Tag Archives: Divestment

Time Piece

On 13 and 14 June CCW Reader Hayley Newman participated in Liberate Tate’s performance/installation/occupation in the Tate Turbine Hall called Time Piece. Liberate Tate is a network founded in 2010 and dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.

Liberate Tate described the work as, ‘…a durational performance using words, bodies, charcoal and sustenance. The performance takes place from High Tide on 13.06.15 (11:53am) until High Tide on 14.06.15 (12:55pm). A textual intervention, Time Piece is a tide of stories and narratives flowing in waves up the slope of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The texts are fictional and factual responses to art, activism, climate change and the oil industry. The performance explores lunar time, tidal time, ecological time, geological time and all the ways in which we are running out of time: from climate change to gallery opening hours; from the anthropocene to the beginning of the end of oil sponsorship of the arts.

Liberate Tate creates unsanctioned live art inside Tate spaces to free Tate from BP. In 2015, it was revealed that BP sponsorship is worth less than half a percentage of Tate annual spending, and is around forty times less than the sum donated by Tate Members last year. BP’s oil spills are ecological iconoclasms. The company’s presence in galleries and museums is a stain on our culture. When will BP’s time be up at Tate? As the age of oil draws to a close and the world looks towards the Paris Climate Summit to tackle climate change, Tate must step into the future and drop BP. #TimePiece

One of the texts used was Newman’s publication, Common, ‘a novella set in the City of London over the summer of 2011. Written in the run-up to Occupy, it encompasses a crash in global markets caused by the downgrading of American debt, turbulence in the Eurozone and protests/riots that started in London before spreading across Britain. Written as Self-Appointed Artist in Residence, events in Common take place over a day. The book brings together the past and present/personal and political and asks; how can lay people understand more about the current economic crisis? How might subjectivity and political agency be combined to create a text that is both immediate and reflective? How might we make sense of crisis from within? What is the impact of the economy on the environment? Common is a metaphor for collapse (social, environmental and economic).’

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