RCA MA Curating Contemporary Art Announces 2020 Graduate Projects
As an MA programme internationally recognised for its approach to collaboration, our understanding and practice of this in the curatorial context was fully tested and expanded with the start of the pandemic in March. In such extraordinary circumstances and uncertain times, working with over 27 artists to develop commissions, performances, writings, and project documentation was both daunting and galvanising as the projects moved online.
With a shared recognition of the challenge and opportunity to learn and shape this new present together, students, partners, and artists thoughtfully and energetically worked together to produce these five projects. As the partners’ comments highlight, all the projects this year have contributed to the ever more urgent call and need to demonstrate and support the role and value of creative practice in the making of meaning, place and community:
Sabel Gavaldon, Curator, & Alessio Antoniolli, Director, Gasworks
‘For a period of six months, the RCA curators had prepared an immersive programme of sensorial experiences in response to Eduardo Navarro’s forthcoming exhibition at Gasworks. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to close our building and postpone Navarro’s exhibition. The RCA Curating students’ response has been remarkable, showing not just enthusiasm and determination, but also their adaptability and pragmatic attitude in times of crisis, all of which are essential skills for curators. The online programme has become a unique platform to reflect on the uncharted potential, limitations and contradictions that online media present for artists such as Myriam Lefkowitz and Anna Nazo, whose work deals with tactility, intimacy and sensorial experience. Importantly, the ongoing conversations between RCA curators, artists and Gasworks’ staff have fed back into the organisation, contributing to Navarro’s exhibition at Gasworks, due to take place later this year.’
Anna Colin, Director, Open School East
'Collaborating with the MA CCA students and tutors was bound to be enlightening and mutually beneficial in a normal context. With the rise of the pandemic, the scope of the collaboration was extended to rethink traditional modes of production, address and dissemination, and adapt curatorial habits to a novel context. We were impressed by the responsiveness and adaptability of both the students and their invited artists, and the vulnerability we have collectively been plunged into has brought about renewed considerations about what it means to curate responsibly and ethically.'
Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary
'The RCA students' project, Sets and Scenarios, explores how we live under the influence of images. Originally conceived as a script unfolding throughout the building of Nottingham Contemporary, in the midst of lockdown it was then reimagined for the digital sphere. At a moment when all of us are grappling with questions of distance, proximity and solidarity, this programme provides a valuable and timely provocation.'
Ellie Beedham, Director of Art, Team London Bridge
'Team London Bridge has had a great collaboration with the students and the staff from the Royal College of Art forming part of our Culture programme of produced and commissioned cross art form projects. Rachel Pimm and the students have delved into the histories of the London Bridge area and that of medical practices and partners locally. Exploring the seen and the unseen and opening up exciting lines of research for all involved. It has been a truly rewarding journey.'
Ruth Catlow, Artistic Director, Furtherfield
'As the only born-digital commission in the Graduate Project programme, working with the group of CCA curators was an opportunity for Furtherfield to share skills and to support in the development of a project that had been conceived to occupy the digital realm from the outset. The collaboration with RCA students opened the organisation to new artists and fruitfully provocative practices. Their curation presents a field of contemporary art that examines the very substance of our lives online and communicates with verve the importance of its insights worldwide right now.'
The projects are:
Furtherfield Partnership, Empathy Loading
Empathy Loading is an online project exploring empathetic relationships between humans and networked non-humans. Find out more here.
Gasworks Partnership, So remember the liquid ground
So remember the liquid ground is a programme of meditative and sensorial experiences crossing over the digital, physical and spiritual realms. Find out more here.
Open School East Partnership, Nothing gentle will remain
Nothing gentle will remain is an online and print publication inviting artists and audiences to speculate on how we gather together, now and in the future. Find out more here.
Nottingham Contemporary Partnership, Sets and Scenarios
Sets and Scenarios is an online programme of film, text and performance exploring our heightened proximity to moving images and what it means to live under their influence. Find out more here.
Team London Bridge Partnership, Quincunx
Quincunx is a cross disciplinary research project that considers the interconnection of art, medicine, and plants via the number five and the quincunx pattern. Find out more here.