Studio 13: Suck it up

Matilda Moors

We live like little balls of putty, pushed upon, shaped, impressed. We harden over time. Become less liable to pick up fingerprints when things touch us. But less so these days, we stay soft for longer.

Together we will explore how contemporary consumer culture presses against us and where (and whether) there is space to push back. Figuring through the spoils of postmodernism seeing where there is room for dissent, subversion and mischief within received cultural forms.

We’ll take a playful approach to our research materials. Recognising the political potential of humour, levity and a lack of formality. You’ll collect stuff and we’ll discuss it together. The things you bring will be texts, garments, art works, memorabilia, YouTube clips, lyrics and whatever else. Through collective conversation we will poke, prod and unstitch these things to see what they’re made of, how they function, and the cultural impact they have, reading critically as a way to help us frame our discussions. This is our research, it is an approach evolved from the early feminist consciousness raising groups. The collage of culture and theory you create in the first few weeks will reveal the thrust of the research aims that form the basis of your dissertation.

We encounter culture in fragments. Shards of things clatter against each other in our brain bags and the resulting noises and frictions are our ideas. We knit these together into writing. We mix our metaphors to express the incongruous complexity of thinking through a specific subject in detail and laying it down on the page. In her seminal book Cyborg Manifesto Donna Harraway proposes a system of partial information as opposed to stratified hierarchies of knowledge as the way to a truly intersectional kind of cultural production and we take the same tack. Which is all to say, how we write and research is a reflection of how we think and write.

This studio takes a sideways look at the intersection of youth culture and late capitalism considering the impacts and influences of desire, the cartoon, consumerism and cuteness in shaping our contemporary experience.

Readings and materials

  • Affective Economies by Sara Ahmed
  • The Wretched of the Screen by Hito Steyerl
  • Sad Sack by Sofia Al-Maria
  • K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher
  • The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic: Philosophies of Desire in the Modern World by Mario Perniola
  • Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting by Sian Ngai
  • No Logo by Naiomi Klein
  • Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture edited by Christoph Grunenberg and Max Hollein
  • Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde by Esther Leslie
  • The Fashion System by Roland Barthes
  • Raw Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl by Tiqqun

Keywords: consumerism, visual culture, cartoon, desire, youth, cuteness, contemporaneity, subversion

Studio Image: 'Suck it up' …

Studio Image by Matilda Moors. Altered phone wallpaper from Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019

Boy 'sucking it up'


Tutor Matilda Moors

Dissertation Studios 2022–23