Rain has varnished the earth
around the Aniene. Like a voice
of the restless calm, there’s a boy
between piles of lime and bricks
scraping a metal wire over a miserable
The city’s periphery shakes
in a havoc of distant trucks, and
the useless day comes to an end.
Useless cicadas intone the silence
in the fiery gloom of twilight.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, The Diaries (1950)
Out of a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective, emerges another place. It is neither new, nor fixed in time but it has remained unexplored, scarcely documented — piles of lime and useless cicadas. Its histories, myths and rituals have been supressed and need unearthing and retelling, perhaps through different narrative structures, most likely by a newly found voice.
This studio prescribes:
- Descriptions of place based on observation and varied readings
- Engagement with the temporal layers of a place and its histories
- Unlearning and revising these histories, based on the assumption that they are flawed (biased, inadequate, or at least incomplete)
- Reflection on suitable narrative structures, devices and styles for describing place-defining qualities
Readings and references
In preparation you can read these short pieces:
Pier Paolo Pasolini, excerpt from The Diaries, 1950, pp. 143–149. When you read this poem think about what becomes internalised, what the author projects onto the place, and how these elements blend — through the writing — with the existing topography and characteristics.
Saidiya Hartman, Venus in Two Acts, 2008. How to write about something that is not there anymore? In some of her earlier writings, Hartman had approached this problem creatively, filling the gaps with fiction. In this essay, she takes a step back to contemplate the moral limits of interpretation and the raw power of the void.
Patrick Rosal, An Instance of an Island, 2015. The strange parade of words makes it difficult to gauge whether this is a visceral or superficial description. In any case, the poem can be read as an allegory (even though it probably isn’t) of competing systems or beliefs: in the process of setting up ideals, we erase other ideals.
Studio image: Paul Klee, Episode at Kairouan, 1920.
Dissertation Studios 2021–22
Studio 01: Another Place
Out of a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective, emerges another place. It is neither new, nor fixed in time, but it has remained unexplored, scarcely documented – piles of lime and useless cicadas.
Studio 02: The Critical Thinker’s Guide to You: Making Sense of Writing in Creative Cultures
This studio focuses on the relationship between creative practice and criticism – and how theories and cultural and social networks help shape and define the creative process.
Studio 03: Fashioning the African Diaspora
Elli Michaela Young
Exploring the fashioning of the African diaspora and with a particular focus on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, this studio aims to think through how fashion and dress is used to grapple with ideas of self.
Studio 04: 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 05: Thinking with Ruins
Thinking With Ruins begins with the idea that to think about ruination allows us to approach subjects that are of interest materially, aesthetically and politically and it allows us to work across scales - from dust to debris to object to landscape.
Studio 06: The Practice of Space – Writing Atmospheres in Art and Architecture
Nico de Oliveira
Dissertation Studio 06 looks at space as practice, since each location is a mutable entity framed as a moment in time, populated by individuals and shaped by their actions as artists, musicians, curators, designers, architects, writers and spectators.
Studio 07: Suck it up
This studio takes a sideways looks at the intersection of youth culture and late capitalism considering the impacts and influences of desire, the cartoon, consumerism and cuteness in shaping our lived contemporary experience.
Studio 08: 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 09: Paths of Desire
“Design needs to be plugged into human behaviour. Design dissolves in behaviour.” Naoto Fukasawa
Studio 10: The Hammer without a Master
Studio 10 explores the strange space between individual and collective, ecological action. It embraces the idea that we think, remember and decide ‘in the world’, rather than in our heads; that we are connected in unexpected ways; and that this connection may be a key to navigating life in an increasingly paradox present.
Studio 11: Sport and Aesthetics
Dissertation Studio 10 will examine the concept of aesthetics as applied within that most everyday activity: sport.
Studio 12: Curating Interiors: The Studio Becoming Museum
This studio explores key concepts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – from questions of knowledge, history and nationhood, through to authenticity, agency and value – by means of an exploration of the particular interiors worked in by artists, makers and other practitioners.
Studio 13: Visualising the Future
Cultural history, from high art to kitsch, is littered with visions of the future; some inspiring, some ridiculous, almost all of them wrong.
Studio 14: Technical Pitches: Outside is free
Outside is indeed free, but you need the skills, the kit, the knowledge and ideally ‘the look’ to fit into this world. This Studio will investigate how architecture, furniture, clothing and product design shape the work, living and leisure cultures they support. How these have influenced our relationship to our environment and indeed how this relates to resources at a local and geo-political level.
Studio 15: The Voice of Things
This studio will offer a challenge to the idea that objects are unruly things and need to be brought to heel by labelling, categorising, taxonomising. Instead, it offers an invitation to give voice to the mute and invisible, by listening to objects and treating them as allies.
Studio 16: “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 17: A History of Efficiency
There is nothing inevitable about the way we organise our societies, and we now recognise that transnational and historically embedded structures of economic efficiency are killing the habitable planet. This Studio explores the trade-off between efficiency and creative flourishing in structures of extraction, production, property, commerce and law; and asks where these efficiencies sit in our bodies, behaviours and feelings as both long-standing cultural legacies and contemporary harms.
Studio 18: A Material World
The Studio will consider how textiles in fashion, furnishing, art, and beyond are embedded in our cultural traditions and give us insight into ourselves and our society. We will ask about their relevance in terms of the environment, gender issues, wellbeing and consumption.