Tag Archives: Marsha Bradfield

The Millbank Atlas Closing Event

Please join the students of BA ISD DRS07 for a celebration of The Millbank Atlas, an exhibition of their recent work and public programme of related events.
 
Thursday 26 January 2017
5pm – 8pm
Cookhouse Gallery
Chelsea College of Arts
London SW1P 4JU

We look forward to seeing you there!
Dr Marsha Bradfield + Shibboleth Shechter

Image credit: Evans Ye

The Millbank Atlas

21 – 28 January 2017, Monday – Saturday, 10 – 4  

Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts

Curated Conversation on the evening of 20 January 2016, 5 – 8
Interactive Mapping on 24 January, 11 – 4
Finnisage / Closing event on 26 January, 5 – 8
everyone welcome

Interior and Spatial Design and Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School are delighted to join forces for an exhibition and public events programme exploring the lived experience of Millbank

The Millbank Atlas is a collaborative project that brings together researchers, students and local residents to trace the neighbourhood of Chelsea College of Arts. Students of BA Interior and Spatial Design’s Studio 07 have used practice-based research to create maps and other cartographic experiments that identify distinguishing characteristics of this part of London. At stake here is a better understanding of Millbank as comprised of reciprocal relations between the College and surrounding businesses, residential blocks, civil society groups, transportation links and other amenities, infrastructure and further aspects of this built and natural environment.

This exhibition of The Millbank Atlas is cocurated by Dr Marsha Bradfield and Shibboleth Shechter and will showcase an ongoing community relationship that Shechter established with Millbank local Wilfried Rimensberger in 2014.

The Millbank Atlas is made possible thanks to generous support from Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Graduate School.

Life Cycle, Continuous

Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre (PSC) was delighted to host Life Cycle, Continuous on 3 December 2015. This evening of talks and discussion considered the life cycles of artworks, alongside the legacy of their artists, exploring in particular how these things transform, evolve and transition across platforms, people, places and time.

The evening began with a few words from the organisation’s co-directors, Dr Marsha Bradfield, Visiting Scholar at CCW, and Lucy Tomlins. The life cycle of artworks, especially sculpture, is something that has preoccupied PSC since the summer of 2013, when the organisation hosted an artist talk by sculptor Richard Wilson at his Slice of Reality on the Greenwich Peninsula. Here Wilson spoke candidly about the challenges of maintaining the public artwork, a chunk of ship, after the millennial project was decommissioned. Who takes decisions about an artwork’s care after it leaves its artist’s orbit? What responsibility do artists have to how their artworks are stored, shown, conserved or disposed of? Where does the work reside? Does it reside in the work that we look at? Does it reside in the idea of the work?

Jo Melvin presenting at Life Cycle, Continuous. Photo credit: Sinead Bligh

Jo Melvin presenting at Life Cycle, Continuous. Photo credit: Sinead Bligh

These were questions that CCW Reader Dr Jo Melvin engaged in her talk, The conundrums of remaking sculptural practices and their legacies. Melvin has been investigating the interconnections between the archives of artists’, critics, museums, galleries and magazines from the 1960s to the present day since the early 90s. For Life Cycle, Continuous, she considered specific conundrums in connection with re-presenting the work of Naum Gabo, Barry Flanagan and Christine Kozlov. For instance, she referenced the exhibition of Gabo’s Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) at MOMA in 1968. When the artwork, owned by Tate, proved too fragile to travel, the possibility of whether it might be remade in the US came to the fore. Gabo agreed on the grounds that like Kinetic’s previous iteration, the artwork should be made from materials that were ‘ready to hand’. Crucial here is the artist’s specification. For as Melvin observed, without clear instructions about what conditions must be fulfilled for an artwork to be remade or represented, ambiguity pervades. She went on to discuss the challenges of identifying what and where the artwork is with reference to Barry Flanagan’s practice and his sense that his sculptures were not based on experience of the world but rather, each work is an experience of its making. Further, discussion of Christine Kozlov’s 271 BLANK SHEETS OF PAPER CORRESPONDING TO 271 DAYS OF CONCEPTS REJECTED touched on the thorny of issue of what traces slip away, either because they are perceived as unworthy for posterity or undesirable in some way. And in the case of this particular work by Kozlov, what is most important: concept or materials? Should only the 271 blank sheets the artist selected be shown, however yellow they become with age? Would would any ‘bank sheets’ serve to gesture towards the absence of presence that her artwork explores?

The other two speakers for Life Cycle, Continuous grappled with very different concerns in their talks. Artist Anne Hardy discussed the challenges of re-presenting site specific works like those recently featured in her acclaimed exhibition FIELD at Modern Art Oxford. Artist and senior lecturer Jenny Dunseath Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University discussed her ongoing research into the transmission of knowledge from artists to their assistants, based on her personal experience working in Anthony Caro’s studio.

Life Cycle, Continuous was part of the public programme that accompanied PSC’s 2015 artists-in-residence programme, with the talks talking place culminating exhibition, Which one of these is the non-smoking lifeboat?  This approach to hosting the talks tracks with PSC’s ongoing commitment to making the making of sculpture more visible so as to better appreciate the process of an outcomes production.

Audio documentation of Life Cycle, Continuous will be available on PSC’s website in early 2016.

Top image: Jo Melvin installing heap 3 ’67/68, 1967/68 at Cullinan Richards, London, January 2015

Shock City: Launching the Year of Resilience

CCW Visiting Scholar Marsha Bradfield has organised a two-day event called Shock City: Resilience and the Anthropocene. This international event will launch the Year of Resilience (YoR) and features practitioners from Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon Colleges of Art and beyond.

Resilience can be understood as the capacity of a bounded network – a person, bacterial culture, a forest, a city or an economy – to deal with change and continue to develop. It is a response to shocks and disruption, like an infection, financial crisis or climate change that spurs creative practice and encourages renewal. Resilience is a means of taking action and creating sustainable ways to co-exist within our biosphere.

This year, resilience will weave together research and teaching across Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon. Shock City aims to establish an ethos for supporting this integration. It will provide a community response to broader change that is shaking the foundations of cultural production, including art and design education.

YoR will actively intersect with Cultures of Resilience (CoR), a two year, cross-UAL project focused on researching and presenting a new cultural discourse on resilience.

We are also pleased to be joined by practitioners from CCC Head in Geneva and others beyond UAL who are exploring resilience in sensitive and situated ways. We will share specific examples and discuss them while walking, talking and workshopping. An exhibition will not only showcase resilient actions but also host traces of our emergent understanding over the two days.

SHOCK CITY is composed of three aspects: an exhibition, a practice exchange and a ‘day of doing’ via a walk and a workshop. All three aspects are open and anyone can join—staff, students and members of the public.

SHOCK CITY POSTCARD EXHIBITION: OPEN CALL

This exhibition will investigate urban actions that model resilience in contemporary cities; London and Geneva in particular. It is inspired in part by Actions: What You Can Do with the City, realised by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 2007. This collection of actions aimed to reinvent daily life by engaging with urban space to change our relationships with the built environment. It identified the potential of everyday activities like playing, cycling, making and gardening for producing our cities in more creative ways.

To help us think about resilience as a consequence of our decisions and behaviours, the exhibition for Shock City will present postcards featuring actions of urban resilience. Each one should show a relevant image on one side and some accompanying text on the other: guidelines, reflections, facts or other information. The postcards should be standard size, roughly 148mm x 105mm. Beyond this, the brief remains open to encourage a wide array of responses.

You are invited to submit to this exhibition by sending your entry to:

Shock City

CCW Graduate School

Chelsea College of Arts

16 John Islip St, London SW1P 4JU

United Kingdom

DEADLINE: 27th October 2015

You can also create a postcard during the YoR launch event. Join Neil Cummings in tracing responses to the anthropocene in parallel with the panel discussions on 28th October 2015. Materials will be provided but you can also bring your own.

DAY 1: SHOCK CITY: RESILIENCE AND THE ANTHROPOCENE
A practice exchange composed of panel discussions presenting initiatives from CCW and beyond. Each one is modeling resilience in innovative and inspirational ways. Join us to learn more about initiatives such as,  LOOK AT THE (E)STATE WE’RE IN (LATEWI), #TransActing: A Market of Values, Textiles Environmental Design (TED), The Department of Repair  and Wilding the Edges.

Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts

10:00 – 10:30: Tea and Coffee
– Opening remarks by Marsha Bradfield and Malcolm Quinn

10:30 – 12:00: Empathy and Proximity: A panel chaired by Charlotte Web
– Edwina fitzPatrick and Geraint Evans (Wilding the Edges, CCW)
– David Cross (Fossil Fuel Divestment to UAL as a Social Enterprise)
– The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva (CCC Head, Geneva)

12:00 – 13:30 Making and Repairing: A panel chaired by Aaron McPeake
– Robin Jenkins (Tsunami Escape Route, CCW)
– Ken Wilder (Interior and Spatial Design, CCW)
– Natalia Romik (The Bartlett, University College London)

13:30 – 14:30: Lunch provided

14:30 – 16:00: Community and Places: A panel chaired by Ezio Manzini
– Andrew Graves-Johnson and Patricia Ellis (Look At The [E]state We’re In, CCW)
– Marsha Bradfield (#TransActing: A Market of Values, CCW)
– Braulio Eduardo Morera (Arup)

16:00 – 17:00: Discussion led by David Cross
17:00 – 17:15: Closing remarks by Malcolm Quinn and Neil Cummings
17:15 – 18:00: Drinks

DAY 2: SHOCK CITY: TRACING THE ANTHROPOCENE
10:00 – 13:00 A curated walk in the environs of Millbank to explore anthropogenic impact and response. Meet on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea for a 10:00 departure. Rain gear and comfortable shoes recommended as we will be walking rain or shine.

14:00 – 17:00  The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva: workshop with CCC Geneva exploring their inspirational research. We will consider methods and collaborative resources of artistic practice to produce new interdisciplinary representations of the Anthropocene. Chelsea College of Arts, E-block, Room E305.

CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES:

Aaron McPeake worked for many years as a lighting designer for Opera, Ballet and Theatre, but McPeake lost much of his vision due to an auto-immune illness. However, this has helped inform his artwork, and methods of practice. He was awarded PhD (2012) from Chelsea College of Art and Design, which examined adventitious vision loss, and its impact on visual artists and their practices. McPeake works with many different media and materials and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Most of his work is interactive in nature.

Andrew Graves-Johnston was a leading collaborator on ‘Look At The (E)state We’re In’ project. He is interested (and concerned) by the way gentrification has suddenly become a byword for social cleansing. As well as being, at present, a mature sculpture student at Camberwell, he was a housing activist in the late 80/90s and was involved in the online/on the streets, global movements/protests of the noughties. Having been a squatter for 17 years, housing rights are very close to his heart. His studio practice is concerned with memory and he is currently researching how he can incorporate his activism into his practice.

Aurélien Gamboni develops a practice of critical investigation by the means of art, often involving field research and collaborations, and leading to multiple forms of interventions: installations, public discussions, texts and lectures-performances. www.ag-archives.net

Braulio Eduardo Morera is an urbanist and designer with a background in architecture and social sciences. He currently works as an associate, leading planning projects as well as resilience research, at the Arup International Development team in London. Braulio is also a PhD Candidate in Human Geography at University College London.

Bridget Harvey is a maker and PhD researcher exploring material practices of repair as a pathway to resilience and sustainability for makers and users. She is based between Camberwell and Chelsea colleges.

Charlotte Webb is an artist and researcher, currently undertaking a PhD investigating how the artist’s agency is enacted under the production conditions of the web. She has recently been involved in ‘The Work We Want’, a collaborative, cross-disciplinary investigation into the dynamics of global digital labour, which was showcased at the recent Web We Want festival at London’s Southbank Centre.

David Cross is an artist and Reader in Art and Design at the University of the Arts, London. Informing his research, practice and teaching is a critical engagement with the relationship between visual culture and the contested ideal of ‘sustainable’ development.

Edwina fitzPatrick is a UK-based artist whose work explores the living environment, especially in regard to mutability and change, focusing in particular on what happens when ‘grey’ and ‘green’ environments intersect and how human interactions have, and are affecting the nature, culture and ecology of a place. Edwina is also Course Director for MFA Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL.

Ezio Manzini is Chair Professor of Design for Social Innovation at the University of the Arts London, where he coordinates CoR: the Cultures of Resilience Project. He started DESIS: an international network on design for social innovation towards sustainability. Most recent book: “Design, When Everybody Designs. An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation”, MIT Press 2015.

Geraint Evans is interested in the ways in which we perceive, encounter and experience the natural world and read it as landscape. Geraint’s solo exhibitions include Newport Museum and Art Gallery; Wilkinson Gallery, London; Chapter, Cardiff and CASA, Salamanca, Spain. He has been a resident artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada and, in 2003 received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and the Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship. He is the Course Leader for MA Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL.

Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat‘s research interests include seeking enhanced forms of collaboration between artists and non-artists through transdisciplinary research. Her research builds upon her background in law and peace studies, and her work with the United Nations and NGOs on issues related to humanitarian affairs and human rights, and, most recently, protecting cross-border disaster-displaced persons.

Janis Schroeder is an artist and researcher working with video, photography, artist books and essays. His research and artistic practice is about the influence and language of image montage. He uses the video essay as a niche form of knowledge production and representation to take a critical view on the power relations within these images. He currantly works as an assistant in the CCC Programme at Geneva University of Art and Design.

Kate McHugh Stevenson is a native of Rhode Island, USA, now living in the Rhône-Alps region of eastern France. She is a writer, gardener, knitter, hiker, sourdough bread baker, canner of produce, and Henry David Thoreau enthusiast.

Ken Wilder is Course Director for the MA in Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts. His research explores Projective space, installation art, video sculpture, spatial practice, philosophy of art. He has exhibited widely in the UK since 1998, and has also exhibited in Ulm, Germany (funded by British Council).

Malcolm Quinn is Professor of Cultural and Political History, Associate Dean of Research and Director of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon (CCW) Graduate School.  His role at the University is to develop, sustain and promote world-leading research in art and design within CCW/UAL. Malcolm is also currently Chair of UAL Research Ethics Committee and CCW Research Committee.

Marsha Bradfield is an artist, curator, writer, educator and researcher. Marsha’s current body of work explores economies and ecologies of collaborative cultural production and has developed through practicing with Precarious Workers Brigade, Critical Practice Research Cluster and many more people besides.

Natalia Romik has created numerous artistic and architectural projects, including videos (It’s Not Here – about The Ghetto Heroes Monument), installations (JAD – post Jewish architecture in Silesia), performances (Zamenhof birthday, Shtetl Signboard) and she established the architectural collective, Senna, in 2013. Natalia is currently researching (post) Jewish architecture of memory and emptiness in contemporary urban reality of former Shtetls.

Neil Cummings is Professor of Critical Practice at Chelsea. He was born in Wales and lives in London.

Patricia Ellis is an artist, art writer, consultant and curator whose research spans all areas of contemporary art. She is also Contextual Studies Coordinator, Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts and CCW Academic Coordinator for Enterprise and Employability, Teaching and Learning Exchange.

Robin Jenkins is a Senior Lecturer at Chelsea College of Arts on the Interior and Spatial Design Course. He studied at the Architectural Association, London. Robin has, for the past 10 years worked in academia but is also an RNLI Lifeboat Man on the River Thames. Recently Robin has consolidated his research, practice as and artist and role on the Lifeboat together, having been invited to partake in a project endeavoring to breath life back in to the Earthquake and Tsunami affected region of Northern Japan. Robin’s teaching and research practice concerns the investigation and promotion of solutions to disaster.

Top image: Superstudio, The Continuous Monument: St. Moritz Revisited, 1969

Action Space Inflatable

On 14 and 15 October CCW Graduate School and Chelsea College of Arts will be hosting Action Space Inflatable. The inflatable is a re-versioning of pneumatic structures built by Action Space in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Over two days members from Action Space, Inter-Action and Artist Placement Group (APG) among others, will explore the relevance of community arts programmes of the ‘70s and ‘80s to contemporary artistic practices. Through workshops, performance, a walking tour, film screenings and discussion, this event will open up questions about art as a democratic tool, educational medium and instigator of social change. The Action Space Inflatable structure has been specially commissioned as part of an experimental film project by filmmaker, Huw Wahl. This two-day event marks the first stage of the UK tour of the inflatable and is presented by CCW Graduate School as part of Chelsea College of Arts’ celebration of ten years of creative activity at Millbank.

On Wednesday 14 October, founding member of Action Space, Ken Turner, will deliver a performative lecture; CCW Research Fellow Mo Throp invites you to participate in the Inter-Action Trust Games Method session, as well as a programme of archival footage from Action Space, Inter-Action Trust and Artist Placement Group (APG) projects will be screened inside the inflatable. The day will close with a panel discussion on Socially engaged practices of the 1970s and their relevance today, chaired by Marsha Bradfield and including Joshua Y’Barbo, James Lander, Barbara Steveni, Mo Throp and Ken Turner.

On Thursday 15 October artist Barbara Steveni, of APG, and Jo Melvin invite you on their Walking Tour from Manresa Road  – site of the original Chelsea School of Art – towards the current Millbank venue. The day concludes with a conversation between Barbara and Brian Chalkley focusing on APG’s ‘Not Knowing’ in relation to Chalkley’s pedagogical methods for teaching on the MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Arts. The conversation will be facilitated by Jo Melvin.

Mo Throp spent five years in the 1970’s as a live-work member of Inter-Action, a community arts organisation which became one of the UK’s best known and most influential cultural and social enterprises. Its projects included the Almost Free Theatre in the West End (notable seasons and events included London’s first Black Power, Gay and Women’s theatre seasons), the Dogg’s Troupe – a street theatre group, the Fun Art Bus, the Media Van, a city farm, a publishing unit and one of London’s first Free Schools. ‘My time with this organisation has certainly influenced my pedagogical approach as a teacher of Fine Art students and my relation to art practice and my work with the Subjectivity & Feminisms Research group at Chelsea.

Recently, I came into contact with Huw Wahl who has been researching another such organisation from this period: Action Space. He has re-built a prototype of one of their huge inflatables and proposed to bring it to Chelsea, inviting us to organise a programme of events around the Community Arts movement of the late 1960s. This is therefore a great opportunity to ask how such projects resonate now in relation to the social turn in contemporary practice. Our programme of events addresses the current resurgence of interest in socially engaged artistic practices and hopes to address the challenge to conventional modes of artistic production and consumption under late capitalism.’

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

MPhil/PhD Intensive Week

In mid-November CCW Graduate School held its second annual MPhil/PhD Intensive Week, a programme of research workshops. The week focuses on practice and aims to introduce students to the particular expertise and experience of members of CCW’s research staff. The week includes four workshops, each looking at the spaces and domains of research in art and design under the headings of Studio (Mark Fairnington), Viva (Paul Coldwell), Social Space (Marsha Bradfield) and Text and Practice (Jo Melvin).

‘The viva represents the culmination of the years of study towards a research degree and the student’s “appointment with destiny”, whereby the claims and arguments posited in the thesis can be tested,’ said Coldwell. ‘In many ways the viva is such a unique event that no amount of preparation can cover every eventuality, but a clear understanding of the process and the roles of everyone involved certainly helps. By understanding what purpose the viva serves, the student can hopefully enter into the process and enjoy the experience. After all, the whole focus of the viva is on the student’s research, and the opportunity to discuss or even “lock horns” with senior academics in the field should be an experience to savour. The idea of giving a robust defence of the thesis was explored and the manner in which the student should be seen to be taking ownership of the research territory as laid out in their thesis.

While each examination team is different, and of course, that each thesis demands its own particular scrutiny, the appointment of an independent chair, drawn from a pool of experienced examiners within UAL ensures that each viva is conducted within the guidelines and that our university regulations are strictly adhered to.   My workshop set out to explain the preparation for the event, what happens on the day itself and what follows. It also explored various ways in which the visual material could be presented and the importance throughout of seeing the thesis as all the work to be examined- practical and written. I hope the session served to de-mysterfy the viva and answer some of the concerns and fears that students invariably harbour. From my perspective, it was a very engaging and enjoyable session with everyone participating.’

CCW PhD student Elizabeth Manchester discussed her experience in Coldwell’s workshop. ‘In his extremely useful seminar, Paul presented lots of eminently sensible and practical advice about how to approach your viva. He recommended things that should be completely obvious but sadly aren’t – like reading your thesis through several times so that you take ownership of it and can refer back to it in those high pressure moments (instead of kicking yourself afterwards when you realise that you had actually answered the question in depth several pages in, something I can imagine myself doing only too easily). He took us through all the nitty-gritty basics, such as who will be there, what the main aim of the process is, and then showed us pictures of viva set-ups, giving us a range of examples of how previous PhD candidates had dealt with that difficult issue of how to present the practice element of the research. Above all, he emphasised the positive aspects of this event: the fact that it is an opportunity not only for a real encounter with your research, but also for a really in-depth discussion of it, involving an exchange of ideas with academics in your field. Putting your work and ideas centre-stage – what could be more stimulating and exciting?!’

Recordings of the workshops by Bradfield and Coldwell are available on Soundcloud.

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.