The first term of this studio will be delivered online.
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 Gustav 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
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.