Mel Brimfield and Andrea Medjesi-Jones
Studio 1: The Good, the Bad and the Popular
Image by Will Eisner
Rummaging keenly through the discarded, discredited and debased detritus of contemporary culture, the studio sets out to interrogate the enduring appeal of the ‘low’ and the popular for artists throughout modern history. Holding up a vast distorting mirror to advanced capitalism, incarnations of ‘Pop’ weave through rich territories tangled with conflicting impulses. Our collective weakness for the guilty pleasures of product, glamour and trash offers up a charged site for political intervention, though maintaining control of subject matter already loaded with cultural signification is a tricky business. Whether romping in delighted celebratory complicity with our source material, or formulating scathing critiques of the backdoor social engineering apparently propagated by it, the studio research group will explore the implications of building a practice around these contentious tropes. The emphasis throughout is on nurturing and encouraging an atmosphere of spontaneity and risk-taking whilst building a firm critical framework through which to assess the outcomes.
The studio teaching will be focused on a critical exploration of strategies employed by artists, writers and filmmakers for their work including appropriation, parody, quotation and manipulation of stereotypes, genre, and cliché across a broad spread of media. The habitual association of gravity and importance with seriousness will be called into question – we will explore the potentials of humour as a transformative agency in art, in forms ranging from the ironic, the absurd and the slapstick to the satirical, the screwball and the camp. Regular thematic studio group exhibitions of work will emerge from this programme of focused lectures, screenings and gallery visits throughout the year, accompanied by both tutor and student-led crit sessions and seminars. Students are expected to negotiate the challenges of display as an integral part of building up a body of work, and to directly contribute research material uncovered in the course of its development for collective discussion – establishing a lively and responsive context for study requires active participation from everyone. In addition, support for the development and review of tailored personal research plans and specific practical targets is made readily available via frequent individual tutorials.
Artists to look at:
Jas Ban Ader, Mike Kelley, Tamy Ben Tor, George Condo, Samuel Beckett, Phillip Guston, Adam Dant, Miranda July, Bedwyr Williams, Lisa Yuskavage, Andy Kaufman, Dickie Beau, Benedict Drew.