Many thanks to those who applied for the Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice Bursary! We received a high volume of inspiring applications from candidates who practice across a range of media and disciplines including sculpture, installation, painting, writing, design, sound, performance, social engagement, activism and curating.
It was a very close and difficult decision, the selection was based on criteria that prioritised the needs of each candidate. The quality of the work and the level of commitment throughout was impressive and inspiring, as were the many crossovers between the projects. It would be a privilege to have all the candidates on the course.
The criteria for selection included a correspondence between the candidates’ research questions and the course topics, a demonstrable need for a supportive pedagogical environment, an unconventional and experimental practice motivated by a spirit of enquiry, an active interest in pedagogy and the politics of education and a motivation to collaborate with others.
Congratulations to Renata Minoldo who is the Bursary recipient, we look forward to welcome her on the course. Renata explores the physical, spiritual and emotional body through sculpture, installation and participatory workshops, in her own words “My practice flows from the haptic to the ethereal, subtle experience”. She aims to bring emotional states into a physical dimension by creating objects and environments, using her practice as a tool to develop and research ideas of sensuality, self knowledge and healing. Renata self-consciously questions her practice while exploring the possibilities of an affective and embodied form of critical practice. She sees herself as a conduit that is activated in the process of making physical objects and organising collaborative experiences that help her understand her practice. She is a member of School of the Damned Class 2018 and facilitates workshops for adults and children researching alternative learning and teaching methods involving interdisciplinary practices and non hierarchical education. renataminoldo.com
Miki Holloway has a practice that produces social forms. This includes a critique group, improvised narrative workshops, multi-media dialogues, performance and creating new social configurations. He experiments with context and setting to explore and re-negotiate the potential of institutions and social contexts to affect how meaning is produced. He interrogates the role of authorship on social structures and the pragmatics of participation by blurring the boundaries between authors, collaborators and participants. Miki’s practice researches the artists’ role within capitalism, the potential for atomized spectators to become connected producers and the potential for art to have a political emancipatory effect. Miki is an associate at Set Studios’ in Bermondsey, he has contributed to Grizedale Arts programme of community-orientated work and he runs community art workshops on mental health. He has exhibited in group exhibitions, published zines and written articles on the Politics of Participation, Psychosomatic Muscle Tension, Ontology and Toxic Masculinity. Miki is also a political activist with experience and training in horizontal organizing and direct action. mikiholloway.com
Charlie Pritchard’s art practice focuses on immaterial or invisible forces and investigates how mediums such as performance, video, sound and text can channel imaginative frameworks and activate objects and places. He is interested in topics such as the relationship between matter and thinking, the paranormal, collective unconscious, perennial philosophy and how contemporary scientific theory collapses the distinctions between subject and object. Charlie’s research based practice relies on a community of peers. He studied at Arts University Bournemouth and engaged in theoretical research by attending symposia. He participated in the Many Voices residency at Wysing Arts Centre and delivered a presentation on Steven Connor’s Dumbstruck: a cultural history of Ventriloquism and the disembodied voice. He is a member of The Noematic Collective, a sound collective that responds to the hierarchy of vision in culture and education. charliepritchard.co.uk
July was a busy month, we had several meetings and got together with alternative art schools to ignite a discussion on cooperation and exchange ideas on the future of education in the arts.
On Friday, 14 July we got together for an open meeting and workshop on self-organisation. We shared ideas and decided to follow-up with a series of workshops to address new questions that came up, to consider the part that self-organisation plays in alternative art education, and to address our own cooperative practices.
Our first stop was the Railway Hotel, where we were joined by Simon Cole down from London on a different route. After catching up over vegan lunch and a drink we headed towards the seafront for a sneak preview of Twenty One, a brand new venue in Southend. We caught the installation of 100% Southend, an open access exhibition for the launch of the new space. We circled back through town to Focal Point Gallery to see the group exhibition Maximum Overdrive and Big Screen Southend, an open access rolling submission public screen. Follow the link to find out how to submit your work.
Then we headed through streets of terraced houses to West Road Tap for a drink and chat about alternative art education and coops. We set off along London Road to Chalkwell Park, home of TOMA and Metal Art School. Emma gave us a tour of the studio spaces, the exhibition and meeting spaces, the cosy living quarters and work spaces with excellent views of the Thames estuary. Visit the website for more information on Time and Space Residencies at Metal, the next deadline is on 30 September 2017.
After bidding farewell to Metal and the beautiful park we got caught in a downpour which let up as soon as we got to Chalkwell station. The sun and tide were both out by the time we arrived Leigh-on-Sea where TOMA artist Richard Baxter’s studio is located. Richard told us about the boat-building history of the studio, he showed us his work and we talked about reading groups, practice, theory and choices in alternative art education.
Still somewhat damp from the storm we piled into the Mayflower to recount the the day over calamari and beer. We eventually had to run for the train back to London because we got carried away with the view of the moody estuary. For more images please see the album on our Facebook page. Thank you TOMA for a fantastic day!
SOTD is an alternative contemporary art postgraduate course based in the UK. The school runs a labour exchange economy based, offering a series of skills hour-for-hour in return for guests’ time, venues workshop provision, etc.
The discussion was entirely unrestrained, we meandered beyond territories relevant to the text in several interesting directions, focusing mainly on pedagogical practice and ethics. We might benefit from a return to the text or a closer look at concepts such as Foucault’s notion of parrhesia (the obligation to speak openly), Adorno’s concept of autonomy and Guattari’s ethico-aesthetic paradigm and transversality in the context of art and education.
We were excited to meet several members of the SOTD class of 2018, aka Year of the Rooster before the book club, and to talk about their work. Sean Roy Parker ran a Wildflower and Floristry walk on the previous day and was busy reconfiguring his collection of found objects into new ensembles. We were sorry to miss the discussion on Self-organisation, Access and Sharing on the previous day and we heard all about the fascinating workshop Thinking with Water: Pooling resources, research and ideas with Emily Wooley.
We viewed the beautiful display of work from Renata’s Freehand Embroidery Technique workshop from the previous day. Renata combines costume design, visual art and art education in her practice, she is interested in pedagogy, communities, education, interdisciplinarity and participatory art, both as member of SOTD’s class of 2018 and in the context of her art practice. She has compiled the School of the Damned Open Library, which focuses primarily on alternative art education.
Thanks to SOTD, Renata Minoldo and everyone who joined this riveting discussion on art, participation and pedagogy. It was a pleasure to be part of this exciting programme of events and to enjoy the positive energy of this friendly, cooperative and creative environment. The fallen fruit crumble was delicious.
In this compelling book, Jared Diamond, professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, takes us on a journey to show us how past and contemporary civilisations have collapsed. This session will focus on Chapter 2, ‘Twilight at Easter’ which narrates the archaeological discoveries of Easter Island, the most isolated inhabited place in the world.
Easter Island is renowned for its ‘Moai’ (headstone statues), however both, the reason for their erection and the building methods are still somewhat a mystery to us. The legend tells that the Moai were created to conserve the ‘mana’, the energy from a wise chief, to bring fertility over the tribe.
Research has shown that slaves built the beautiful statues that now are a tourist attraction; amputated hands that were found under some of them speak of the human cost. There is evidence that the Moai altars were a source of competition between different tribes and that many sculptures were destroyed in moments of conflict and war. Not only human lives were sacrificed, but also all natural resources of the island fell victim to the ambitious constructions. One could argue that parallels can be found to the contemporary transnational competition for the biggest skyscraper.
Climate Change is one of the most pressing challenges of humankind today. According to the latest UNESCO report the international community has only 12 more years to act upon the ongoing changes, yet an unwarranted, paralysing optimism persists. How can we learn from Easter Island’s civilisation which caused their own tragic end? How must the person have felt who cut down the last tree of the Island?
In this session, we will discuss the history of Easter Island and its similarities to our contemporary society. It will be led by Tere Chad who has visited the Island twice and has collaborated with Cristián Arévalo Pakarati for her Jewellery Project ‘Fusión-Haka Piri’. Cristián is an Easter Islander archaeologist and designer, Co-Director of Easter Island Statue Project, who contributed with her research to Diamond’s chapter.
How can a society choose complete deforestation in order to construct sculptures?
Why did representation become more rational and minimal during times of crisis?
Which role played fertility and the representation of the vulva.
Why is iconography repeatedly binary?
What are our contemporary Moais (stone sculptures)?
How is the arts scene in Easter Island nowadays?
How can society be so fragmented on only 163,6km2?
Alter Us is an emergent London based multidisciplinary collective that attempts to question and offer solutions regarding our contemporary context. Their concerns relate to the challenges presented by the Anthropocene, sustainability, disconnection, individualism, Artificial Intelligence, inequalities, among others.
Wondering God: A study in Nomadic Spirituality / Morris Berman
Deshumanización del Arte / José Ortega y Gasset
The Naked Ape / Desmond Morris
Easter Island / Jo Anne Van Tilburg
Touch / David Linden
Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power / Byung – Chul Han
Monthly reading group for artists, researchers and anyone interested in the intersections between art practice and critical theory. Everyone is welcome to propose a text and facilitate the reading group. Please book your place and download the shared document. For more information and an archive of previous events please scroll down.
Free & open access
The reading group is free and open to everyone who wants to join as long as they commit to the reading. Please register and arrive early, doors will close when we reach maximum capacity. Don’t forget to download the shared document and bring a hard-copy to the book club. Please consider donating to help cover our expenses and keep us going. Alternatively, you can donate via this link.
Discussion & decision-making
Texts are selected by group consensus on the basis that they reflect on the relationship between practice and theory. This includes a broad variety of texts, from philosophy to politics and aesthetics to science fiction – there is no limitation.
Facilitating the book club
[SYMPOSIUM] is a supportive community of peers who discuss and unpack their research interests. All participants have the opportunity to facilitate the book club on a text of their choice. If you would like to propose a text, you can start preparing right now:
 Decide on a text that you want to discuss.
 Do some background research and write a short introduction to provide some context, from your own perspective. When was it written? Why was it written? Who wrote it? Was it a response to something else? Why are you interested in the text? How does it relate to, or inform, your practice or your research?
 Pace the reading. How long is the text? If it is short, can we discuss the entire text in a 2-hour book club? If the text is long you may need to divide it up between two or more sessions.
 Write down some questions that you would like to bring to the discussion. Suggest some further reading and an image or two, with captions.
 Download the infosheet and send us your proposal.