Studio 3: Future Ruins

Studio brief

This studio will explore the possibility of making art among the future ruins of the city. East London has always been a site of struggles, resistance and radical thinking, from the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 to punk squats in the ‘70s, from the London Dock strike of 1889 to the London riots of 2011. Art has a key role in this history: for the Marxist poets of the nineteenth century, the Yiddish avant-gardists of the 1920s or the Young British Artists in the 1990s, the urban experience stood at the centre of artistic expression. But in London today, artists have to negotiate their place in an urban landscape that often feels hostile, at the same time as it makes full use of their creativity. Through a collaboration with an Architecture studio and the Roman Road project space in Bow, we will think about how artists can confront the politics of regeneration by considering the relationship between art and power: can artists reclaim the city?

We live in an age when all basic needs (housing, food, fuel, healthcare, education and care work) have become monetised, creating profits for an elite, whilst raising social inequality. So if the seductions of consumerism and glamour are paling in the face of austerity, how may artists continue to produce objects and images? Are these doomed to function as commodities in the art market – the future ruins of culture – or can art do something more? As artists’ lives become more precarious, how can they organise themselves to address their own status? As well as making and exploring art works which address their social context, we shall look at artists who have attempted to refuse these conditions through art strikes, artist unions, calls to ‘un-art’ the artist and other forms of resistance. If art and life are increasingly blurred, does that change the relationship between making and doing? To answer some of these questions, we shall draw on the ideas of the Situationists, who thought art needed to be abolished and replaced with the production of situations. 
Beyond holding regular group crits and individual tutorials, we will explore the studio theme in quick art projects, lectures, film screenings, field trips and reading seminars. An emphasis on group discussions is aimed at helping students integrate theory and practice in the studio and become confident speaking about their own work in the context of contemporary art. 
Central themes and questions will include:
  • how does power shape contemporary urban life?
  • what space do artists occupy in the city?
  • what forms of resistance can art propose?

Reading list

  • Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Project, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002
  • Berry Slater, Josephine and Iles, Anthony, No Room To Move: Radical Art and the Regenerate City, London: Mute, 2010
  • De Certeau, Michel, The Practice of Everyday Life, Berkley, CA: The University of California Press, 2002
  • Foster, Hal, The Art-architecture Complex, London: Verso, 2013
  • Kaprow, Allan, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life [Jeff Kelley], Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2003
  • Knabb, Ken, Situationist International Anthology, Berkley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets, 2007
  • Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1992
  • Meek, James, Where will we Live?, the London Review of Books, 9th of January, 2014
  • Shulman, Sarah, Gentrication of the mind, Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2012
  • Venturi, Robert, et. al., Learning from Las Vegas, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977
  • Weizman, Eyal, Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation, London: Verso, 2012
An architectural model that shows buildings in ruins


Course Fine Art BA (Hons)
Tutor Pil & Galia Kollectiv
Matthew McQuillan
Where Central House, second floor studios
When Monday and Thursday


Laura Applegate
Shaun Burton
Cemalettin Cinkalic
Maggie Cleary
Samantha Copperwaite
Georgia Daly
Isabella Dyson
Lee Evans
Frederique Evans-Jeanrenaud
Oscar Lawrence-Watkins
Peggy Quinn
Xhulja Simoni
Chelsey Theobald
Helen Wolstencroft
Peter Wright

Ngoc Diep
Alicia Dupont Lievens
Roisin Gooding
Camiel Jones
Jules Pearson
Arkadiusz Pikor
Marc Rosenfeld
Emily Stevens
Megan Walker

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