Tag Archives: David Cross

Cultures of Resilience

Cultures of Resilience (CoR) are the interwoven narratives, ideas, meaningful products and performances that, together, create the cultural fabric of an emerging society: a resilient society capable of facing and navigating the turbulence of our time, learning from experience how to thrive best. Resilience, when referred to in socio-technical systems, means a system’s capacity to cope with stress and failures without collapsing and, more importantly, the ability to learn from the experience. Therefore, it should be considered a fundamental characteristic for any potential future society.

The Cultures of Resilience Project is a two years UAL-wide initiative, the goal of which is to build a ‘multiple vision’ on the cultural side of resilience by putting together a set of narratives, values and ideas that are coherent in that they are all based on resilient systems, but in many other aspects they are very diverse. A multiplicity of images that, like the stones of a mosaic, may generate a larger one: a mobile, dynamic, colourful vision of a resilient, sustainable civilization. During UAL’s Research Fortnight (16-27 March), Cultures of Resilience will be holding a four day programme of events from 24-27 March.

CCW is contributing to Cultures of Resilience with Tracing Networks of Evaluation, led by research staff members Neil Cummings, David Cross and Marsha Bradfield. Discussing the work, Cross said, ‘We have enabled the values of competitive markets to dominate contemporary cultural production, we inhabit a mono-culture of evaluation, and this is not resilient. Taking our model from resilient ecosystems – where bio-diversity is essential for their reproduction- we intend to explore different, varied, even conflictual evaluative communities. For the week-long festival, we intend to exhibit a fragment of our ongoing research. Taking the University as an exemplar, we are mapping/tracing of some of its evaluative communities. These include student/staff numbers and composition, our financial entanglements, our stated aspirations, and our energy procurement. These tracings are enabling us to visualise evaluative networks, and assess their resilience. We would also like to run some live mapping/tracing workshops, to research in-real-time, and share the results of that research.’ Tracing Networks of Evaluation will be on Tuesday 24 March from 10am-1pm.

Cultures of Resilience is being led by Professor Ezio Manzini, UAL Chair of Design for Social Innovation.

CoR timetable

CoR Facebook page

CoR Exchange event on Facebook

Twitter: @CoResilience#CoR_Exchange

Top image by: Marsha Bradfield

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

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

Practising (in) Uncertainty

The geographer Kathryn Yusoff has posed a timely question. ‘What knowledge becomes useful to us in a time of abrupt climate change? How can we creatively practice towards such uncertainty?’*

If artists are meant to ‘make sense of radically ambiguous situations and move forward in the face of uncertainty’** then this implies an acceptance of being lost as both methodology and practice. The colloquium explores what happens when practice  (as in a habitual action or repeated exercise) and practise (as in being experienced in, or currently active and engaged with) collide with the unknown. What happens when habitual practices becomes challenged by uncertainty and risk?

Practising (in) Uncertainty is a colloquium which focuses on the uncertain processes of making, the unpredictable contexts that this work is presented in, and the uncertainties about how audiences might engage with projects which engage with our (mis)understandings of biodiversity, landscape or site. It involves prominent national and international artists who have adopted strategies to Practise (in) Uncertainty, including Justin Carter, David Cross (Cornford and Cross),  Heather Ackroyd (Ackroyd & Harvey), Edwina fitzPatrick and Tania Kovats. They share their insights in both Glasgow and London, as the event will take place through live links at both venues.

The colloquium, convened by Edwina fitzPatrick, is open to everyone.

To attend at Chelsea, click here.

To attend at Glasgow, click here.

 

* Yusoff, K., ed. (2008). Bipolar. London: The Arts Catalyst. p. 6

** Oakley, K., Sperry, B. & Pratt. A.C. (2008). The art of innovation: How fine arts graduates contribute to innovation. London, NESTA. p.14

 

Jeremy Deller’s ‘Battle of Orgreave’

Film screening and open discussion
Lecture Theatre
Chelsea College of Arts
5:15pm, Wednesday 5 March 2014

As part of the CCW Graduate School Public Programme, David Cross and Sarah Wishart will screen ‘The Battle of Orgreave’, and host an open discussion of its relevance to questions at the intersection of politics, ethics and aesthetics today.

Thirty years ago, the UK National Union of Mineworkers began a strike that lasted for over a year, and was the most bitterly fought since the General Strike of 1926. The Battle of Orgreave in 1984 was an historic clash between miners and the police, which marked a turning point for the strike, for the trade union movement and for Britain’s energy supply. In 2001 the artist Jeremy Deller staged a re-enactment of the battle, which was performed in Orgreave by historical re-enactment societies, and included police and miners who had been part of the original conflict. Deller’s participatory art event was commissioned by Artangel and filmed by Mike Figgis for Channel 4.

A socio-economic response might trace the shift in Britain from industrial production to cultural production, and link this to the decline of organized labour and the rise of precarious work. A cultural approach could explore the relationship between events and the way that they are ‘framed’ or represented in journalism, history and art, while also acknowledging its own position in a society where class difference and economic injustice are increasing. When we situate all this within an understanding of ecological limits, we become engulfed in paradox: consumer society depends on energy from burning coal; coal burning destroys the climate on which our survival depends. So we must realize the transition to a ‘zero carbon society’. But if we are to achieve this by free will, rather than by force of arms, there may be instrumental value in a self-reflexive tendency and openness to contingency. Are these to be found in The Battle of Orgreave?