Monthly Archives: February 2015

Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory

Dr James Hellings’s first monograph, Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory, appeared recently with Palgrave Macmillan (2014). Hellings’s book shows how radical and revolutionary Adorno’s aesthetic theory of art’s double character remains, and how complex, imaginative and oppositional forms of art offer, perhaps, the best hope for overcoming damaged life. The caricatures of Adorno, his politics and his aesthetics, are well-known errors of judgement – widely repeated both by the academy and the Left. Adorno’s aesthetics have been accused of failing to keep pace with progressive artistic practices and for being socio-politically aloof. Despite the persistence of these caricatures, Hellings’s book shows how significant images and themes in Adorno’s theory remain relevant to the current situation of art, aesthetics, and politics. The Adorno on show in the book was no bourgeois mandarin, no arrogant aesthete, no esoteric mystic, no melancholy pessimist, and no academic expert holed up in the proverbial ivory tower.

Adorno and Art received a favourable (and unsolicited) review in the November issue of Art Monthly (2014). David Ryan wrote, “[O]ne senses throughout that Hellings is testing his own ideas and critical persuasions through, and with, Adorno, which is illuminating in the light of his rather good discussion of subjectivity and objectivity within both aesthetic theory and art making in general.’ ‘[Hellings] makes Adorno’s thought vivid for the present, especially in his attempts to think through contemporary artistic and political practices.”

Alongside his extensive teaching commitments between two art schools (Camberwell College of Arts and Birmingham School of Art), Hellings is currently researching and writing an article, which presents a clear and distinctive overview of Adorno’s materialist-dialectical aesthetic theory of art’s aura, together with Walter Benjamin’s critique thereof, in relation to contemporary art (Susan Hiller, Tacita Dean, Hito Steyerl). The article revises this important historical debate for the present situation of art and theory (Jacques Ranci re, Peter Osborne, J rg Heiser).

Hellings is particularly interested in working with progressive contemporary art practices and his research interests include: political (Marxian) social histories and theories of modern and contemporary art, aesthetics and continental philosophy (especially the critical theory of the Frankfurt school), the avant-garde, newness and contemporaneity. Hellings is interested in manifesting his ideas in a variety of forms and promotes the interdependency of art and theory through teaching and publishing.

Hellings will be launching his book and participating in a discussion event entitled Art, Aesthetics and Politics, Now! at South London Gallery on Friday 13th March. Professor Esther Leslie (Birkbeck), Dr Yaiza Hern ndez (CSM), and Professor Malcolm Quinn (CCW), will join Hellings in conversation about Frankfurt School legacies in contemporary art, aesthetics and politics.

Five Issues of Studio International

As editor of Studio International magazine from 1965-75, Peter Townsend oversaw its transformation from a mainstream Britain-centric publication into a vanguard journal chronicling some of the most radical artistic endeavours in the UK and internationally.

In a new exhibition at Raven Row curated by CCW Reader Jo Melvin, the selection of five issues from Townsend's editorship ' April 1966, May 1968, September 1969, July/August 1970 and July/August 1972 ' focuses on the role of sculpture, which over this period was a vector for profound change in art: from post-constructivism and kineticism, through the abstract formalism at St Martins School of Art in London, to post-minimalism and conceptualism.

As a socialist, Townsend saw in sculpture a privileged medium to effect social change. The exhibition will revisit the role of sculpture in the definition of public space in a period when it became the flashpoint for political and social contestation. In this context, the pages of Studio International themselves played a role in shaping the debates about the limits and visibility of contemporary art. Included in Five Issues of Studio International are works by Keith Arnatt, Charles Biederman, Daniel Buren, Robyn Denny, Jan Dibbets, John Ernest, Garth Evans, Barry Flanagan, Naum Gabo, Anthony Hill, John Latham, Richard Long, Kenneth Martin, Mary Martin, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini, Gerry Schum, William Tucker, William Turnbull, Nicolas Sch ffer, Bernard Sch ttlander, Lawrence Weiner and Gillian Wise.

Speaking about her process, Melvin said, ‘Peter Townsend's preoccupations determined my selection of magazine issues, and my intention is to find a way to materialize the magazine's discussion of how it presented, as well as affected, sculpture's influence on the perceptions when it was at the centre of political and social debates. What role did Studio International play in shaping editorial tactics in art magazines? This boiled down question indicates the motivation for my on going engagement in reconsidering the period and how editorial policies can help to determine how we think about art.

In 2008 I curated Tales from Studio International at Tate Britain, showing archival materials. However, in this exhibition, I include the some of the works referred to in the pages of the magazine. It is a unique curatorial approach, and it is interesting to mention that the 1970 issue of Studio International was defined as a “48-page exhibition”, in which six critics invited various artists to exhibit their work in the pages of the magazine. This was an “exhibition in a magazine” and for Raven Row I define my curatorial approach as the opposite a “magazine in an exhibition”. The space of encounter might be the magazine exhibition and it’s interesting to consider how dematerialization affects the sculptural encounter. And how we continue to think about what the sculptural encounter is.

Today, when the borders between critic, writer and artist are blurred, art magazines do not hold the power as they had previously. It would be like believing we can go back to a time when books were made using and re-using velum! Townsend was acutely aware of the time and how new printing technologies for instance off set lithography transformed print possibilities, and publication became a material for artist production. The magazine blurs the boundary between editor/curator/artist/writer, and these terms have been up for grabs since that time. The magazine definitely sets a touchstone for artists' taking control and I think the current interest in artists’ publications, whether online or hardcopy can be traced to these precedents.’

Five Issues of Studio International runs from Thursday 26 February to Sunday 3 May 2015.

Mother Tongue’s Residency at Fresh Milk, Barbados

Mother Tongue, the curatorial collaboration by CCW and TrAIN PhD student Jessica Carden and Tiffany Boyle (Birkbeck PhD student), began their month long residency at Fresh Milk Art Platform in Barbados on 26 January and finish on 26 February 2015. Speaking about the work they have done there, Carden said, ‘Our collaboration with Fresh Milk simultaneously marks our first time in Barbados and the wider Caribbean; a region whose artists and writers we have been engaging with from a distance for some time now. We arrived with a mix of anticipation and genuine excitement at the opportunities that our month-long residency present. We had previously met with Fresh Milk's director Annalee Davis during her participation in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games cultural programme, as part of the “International Artist Initiated” project at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, and had been in dialogue since this initial introduction to each other's practices. Fresh Milk played a central role in the critical discussions surrounding “International Artist Initiated”, unpacking the Commonwealth as a loaded cultural event and its enduring impact for the Caribbean, whilst also representing artist-led activity in Barbados.

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Mother Tongue’s Jessica Carden speaking with the Barbadian art collector Clyde Cave at his home on the island

Whilst our first week on the island took the form of an introduction to Fresh Milk and using the impressive collection of books, journals and magazines which form the Coleen Lewis Reading Room, our second and third weeks have been a flurry of meetings, studio visits and trips around the island to meet with various individuals, museums and organisations. These have been weeks of connecting with a whole host of people who are instrumental to the arts scene here on the island, both in the past and in the present: established and emergent practitioners, writers and researchers. We have made a number of studio visits to see the work of Ewan Atkinson, Mark King, Alberta Whittle, Alison Chapman Andrews and Holly Bynoe, who is also the co-founder and director of the Caribbean arts and culture magazine, ARC. In addition to this, we were fortunate to be given a tour of Barbadian art collector Clyde Cave's personal collection.

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Mark King

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Ewan Atkinson

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Tiffany Boyle of Mother Tongue at Hunte’s Gardens with Holly Bynoe of ARC magazine for Caribbean Arts and Culture

In an effort to consciously widen our scope and look at the rich histories outside of the arts, we have incorporated research into the sugar industry, tourism and the colonial role in the horticulture of the island; topics that feed into a number of art practices and works which we have encountered so far. In the second week of our residency, we visited Sean Carrington, Professor of Plant Biology at the University of the West Indies, and this week returned to be given a tour of the Herbarium. Our conversation with him was really insightful: discussing indigenous plant life, the importation of species into the island, and how this impacted images of the island constructed by the British colonial administration. Following our meeting with Sean, we met with Dr. Anthony Kennedy, Director of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station. The station has a long standing history on the island and is the most successful breeding station in the world; developing scientific research and programmes for sugar industries across the southern hemisphere. Dr Kennedy talked us through the history of sugar in Barbados and how it has formed the agriculture, human geography, urban planning and architecture of the island. This particular history is significant and unavoidable for any attempt to understand Barbados as a post-colonial, post-independence space.

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Publications from the archive of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station, Barbados

As part of the outreach element of the residency, we have delivered two presentations to the Associate Degree programme at Barbados Community College. The first took the form of a re-screening of our 2012 film and video programme Afrofuturism: Revisions Towards a Place in Modernity, which was originally developed for the Africa In Motion Film Festival. Works were screened to the first, second and third year students from Ne l Beloufa, Rico Gatson, The Otolith Group, Philip Mallory Jones, and Michelle Hannah. The second presentation was made to the third year students, and focused on the history of curation and exhibition-making, as well as expanding on our collaborative practice as curators and researchers.

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Mother Tongue presenting a film & video programme and curating lecture to the Associate Degree students at the Barbados Community College

Part of the remit of the grant from the British Council Scotland is to produce a modest project on our return to the UK, responding to our time and those we have been engaging with whilst here in Barbados. As we near the end of the residency, we are beginning to look towards the form that this project might take and are attempting to collate all the information we have been gathering so far. It has become clear through our many meetings and conversations with artists, curators, researchers and writers on the island that we need to create something meaningful with long-term impact for both the UK and Barbados. The residency will culminate in our participation at the regional symposium “Tilting Axis”, which has been organized by Fresh Milk and ARC in collaboration with Res Artis, Perez Art Museum Miami and Videobrasil. This regional meeting aims to promote the exchange of artists and professionals working within the visual arts industries across the wider Caribbean region with strong networks emerging globally in the South, while re-defining historical relationships with the North. Alongside ourselves, both the Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow and David Dale Gallery will be in Barbados representing Scotland, supported by the British Council Scotland. Whilst our time in the region is limited, we have learned a lot about the conditions under which artists and academics are creating legacies of arts and culture on the island and we very much look forward to contributing to this dialogue in whatever way we can that is both productive for Barbados and the UK.’

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Artist Alberta Whittle and Mother Tongue’s Jessica Carden

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Fresh Milk public art board. Current image by Barbadian artist Ronald Williams and sponsored by David Dale Gallery Glasgow

TrAIN Open Series

The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibitions, publications and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings. The series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across UAL.

The next Open Lecture is by Martina K ppel-Yang, called Advance through Retreat, on 17 February at 5:30pm in the Lecture Theatre at Chelsea. K ppel-Yang is an independent scholar and curator with a Ph.D in East Asian Art History from the University of Heidelberg. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions and written extensively on the subject of contemporary Chinese Art. Publications include: Semiotic Warfare ' The Chinese Avant-garde 1979 ' 1989, a Semiotic Analysis, Hong Kong: timezone 8, 2003.

On 18 February TrAIN will host a lecture by Bojana Pi kur called Museum of the Workers at 5:30pm in C202 at Central Saint Martins. In this lecture Bojana Pi kur will discuss socialist museums, looking at case studies in the former Yugoslavia and other socialist countries. After the 1990s the humanist ideas of socialism, socialist cultural policies and the topic of non-alignment seemed to become obsolete and were widely forgotten; however, there has been a renewed interest in these issues giving rise to the following questions:

  • What progressive socialist cultural policies, museum models and directions could be applied to the models of museum of today?
  • What elements, traditions and references from past experiences can be extracted in times of neoliberal capitalism?
  • And most importantly: how do we translate these ideas into praxis?

Bojana Pi kur is a curator at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana and was a member of Radical Education Collective between 2006 and 2014. Her professional interest is on political issues as they relate to or are manifested in the field of art, with special emphasis on the region of the former Yugoslavia and Latin America. This event is now fully booked, however please contact Alice Clark to be added to a waiting list.

TrAIN (Transnational Art, Identity and Nation) Research Centre is a forum for historical, theoretical and practice-based research in architecture, art, communication, craft and design. The centre involves internationally recognised scholars and practitioners at colleges across UAL. It also includes a community of post-graduate students pursuing historical, theoretical and practiced based research degrees at both MA and PhD level.

Members of the Centre contribute to TrAIN’s activities by completing group- and individual research projects and through the supervision of relevant post-graduate study. Issues and debates arising from research activities are disseminated by TrAIN conferences, exhibitions and publications.

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Image:' Women’s Antifascist Front' exhibition, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, 1948. Courtesy: Moderna galerija, Ljubljana

Hybrid Practices within Printmaking

On 24 April 2015 Chelsea College of Arts will host the symposium Hybrid Practices within Printmaking, led by CCW Professor Paul Coldwell. The symposium will explore a range of approaches to printmaking in which ideas and intentions are allied to process and technique, resulting in what can best be described as hybrid practices. Current practice draws upon a rich history of printmaking both in terms of technique and the means through which images, as vehicles for ideas, are distributed. With the advent of digital technologies, the opportunities for artists to combine processes and approaches has never been greater.

Annette and Caroline Kierulf work as independent artists within a joint project focused on social engagement using relief print as one aspect of production. Jo Love addresses issues of materiality and the relationship between the digital and physical, while Ellen Heck combines drypoint and woodcut to explore notions of identity. And finally, Christian R melin, will discuss the monumental woodcuts of Christiane Baumgartner and her approach to technology.

Coldwell said, ‘My role is to introduce the key themes and chair the closing discussion. The symposium has developed over a period of time from a perception that artists, and in particular printmakers, are increasingly combining processes, revisiting older technologies and exploiting the opportunities, particularly in terms of scale, that digital print offers. The artists featured in the symposium all engage with current debates and see printmaking as a means to explore ideas and issues.

I got to know the work of Annette and Caroline Kierulf when I was invited to write an essay on their work for a publication produced by Dublett in Norway. They work both in partnership with a common set of aims and objectives, while also producing their own work that addresses ideas such as politics, ecology, self sufficiency and global economy, all through relief printing. I felt this was a very exciting approach, and since they both teach at Bergen Academy of Fine Art and Design it seemed a great starting point for a collaborative symposium, which I hope will lead to further cooperation.

Jo Love, who recently completed her PhD at UAL and is Pathway Leader for MA Printmaking at Camberwell, develops her large scale inkjet prints to explore dust, materiality and time passing. This has much in common with Christiane Baumgartner, the latest recipient of the prestigious Prix de Gravure Mario Avati and the subject of Christian R melin’s talk. Christian curated her recent exhibition and is an authority on her work. And finally Ellen Heck who lives and works in Chicago, and whose work was awarded the main prize at the Northern Print Biennial, will be presenting. Her series Forty Fridas explores identity and the female image through delicately worked intaglio prints of her friends dressed as Frida Kahlo. Ellen will be presenting a film of herself and her work, as she will not be at the symposium in person.

There will be a book stall to accompany the day with publications by the speakers available as well as work by students. The intention is to publish all the papers from the symposium as a special issue of the Journal of Visual Art Practice.’ The symposium is presented by CCW Graduate School in association with Bergen Academy of Art and Design.

Book your tickets here.

Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip St, SW1P4JU

10am ' 4pm, Friday 24 April 2015

Image credit: Annette Kierulf. Biotop. 2012. Woodcut.

Plastic Words

David Musgrave, Lecturer in Fine Art at Chelsea, has recently returned from the sabbatical he took to work on Plastic Words at Raven Row. The exhibition was a collaboration between John Douglas Millar, David Musgrave, Luke Skrebowski, Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams.

Quoting the press release, ‘Raven Row plays host for six weeks to a series of public events that mine the contested space between contemporary literature and art.

Taking this space as a starting point, the participants ' including leading writers, visual and performance artists ' reflect on the possible overlaps, parallels, tangents and interferences between some of today's most adventurous forms of writing and art making. The variety of formats reflects the diversity of the contributors, spanning readings, performances, panel discussions and publishing experiments.

A companion display curated by Antony Hudek entitled Marginalia with artworks by Eleanor Antin, Isidore Isou, John Murphy and Philippe Thomas, will be on view during events. Antony Hudek will give tours on the 8, 15, 22 January from 1'2pm.

At each event, the pop-up bookshop Luminous Books will present a selection of titles written by and related to the speakers in Plastic Words and will host a selection of artist novels curated by The Book Lovers, a research project by David Maroto and Joanna Zielinska. For the final event in the series, Luminous Books will join forces with print-on-demand publishers Publication Studio for its first London appearance.’

A full listing of the events that were part of the event can be found here.

Material Things: Sculpture and Prints

Gallery II is proud to present the first exhibition that brings together a significant number of sculptures and print works by CCW Professor Paul Coldwell. Bronze and resin-casted objects, bookworks, photo-etchings and digital prints produced for a variety of contexts over the last sixteen years are re-presented and placed into dialogue in this exhibition.

With a diverse range of references and sources of inspiration ' including news reportage of the Bosnian conflict in the mid 90s, avant-garde composer Steve Reich's speech melodies, 19th Century Italian modernist Giorgio Morandi, The Freud Museum and Captain Scott's expedition of the Antarctic – for Coldwell the opportunity to exhibit these works in one place 'presents an exciting challenge and the opportunity to see how this work, much of which was originally made for specific locations, might speak unaccompanied.'

Coldwell's relationship to Bradford and the North has been developed through his role as guest curator of the Artist's Folio exhibition at Cartwright Hall in 2014 and his participation in the Northern Print biennials. Curator Amy Charlesworth feels that the exhibition resonates especially well in this location: 'The University's permanent art collection holds some significant print works by artists such as Ceri Richards, David Hockney, John Piper, Derek Boshier and Sidney Noland. Moreover the history of the print biennials held in Bradford from the late 1950s to 1990s is a pertinent landscape through which to approach Coldwell's investment in the print medium.'

Material Things: Sculpture and Prints runs from March 13th to Friday May 15th Monday to Friday 11am – 5pm (open til 6pm on Thursdays) with an opening on Thursday 12th March from 5pm that all are welcome to attend. A special discussion event with the artist and an invited panel will take place in May. The exhibition is accompanied by an 88 page fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Anna Moszynska.

One and Three Tweets

Fox Irving, an MA Book Arts student at Camberwell, opens One and Three Tweets at Freddy in Baltimore on 7 February. Talking about the show, Irving said, ‘A common theme that has emerged and developed throughout my MA is the use of appropriation and copying within my work. The addictiveness of this process, and the insistent nature of the language used, I found could be linked with the insistent process of book production and reproduction.

I started to think, is there anything that does not involve 'copying', and why exactly does copying another person's conduct or canon make people so uncomfortable? My research led me to look into the practice of the American poet, Kenneth Goldsmith. Known for' copying', the objects he makes are known as 'copies', and those who find themselves making these copies are in fact not criminals, but, as the critic Marjorie Perfloff calls them, unoriginal geniuses.

The more I explored Kenneth Goldsmith’s practice, the more things about my own practice seemed to fall into place. So it seemed natural while I was researching the man himself, to copy his canon, done via the apt conduit of Twitter. Something done out of the art of 'procrastination' has opened up whole new avenues of thinking for me in regards to not only my own practice but about other artist’s practice. Suddenly my work has moved into the digital, and 'social media' has become my artists ' medium'. As Yohji Yamamoto beautiful puts it 'Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.'’

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Credit: Fox Irving / Kenneth Goldsmith, One and Three Tweets


Press Release:

Fox Irving and Kenneth Goldsmith
February 7th ' February 28th, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 7th, 7-9pm

Freddy is pleased to announce a collaborative show between poet Kenneth Goldsmith and artist Fox Irving entitled, One and Three Tweets.

Last fall, Irving started a Twitter account (@OnBeingKennyG) posting images of her hand-drawn renderings of every tweet that Goldsmith posted from his own twitter account (@kg_ubu). Goldsmith, known for his ideas of uncreative writing, is an advocate for plagiarism and identity-theft in the digital age. By hand-rendering every tweet Goldsmith made, Irving celebrated, critiqued, and perpetuated Goldsmith's stream of provocations.

The show takes its title from Joseph Kosuth's seminal 1965 work, One and Three Chairs, in which three representations of a chair are presented side-by-side: a real chair, a photograph of a chair, and a dictionary definition of a chair. Similarly, for their exhibition, Goldsmith and Irving will present three representations of a tweet: Goldsmith's original tweet, Irving's original drawing of Goldsmith's tweet, and Irving's tweet of her drawing. Taking Kosuth's provocation into the digital age, their collaboration questions ideas of visual representation in the twenty-first century.

The exhibition will feature twenty-two sets of three images, selected by the twenty-two most popular tweets on Irving's feed.

Kenneth Goldsmith is a poet who lives in New York. In 2012, he was named the Museum of Modern Art's first poet laureate. He is the founding editor of UbuWeb (

Fox Irving is pursuing a MA in Visual Arts and Book Arts at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts in London.

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Credit: Fox Irving / Kenneth Goldsmith, One and Three Tweets