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RCA MA Curating Contemporary Art Announces 2021 Graduate Projects

The RCA announces five MA Curating Contemporary Art graduate projects across a range of platforms, mediums and spaces in collaboration with partners the British Library, Camden Art Centre, Furtherfield and Gasworks. The projects will take place online and around London in May.

This year’s MA Curating Contemporary Art (CCA) graduate projects once again highlight the extraordinary resilience and creative capacity of the visual arts community and cultural sector that our students became part of during the last eight months as they worked with our 2021 partners.

Curating under Covid-19 continues to pose challenges to established modes of curatorial practice. Hybrid modes of working are fully explored in this year’s projects as opportunities to experiment across platforms, spaces and audiences emerge. 

Learning to work together across 14 different cities and 7 countries, this year’s students have commissioned over 20 artists and contributors to produce projects that fully embrace today’s global context of creative and curatorial collaboration. 

Highly alert to the cultural and political conditions in which art is made, accessed and debated, this year’s projects particularly consider ways to engage audiences beyond the UK, to include students’ own geographical settings. Enthusiasm, trust, and confidence are essential to curating during a pandemic, and this year’s projects are a testament to all of our CCA partners, and artists and contributors.

Sabel Gavaldon, Curator, & Alessio Antoniolli, Director, Gasworks said:

‘Gasworks aims to offer curating students an opportunity to explore the workings of a grassroots, internationally focussed organisation devoted to emerging artists. It’s crucial for curators at an early stage in their careers to understand that curating is a context-specific practice that engages and responds to a concrete set of conditions – ranging from the history of an organisation to its core audiences, not to mention budget constrictions and a myriad of other factors that shape the work of a curator.

With this in mind, Gasworks provides an environment in which students learn to negotiate between a wide variety of agents, constituencies and agendas that form the ecosystem of the organisation. This year, the RCA curators have developed two projects in partnership with Gasworks, which are being presented across physical and digital spaces. In response to the challenging conditions created by the ongoing pandemic, both curatorial projects explore a variety of alternative means of distribution, from a digital platform to public billboards, delivery vehicles and a USB stick. The Graduate Projects bear testament to the students’ enthusiasm and determination, as well as their pragmatic attitude in times of crisis, all of which are essential skills for curators.’

Martin Clark, Director, Camden Art Centre said:

‘This inaugural partnership with the Royal College of Art curating contemporary art students has been an enriching experience for the Camden Art Centre and has enabled us to consider alternative ways of connecting with audiences and artists living and working in Camden during this unprecedented period. It’s been particularly exciting to bring to the foreground some of the hidden narratives and histories that exist in Somers Town.’

Chandan Mahal, Learning Projects Manager, British Library said:

‘The collaboration with Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art students has been an exciting opportunity for the British Library to invite students to explore material from the sound archive. It’s been a real pleasure to see how the students have brought an energetic and experimental spirit to the project through the theme of play and politics. Their commission by artist Shenece Oretha has created a fantastic imaginative dialogue between the artist and students inspired by the collections, and we’re excited to share this with the public.’

The projects are:

Furtherfield partnership, We are just animals, humans, and machines getting on together in specific lifeworlds

We are just animals, humans, and machines getting on together in specific lifeworlds is a site-specific, digital listening experience connecting the human and non-human inhabitants of Finsbury Park. The commission is part of Furtherfield’s People’s Park Plinth.

Gasworks partnership, Fulfilment Services Ltd.

Fulfilment Services Ltd. explores the implications of techno-capitalism for the widespread supply and demand networks that fulfil consumer needs and desires. Newly commissioned artworks unfold across physical and digital spaces of distribution including billboards, delivery vehicles, and a digital platform.

Camden Art Centre partnership, In the meantime…

In the meantime… is an online public programme of commissions by Camden-based artists, whose works act as a companion for our audience to explore the stories, both past and present, between Somers Town in north-west London and neighbouring Camden Art Centre. 

British Library partnership, Notes on Play

For Notes on Play, multi-disciplinary artist Shenece Oretha has been commissioned to make a new work in response to the 'Playtimes' collection within the British Library sound archive. The commission explores the creative capacities of active listening, the politics of play and the archival.

Gasworks partnership, Hear the Light 

Hear the Light is a synchronisation of aural and visual experiences, a meditation on connectivity that brings together new work by artists Chibuzor Adiele, Anat Ben-David, Simnikiwe Buhlungu and Chen Zhe.

Supporters for the RCA’s MA Curating Contemporary Art Shows 2021: Arts Council England, JACK ARTS, Haringey Council, Here For Culture, London Arts Board, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Print&Digital and Unlocking Our Sound Heritage.

Partners of the CCA Projects 2021
Partners of the CCA Projects 2021
Supporters of the CCA Projects 2021: Arts Council England, JACK ARTS, Haringey Council, Here For Culture, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Print&Digital and Unlocking Our Sound Heritage
Supporters of the CCA Projects 2021

Are you are interested in joining the next cohort of curators shaping the arts sector? Find out more about our MA Curating Contemporary Art and Curating Contemporary Art and Design short course.