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The RCA's School of Fine Art Launches Moving Image and Performance Pathways

The Royal College of Art’s School of Fine Art has launched two new pathways in Moving Image and Performance Art – establishing long-standing strengths of the College as dedicated study routes.

Activity to date in these areas – from the One Billion Rising festival earlier this year to AcrossRCA collaborative projects – has now been critically structured to correspond to contemporary practice, offering students an intensive period of cross-disciplinary study.

Prospective MA and Research students looking to join the School of Fine Art can now apply to be part of the two new cohorts: Moving Image, led by Moving Image Senior Tutor Stuart Croft, and Performance, led by Performer, Tutor and Visiting Professor in Fine Art, Nigel Rolfe.

The new routes both offer a programme of visiting lecturers, theory seminars, group critiques, and professional practice sessions, while the School continues to encourage student-led initiatives and interventions.

Students on the routes will have access to the Moving Image Studio (MIS) in Battersea, a teaching and production centre for film and video. MIS includes an equipped 1000 sq ft shooting studio, five edit suites, technical support and equipment loans.

Croft said: ‘We’re very excited about this historic moment, which will allow the interrelated disciplines of film, video, performance, dance, sound and beyond to grow at the RCA and reflect their true place in the international context of contemporary art.’

Rolfe added: ‘Moving Image and Performance are both ephemeral and time-based, and images are made live or in media. That they are now named in their own language marks the strong possibilities and prominence in the critical creative visual arts world wide.’

Growth in Performance at the RCA was evident in the number of graduates who produced time-based works for Show RCA 2013 in June. More than ten graduates from across Sculpture, Painting, Photography and Printmaking incorporated performance into their projects – from hip-hop folk musicals to ‘blinged-up’ mobility scooters.

Much of the work stems from a growing performance art movement at the College, both at a grassroots and strategic level. An ‘unstated cluster’ of performance artists came together during festivals and activities organised by Rolfe and other tutors in the last couple of years. Those students worked together and supported each other since.

The arrival of performance pioneer Joan Jonas as the Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor last year also helped bolster students’ understanding of producing, presenting and documenting performance-based projects.

According to Rolfe, the growth in time-based work is a refection of wider shifts in the art world. Lesser-known artists are becoming more radical as their galleries, dealers and agents focus on those that are more established and lucrative, and, therefore, impose fewer demands over work.

He explained: ‘In the last three years – the austerity years – the blood in the art world has gone from the feet to the heart. Bigger artists are getting bigger and everyone else is finding it harder. As a result, the lesser-known artists are becoming more radical and temporal practice more widespread. There's a value to work that isn’t about property, or a "thing". It’s an attempt at art for all.’

Pictured, left, are works by School of Fine Art graduates, Echo Morgan (Printmaking, 2013) and Nicola Thomas (Printmaking, 2013) who both created time-based pieces for Show RCA 2013.