Abraaj Scholars Create Art and Design With Real World Impact
Five dynamic bodies of work are on display in Show 2017 from the second cohort of graduating Abraaj Scholars: Rhine Bernardino, Pratik Ghosh, Sarsenbek Hazken, Santiago Reyes Villaveces and Andres Souto Villaros.
The Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarships, supported by the Abraaj Group, cover full international tuition fees to study at Master’s level for two years and provide a significant contribution towards living costs. These scholarships are awarded to outstanding international students that demonstrate the potential to change the way people think and behave, and in doing so share the values of Abraaj in working for the betterment of the life and culture of their home countries.
The five Abraaj scholars graduate tomorrow in the grand setting of London landmark the Royal Albert Hall, among almost 800 graduates from 64 different countries.
Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) student Pratik Ghosh is from India. His graduate project is a domestic natural water filtration system, which uses plants to filter contaminants such as nitrates, chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals and even bacteria out of water. ‘To me studying at the RCA has broadened my perspective and my practice,’ Pratik explained. ‘Now, I do not look at design as just a way of problem solving but also as a way of thinking critically and looking beyond traditional solutions.’
Also graduating from IDE, Sarsenbek Hazken, who comes from Kazakhstan and has a background is Astrophysics, has created an urban air transportation infrastructure. In his design the aircraft wings fold back like a grasshopper and the shape of the Vertiport as seen from above comes from a Barred Spiral Galaxy. Discussing his plans for the future Sarsenbek said: ‘Lots of design values that I already bring to my design studies and practice, I will bring to transportation innovation or other fields after graduation. Some of the methodologies I learned on IDE, but have still not had a chance to practise in the current short term, I hope to develop in real-world industries in my coming career.’
Studying Architecture at the RCA has allowed Andres Souto Vilaros, an architect from Mexico City, to expand his architectural practice in experimental ways. ‘It allowed me to explore sculpture as a means for presenting my ideas, research and investigation,’ said Andres. ‘It has also opened the doors to pursue a more research led art and architecture practice.’ At Show 2017 Andres is presenting his close study of the tiny self-built chapels found across Mexico City. These structures are an example of the way popular culture interprets and appropriates official architecture and are symbolic of the way that a particular group of people live in Mexico City.
Graduating from the Performance Pathway of MA Photography, Rhine Bernardino’s performance practice uses her body as a way to address sociological, societal, political and cultural issues. For the Show she has created an installation in which glass vessels containing menstrual blood are presented alongside works made from toilet paper and hair. Rhine, who is from the Philippines, explained what she intends to do next: ‘I’m aiming to come up with a model for a sustainable, diverse, collaborative and multidisciplinary research-based art practice rooted in the context of a rural community. This is what I plan to establish in the Philippines within the next five years, a model that can be replicated yet is also very adaptable and easily moulded to apply to varying places and circumstances.’
For Show 2017, Colombian Sculpture student Santiago Reyes Villaveces is presenting Brujitas or witches, which is the popular name given to improvised push cars in Colombia, which are working tools in informal economies, used to generate value through mobility and the transportation of goods. In the Show these objects are presented alongside photographs and documentation of performances with them in the international urban contexts of London, Dubai and Ambalema.
After graduating Santiago has exhibitions planned across Europe and Latin America, including Frieze London art fair in October 2017. He described his experience of studying at the RCA: ‘After two years, we have built a network of collaboration and dialogue; that is the most valuable element for me, they are a group of people who are now my friends, colleagues and point of reference. My fellow students have been my main engine for the development of my practice and I'm sure they are, and will be, the most memorable aspect of my RCA MA experience.’