Visual Cultures Lecture Series

The School of Fine Art's flagship lecture series

The Visual Cultures Lecture Series enables us collectively to learn as we produce new knowledge. The lectures address questions pertinent to our understanding of Fine Art and its broader context today. Guest speakers range from distinguished artists and writers to curators and academics, who are invited to speak about their work in relation to a given line of enquiry. Each lecture series, together with related seminar and workshop activity, contributes towards a body of material which is collated as a source of new insights in the field and made available within the Royal College of Art and to our broader community.

2014/15: Contemporaneity and Other Tales

Gorvy Lecture Theatre, Dyson Building, 1 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN

Lectures are free and begin at 6.30pm. Booking is essential; please follow the booking link for each talk below.

For enquiries please email                                  

This autumn the RCA School of Fine Art hosts its third Visual Cultures public lecture series with a focus on today’s art production and culture. The theme, Contemporaneity and Other Tales, invites audiences and cultural figures to consider the world around them through various artistic mediums. Guest speakers, including distinguished artists, writers, curators and academics will engage audiences in conversations about today’s artistic production process and the broader cultural discussion that their art inspires.  

The series begins with leading American artist Richard Tuttle to coincide with the opening of two of his major London exhibitions at Tate Modern Turbine Hall and the Whitechapel Gallery. Additional speakers include the 'father of conceptual art' Joseph Kosuth in conversation with Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist; artist Susan Hiller; curator Mihnea Mircan and academic Saskia Sassen.

All the lectures will be broadcast live on this is

And available to watch on :

17 October 2014: Richard Tuttle  - Exceptionally will start at 7pm

Click here to book a seat - THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED 

You are more than welcome to come by on the day - there is no guarantee of seated space. If so, please arrive early.

A screen will be placed outside the lecture theatre in the hall to allow extra audience to watch the talk. It will be broadcast live on this is tomorrow:   

Richard Tuttle is one of the most significant artists working today. Since the mid-1960s, he has created an extraordinarily varied body of work that eludes historical or stylistic categorisation. Tuttle’s work exists in the space between painting, sculpture, poetry, assemblage, and drawing. He draws beauty out of humble materials, reflecting the fragility of the world in his poetic works. Without a specific reference point, his investigations of line, volume, colour, texture, shape and form are imbued with a sense of spirituality and informed by a deep intellectual curiosity. Language, spatial relationship and scale are also central concerns for the artist, who maintains an acute awareness for the viewer’s aesthetic experience. Tuttle lives and works in Mount Desert, Maine; Abiquiu, New Mexico and New York City. Solo exhibitions include a commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall from October 2014 alongside a major exhibition, I Don’t Know or The Weave of Textile Language, at the Whitechapel Gallery.

In conjunction with Richard Tuttle show at the whitechapel Gallery & his Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission, two events will be happening on the 16th & 17th of October.

More details:

Portrait of Richard Tuttle
Richard Tuttle

28 October 2014: Joseph Kosuth in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Click here to book a seat - THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED 

You are more than welcome to come by on the day - there is no guarantee of seated space. If so, please arrive early.

A screen will be placed outside the lecture theatre in the hall to allow extra audience to watch the talk. It will be broadcast live on this is tomorrow:   

Portrait of Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Kosuth is an American artist who is often referred to as 'the father of conceptual art'. He is credited with initiating appropriation strategies, language-based works, and the use of photography in the 1960s. Through his practice and writing, Kosuth consistently explores the role of language and meaning within art. His most renowned work is One and Three Chairs and his recent solo exhibitions include Ni Apparence, Ni Illusion in the Musee du Louvre in Paris and An Interpretation of this Title: Nietzsche, Darwin and the Paradox of Content for the Edinburgh International Festival.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is a Swiss curator and currently holds the positions of Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes, and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Since 1991 Obrist has curated over 150 international exhibitions in venues such as the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Museum in Progress in Vienna. In addition to curatorial work, Obrist is known as the artworld’s Studs Terkel, or its default oral historian, as he has many interviews saved as video exhibitions or in book series. 

25 November 2014: Mihnea Mircan

Click here to book a seat

Curator Mihnea Mircan will be discussing his recent research in relation to current archaeological discoveries. He is the artistic director of Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp, where he is currently preparing the long-term research project 'Allegory of the Cave Painting'. Mircan has also curated exhibitions at several institutions, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and Fondation Ricard, Paris. In addition, he was the editor of the book Hans van Houwelingen: Undone and has contributed works to journals such as Mousse, Manifesta Journal and Afterall, and to the publications Visible (Sternberg Press) and Six Lines of Flight (SF MOMA).

Portrait of Mihnea Mircan
Mihnea Mircan

2 December 2014: Susan Hiller

Click here to book a seat - THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED 

You are more than welcome to come by on the day - there is no guarantee of seated space. If so, please arrive early.

A screen will be placed outside the lecture theatre in the hall to allow extra audience to watch the talk. It will be broadcast live on this is tomorrow:   

Artist Susan Hiller grew up in America but currently works and lives in London. After attaining a PhD in Anthropology, she decided to pursue her artistic interests. Hiller’s work derives from a process of collecting, cataloguing and transforming cultural artefacts as a means of exploring the subconscious and unconscious mind. Inspired by feminism, popular culture and psychoanalysis, she works with a wide range of media including sculpture, performance, video, photography, drawing, and installation. Her most recent solo exhibition, Channel, was shown at the Adelaide Festival, Australia; Timothy Taylor Gallery, London; and Centre d’Art Contemporain La Synagogue de Delme, France. Hiller is also represented in a number of international public collections including Tate Britain, London and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Portrait of Susan Hiller
Susan Hiller

 17 February 2015: Saskia Sassen

Click here to book a seat

Saskia Sassen is the Lynd Professor of Sociology and a member of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. Her research and writing focuses on globalisation, immigration, global cities, new technologies, and changes within the liberal state. Her research revolves around the unexpected and counterintuitive in order to cut through established 'truths'. Her recent books include Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press, 2006) and A Sociology of Globalization (WW Norton, 2007). Sassen has just completed a five-year project for UNESCO in which she researched a sustainable human settlement, with a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries. It is published as one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS Publishers, Oxford).

Portrait of Saskia Sassen
Saskia Sassen

2013/2014: Current Modes of Artistic Production

The Royal College of Art’s School of Fine Art continues its Visual Cultures lecture series with a focus on sculpture and moving image. The series invited artists to investigate various aspects that contribute to the production, circulation and reception of their work. Through in-depth focus on a specific project of each guest speaker, the series aims to give an insight into the complex fabric of artistic production and explore what it means to work as an artist today.


12 November, Mark Leckey
26 November, Gerard Byrne
11 February, Christine Borland and Brody Condon
25 February, Laure Prouvost
4 March, Ulla Von Brandenburg
11 March, Thomas Hirschhorn

Mark Leckey on the 12 of November for his Visual Cultures Lecture at the RCA
Mark Leckey
12 November 2013: Mark Leckey

Leckey's practice ranges across performance, film, sculpture and sound, often creating a space where personal and cultural histories merge and transform. Leckey has exhibited widely, with recent solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Serpentine Gallery, London, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; ICA, London; and Le Consortium, Dijon. Leckey was awarded the Turner Prize in 2008.

Watch video

Gerard Byrne during a Visual Cultures Lecture on the 26 of November 2013
Gerard Byrne
26 November 2013: Gerard Byrne

Gerard Byrne is a visual artist working with photographic, video and live art. In 2007 he represented Ireland in the Venice Biennale. Other major presentations of his work at international biennials include the biennales of Gwangju and Sydney in 2008, Lyon in 2007, the Tate Triennial in 2006, and the Istanbul Biennale in 2003. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the ICA Boston and the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (both 2008), Dusseldorf Kunstverein, the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver (2007), the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2003) and at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2002). In 2006 he was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn award.

11 February 2014: Christine Borland and Brody Condon

Christine Borland and Brody Condon, RCA Visual Cultures Lecture Series
Christine Borland and Brody Condon
UK-based artist, Christine Borland, works around the topics of ethics and bio-politics in art. She investigates collaborations between arts and medicine. Borland was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997 and has shown internationally in numerous museums and large-scale exhibitions, most recently at Glasgow Sculpture Studios and Camden Arts Centre, London. Borland collaborated with artist Brody Condon for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013. Condon, based in New York and Berlin, creates performances, videos and sculptures that relate to obsession with fantasy in contemporary culture. He explores the world of games, fiction and collective experience. He recently presented work at the Machine Project, LA (2012); Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, NY (2011); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010); Greater New York, MoMA/PS1 (2010); and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010).

Watch video

25 February 2014: Laure Prouvost

Laure Prouvost, RCA Visual Cultures Lecture Series
Laure Prouvost

Laure Prouvost works with films and installations characterised by richly layered stories, translation, and surreal moments. Her seductive and disorienting tales toy with the audience’s ability to become fully absorbed by a single narrative. Her unconventional approach to text, montage, cinematic conventions, and imagery create a distinct visual language that is engaged in an ongoing conversation with the history of art and literature. Prouvost lives and works in London. She studied at Goldsmiths College and Central St Martins, London. Winner of the Tuner Prize 2013, her recent solo presentations include the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, Whitechapel Gallery, London, and Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia (2013); Schwitters in Britain, Tate Britain, London (2013); Why Does Gregor Never Ring? Shut Your Lips, Somewhere Under That Bridge Lies the whole Truth (The Wanderer Sequence 5), MOTINTERNATIONAL, London (2012); and Frieze Projects, Frieze Art Fair, London (2011). Her numerous group exhibitions include 12th Biennale de Lyon, Meanwhile... Suddenly and Then, Lyon (2013); Soundworks, ICA, London (2012); Time Again, Sculpture Center, New York (2011); and Flaca, Portikus, Frankfurt (2011). In 2011, she received the Max Mara Art Prize for Women and in 2009 the EAST International Award in Norwich, UK.

Watch video

4 March 2014: Ulla Von Brandenburg

Ulla von Brandenburg
Ulla von Brandenburg
Photographer: David Dixon
Ulla von Brandenburg lives and works in Paris. She works with film, drawing, installation and performance, and creates multi-layered narratives that explore boundaries between reality and artifice. Von Brandenburg engages with popular cultural forms from multiple epochs as a means through which to explore contemporary collective experience. Working within seemingly archaic traditions such as the tableau vivant, von Brandenburg appropriates historical source material and transforms it into the present to tacitly reveal the rules that govern our social reality. Recent solo exhibitions of the artist’s work include: Secession (2013), Kunsthaus Hamburg (2013); Mirror Song, Pilar Corrias, London (2012); The Common Guild, Glasgow (2011); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2009); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2008); Stedilijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2008). Recent group exhibitions include: Film as Sculpture, WIELS, Brussels (2013); 1966-79, Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne (2013); Tools for Conviviality, The Power Plant, Toronto (2012); Intense Proximite, Palais de Tokyo (2012); Secret Societies. To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silence, CAPC Bordeaux (2011).

Watch video

11 March 2014: Thomas Hirschhorn                                                                           

Visual Cultures Lecture: Thomas Hirschhorn
Visual Cultures Lecture: Thomas Hirschhorn

Swiss-born artist Thomas Hirschhorn creates mixed-media installations, often using everyday materials such as cardboard, foil and duct tape, juxtaposed with found imagery such as violent scenes and pornography. Hirschhorn previously worked in a group of political graphic artists in 1980s Paris which influenced his use of common materials as a political statement. With each exhibition - in museums, galleries, alternative spaces – as well as with specific works in public space, Hirschhorn asserts his commitment toward a non-exclusive public. Hirschhorn’s work has been shown in numerous museums, galleries and group exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1999), Documenta11 (2002), 27th Sao Paolo Biennale (2006), the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburg (2008), the Swiss Pavillion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), La Triennale at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012), the 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012), and Gladstone Gallery New York (2012).  A selection of his writings, Critical Laboratory: The Writings of Thomas Hirschhorn, has recently been published by MIT Press (October Books).

Watch video

Follow the VCL Series on Facebook: 

RCA Visual Cultures Lecture Series

All lectures start at 6.30pm. Lectures are free and open to the public. 

RCA Dyson Building, Gorvy Lecture Theatre, 1 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN

View recorded talks here.