Rupi Dhillon

Statement

Rupi Dhillon is a British, Indian, (British Asian, Punjabi, and all things in between and beyond) multidisciplinary artist based in Birmingham, UK.

Dhillon explores the relationships and connections we have with one another and the land. Through her arts practice she investigates how multiplicity in culture is conducive to the concept of belonging and space. She is interested in facilitating discourse around race, gender and social class. Using playful techniques, her current work reimagines cultural experience through gestalt expression, participatory performance, shared practices, gifting and attachments in found objects.

She has both exhibited and completed residencies in the UK and has also been the recipient of the prestigious Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest as well as the AIS Award more recently. Dhillon has both a BA Hons and MA in Fine Art. Dhillon currently works with contemporary art gallery IKON in Birmingham.

She is also interested in establishing further research into Cultural Dysphoria as a Philosophy.

Contact

rupidh@icloud.com

@rupidh

www.rupidh.com

Degree

MA Fine Art

An Encyclopaedia of Cultural Dysphoria, 2020

A collection of artworks, writings, theories and philosophies, 2020

The term dysphoria (from Greek: δύσφορος (dysphoros), δυσ-, difficult, and φέρειν, to bear) is a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction. In a psychiatric context, dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety, or agitation. The term is often used to refer to gender dysphoria, experienced by people whose gender identity does not align with their assigned sex. Common reactions to dysphoria include emotional distress; in some cases, even physical distress. The opposite state of mind is known as euphoria.
Cultural Dysphoria could therefore be understood as the dissonance between the social expectations for an individual’s broad cultural performance or identity and their desired embodiment of that culture, or uncertainty about where they fit into cultural categories. Currently the only research into Cultural Dysphoria is a brief outline of general dissatisfaction with modern culture and the blog post by Ayesha Sharma. My research began with my own utter disdain for the patriarchal culture that exists in Punjab and India as well as the deep rooted colonialism associated with being British. Whilst there is still so much beauty within the Indian culture, much of its traditions leave me feeling very unsettled personally, through life experience – I reflexively write about mannerisms, identity, politics and the simplicities and complexities of multiplicity. 
I designed the logo based on the lotus flower. One of the essays included in the book is “Lotus Flowers: University as Swamp, on becoming the Lotus”. I hope to expand this encyclopaedia with further volumes in the future hence the 2020 around the lotus this being the first issue written in the problematic year of 2020), borrowing the design aspect of leather and gold embossing from the Brittanica Encyclopaedias, the lotus floats on the cover as a reminder to always grow toward the light in all of life’s conditions, be it the institution, political system or through the systems of familial ties. 

Nangal Khera, 2020

Sapele, Pine, Hemp Twine, Cotton Cord, Nostalgic Discourse, 2020 – Ongoing

Nangal Khera takes its name from the small village in Phagwara, Punjab, India. It is the place where I spent many of my formative years. 

The piece consists of a Manjha, (which is also known as a Charpai translating into English as ‘four feet’) a traditional piece of furniture native to India. It is a woven bed, often constructed from wood, with most designs tending towards metal structures in contemporary society due to the cost of materials, the longevity and the time taken to manufacture. This particular Manjha was made during the spring/summer of 2020 during lockdown and later completed in August, 2020. It is constructed from timber found in a shed. The language of Utilitarianism is built into the very fabric of the object, it was made as both a reminder of home and as a space for people to share their memories and stories. The process of weaving the Manjha is a labour intensive one, the act itself is one of weaving histories, particularly in the face of the situation we have all endured this past year.

In the rural village communities in Punjab the Manjha is often a communal space, all important decisions are made around it, vegetables are dried on it, friends sit on it, and the tired sleep upon it. 

The piece has now expanded beyond its original context, it has become a piece that travels, an object of social engagement, a place where people can have conversations about their pasts, about their connections to place. 

It is a participatory object, it invites people to interact with it, to be comforted by it, to gift stories to one another, and to become an active listener through its passive facilitation. 

So far conversations and interactions with the piece have ranged from memories of grandparents building their own Manjhas as far back as 20 years ago in Africa, as well as conversations around materiality and nostalgia for place. The piece has the ability to elicit memories to transcend histories. 

Written with Frederick Hubble, whose shed gifted us the materials.

Cha Wali, 2019

Participatory Performance
Bike, artificial marigolds, statue of Guru Nanak, gold basket, hot drinks dispensers
Documentation – Digital prints, 2019

The concept of Cha Wali originates from typically male street vendors in India selling Cha (Indian tea) from bicycles. In seeing a lack of innovation in Subodh Gupta’s Three Cow’s, I felt compelled to embody in performance the role of a Cha Wala. The noun itself speaks for only males who take on this role. In the piece I wanted to not only subvert this role but to also activate spaces and conversations around cultural phenomena, specifically the act of sharing Cha with the public. The British made Pendleton bike combined with a DIY aesthetic, of silk marigolds, a statuette of Guru Nanak (ducked taped to the handle bars) is typical to the aesthetic of a Cha Wala on the streets of India, yet this performance also seeks to understand the concept of gifting as all cups of Cha were given for free. Documentation shows interactions with different demographics of the public, ranging from workers of the city, students from the art school, homeless, builders and some of which recognised and connected with the act.

The Anthropology of the Self, 2020

Single Channel HD Video, 2020
(Images below show, 3 channel potentiality)

The Anthropology of the Self is a bricolage/ assemblage (in the Deleuzian sense) of several performances and a collection of videos of various sites with prose to form one coherent piece of work. The title of the work emerged from an investigation into shame, politicising of the body and power structures, as my specific body – through the period of lockdown.

In times of societal precariousness, perhaps we can look back on these myths, in attempt to understand empathy, compassion and morality.

Rupi Dhillon – The Anthropology of the Self, 2020

For more artworks and information please see www.rupidh.com

Sam Edward

thisisasoapbox.com

Multi-platform space where politics and art smash together, 2020

screenshot of online lecture, Lord Rees-Mogg, thisisasoapbox.com, 2020

thisisasoapbox is a multi-platform space that deciphers what it means to be politically engaged while making work. This work demonstrates that art has the unique capability to comment on and influence politics all while remaining art work. The work simutationally allows others artists to imagine their practices as actual political engagement, whilst creating an environment where politics becomes more accessible to the outside observer. This current iteration focuses on the barriers in political/politicised language through the lens of facades: personal, structural and institutional.

screenshot of online lecture, Lord Rees-Mogg, thisisasoapbox.com, 2020
screenshot of online lecture, the facade that is Dominic Cummings, thisisasoapbox.com, 2020

Statement

Sam Edward is a socially engaged public text artist whose practice revolves around the intersection between the political and the artistic. Using public spaces and text allows Edward to create work that inspires accessible conversation about political events and ongoing politicised conversations. Edward has a multi-disciplinary practice that is constantly searching for new ways of starting these conversations; anything in the public domain has potential to be aprotitated.

Contact

thisisasoapbox.com
sam@thisisasoapbox.com
@thisisasoapbox
@iamSamEdward

Degree

Arts and Education Practices

Amy Curran

My Course is in Art and Design, specialising in textile design whilst focusing on ‘Small Arts Business set up’. This project was based around my life in lockdown and how I could continue my practice from home instead of the studio. My submission for this module was a collection of nine hand printed satin shirts. The subject matter that I chose for my final work was split into three collections, all with inspiration from my life during lockdown. The Systematic and theoretical analysis of the methods that I have applied to my body of practice has allowed me to produce new work through new processes such as heat pressing and sublimation fabric ink printing, all from home. During lockdown I had many opportunities offered to me with commissioned work, allowing conversations with individuals and companies in marketing such as ‘Swizzels’, greatly encouraging my body of work.
I have approached this project as a small arts business owner who is developing their ideas and products for the set up of their brand in a fashion and art market. I want to continue exploring current topics in my work, in a subtle and visually appealing way whilst continuing to produce collections of visually bold and iconic designs.

www.afdesignsuk.co.uk

Yuting Hou

VR is this asteroid that’s going to hit the planet, apparently, in 2023.

Douglas Coupland

Statement

VR art with the coming of the era of “virtual reality” has come into being a new and independent category of art. In “Virtual Reality: an Empirical-Metaphysical Testbed”, VR art has the following definition: “In virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applied to the artificial intelligence technology as a means of media art form, we call it virtual reality, art or art of VR.” Can VR art control the art world and change the way art is consumed and even sold? As the most technical art form at the forefront of this storm, how can we re-examine VR art and the impact of VR art on museums.  This has increasingly become a topic worth discussing. This paper starts with the introduction of a brief history of VR art, and discusses in depth the representative and forward-looking artists and their works in the FIELD of VR art. Through layer by layer analysis, it leads to the current situation and existing problems of VR art. Finally, the significance and development prospects of VR art are summarized to explore VR art practice in more depth.

Contact

Yuting.hou@mail.bcu.ac.uk

Degree

Arts and Project Management

Ella Oakley

The Arts and Project Management MA has allowed me to fully cultivate an understanding of the behind-the-scenes happenings of art organisations, cultural spaces, and visual arts projects.

My Final Major Project consists of a Research Paper and Project Plan. The research paper explores public art and memorial culture, accumulating qualitative and quantitative data to aid and enable a highly successful and competent project. Over the Rainbow is a project which aims to provide a memorial for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The public art memorial comes at a pivotal time for the architecture of public spaces in Birmingham. The city centre has few contemporary art sculptures and memorials, therefore I aim to provide a place of remembrance and connect communities in the West Midlands.

The Over the Rainbow memorial is for the living, not for the dead. It is crucial to remember the dead but support and solidarity is needed for the people still alive today; the people who are left behind. The key areas and explorations of the project are explored through my Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes, which are explained in the image below:

Public art offers critical reflections on the past, our present and our understandings of daily life. “It is impossible to have a society that is civil and educated without public art, it lifts up humanity and challenges the individual who encounters it to think differently about the world” (Walker, D cited by Laneri, R 2009). Traditional public art memorials historically form a literal representation and are hard to interact with, they form a strict formal boundary between them and the viewer. The familiarity of these monuments provides a metaphorical list of instructions on how to act or feel.

People are more likely to become active participants with contemporary public memorials, as many have no boundaries. The public is invited to make their own mind up, use their own imagination and to sometimes form their own meaning and interpretation of the piece. They are able to morph their own experiences and opinions with the artists’ and each other. The design of the Over the Rainbow memorial is pivotal, will the sculpture hide in the comfort of the literal or can it conjoin the contemporary?

I decided during the duration of the planning stage that in order for this memorial to be successful, a strong design concept and depiction is essential. The Over the Rainbow memorial aims to be a ‘collective anchor point’, this concept is explored by Kevin Lynch: “Collective anchor-points construct deep integration with individuals and become part of their ‘mental map’ of the city”, (Lynch, K 1960). I completed a mood board of initial inspirations found on Pinterest.com which can be seen in the screenshot below:

Please visit my blog where I articulate the progress of my Final Major Project paper. Outlined are my initial ideas and inspirations for the research paper and project; key areas of research; information and explanations regarding the questionnaire I conducted and why it was essential to my research; the project plan and vital exploration and lastly, my critical evaluation.

www.ellaoakleyartblog.wordpress.com

Artist Statement: I am a practising artist based in Birmingham and currently working as an Exhibitions Coordinator at the RBSA Gallery. I have a passion for operations, logistical and curatorial management within an arts environment. My artistic inspirations stem from the natural form, examining the relationship between the maternal bond and separation. I work predominately with fine-art-textile, producing sculptures that metaphorically represent this connection. I form hand-constructed woven or knitted textiles and combine other materials like plaster. These inspirations are emotive and explore the turbulent relationship between motherhood and feminism and also touch on the corporeal nature of the female human body with the abject.

Contact: email: ellaoakley002@gmail.com instagram: ellaoakleyyyart blog: www.ellaoakleyartblog.wordpress.com

References: Lynch, K (1960). The Image of the City, The M.I.T Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England. Available: http:// www.miguelangelmartinez.net/IMG/pdf/ 1960_Kevin_Lynch_The_Image_of_The_City_book.pdf. Last accessed 14.8.20.

Walker, D cited by Laneri, R, (2009). Why We Love–And Need–Public Art. Available: https:// www.forbes.com/2009/05/05/state-of-the-city-opinions-george-rickey-public- art.html#77bb29d342be. Last accessed 3.8.20.

Oheneba Mensa-Bonsu

Theatre is a collaborative art
A production at the South African State Theatre. Photo credit: Facebook.

Theatre and the COVID-19 Pandemic: the implications of COVID-19 on Ghanaian Theatre Practice

Research paper 2020

For this paper, I used theatre practitioner-based interview questionnaires to research the impact of COVID-19 on theatre practice and the alternative presentational forms that can be used to ensure that this sector continues to adapt and grow despite world-wide ‘lock-downs’. Due to my experience and knowledge of Ghanaian theatre, the main case study focus was the Ghanaian theatre and arts sector.

Photo credit: ASASE YAA African American Dance Theatre

Statement

As an international student who saw the worldwide impact of the pandemic whilst being aware of social and economic climate back home in Ghana, I wondered how my home country would brave the storm that is COVID-19. Watching in earnest as the British government took measures to curb the spread of the disease, I wondered how the Ghanaian government was going to handle the global implications of the pandemic and its effects on our economy, especially the arts sector. The Ghanaian art sector (especially the theatre space), an already struggling area is far behind things like STEM education which was seeinga rapid pace of growth and improvement. Hence, this pandemic left the theatre space in a very uncertain predicament. This realisation led me to ask myself a few questions: what would be the new way of theatre in this ‘new-norm’? This was the motivation that inspired me to research more into the subject area.

Keys areas looked at include:

Digital Inclusion
Socio-economic impact
Alternative forms of the practice

Contact

kmensabonsu@gmail.com

Degree

MA Arts and Project Management

Links

Photo credit: ASASE YAA African American Dance Theatre

Xuechun Yu

Statement

Xuechun is a 3D artist in exploring the relationship between real and virtual objects. She currently specializes in digital jewellery visuals and video. 

Her practice is informed by her early roots in crafts and visual design and her further evolution into digital design. She also creates experimental work for interdisciplinary practice.

Contact

Artist Website

angelicadesignshop@gmail.com

Degree

MA Art and Design

Simulacra-Dynamism in virtual space, 2020, video, 1’30”

This video is divided into three parts: flowing colours, dancing jewellery, and a virtual shop called Simulacra. She developed the theme of Simulacra for her exhibition, which explores the central theme of dynamism in virtual space.

Emblem series
Dancing masks season one
Dancing masks season two

Tap to see more virtual products

Based on the exploration of materials and dynamics, she is fascinated by the combination of experiment and uncertainty, real and virtual, the 3D form of digital jewellery, which can simulate the real and transcend the real existence. When attached to the digital material, the unexpected effect of watercolour provides surprises for designer and audience. The exhibition also aims to provide the audience with an immersive experience.

Dandan Xu

In-Between Series, 2020, installation

In-Between Series

2020,video

In-Between Series expresses the sense of distance between people, between two countries, and between the surface of the body and the heart. This series uses a brush and a bottle of ink as the connecting objects, which are transferred layer by layer. Participants will write down the names of the people they miss during the lockdown on their skins and use videos to record behaviors to reduce the distance between people during infectious diseases. Combining the concept of the city, the private space and the public space are combined to present the relationship between people and public space to the audience.

In-Between Series1

Video, 4’45”, 2020

In-Between Series2

Video, 0’35”, 2020

In-Between Series3

Video, 8’25”, 2020

In-Between Series4

Video, 5’05”, 2020

In-Between Series5

Video, 2’57”, 2020

In-Between Series6

Video, 1’13”, 2020

In-Between Series7

Video, 5’00”, 2020

In-Between Series8

Video, 17’57”, 2020

Statement

Xu Dandan is an artist who recently explored the role of skin as a subject and medium in contemporary art. As well as the relationship between the body and public space. Through these elements, the audience feels a sense of strangeness and distance. This strangeness comes from the potential relationship between private space and public space, the transformation of the known and the unknown.

The major project is based on practice and uses video recording behavior as a response method to COVID-19. Participants included some people isolated in the UK, including herself. Even in harsh environments, short-term joy usually comes from artistic and collective expression. The coronavirus will change the way we work and study. However, this will not eliminate the body’s desire for public space.

Contact

1091720429@qq.com

dandan.xu@mail.bcu.ac.uk

Degree

Contemporary Arts China

Yushan Su

Birmingham Chinatown Brand Design and Wayfinding Design

05/2020-08/2020

07/2020 Birmingham Chinatown Photographer Yushan Su

Designer Personal Website please see here: https://ysu398.wixsite.com/yushan

My major project focus on design a visual identity system and a guide icon system. At the same time, I will think about two specific problems, how to create graphic memory for the target audience? And Does continuous graphics is a good way to spread the brand image? I trying to use filed work, photography, drawing, software and reference review as methodology which help me understand the characteristics of Birmingham Chinatown.

The logo inspired by Birmingham Selfridges and Chinese chopsticks and I use red and black as the main colours. I chose IMPACT typography as the English character, Black Body – Simple typography as the Chinese character. Because they give the audience a strong visual effect and a sense of weight so that the audience can be better impressed with the logo.

Birmingham Chinatown Brand Design
Birmingham Chinatown Brand Support Graphics
07/2020 Birmingham Chinatown Photography Yushan Su

Lilli Whitham

Statement

I am an artist and educational professional based in Birmingham. This past year, I have been involved with research exploring the role of public arts and developing ethical engagement strategies for arts organisations. My interest in socially engaged work stems from my working experiences and previous career path in arts education. I view the arts as a powerful political and social tool to express the emotions and struggles of shared human experience. It is important to break down cultural barriers and use the arts to open a channel of communication.

Contact

Lilli.Whitham@mail.bcu.ac.uk

lilliwhithamillustration@outlook.com

Degree

Arts and Project Management

How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?

Report, 2020

Following from my research undertaken in Research in Practice and my interest in socially engaged work, I wanted to explore how ethical considerations are applied by organisations in the commissioning and supporting of artists’ work that is participative yet pushes boundaries. The findings from my Research in Practice resulted in the following areas of potential further research:

  1. To examine if ethics can be separated from aesthetics in participatory practice and the impact this has on arts organisations in terms of funding policies and commissioning new works.
  2. To explore the role of the artist in socially engaged practices – should artists be working for societal benefit as educators and facilitators or is the role of the artist to be antagonistic and divisive, to unsettle cultural and societal notions of economy and exchange?
  3. To examine how best is social change and justice realised – through education and representation or politicizing the public?

My current research is following on from this exploratory topic – Can ethics be separated from aesthetics? This question will inevitably have an impact on arts organisations’ decisions regarding curation and programming, funding policies and new commissioning available to artists.

Initially I was interested in how arts organisations considered ethics in commissioning transgressive work and the impact this has on artists producing transgressive work with participants. This proved to be difficult to gather primary research; the topic is sensitive, and participants were reluctant to engage with the research question. My research aims, on reflection, were too binary for this complex subject.

Following the interview with an NAE former creative producer, I became more focused on how arts organisations relate to audiences and the ethics of engagement in museum practices:

  • How does this affect curating decisions, programming and the public display of artwork?
  • How do arts organisations consider ethics when evaluating art for public display, in order to be accountable to their audiences/users?

This led to a re-development of my research aims and finalisation of the research title:

Most of this research has been informed by reading materials, desk research and critical analysis of case studies. More primary research could have been utilised, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic many arts organisations were closed with their staff on furlough. I received several apologetic replies from organisations unable to contribute to my primary research at this present time. A detailed evaluation of the research methodology is available in the appendix of this report. I have used Harvard referencing. Numbered footnotes are included.

How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?

This report examines ethical considerations in the public display of art by arts organisations and museums. First, I have evaluated ethical philosophies and their applications to art, outlining the distinctions between ethics and morality. I have critically examined the ethical responsibilities of arts organisations to audiences as they respond to moral attitudinal shifts and how this can influence decisions on curation and context within temporary exhibitions. Further to this, the ethical duties of arts organisations to be accountable to audience’s social and cultural needs have been considered and how this is reflected through an ethics of engagement, representation and authentic authorship. I have addressed how arts organisations can respond to changes in cultural, social and moral attitudes to re-contextualise problematic biographies and histories of collections using progressive educational strategies of ethics.

 My research has developed an exploration of how four recommendations of progressive educational ethics could be applied within the arts organisation/ museum to respond to social and cultural shifts and contextualise historical art collections on public display (adapted from (Hein, 2010) (Dewey, 1916):

  1. Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) should question and represent dualisms in order to address social inequalities. 
  2. The goal of education should be further education. Art should provide the resources for repeated and continued inquiry and alternative methods of enquiry; Arts organisations should be spaces for open ended questioning and interpretation.  
  3. Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) need to reflect, challenge and examine their practices continually in order to respond to the needs of their audiences. This practice should enable opportunities for meaning making and feeling. 
  4. Connect educational work and exhibition programming to life and contemporary struggles in culture and society. Exhibition programming (and art practices in the public realm) should centre life experiences and connect to situations outside the arts organisation that reflect complexities in live human experience. 

Factors such as exhibition programming and audience demographics can influence the social and cultural ethical considerations in the display of contemporary artworks. As custodians of collections, arts organisations need to exercise a certain level of objectivity that enables them to evaluate a work’s contribution to knowledge and education. However, ethical responsibility in their display necessitates consideration of human social interaction. As society’s moral attitudes shift, the contextualisation of collections also needs to be responsive. This research is extremely relevant to the contemporary issues faced by museums, who are increasingly being required to address Britain’s colonial past. I have outlined how these progressive educational ethics can be deployed as a working strategy for a current solution to contextualising Britain’s historical public statues. Currently arts organisations respond to social and cultural changes using reactive practices, how could these four educational ethical principles be used instead to develop strategies of pro-active responsible action and influences social change – to develop activism? Tate is currently conducting a programme of research, ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum’ (Tate, 2018), to consider new models for the conservation and management of contemporary works of art. Research on the development of collective memory ecologies, I feel is particularly relevant to the cultivation of activism within arts organisations. Could the four principles of progressive educational ethics be implemented as a framework for the continuous re-interpretation of our collections that proactively challenges historical collective memory, therefore developing and influencing memory ecologies and engaging publics with activism? This topic could be explored further in a PhD proposal.