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Fine Art Photographic Exhibition Pushes Boundaries of the Digital

The Royal College of Art, Subject Matter and Sedition are proud to present The Campaign, an exhibition and sale of photographic and digital works by current RCA Fine Art students. The works on display were chosen jointly by the three collaborative partners, all of whom come together in this venture to pursue one united goal: to support and develop artists of the future. 

Twelve students were chosen (seven photographic works and five digital works) from a wide response to an open call put out to all Fine Art students. For the duration of the exhibition, the pieces will be on display in the Dyson Gallery, as well as available for both viewing and purchase on Subject Matter and Sedition’s websites. All revenue raised from sales will go to the Fine Art bursary fund, which supports MA students who need financial support to be able to complete their studies.

Behind the core concept of The Campaign is a desire to investigate innovative responses to the contemporary art world, in which material and technical innovation often privileges ephemeral, digitally focused practices. What effect does this have on the role of the artist, the work of art, conditions of viewing, visual and intellectual engagement?

As all of these issues shift, expand and evolve, many possibilities come to the fore with regards to exhibition spaces both creative and commercial. As such, the exhibition is part of a wider programme of talks and events around the subject of Art x Tech, with the aim to support students at critical points in their professional practice, and particularly in relation to the ever-changing management of the arts as faced by an increasingly digitally oriented world. 

The Campaign marks a key moment for the RCA to work within the context of the growing world of successful and prestigious online galleries. Both Subject Matter and Sedition are at the epicentre of a new interest in uniting the business of art with newly available and constantly evolving forms of technology. As part of the exhibition, RCA students took part in workshops organised by Subject Matter, which introduced them to those visionary practitioners at the forefront of pioneering research and practice in this field, and across a variety of ventures in the current art world.

Like the RCA, both galleries are ambitious in their commitment to find means to financially support creative labour as a means to actively facilitate artist’s careers and help them to pursue creative potential to its fullest extent. Additionally, the three exhibition collaborators have a strong belief in creating engaging and enjoyable environments by which to engage with work that challenges conventional expectations of contemporary art making and exhibition display. The Campaign contributes to an active and encouraging platform of contemporary exhibition within the context of Fine Art at the RCA, the largest concentration of artists and researchers in the world, as well as a destination for original and dynamic forms of fundraising. 

Works in the exhibition hail from across Fine Art disciplines within the College. Amongst printed photographic work is Louise Long’s The Understory, which takes its name from an ecological layer of undergrowth on the rainforest floor, where sunlight is scarcest; Long’s image explores the changes in the natural landscape of an extinct sugar plantation on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. Melissa Magnuson’s work is similarly interested in ideas of landscape and politics: U Can’t Miss It is from a body of work that explores the complex network of relationships between the US government and the Apache community, by looking at the disjunction between simultaneously inhabited traditional ceremonial and contemporary digital spaces.

Digital works include The Aishmans by Steven Aishman: a slideshow of letters written daily to his wife, which were previously posted on Instagram; Aishman invites viewers into a personal digital space in which foregrounds the complexity of declarations of love, the various forms they may take within intimate moments of domestic life. In Depth of Time, Jinjoon Lee draws on a body of research about the role of visual art in recalling and representing traumatic collective memory: the work comprises a single channel video collage shot in different locations where historic catastrophic events took place. 

The Campaign opens with a VIP private view on Wednesday 5 April, 6-9pm, followed by an opening party on Thursday 6 April, 7-10pm.

The exhibition is open 6–8 April, 2–7pm and 9–10 April, 12–5pm. 

The Dyson Gallery is located in the Dyson Building at the RCA's Battersea campus, 1 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN.