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Nina Wakeford's Art on the Underground Commission Explores LGBT History in Nine Elms

Senior Tutor in Contemporary Art Practice and Reader in Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, Nina Wakeford,  presents work in progress from her ongoing Art on the Underground commission at StudioRCA from 26 January – 3 February 2019. Here We Played ‘Children of the Revolution’ is part of Wakeford’s two-year residency for Art on the Underground, which accompanies the extension of the Northern Line and the development of two new stations at Nine Elms and Battersea.

For a week at StudioRCA, visitors are able to hear the recording of a performance that took place in the new Underground tunnels that run below Nine Elms. In the performance Nina and local drag king, King Frankie Sinatra, spoke and sang memories of the Market Tavern, a pub formerly located at 1 Nine Elms Lane. Using the 5.1 surround sound system installed for the residency, visitors can listen to the audio documentation of the performance, that weaves together sounds of the current construction site with memories of the London LGBT scene of the 1980s and 1990s.

Alongside the exhibition there is also an artist talk with Wakeford on Wednesday 30 January, 6–8pm (book here), where she will discuss the research behind the commission. After the event, everyone will be invited to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for King Frankie Sinatra’s drag king night (tickets in advance or on the door). On the last day of the residency at Nine Elms, Sunday 3 February, 4–6pm Wakeford will be in conversation with King Frankie Sinatra (book here).

Wakeford’s practice begins with what she considers the unfinished business of past social movements, and the challenges of revisiting the demands and energies that these movements created. She was trained first in Sociology at the University of Cambridge then the University of Oxford, where she gained a DPhil in Sociology and began a research and teaching career in the social sciences. Subsequently, Wakeford returned to study and undertook a BFA and MFA at Goldsmiths, and recently completed a practice-led PhD in Fine Art. She is the co-editor of Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social (Routledge, 2012) a collection that explores, among other things, how research might better work with openness and ambiguity.

Previously, Wakeford has created performances for the BFI, ICA and the Wellcome Collection. This year she will produce a series of performances and interventions for Life Rewired, an arts and learning season at the Barbican Centre that explores what it means to be human in the face of technological and scientific forces. For this work, Wakeford has revisited and redeployed radical critiques of scientific and technological development from the 1970s and ’80s, uncovering alternative feminist and anti-consumerist visions on technological development that invite the audience to see, or even inhabit, a different vision of technological change.

The RCA and Wandsworth Council have been co-programming and co-operating StudioRCA at Riverlight, Nine Elms, since September 2018. Working closely with local organisations and schools, StudioRCA has programmed a series of exhibitions and hands-on workshops that puts the local neighbourhood and community engagement at its heart. This supports the long-term strategy for Nine Elms on the South Bank, one of the first new cultural offers in the area, and contributes to London's wider cultural offer.  Further information about upcoming projects can be found here.

Find out more about Research in the School of Arts & Humanities at the RCA.