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RCA2020: Investigating identity

This collection brings together students looking at personal and cultural themes related to both the identity of the self and communities. 

1. James Ireland, MA Writing

In Performance — Image 1 by James Ireland. Image 2 by Maria Singh and graphics by Arjun Singh. Image 3 by Sophie Cairns.
In Performance, James Ireland
© Image 4 by James Ireland. Image 5 by Maria Singh and graphics by Arjun Singh. Image 6 by Sophie Cairns.
James is a gender nonconforming playwright/theatremaker (they/them) based in London and Dublin whose current research explores positions of Actionable Allyship and how to apply effective models to theatre. Their work, Rajesh and Naresh focuses on an intersection of the Queer and British Asian and Indian communities, and was devised and produced with Arjun Singh and ŠITE Productions from a short text written by Arjun Singh. 

2. Marcela Baltarete, MA Fashion

Marcela Baltarete, MARCEL/A - A journey of digital introspection and relief - Part II (Still),
MARCEL/A - A journey of digital introspection and relief - Part II (Still), Marcela Baltarete
Located at the intersection of postgenderism and transhumanism, Marcela’s work is a personal journey informed by the constraints of their own body and mind. They attempt to explore and question their idea of gender, health and fitness through digital re-embodiment and re-worlding.

Marcela creates instinctive and poetic 3D rendered animations with variations of themselves as enhanced, self made and evolved digital beings – for the purpose of taking distance from their body and their experience of depression, gender dysphoria and chronic illness in order to achieve introspection and relief.

3. Sae Yeoun Hwang, MA Painting

Sae Yeoun Hwang, The Kick (left), Running Woman (right)
(Left) The Kick, (Right) Running Woman, Sae Yeoun Hwang
Sae is particularly interested in humour and how it functions. Getting the joke reveals socio-economic, cultural and political understanding of the viewer and questions the root of the joke. Humour is used to diffuse the heaviness of the subject and also used as a defence mechanism. The visual stories might not be defined by a single theme, but that is a closer explanation of micro and macro interest of self and life itself. Sae’s images flow in a non-linear narrative as a collection of memories, experiences and imagination.

4. Alexander Findley, MA Architecture

Alexander Findley, The Dog and Duck-Rabbit Pub-Diner-Teahouse
The Dog and Duck-Rabbit Pub-Diner-Teahouse, Alexander Findley
Findley’s work explores the "irresistible rise of Cakeism", whereby a contingent of the population wishes to see strengthening of borders, reinstatement of power to the nation state, and the protection of a nostalgic idea of British identity, while simultaneously wanting Britain to continue to act and trade globally under the present conditions provided by the EU. In other words, to have their cake and eat it.

Schrödinger’s City imagines a post-Brexit scenario in which a new form of 'Cakeist' architecture emerges in the heart of the City of London. The project simultaneously manifests the paradoxes of the Cakeist attitude that has characterised the Brexiteers' response to EU negotiations, and exposes the illusion of a singular national identity in the 21st century.

5. Peter Spanjer, MA Contemporary Art Practice

Peter Spanjer, Make Me Save, Video Stills 01
Make Me Save, Video Stills 01, Peter Spanjer
Peter Spanjer is a Nigerian artist, born in Bremen, Germany making work framed around the idea of resistance; resisting the emotional stereotypes put on black men; resisting the need to perform blackness to others and allowing room for self exploration which he extends to an audience as a piece of visual art. Peter’s work contains layers of sensuality, sexuality and a certain softness and vulnerability which can be traced to their personal battles with breaking away from strict gender roles within a black household. 

6. Ravista MehraMA Visual Communication

Ravista Mehra, Broken English (still)
Broken English (still), Ravista Mehra
Ravista is a bilingual storyteller and visual communicator from New Delhi, India telling complex multilingual stories of individuals in the hope that those smaller stories will tell larger tales of nations whose voices have not been heard in the past by the West. Their work focuses on looking at design through the lens of decolonisation, which in its essence means, giving voice and visibility to minorities from around the world. 

In collaboration with Indian artists and designers Ravista started a design collective called Active & Concerned Citizen in 2019, whose focus is to help clear misconceptions of Indians living in India to the Western World.

7. Hyun-A Cho, MA Animation

Hyun-A Cho, A sip of water (still)
A sip of water (still), Hyun-A Cho
Hyun-A Cho is an animator from South Korea interested in Korean traditional art and culture as well as global environmental issues. She mourns the loss of cultural heritages and natural resources and would like to shed new light on them to preserve and protect.

Engaging with peers from different cultural backgrounds at the RCA led her to focus on her own culture, with a particular fascination for South Korean shamanism. Her animation, A Sip of Water, tells the story of a shaman mediating between the mystic and the mundane, the living and the dead.

8. Olivia Sterling, MA Painting

Olivia Sterling, Colouring In (Kitchen) 5
Colouring In (Kitchen) 5, Olivia Sterling
Acrylic on canvas
80 x 60 cm
Olivia Sterling is a London based artist whose body of work focuses on paintings of domestic scenes that mimic how she has perceived living in Britain as a black person. Through the images of gestures, icons and objects her paintings serve as a place where absurdity and normality collide. The series Colouring In is influenced by children’s colouring books fused with infographic imagery, the aim, Olivia states is ‘to further bring emphasis to marginalisation and the absurdity of discrimination. The narrative in the paintings play on ordinary and otherness as my reaction to seeing otherness as a fanciful normalised phenomena.’


Head to RCA2020 to see all our graduate's work and delve into the curated Collections.