Tag Archives: Critical Practice

#TransActing: A Market of Values by Critical Practice


Popping-up on Saturday 11th July 2015, 12 – 5pm, on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground across from Tate Britain at Chelsea College of Arts, SW1P 4JU, #TransActing: A Market of Values will be a bustling market featuring 50+ stalls that creatively explore existing systems of evaluation and actively produce new ones. There will be a skillshare, a peoples bureau, organ donation, bricklaying, an economy of promises, commoners, a fablab, bring your own BBQ food, virtuous communities, a speakers’ corner—even a kiosk buying tears. Multiple currencies will circulate, not all of them monetary. Whilst the values of competitive markets dominate contemporary life, including art and its education, other kinds can and do coexist. #TransActing will nurture and celebrate these other value relations in a spectacular one-day event.

CCW PhD student Fangli Cheng and MA Interior Spatial Design student Helen Brewer are two student participating in the event. Describing his contribution, Cheng said, ‘I think one of the values for this project is raising the question of design sustainability; how can we transform waste material into a new functional level. My personal research is concerned with the relationship between architecture and body- it engages with the functionality of architecture but addresses the question of how the architectural function might be understood as a choreographed or performed event. #TransActing is a way to challenge how to use the limited material to measure the body activity, and through the body concern, how to arrange a public ground as market town. In terms of the definition of “market” itself, our project will provide the varying values in the making of art, design, environmental conservation and the other meanings of social engagement.’

Li- Spatial Proposition

Brewer said, ‘My investigation into the politics behind “do-it-yourself” and its emergence as a counter form of labour and production celebrates the values found in the market’s construction and re-use of salvaged materials. I am interested in the absorption and dissemination of information, particularly in the form of “zines” where skill shares, storytelling and documentation are passed to and fro freely in the activist network. My primary research takes place on an occupied and appropriated site outside London, where activists are protesting the build of a third runway at Heathrow airport. Self-building and ad-hocism have transformed the site into one of experimentation and resistance. As a result the stall I am building is linked to the practice of agitation. The structure will move around the market and function as a point of contact for information gathering and release. With a scribe to take down happenings – the information will be written on the structure as well as digitally fed to the outside. I would hope the function of the stall changes with the market, a live project activated by the people and events.’

'Buddy can you spare a Time?' Alternative currency designed by Neil Farnan, Metod Blejec and Neil Cummings

‘Buddy can you spare a Time?’ Alternative currency designed by Neil Farnan, Metod Blejec and Neil Cummings

Follow Critical Practice and #TransActing on Facebook and Twitter. For the programme and contributors, visit www.criticalpracticechelsea.org.

Critical Practice is: Metod Blejec, Marsha Bradfield, Cinzia Cremona, Neil Cummings, Neil Farnan, Angela Hodgson-Teal, Karem Ibrahim, Catherine Long, Amy McDonnell, Claire Mokrauer-Madden, Eva Sajovic, Kuba Szreder, Sissu Tarka and many more besides.

#TransActing is organised by Critical Practice and designed in collaboration with public works. This project is part of Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon (CCW) Graduate School’s public programme.

Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location- binding and launch

On Tuesday 25 November at 5:30pm, Critical Practice will be launching its new publication, Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location. Please join for the collective binding and celebration of this beautiful limited-edition souvenir from the exhibition of the same name in the Green Room at Chelsea. It was created as a reminder of how Critical Practice, a self-selected group of CCW students and a collection of utopographers worked towards Evaluation, Consensus and Location in the Triangle Space at Chelsea on 24-29 March 2014.

The theme of Evaluation – was to enable Critical Practice to develop its current research strand into value and evaluative communities – Consensus as its a problematic term for utopians, and Location, as we’re all interested in being creatively estranged in time and space. Neil Cummings, CCW professor and Critical Practice member, said, ‘At a series of workshops we collaboratively developed an appropriate event space – neither exhibition, lecture, conference, workshop nor symposium space – a flexible environment to nurture creative processes. From the 24th, we installed the environment by threading kilometres of rope to create a meshwork throughout the Triangle Space. “Weavers” came, some went, and others stayed over the three days; it was surprisingly tiring, the process managed to accommodate everyone, was deeply discursive and satisfying. The two, more public ‘exhibitionary’ days were an astonishing array of presentations, screenings, Live Action Role Play (LARP), Skype discussions, interviews, live scribing, performances, talks, workshops, hacks, tournaments, walks, and confrontations. We glimpsed the future, and recovered the spirit of art schools gone by.’

Participants included:
Jill Belli, Francis Brady, Amy Butt, Nathaniel Coleman, Contemporary Land Theatre (Featuring Stephanie Dickinson and Michael Tyack), Angus Carlyle, Critical Practice, Ruth Desseault, Karel Doing, Eddie Dorrian, Open Music Archive, Hayley Jukes, Charlotte Knox-Williams, Mathilda Oosthuizen, Blanca Regina, Prof. Kazue Kobata, Adoka Niitsu, Dan Smith, Adam Stock, Sissu Tarka and many others.

The evening will include introductions from Dr Dan Smith and the Critical Practice Research Cluster from 6pm and will be followed by binding, launch and refreshments.


Self-organisation and Sewing: Differently Screening with Critical Practice

Members of Critical Practice have been meeting regularly in CCW Graduate School to cut, stitch, sew and assemble a unique Banner of Values. The banner began its construction as part of Critical Practice’s Differently Screening series, which is contributing to the cluster’s ongoing research into the production, performance and propagation of both value and values.

The first Differently Screening took place on 24 May 2014 at the Bread and Rosespub in North Clapham, where a Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Union banner hangs above the pool table. The pub is named after a poem written for the 1912 mill workers strike in Massachusetts where women demanded fair pay, or ‘bread’, but also the ‘roses’ of fair treatment and care as well, a protest that led to landmark labour reforms.

This acted as a productive site for our screening of The Women of Brukman, a documentary showing the struggle of a cooperative of predominantly female textile workers in Buenos Aires. During Argentina’s financial crisis, the owners of a suit business abandoned their factory, leaving machinists and others without pay. The women began to self-organise and in this process became aware of their meager salaries in relation to business’ profit for the first time. Despite police raids and the Brukman brothers returning, claiming their right to the factory, the textile workers persisted, forming the 18 de Diciembre cooperative that still runs the business to this day. It is an inspirational story, which has motivated other factories in the same commercial area of Buenos Aires to form similar cooperatives.

During the screening, to the click-cluncking sounds of the Brukman factory’s industrial sewing machines, participants set to work, selecting and cutting words to create the Banner of Values. Those present were invited to consider their personal values in relation to the film, and fabric letters emerged calling for ‘emapthy’, ‘severance’ and ‘security’. An initial discussion before the screening revealed how difficult it can be to talk about personal values in an unknown group. Terms such as ‘equality’ and ‘truth’ ring as too cliched, too trite, to a contemporary ear, having been appropriated by the language of commodification. Yet these words were taken up and reclaimed during the sewing process. The active screening seemed to lend itself to a non-prescriptive approach to spectatorship, with some avidly following the subtitles, some removing themselves from the screening area to concentrate on their stitching and others deciding to work together, voting on ‘collaboration’ as their value.

The screening and banner were devised and organised by CCW PhD students Amy McDonnell and Catherine Long. McDonnell’s own research investigates the space of the social in relation to artists group practices. She has carried out much of her research in Cuba, exploring reasons for forming artists’ collectives in a collectivised society. It has been beneficial to her curatorial research to explore the functioning of groups through shared activity. Sewing together seemed to produce a reflective, non-hierarchical space in which individuals are focused on the task at hand, making interaction less intense, more at ease, in which personal memories, confessions and teasing surface.

With one more sewing session and to go, as one Critical Practice member cannily realised, the banner only lacks ‘integrity’. Then it will be ready to parade.

There are two more screenings planned as part of the Differently Screening series which will take place in public space in the Autumn. In a continued commitment to seeking communities of values, the organisers will be thinking through ‘cycling and sustainability’ as well as ‘financial sustainability and artists’ payment’.

Metod Blejec and Marsha Bradfield, as well as Blanca Regina have documented some of the sewing sessions.

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.