest in contemporary painting.  It provides a forum for the discussion of painting, its context within contemporary art practice and its relationship to research, its own history and other forms of art. Paint Club is establishing a network of research students and staff across the UK and worldwide.

The next event following There’s a Ghost in my House will be on Friday 25th April, and will feature writer Barry Schwabsky and artist Clare Woods. For further details click here.