‘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. Artistic practices intersect, transgress and connect with social and political change in both local and global political landscapes, creating new meanings through the circulation of mass media, image, text and public performance, by politicians, artists, designers, performers and audiences.
Social media is now core to our understanding of the world, as well as the events and practices which shape our identities. Many artists, designers and musicians use social media platforms to empower, educate and to powerfully perform the self. Social media functions as a primary way of forming the self and of interacting with larger societal and political issues in a direct and visual way. The conjunction arts with social media enables new forms of art to be made, with a worldwide reach, revealing the current political climate as one of elite power, racism and sexism. In this way, artists’, performers’ and designers’ outputs can powerfully reflect and respond to issues of identity politics and social change.
This studio enables a wide variety of exciting studies to be undertaken: it considers how various political and cultural perspectives have shaped creativity and performance, historically and contemporaneously, and examines our responses to those, often through artistic activism. Issues of race, class and politics are examined as stereotypical representational lenses. As recent examples, we see female architects attempting to break through the glass ceiling of their profession; female rappers in Afghanistan protesting against child marriage; Kanye West and Donald Trump as products of, and creators within, a predominant, often racist media culture; fashion designers such as Coco Chanel revolutionising clothes for working women; the intellectual and legal ownership of album art and design. Artists such as Santiago Sierra, Nan Goldin, groups like Public Enemy, and singers like Nina Simone and Fela Kuti emblematise or, through their artistic practice, represent the struggle of marginalised people against societal oppression.
Teaching is through lectures, seminars and tutorials. Key concepts in cultural studies, historical studies and media studies will aid your exploration of your chosen topic. You will examine with your Studio Leader a range of research methods, cultural theories and approaches, and consider the politics of creative practice and critical thinking. This studio is suitable for students from a wide range of backgrounds, across the whole range of Cass courses.
Image: Anonymous stencil of a quotation from a letter from Leopold 1 of Belgium to his niece, Queen Victoria. Available: Beware of Artists & Things You Want to be True
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.