Delving beyond the limits of tactility to explore what happens outside of the immediacy of bodily experience, across audio, performance, interactive encounters, screenings, and talks, the 2023 CAP Festival brought together work from contemporary artists studying at the RCA.
Each year, CAP students take part in a festival showcasing new work. This multi-part event involves collaborations with external partners and institutions, resulting in a varied programme of artistic interventions, new writing and sound experiments. The festival provides students with the opportunity to reach new audiences and experience presenting work in different professional environments.
As Head of Programme, Professor Chantal Faust explained:
“Now in its fourth year, the annual CAP Festival is an incredibly exciting and important moment in the CAP calendar. At its heart, the Festival is a student-driven project with multiple tentacles, each year responding to live opportunities and reflecting the interests, stories, conversations and ambitions of artists within the CAP community. CAP students work collaboratively across a multitude of platforms, linking with external partners to not only showcase their work, but also develop ideas and practice together with a public audience, and this year a very large one with over 10,000 visitors taking part in the Tate Modern Lates event.”
Platforms was a one-day student-led symposium at the RCA which explored the impacts of digital platforms, such as Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Zoom, Netflix and Deliveroo, which are gradually replacing more physical interfaces between individuals and the built environment.
This encompassed ideas around the physical effects on cities as well as the political consequences on labour patterns and workers’ rights. Students' work was presented alongside contributions from guest respondents, artist Abbas Zahedi and writer and academic Nick Srnicek.
Stu Lee, who organised and facilitated the symposium, contributed a short film to the event.
He explained, “the film used a corporate setting, the city of London, as a backdrop to an eerie, looming, and ominous change that seems imminent, yet no one can quite identify. The presentation of the work was part performance, part essay, with a mix of live reading set against an AI responsive re-reading of the final part of the essay.”
“Attending events like this, I’m given a deeper understanding of how my practice embodies political and philosophical frameworks,” Stu added. “These frameworks underpin what my work is doing and how philosophy and political engagement come through the writing when responding to the idea of platforms.”
Beyond Surface Radio: Montez Press Radio Show
Beyond Surface Radio was the aural branch of the festival. Broadcast live by Montez Press Radio, the show was a sonic assemblage blending spoken word and poetic interludes exploring the surreal, political, radical and tender. Short stories, soundscapes and conversations were interwoven into a two hour-long broadcast.
Montez Press Radio is an experimental broadcasting and performance platform which fosters experimentation and conversation between artists, writers, and thinkers. It was founded in 2018 by Montez Press, a publisher of experimental work by artists, writers and thinkers with a focus on queer and intersectional feminist practices through the lens of artists’ writing.
Students Évelin Maier and Daisy Jones collaborated to produce the student-led radio show.
Discussing the process Évelin commented: “It was an honour to listen to the art pieces, and I got to know a group of people from the audio point of view, which is precious.”
Her involvement related to her own practice: “My research emphasises society's interaction with outer and inner elements, immersed in musicology, sound, noise and spoken word, elevating humanity's fabric to the foreground.” Reflecting on working with Montez Press Radio, Émelin described it as “an impactful experience and honour” that has placed her on “a brand-new level of professionalism”.
CAP x Tate Modern Lates: Beyond Surface: Tactile Presence
Inspired by the work of Maria Bartuszová (whose work was concurrently being exhibited at Tate Modern), students explored tactility through performance, poetry, film and hands-on activations. The event was the first time that students have been invited to contribute to Tate Lates and included a range of live and interactive activities.
There were live presentations and performances, short film screenings, a series of one-to-one live activations, a large collaborative fabric mural and a presentation of artists-at-work including sketches, mock-ups, a singing sculpture, an interactive sculpture visualising the process of touch, a large screen-printed flag and a fabric ladder that extended over the course of the evening.
Hadar Tsarfaty contributed a fabric piece printed with the statement ‘wanting mutuality’. The piece is a continuation of her consideration of written text in its materialisation and its relations to speech.
“This connection between language and materiality is a form of researching linguistic structures and of opening an understanding of social structures, considering relations between private and public” Hadar explained. “‘Wanting mutuality’, as an approach to another, is an appeal for allowing correspondence under changing conditions of reaching a shared possibility. It has been special for me to have had the opportunity to share this statement with such varied audiences in the context of Tate Lates.”
Ophir Amitay showed a moving image work depicting an endless textured purple skin surface, which expands and contracts, stimulating breathing. Ophir explained: “The surface in this film is made of organic shapes that might resemble body parts, never explicitly. I choose to work with skin as it is a boundary to the external, a buffer between the object and the subject.”
“The work stimulates a synchronised rhythm of breathing, created by both the body surface on the screen, and by the body of the viewer. Therefore, the duration of the work can be as short as one breath, which activates the bodily connection between the viewer of the work.”
Discussing sharing work within this specific context Ophir explained “I chose to participate with a work that can be grasped in a glimpse. At the event many viewers stayed through the entire film, engaging with the work in a physical way.”
The publication Glimpses will be published in the summer to document, celebrate and reflect on the CAP Festival 2023. In the build up to this publication there will be a series of fundraising events. So far these have included a live generated poetry recital, a diverting evening of cabaret and CAP – A – OKE, a regular karaoke night hosted in the Art Bar in RCA Kensington.