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RCA2020: A reflection on the 2020 graduates’ work

Showcasing the work of 836 graduates from across our four Schools, and with over 250 global events that have included industry leaders, RCA2020 has been a feast for the eyes and ears. Thank you to all our students and staff members who thought outside the box to make the online RCA2020 platform possible. 

A platform of mammoth scale

Video Credits: Farzin Lotfi-Jam (@farzinfarzin) and James Turle (@jturle).
  • 11,198 media items
  • 2,480 PNGs 
  • 883 gifs
  • 77 Curated collections from industry leaders

RCA2020 events were a truly global affair

Between 16 and 31 July, over 250 events took place via Zoom, Twitch, Instagram and more and saw 5,000 attendees join from 100 countries.

Highlights include:

  • A conversation between 2017 Turner Prize winner, Professor Lubaina Himid CBE (MA Cultural History, 1984) and Dr Omar Kholeif (Curating Contemporary Art, 2011), Director of Collections and Senior Curator for the Sharjah Art Foundation.
  • Dr Adrian Lahoud and students from the School of Architecture chatted with Sir David Adjaye OBE (Architecture and Interiors, 1993), world-leading architect and RCA alumnus.
  • A special Q&A with Evan Spiegel, Co-Founder and CEO of Snap Inc., moderated by, Head of Fashion, Zowie Broach.

Creative leaders highlighted graduate work in special curated collections

RCA2020 curated collections
RCA2020 curated collections
We were thrilled that creatives from across sectors explored RCA2020 to curate their own collections. The curated collections are a great way that you can continue to dip your toe into the inspiring, innovative and affecting work of this year’s graduates. 

As a starter for 10, why not try:

  • New Frontiersa collection by Editor, British Vogue Edward Enninful that drew in work from graduates of Fashion, Architecture and Painting
  • Designer ES Devlin’s Towards a Digital Placeness, which brings together work from ‘artists, thinkers and makers who might become the builders and cultivators of digital ‘placeness’’. 
  • I Graduated From My Bedroom, a curation from Victor Wang, Artistic Director and Chief Curator of the M WOODS Museums, Beijing, China, which highlights graduate work that he felt offers ‘a fresh perspective on the symbols, spaces, and futures to come’.

RCA2020 in the news

Alexander Findley, Schrödinger’s City, 2020
Schrödinger’s City, Alexander Findley
The incredible output and achievements of our students attracted press coverage in a wide range of international titles. Selected articles featuring RCA students as part of RCA2020 include: The GuardianFT WeekendEvening Standard, Business Insider, The Art NewspaperEmerging Potters, The New Indian Express, Design Week, 1 Granary, Indian Express, Axis Magazine Japan, Lux Magazine, Creative Review, Grazia, LOVE, Disegno, Design Week.  

A closing message to our students from artist Olafur Eliasson* 

Portrait of Olafur Eliasson
Portrait of Olafur Eliasson
‘An artwork’s potential lies not only in the object or in the concept; rather, it is located in the nature of the touch between object, people, and world. A fundamental skill to develop is our ability to understand the relationship between idea and action, thing and world; this is true of arts education and of life. It is about realising that there is no outside. We are all, inevitably, in the world, caught up in networks, entangled.

‘Producing art, working creatively, connects debates about personal and social values with (physical) forms. It is a form of doing. To make a sculpture, to walk in slow motion, to choreograph movement or to design a building is to shape reality. It means gradually giving ideas and values a body, giving them space – letting them space. It is a process of embodiment.

‘I encourage young artists during their education to ask themselves the most basic question: why? It may not be a question that can be answered in language, but I think there’s a tendency to overlook the why of art making and the individual choices that it involves. I see why as the glue between the artwork and the world. It is what gives the artwork its status as a reality-producing machine; it highlights the agency of art in its various contexts. Most art schools teach as if creativity were about choosing between two colours or two materials, but to be creative is to see the consequences that the choice of colour or material has on and in the world.

‘Teaching at art schools should aim at enabling the participants to feel confident and inspired by the negotiability and instability of reality, comfortable with the fact that the world is full of risks and not predictable. When you accept that everything can change, it makes you incredibly strong as an artist; it is hard work because every time you do something, you have to reinvent the system and principles according to which you work. You have to reconfigure the present. There’s no resort to formalism; there’s no repeating successes. Being an artist means embracing relativity and uncertainty while maintaining precision.’

Olafur Eliasson, Escaped light landscape, 2020. Installation view: Symbiotic seeing, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020. Photo: Franca Candrian Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 2020 Olafur Eliasson
Escaped light landscape. Installation view: Symbiotic seeing,Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020, Olafur Eliasson 2020
Spotlight, halogen bulb, LED light, tripod, lenses, colour-effect filter glass (cyan, orange, blue), concave glass mirror, aluminium, brass, plastic, motors, control unit
Dimensions variable | © Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 2020 Olafur Eliasson | Photographer: Franca Candrian

*Excerpt from Olafur Eliasson’s text Now is always different, that reflects on art and education based on his experiences as founding director of the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments), his educational research project affiliated with the Berlin University of the Arts (2009–2014).