Studio 15: “If I stay silent nothing will change”: Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)

Christina Paine

I would like to begin by expressing complete solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We must dig out the roots of injustice and oppression, in all its forms, and make reparation for those wrongs.

This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, politics, identity, and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices such as photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art, and theatre. These practices have the ability to intersect, transgress, and connect with social and political change in both local and global political landscapes, creating new practice through the circulation of mass media, image, text, and public performance, by politicians, artists, designers, performers and audiences. Students this year have embarked on a wide range of topics concerned with protest, gender and race, translucent fabrics and female dress codes both as a visual fashion tool and a metaphor for modesty, repression, freedom; rethinking the curriculum, women in the film industry; Tupac Shakur, Kanye West – representation; black race crime as represented in film, rap, in the media; rock music as torture; and the possibilities keep on growing as many artists, musicians and designers use social media platforms to empower and educate; social media is now core to our understanding of the world and the events and practices which shape our identities.

As many artists, musicians and designers use social media platforms to empower and educate, social media is now core to our understanding of the world and the events and practices which shape our identities. The arts in conjunction with social media enable new forms of art with a world-wide reach, revealing the current political climate as one of elite power, racism, and sexism. So one student studied Lady Gaga’s relationship and career through her social media. So it is fair to say this studio encourages students to explore protest, public art of the past and present and engages in actively challenging the status quo.

Examples of recent work include 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; and the ownership of album art and design. Just this year students have embarked on a wide range of topics concerned with protest, gender and race, translucent fabrics and female dress codes both as a visual fashion tool and a metaphor for modesty, repression, freedom; rethinking the school teaching system and curriculum, women in the film industry;  Kanye West – representation; the semiotics and pioneering achivements of Gustave Klimt black race crime as represented in film, rap, in the media; rock music as torture; and photography as art activism. It actively invites projects which turn preconceived ideas around and it looks for new truth.

As you can see this studio particularly invites topics which analyse the conjunction of various arts practices and disciplines as powerful tools to help us to understand our world, providing responses to, or criticisms of capitalism and elite power. Artists, performers, and designers powerfully perform the self through social media, while their outputs also reflect and respond to issues of identity politics and social change. Santiago Sierra, Nan Gordon, fashion designers such as Coco Chabanne, groups like Public Enemy, and singers like Nina Simone and Fela Kuti emblematise or represent the struggle of marginalised people against societal oppression.

Teaching is through lectures and seminars, introducing key concepts in cultural and historical studies, and tutorials. You will explore 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 across the School's courses from a wide range of backgrounds.

I am not prescriptive; I offer you a buffet of ideas and we ask you to think of your own project and your own research journey. I am with you every step of the way and we do it all together. We work first on general group exploration of ideas and issues which is inspirational and we feed off each other. Then we do very detailed coaching to help you formulate your ideas towards the planning and writing of the dissertation – step by step.

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

Graffiti Beware of Artists They mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous

Details

Tutor Christina Paine

Dissertation Studios 2020–21

1/2