An impressive display of work across a very broad spectrum from this year's graduate students at the Royal College of Art. My companion and I concentrated our attention on the exhibitions from the RCA’s Fine Art department at the new site in Battersea; these works encompassed traditional framed artwork on the wall, photobooks, video work, sculptures, installations and environments, performance work and even a performance work where we were invited to step on to a set and participate as actors in a drama. Much of the work seems to have been the result of collaboration which the college has specifically cultivated between workshops whose titles would otherwise indicate separate skills. I was struck but the imagination and detail of the pieces, my companion noticed the high standard of workmanship overall.
Trends I noticed included a move away from short descriptions or explanations of the piece; many pieces stood without explanation, others displayed a quote or a theme which was a starting point for their work. Some sculptures had additional notes in a handout in newspaper format whilst some of the contributions to the photobook Waving Flags interweaved text and pictures in almost equal area on the page.
Several elaborate video productions although the most striking for me was the incorporation of video within sculpture, using the image on the screen as an extension of the physical sculpture. Another used a sound hotspot to convey sound without needing to wear headphones. Those videos shown on cube displays based on cathode ray tubes suffered from the dimness of the display.
Output media I noticed included duotone printing on paper, litho painting on metal plates, painting on a plastic laminate like Formica, and numerous uses of 3-D printers - the reality is that that are becoming available in larger sizes. There was an experimental deconstruction of a movie which intercut two locations: the two concurrent scenes were played on separate screens at right angles. Another multi-screen display showed members of the same family telling their stories. A display of prints (Sharon Whyte) of a performance by a pair of Japanese mime artists was arranged in a booth like at a fairground, stepping inside to view the display gave an experience which I found powerful, it was an interesting combination of sequential art and an installation.
A sculpture installation of two life-size wax figures made in wax and then partially decomposed (by melting) was particularly striking to both of us because of the visceral horror it evoked.
It's difficult for beauty to stand out in the exhibition context as horror naturally grabs attention, particularly once viewing fatigue takes hold.
We played the game of “if you could take just one…” My companion would have taken one of the lacquered body armour pieces; I chose the impressive sculpture by Damian Kapojos which dominated one of the sculpture spaces with its larger-than-lifesize tormented figures. The action of the piece depicts passion and develops the medieval imagery and colours of passion. It won’t fit in my living room so reluctantly it stays at the RCA...