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Student Showcase Archive


23 May 2019 to 24 May 2019

Battersea, Gorvy Lecture Theatre

Tickets for the event can be purchased here. £15 full rate/£7.50 for student/unwaged.

Free for RCA students and staff, but you must reserve a place by booking a free ticket using your RCA email address.

The Writing programme at the Royal College of Art is pleased to announce a two-day conference on 'AUTO—', featuring keynote speaker Anne Boyer.

'Autofiction is like a dream; a dream is not life, a book is not life,' wrote Serge Doubrovsky in his 1977 novel, Fils, which is often cited as the origin of the term 'autofiction'. Recent years have seen Doubrovksy invoked time and again to address a new writerly preoccupation with a seemingly old genre. Some trace autofiction back to Joyce or Proust, to the Confessions of Rousseau, and Augustine before him, or even further, to Hesiod’s Works and Days. 'How ‘Auto’ is ‘Autofiction?' asks a recent article; and 'Drawn from life: why have novelists stopped making things up?'

But what is at stake in these contemporary conversations, and what are the conditions that have produced them? What is the balance between the 'auto' (autobiography, memoir, and 'the self' in general) and the 'fiction'? Is the distinction between fact and fiction, the truth and the fabricated? Or is there, increasingly, a desire to redistribute the relation between the self and fiction: the question of how to live or how to create as reflexively embedded within the process of making itself? Autofiction as a term — a practice, a concern, a process — remains mobile and in flux, perhaps telling us more about what we want from a work of art than its sometimes plainly stated aims and origins. So just what is it that makes today’s autofiction so different, so appealing?

This two-day conference aims to generate a critical and creative discourse around ideas, practices, theories, contradictions, arguments, refutations, histories — and more! — of the AUTO— as it relates to creative works. We hope to wrangle with and refine its usage, which can sometimes seem catch-all; and we will also consider the ways in which these conversations relate and spill into other genres and disciplines.

Keynote speaker: Anne Boyer

Other speakers include: Heike Geissler, Claire-Louise Bennett, Juliet Jacques, Brian Dillon, and many more.

‘AUTO—’ is organised by Emily LaBarge and the Writing faculty – Brian Dillon, Jeremy Millar and Sally O’Reilly.


Thursday 23 May

Tom Overton: ‘an orphan form’: John Berger and Autobiography

Tom Overton wrote his PhD at the Centre for Life-writing Research, King’s College London, while cataloguing John Berger’s archive at the British Library. He edited Portraits: John Berger on Artists and Landscapes: John Berger on Art, and is currently working on Berger’s biography for Allen Lane Books. He’s an archive curator at the Barbican Centre, and co-host of Suite (212) on Resonance 104.4FM.

Hannah van Hove: ‘A lot of gestures to unlearn’: Christine Brooke-Rose, Life, End Of and the writing of (auto)fiction

Hannah Van Hove is a writer and researcher based in Brussels. She completed a PhD on the fiction of Anna Kavan, Alexander Trocchi and Ann Quin at the University of Glasgow in 2017 and is currently conducting a postdoctoral research project on the work of British post-war experimental women writers at the Free University Brussels. She has published articles and reviews on British avant-garde fiction as well as translations of Flemish modernist Paul van Ostaijen’s poetry. Her poems and writing have appeared in Adjacent PineappleGutter and MAP Magazine.

Kaye Mitchell: Empathy, Intersubjectivity and the Feminist Politics of the AUTO-

Dr Kaye Mitchell is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at the University of Manchester and Co-Director of the Centre for New Writing. She is the author of A.L. Kennedy: New British Fiction (Palgrave, 2007), and Intention and Text: Towards an Intentionality of Literary Form (Continuum, 2008), editor of Sarah Waters: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2013) and co-editor of British Avant-Garde Fiction of the 1960s (Edinburgh, 2019). In 2014/15 she held a Humboldt Foundation Experienced Researcher Fellowship in Berlin; the resulting monograph – Writing Shame – will be published by Edinburgh University Press in early 2020. She is Co-Editor of the OUP journal, Contemporary Women’s Writing and an Editorial Board member of Open Gender Journal in Germany.

Martin Schauss: Autofiction by any Other Means: Experiments in Citation and Form

Martin Schauss completed his PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. His thesis explored the object worlds in the late modernisms of Samuel Beckett and W.G. Sebald. His research more generally asks what 'new materialist' and object-oriented theories can contribute to politically meaningful approaches to twentieth-century literature. His recent publications include 'Material Incorporation in Beckett, Sebald, and Krasznahorkai', in Beckett and Europe (2017), and 'The Censor’s "filthy synecdoche": Samuel Beckett and Censorship' in Sanglap (2016). An essay on Beckett’s objects is forthcoming in Modernist Objects as part of the Seminal Modernisms Series.

Roy Claire Potter: Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?

Roy Claire Potter is an artist writer from Merseyside. They work across performance, publication, installation and film to address modes and forms of articulation. Recent works of writing and performance have been commissioned by Tate Modern and IMT Gallery in 2019, and by the David Roberts Art Foundation, and Electra Productions with ChelseaSPACE, in 2018. In 2017 they were resident at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, and were nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Artist Award, and the Arts Foundation Award that same year. They are Senior Lecturer in fine art at Liverpool John Moores University.

Philomena Epps: Life or Theatre? Visual Autofiction and Feminism

Philomena Epps is a writer and art critic living in London. She is also the editor and publisher of Orlando, an independent publication focused on the visual arts and cultural criticism, with an associated itinerant events programme. Her writing has been published by art-agenda, Artforum, Burlington, Elephant, Flash Art, Frieze, MAP, Spike Art Quarterly, The TLS, and The White Review, among others. She has been commissioned by artists to write accompanying texts for their exhibitions and/or publications (Susie Green, Rachel Goodyear, Joy Labinjo, Frances Scott) and by galleries and institutions (Tate, Tenderpixel, Waddington Custot). She was the Writer in Residence at Jerwood Visual Arts in 2016.

Catherine Damman: The Work of Art in the Age of Half-Hearted Reproducibility 

Catherine Damman is an art historian and writer who specialises in the entwined histories of experimental dance, theatre, film, music, and the visual arts over the long twentieth century. Currently, she is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Wesleyan University's Center for the Humanities. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 2018, and her doctoral research was supported by a two-year Chester Dale Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA), at the National Gallery of Art. She frequently writes about contemporary art and performance for Artforum. Her writing can also be found in BookforumBOMB4ColumnsArt in AmericaArt JournalThe Germanic Review, and Women & Performance.

Lauren Fournier: Performing Philosophy for the Camera: Autotheory and Artists’ Video in Turtle Island, 1969–2019

Lauren Fournier is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, where she is working with artist Lisa Steele on a practice-based project that extends her doctoral research on autotheory as a post-1960s mode of feminist practice across media to issues of settler-colonialisms and class. Her writing has been published in such peer-reviewed journals and books as Contemporary Women’s WritingWest Coast LineComparative Media Arts Journal, and Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada, as well as contemporary art publications like Canadian Art and C Magazine. She is currently completing a scholarly book on Autotheory which is forthcoming. 

Joanna Walsh: A Woman Sitting In Front of a Screen: User Manifesto

Joanna Walsh is the author of seven books including the digital work, Her latest book, Break.up, was published by Semiotext(e) and Tuskar Rock in 2018. She also works as a critic, editor and teacher. She is a UK Arts Foundation fellow, and the founder of #readwomen, described by the New York Times as 'a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers'. She is a current PhD candidate in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Adjoa Armah: ‘I know you’re you, but can’t you just try to be me sometimes?’

Adjoa Armah is a Ghanaian-born British visual anthropologist, curator and writer. In 2015 she founded Saman, an archive of photographic negatives collected from studio and itinerant photographers across Ghana. Saman forms the basis of her doctoral research within the Curating Contemporary Art programme at Royal College of Art, titled 'Making Saman Archive: Curating Contact Through the Photographic Practices of Ghana'. Her work has been published in Vogue, Nii Journal, Seventh Man Magazine, Nataal and Office Magazine. She was recently named Afterall journal and research centres first BAME Writer-in-Residence.

Joanne Tatham: The Bitter Cup

Joanne Tatham is an artist and a Tutor in Sculpture and Reader in Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London. She completed a degree in Drawing and Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, and began to work in collaboration with Tom O’Sullivan whilst completing the MFA at Glasgow School of Art. They exhibited their first work at Transmission Gallery in Glasgow in 1995 and continued to live and work in the city until 2011.

Hannah Paveck

Hannah Paveck is a staff writer for the feminist film journal Another Gaze, and a PhD candidate in Film Studies at King's College London. Funded by the King’s Canada Scholarship, her doctoral research explores the role of silence, sound and listening in contemporary global art cinema, drawing on the work of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and filmmakers Claire Denis, Elia Suleiman, Kelly Reichardt and Valeska Grisebach. Forthcoming publications include a chapter on Claire Denis’s 'Textures of Silence' in The Place of Silence: Architecture/Media/Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Moyra Davey

Moyra Davey is an artist based in New York, and whose work comprises the fields of photography, film and writing. She has produced several works of film, most recently i confess (2019) and Wedding Loop (2017) as part of her contribution to documenta 14 in Athens. She is the author of numerous publications including Burn the Diaries and The Problem of Reading, and is the editor of Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood. Davey has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at institutions including Portikus, Frankfurt/Main (2017); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016); Camden Arts Centre, London (2014); Kunsthalle Basel (2010); and Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2008). Her work is found in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Tate. She is the 2018 recipient of the Scotiabank Photography Award, and in 2004 was granted the Anonymous was a Woman Award. 

Friday 24 May

Heike Geissler

Heike Geissler is a German writer based in Leipzig. Her novel Seasonal Associate, which is based on her own experiences, describes what happens when she’s no longer able to make a living as a freelance writer and translator and takes a seasonal job at an Amazon Order Fulfillment centre. It was published by Semiotext(e)/Native Agents in 2018.

Claire-Louise Bennett

Claire-Louise Bennett's fiction and essays have appeared in The White Review, Harper's Magazine, Music & Literature, Frieze, Artforum, Vogue Italia, and gorse. She is the author of Pond (Fitzcarraldo, 2015).

Brian Dillon

Brian Dillon is a writer and critic. His books include In the Dark Room (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018), Essayism (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017) and Objects in This Mirror: Essays (Sternberg press, 2014). His writing has appeared in FriezeArtforumLondon Review of Books, the GuardianThe Paris Review, Granta and The New Yorker. His next book, Suppose a Sentence, will be published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2020. He is UK editor of Cabinet magazine, and head of the Writing programme at the RCA.

Kishani Widyaratna

Kishani Widyaratna is an editor at Picador Books where she publishes literary fiction, poetry and all stripes of quality non-fiction. She is passionate about nurturing bold new writing talent and is a longstanding contributing editor for The White Review, a quarterly literary magazine. Her authors include Julia Armfield, Olivia Laing, Andrea Lawlor, Jericho Brown, Mieko Kawakami, Sinéad Gleeson, Behrouz Boochani, Sarah Manguso and Layli Long Soldier. She has previously worked at Faber Books, Verso and Penguin Random House.

Larry Achiampong

Larry Achiampong's solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity. Achiampong is a Jarman Award nominated artist (2018). He completed a BA in Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster in 2005 and an MA in Sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art in 2008. He lives and works in London, and has been a tutor on the Photography MA programme at Royal College of Art since 2016. Achiampong currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and is represented by C Ø P P E R F I E L D.

David Blandy

David Blandy has established his terrain through a series of investigations into the cultural forces that inform and influence him, ranging from his love of hip hop and soul, to computer games and manga. His works slip between performance and video, reality and construct, using references sampled from the wide, disparate sources that provide his (and our own) individualist sense of self. He is currently working on a New Geographies Commission for Focal Point Gallery, Southend-in-Sea. He has been selected for the Film London Jarman Video Award for his collaborative practice with Larry Achiampong.

Rosanna Mclaughlin

Rosanna Mclaughlin is an author and cultural critic living in London. Double-Tracking, her debut collection of satirical essays and short fiction on the subject of middle class duplicities, is published by Little Island Press in 2019. In 2017, she was writer-in-residence for the British Council Caribbean, researching the political fallout following the death of Ana Mendieta. She is an editor at The White Review.

Maija Timonen

Maija Timonen is a writer and filmmaker living in London, producing analytic fiction. She is the author of the book The Measure of Reality (Book Works, 2015) and co-editor of the collection of essays Objects of Feminism (Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, 2017). Her most recent film Correct Distance was completed this year.

Mira Mattar

Mira Mattar writes fiction and poetry. She co-edited Anguish Language: Writing and Crisis (2015) and is a contributing editor at Mute. Some of her work is upcoming in Tripwire and On Care. She lives in south east London.

Juliet Jacques

Juliet Jacques is a writer and filmmaker based in London. Her most recent book was Trans: A Memoir (Verso, 2015). Her short fiction, journalism, essays and criticism have appeared in FriezeGranta, Sight & Sound, London Review of Books and many other publications. Her short films have screened in galleries and festivals worldwide. She also co-hosts Suite (212) on Resonance 104.4fm, looking at the arts in their social, cultural and political contexts.

Anne Boyer: Keynote speech

Anne Boyer’s poetry books include The Romance of Happy WorkersMy Common Heart, and the 2016 CLMP award-winning Garments Against Women. Her newest book is A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, a collection of ten years of essays, fables and ephemera; and a memoir of ideas about cancer and its disabling aftermath, The Undying, is forthcoming from FSG (US) and Penguin (UK) in 2019. Boyer is winner of the 2018 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Art and a 2018 Whiting Award in nonfiction and poetry. She is an Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Judith E. Wilson Poetry fellow at the University of Cambridge for 2018–19.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here. £15 full rate/£7.50 for student/unwaged.

Free for RCA students and staff, but you must reserve a place by booking a free ticket using your RCA email address.

Please note that tea and coffee will be provided, but not lunch.

A detailed schedule with timings can be found on the Eventbrite listing.

If you have any queries, please contact [email protected].