Monthly Archives: January 2015

Assembling

‘…when bubbles, individuals, or beings, human and non-human, amass and cohere, their influence on one another creates all manner of formal distortion.’

Hélène Frichot (writing on Peter Sloterdijk)

Assembling, an exhibition curated by CCW PhD student Amy McDonnell, will be in the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea College of Arts from 9 – 20 February, with a private view on the 17th. ‘I am curating the exhibition Assembling as part of my practice-based PhD. It is an ongoing project that seeks to activate a grouping between geographically and linguistically distanced artists based between Havana, London, Mexico City and Salford. Influenced by Georgio Agamben’s concept of the “coming community” and Jean Luc Nancy’s The Inoperable Community (1983), I have been forming collectivities through a series of tests and trials, rather than considering a collective as an achievable state. This exhibition is the latest in a series of attempts to draw artists together which have included an email circuit, residency, zine and an online platform.

live email images

Assembling email circuit from distributed zine by Amy McDonnel

This thinking has been developed through researching artists’ group practices in Havana and their want to move beyond the system in which they operate. Contemporary collectivity in the UK runs through our entire political strata- hacktivist culture, networked terrorist cells, flash mob advertising, Occupy, Avaaz, David Cameron’s failed Big Society- often networked through social media to rapidly share and repeat information within communities of interest. When we conceive of social groupings – nations, collectives, societies – as constructed rather than “just existing”, it becomes crucial to experiment with the social as a practice.

I am working to produce a visual Typology of Association that I have gathered in my research using terms from artistic and exhibitionary practice and from social and political theory. I will run this activity through the space and will be testing these terms against the work of the artists participating in the show. Assembling will take the form of an exhibition which will expand over time in the Cookhouse.

Julika Gittner

Julika Gittner, Homo Economicus (2009)

Participating artists are James Bonachea, Maurice Carlin, Luis Gárciga, Julika Gittner, Karem Ibrahim, Katie Schwab and Scott Schwager. Each participant will inhabit the exhibition space, performing, re-associating or re-assembling it each time. We will work to utilise the space as a representation of our most recent gathering on the online, collaborative decision-making platform Loomio, in which public, private and part-public/part-private spaces have been designated.

The exhibition itself will grow and layer throughout the course of this activity, as an expanded collective of people, artworks, objects, words, ideas… Activity will take place daily – so do drop in.’

This exhibition is funded by CCW Graduate School’s Research Student Led Initiative Fund.

Maurice Carlin

Maurice Carlin, Cluster (2015)

Chercher le Garçon

Chelsea MA Fine Art Course Director, Brian Chalkley is participating in Chercher le Garçon, a group exhibition by male artists, at MAC/VAL – Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne. The exhibition will be on from 7 March to 30 August 2015. Located in Vitry-sur-Seine, MAC/VAL is the first museum to be entirely dedicated to the French art scene of the 1950s.

Celebrating their 10th anniversary, this multidisciplinary, thematic exhibition is the first big event of MAC/VAL’s 2015 programme. Chercher le Garçon asks, what defines masculinity today? And how do we propose alternatives to the dominant male figure in a patriarchal society?

To answer these questions, curator Frank Lamy invited over one hundred male artists, exploring many lines of thought around the cultural patterns of male representation. Based on his series Female Trouble, which showed at Ancient and Modern in 2012, Chalkley was recommended to Lamy to contribute to the exhibition. The six watercolours that Chalkley is contributing to the exhibition question notions of masculinity and gender. According to the press release from Female Trouble, this was ‘Brian Chalkley’s first solo exhibition in over ten years in London with an installation of fourteen watercolour paintings of women portrayed in fine prints and strong makeup. Female Trouble takes its title from the eponymous film directed by John Waters (1974), featuring the actress Divine who simultaneously plays both the delinquent schoolgirl-prostitute “Dawn” and the man who makes her pregnant.

The paintings’ individual titles are gleaned from the kind of things celebrities say in magazine interviews, vacuous but heartfelt. Meanwhile a more refined sense of salaciousness is suggested by one portrait based upon a painting in Tate Britain of the Duchess of Argyll. During the 1960s, her husband found polaroids of his wife performing fellatio on a headless man.

Chalkley- Duchess of Argyle

‘VSex is the only thing I believe in, suddenly it all made sense some how.’ Watercolour by Brian Chalkley

Each painting employs an accomplished teenage-tracer’s draughtsmanship, suggesting a kind of levity inherent in the various moments of “trouble” they reference. Their cinematic “close up” style framing further emphasises the sense of identity being performed, and draws a parallels to Chalkley’s important video work exploring queer identity and subculture.’

Top image: ‘Some scripts have the woman coming back on all fours – but I’m like, “What man wants that woman”. The woman has got to maintain her integrity, she’s gotta maintain her balls.’ Watercolour by Brian Chalkley

Propelling Edward III: Research in Action

Wimbledon College of Arts and Propeller Theatre Company will be jointly hosting Propelling Edward III: Research in Action, a two-day CCW symposium taking place on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 January 2015, in the Theatre Space at Wimbledon. The symposium will explore Shakespeare’s rarely performed Edward III through theatre practice and debate, and will open with Edward Hall (Director of the Propeller Theatre Company), Michael Pavelka (MA Theatre Design Course Director and Propeller Designer) and Roger Warren (Propeller Text Editor) rehearsing selected scenes from the play with ten actors from the Propeller Theatre Company.

The two days will be interspersed with speakers on related theatrical, historical and contemporary topics including movement and sound. They include Professor Jean Howard (Columbia University, New York), Peter Kirwan (Nottingham University), Lucy Cullingford (University of Warwick), David Lindley (Leeds University) and Paul Allen (presenter of “Night Waves”).

The symposium will be led by Professor Carol Rutter and Dr Andy Kesson who will facilitate a debate between the delegates, speakers, Edward Hall and the Propeller actors.

The aim is to blend research and practice in a dynamic format, inter-cutting academic thematic thought with the rehearsal process of a large acting company in Wimbledon’s theatre. The event also coincides with the launch of Pavelka’s new book So You Want to be a Theatre Designer?

Further information and limited tickets are available to purchase by emailing Caro MacKay at [email protected] and there are a few remaining guest tickets remaining by application to [email protected]

General Theory Forum

The General Theory Forum is a series of lectures produced for the Chelsea College of Arts postgraduate community (though they are now open and welcoming to the public), chaired by Dr. Stephen Wilson, Postgraduate Theory Coordinator. The General Theory Forum comprises 10 lectures, and this year we are delighted that they will be held at London’s ICA. This year’s series is titled Where Theory Belongs and begins on 21 January with Stine Hebert. Hebert will be in conversation with ICA curator Matt Williams and CCW Professor Neil Cummings on topics related to her book titled Self-Organised, edited by Stine Hebert and Anne Szefer Karlsen (Open Editions, 2013).

Where Theory Belongs is a title that refers to an increasingly resistant culture of auto-regulated art-speak, art theory that is in a constant need for a reflective governance. This series offers a platform that brings together: art theorists, anthropologists, sociologists, humanists, queer theorists, artists and political economists. All of the lectures are followed by a panel discussion. In looking closely at the broader relationships between art, culture and politics, Where Theory Belongs presents the thoughts of Federico Campagna and his recently published book, The Last Night – Atheism, Anti-work, Adventure on 28 January.

Campagna writes, ‘Yet a glass still has sides, though transparent. It has its own limits, which include and exclude: any action, thought or feeling that exceeds its boundaries is irrevocably banned from its territory. Or, at least, this is how normal words function. But adventure is in our hands like a piece of paper. We can cut it, fold it, make an origami out of it. We can even invert the rules that normally apply to other words, and turn its boundaries inside out, or, more precisely, outside in.’

To echo this, Where Theory Belongs proposes the possibility for a single word, or a single action, to become an adventure through its deterritorialising potentials. The limitless, yet boundaried, nature of words and theories allows for reflections and counter-reflections to create infinite possible subjectivities and hence, political manifestations of projected futures.

Mapping/Tracing: Sustainability, Resilience and Divestment

Following the previous research exchange with CCC in Geneva, on Tuesday 20th January from 11am-4pm, there will be a collaborative mapping/tracing workshop with Dr Marsha Bradfield, CCW Reader David Cross and Professor Neil Cummings. The group will be researching and visualising UAL’s financial entanglements, for example, with the Royal Bank of Scotland —the fossil fuel bank, the University’s insurers and energy providers, etc. CCW’s project partners in Geneva, home to an extraordinary network of financial institutions and international civil society organizations, will be simultaneously doing the same mapping process in relation to Haute École d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD Geneva). All UAL postgraduate students are most welcome to participate. For more information about this workshop email Neil Cummings.

The aim of this partnership is to compare and contrast our approaches to the emerging field of practice-based research degrees. Rather than approach this in a generic way, we decided to develop a specific focus on the research interests we have in common, shared research interests are a critical engagement with the contested ideal of ‘sustainability’ and the problematic notion of ‘resilience’.

Following the mapping workshop, on the 27th of January, the two groups will be sharing their relational visualisations via a Skype session. This will feed into CCW’s visit to Geneva from 9—13 March 2015. For any UAL postgraduate students who would like to get involved with the partnership, please email David Cross.

Image: Tributary Diagrams, by Neil Cummings

The Department of Repair

CCW PhD student Bridget Harvey is co-curating the upcoming exhibition The Department of Repair at Camberwell Space.

The Department of Repair opens on 12th January at Camberwell Space.  It explores (re)making through fixing, repairing and mending. The project reframes the theme of “repair”, exploring its identities and potential for environmentally and socially engaged practice.

It is a collaborative project between myself, Karen Richmond and Michael Hurley from BA Three Dimensional Design, and Maiko Tsutsumi from MA Designer Maker at Camberwell.  The concept expanded from an idea for a one-day event on fixing/mending.  I am researching repair practices for my PhD studies, and we are all interested in growing the community of practice surrounding making and mending.

Designed as a two-part project, the first part will involve an exhibition and generative workshops with visiting (re)makers, (re)designers and repairers, both to demonstrate and teach repair skills. Initially works which explore various facets of repair will be on display, including objects that have been through some sort of repair process, tools and other resources for mending as well as a stop motion film about the break down of a ship by photographer Tim Mitchell.  The outcomes from the workshops will join the exhibition for the latter weeks.  Collaborators include Hendzel and Hunt, Second Sitters, Seabass Cycles, Tom of Holland and The Restart Project.

A forthcoming website and two-part publication will complement the project, with writings on various perspectives on fixing, including conservation.   Through the project we are attempting to demonstrate and promote the potential of repair, reclaim and fixing over replacing. The project will offer a space within which to explore different ways of fixing – experimental, practical or anything in between, developing and playing with ideas – and help build a community of people who are interested in repair and who have different skills to offer one another.

The project reception will be held on 3rd February, with a presentation by Pr. Daniel Charny at Wilson Road lecture theatre at 4pm, followed by drinks in the Camberwell Space from 5:30-8:00pm.’

More details and event booking are here.

  • Part 1 (workshops and exhibition) 12th-30th January
  • Part 2 (exhibition) 2nd-20th February

twitter/instagram hashtag #thedeptofrepair

Top image by Bridget Harvey

Michael Marriott's thonet stool 2

Michael Marriott’s thonet stool

 

Owen Leather

Owen Leather

 

Seabass Cycles

Seabass Cycles

 

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell

 

CCW Graduate School and CCC/HEAD: Sustainability, Resilience and Divestment

In the past year CCW Graduate School and CCC/HEAD in Geneva have been developing a partnership between staff and students. From 10-13 November students and staff from Geneva came to London for the first collaborative sessions. David Cross, Reader in Fine Art and Graphic Design, is leading CCW’s side of the partnership and wrote about the recent visit.

‘The aim of this partnership is to compare and contrast our approaches to the emerging field of practice-based research degrees. Rather than approach this in a generic way, we decided to develop a specific focus on the research interests we have in common. Some shared research interests are a critical engagement with the contested ideal of “sustainability” and the problematic notion of “resilience”… The production of situated knowledge through action research and radical pedagogy… And of course, the central importance of artistic practice as an intersection of content, form and process.

When I was asked to lead a collaboration between CCW and CCC, I imagined a regular institutional exchange, and I expected my rusty French to be put to the test. But when we connected between London and Geneva via Skype, it was clear that communication wasn’t going to be a problem — our Swiss collaborators’ English was better than mine! Even better, from the moment our collaborators from Geneva arrived, our interaction was more sociable, creative and unpredictable than I had hoped. We began with an introductory show-and-tell session of research by staff, led by Professor Catherine Quéloz (CCC/HEAD) and Professor Liliane Schneiter (CCC/HEAD); and by PhD candidates Aurélien Gamboni (CCC/HEAD), Janis Schroeder (CCC/HEAD), Joana de Oliveira (CCC/HEAD), Manoela Afonso (CCW), Karel Sidney Doing (LCC), and Vanessa Saraceno (CCW). After this, our wide-ranging and critical dialogue was so absorbing and challenging that spontaneous action began to change the plan.

That evening, we went to Wimbledon for the launch of the new “sustainable” studio building by the architects Penoyre and Prasad, and the award of a Soil Association Gold Catering Mark to Baxter Storey, the caterers at UAL. We had been invited to announce the collaboration between CCC and CCW, but the computer stubbornly refused to show the presentations we had prepared. Faced with a blank screen, I invited the audience to participate in the work of picturing sustainability as a paradoxical and ambiguous idea, an urgent challenge that distracts us with technical problems when cultural transformation is the goal. Completely undeterred by the technical failure, our partners from Geneva stepped up to give a delightful collaborative speech performance that described their research interests while demonstrating their shared values of collectivity and participation.

The next day, we visited the inspirational MayDay Rooms in Fleet Street, a “safe haven for historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture and the radical expression of marginalised figures and groups”. Co-founders Anthony Davies and Iain Boal generously hosted us, and presented the collections of radical material held in the archive. I think we were all impressed by the elegant architecture, but what really inspired us was the MayDay Rooms’ ambition of going beyond critical engagement to activation — handling the historical archive material and interacting with the people who produced it, in order to energise current struggles.

Our final day together was to be devoted to a seminar. Before their visit to Chelsea, I had corresponded with Professor Quéloz to agree the choice of material. I proposed, The Three Ecologies by Félix Guattari, which identifies the compound ecological, social and psychological nature of the crisis. Catherine and her colleagues came back with, How Big is Big? by Peter Sloterdijk, which considers the revolutionary implications of Buckminster Fuller’s identification of the earth as a spaceship, and Mike Davis, Who Will Build the Ark?, which offers a thrilling image of a “mental tournament between analytic despair and utopian possibility”. We also planned to discuss artworks: Hans Haacke’s Rhinewater Purification Plant (1972) in relation to Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project (2003-4), and Ursula Biemann’s video piece, Deep Weather (2013).

But the group was keen to pursue the ideas sketched out in our introductory session and developed at the MayDay Rooms, so rather than use our seminar to discuss artworks and writing, we discussed our options for action. Encouraged by the sense of shared possibility coming from our time together, I outlined my aim of persuading UAL to switch banks away from Royal Bank of Scotland —the fossil fuel bank— and to put our money with a bank that supports our aim of becoming a more sustainable university. Our fellow researchers from Geneva were really supportive, and went so far as to propose making divestment from fossil fuels a focus of our future collaboration. Geneva is home to an extraordinary network of financial institutions and international civil society organizations, so with creative and critical input, it seems we could make something exciting happen.

The collaboration between CCW in London and CCC in Geneva is going ahead: we are planning further meetings at Chelsea, a Skype session from London to Geneva on 27 January, and a visit to Geneva from 9—13 March 2015. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch!’

Image: in the archives of the MayDay Rooms, photo by Marsha Bradfield