The RCA’s culture of collaboration and interdisciplinarity nurtures an environment where student-initiated projects can flourish. Open forums, discussion groups and experimental spaces such as Department 21, Red Tape, The Eady Forum and CAR, allow students to get involved with projects that bring together voices and ideas from across the College. Conceived and set up by students and often passed down from graduates to the following year, these projects get to the heart of what matters to RCA students.
Department 21Department 21 describes itself as an experimental interdisciplinary space. It was set up in 2009 when a group of students at the RCA initiated a cross-departmental studio space, engendering new discussions and ways of working than had not been seen in recent years at the College. It aims to be challenging, inclusive, radical and productive.
In the words of Department 21 and Pippa Koszerek: ‘Whilst the physical format and spatial manifestation of Department 21 changes frequently in response to changing external and internal contexts, its priorities remain unchanged. It is an independent research platform, valuing the importance of individual initiative and preserving the possibility of failure. Crucially, it acts as a source of peer support, to encourage critical dialogue and open up the possibilities for new directions in working practice.’
CARCAR is a feature-led podcast by Critical Writing in Art & Design graduates Tom Harrad, Alice Hattrick, Paddy Langley and Naomi Pearce. Set up in 2012, it led to Unwinding into the Windshield, a production with the Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick as part of their summer 2013 series The Generation Game. CAR is now based at the Woodmill GP studios in Bermondsey, where the group continue to experiment with the essay in live and recorded form. Recent and upcoming episodes consider artists’ meals, shopping centres, processed food and being trapped.
Red TapeRed Tape is a discussion series initiated by students of the Visual Communication programme. The Red Tape series in 2012/13 aimed to challenge contemporary visual communication practice through discussion of the issues shaping its role and relationship with politics, culture, society, fiction and the future.
The Eady ForumAnother Visual Communication-led initiative, The Eady Forum is an open discussion on the diverse roles graphic design plays in contemporary culture. In March 2013, Eye Magazine featured its poster collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum, as exhibited at the Sackler Centre.
"We had the feeling that those tutors who came along had a sense of being peers of the students, simply trying to walk a line of creative practice that also students were exploring. It felt like walking a piece of the way together, having interesting discussions and learning from each other."Brave New Alps (RCA graduates Fabio Franz and Bianca Elzenbaumer) reflecting on their experience of running Department 21 in 2009/10