In the time of Athens
the girls would laugh in the doorways of squat little houses all the same
(as in the poor quarters of Rio);
houses along avenues filled, at the time,
with the fragrance (you couldn’t remember the name) of lindens.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Athens (1971)
This studio prescribes a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective. We will not engage with ideas abstractly, but with ideas as they are manifested in places—small-scale locales that are defined by a unique characteristic or condition; eg event, myth, ritual, conflict, etc.
The place you choose to write about may be:
- delineated or strictly defined, like the crypt of a church or with abstract boundaries, like an edge or neighbourhood of a city
- actual, like these abandoned industrial cities in China; fictional, like the background in a painting; mythical; notional or internalized, like Dublin in Joyce’s Ulysses or Freud’s Rome; or hyperreal, like a theme park in Beijing
- hard-edged, cordoned off or permeable
- a type of place (part of a series of similar-function spaces/places), like a Japanese bath house or a Parisian arcade
- with a distinct history, like the Beirut Green Line or without meaningful reference to the past, like the non-places described by Marc Augé
- non-extant (ie having once existed but now disappeared)
Places do not remain fixed in time; they have temporal layers—they are repositories of human endeavour and investment. You will investigate place-defining features, such as the following:
- geography, geology and natural history
- populations, permanent and temporary; identities; anthropological and ethnographic studies
- histories and cultures (and archives of histories and cultures)
- collective memory, monuments, ‘imagined geographies’ and ‘imagined communities’
- local economies and ecologies; industries, services, natural resources, archaeologies and material culture
- borders and boundaries; realms and domains; movement and migrations
- events: historic, unique, sporadic, periodic, unforeseeable; eg rituals, festivals, etc.
- performativity—how a place performs; how it is represented in popular culture or sub-cultures, in films, texts and other artifacts
- erasure and creation of place: places that are erased or created on human command, rather than over time
Over the summer:
- Explore the above links for inspiration.
- Choose the place you want to investigate. Start reading and recording your thoughts. Consider which of the place-making and place-defining features mentioned above you would like to explore.
- Register as a reader in the British Library. Visit it and familiarize yourself with how it works. Start exploring their collections and find relevant material.
Note: Studio 1 also accepts topics which are not about place, if you think that the exploration and understanding of a specific place can aid the investigation of your topic.
Image: Paul Klee, Episode at Kairouan, 1920
Studio 01: ideas in places
This studio prescribes a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective.
Studio 02: Narrative and Storytelling
This studio focuses on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We will particularly consider how narrative intersects with, and informs, identity.
Studio 03: The Conquest of Joy
This studio encourages dialogues around the cultural production at a time when narratives founded on certainty have ceased to make sense.
Studio 04: Bullshit, propaganda and post-truth
This studio will look at the emergence of the notion of ‘post truth’ and explore links between other ideas around propaganda and Harry Frankfurt’s argument about ‘bullshit’. We will consider the usefulness of these ideas, and how they can be explored in creative practice.
Studio 05: Meaningful Work
This studio will consider the value of making -in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 06: Writing Rough
What are the outer limits of the essay? Write on the edge of the possible in a rich, researched and evidenced discussion which creatively explores the expanded field of the essay.
Studio 07: Thinking with Ruins
This studio pays heed to these cultural forms and persuasions but asks, how might we productively think with ruins in the present?
Studio 08: The things you can tell just by looking (or, Oriented Writing)
Writing tells us who we are and how each of us thinks and interprets the world.
Studio 09: Le Marteau Sans Maître
Digging through the deepest layers of archaeological time, André Leroi-Gourhan (La geste et la parole, 1964) concluded that for millions of years, human culture and technology evolved without complex language, rational planning or abstract ‘thinking at a distance’.
Studio 10: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 11: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 12: Decay, Repair and Back Again
Things break down and decay. In this studio you will experiment repair as strategy to negotiate breakdown, and you will practice mining patina and weathering for information and stories.
Studio 13: ‘If I stay silent nothing will change’: Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media, and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art, and theatre.
Studio 14: A Material World
As the title suggests, this Studio will be based on the processes that are intrinsic to the design and making of textiles, however it will also be looking at the materiality of these textiles as objects.
Studio 15: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.