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Led by Dr Mel Jordan, Reader in Art & the Public Sphere, the Contemporary Art Practice programme has specialist pathway leaders in order to facilitate a distinct engagement with specific areas of contemporary art practice. The programme is delivered through four pathways: Critical Practice (led by Jeremy Millar), Moving Image (led by Jane Wilson), Performance (led by Professor Nigel Rolfe) and Public Sphere (led by Mel Jordan).

The Contemporary Art Practice programme enables us to incorporate practices that exceed the specificity of the well-established disciplines of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Contemporary Art Practice engages with contemporary modes of art production, dissemination and debate. It facilitates specialisation through its pathway structure enabling students to engage with a particular approach to developing their own art practice. The teaching methodology we employ is not technologically or materially determined however students are expected to utilise appropriate and specific means in which to manifest their ideas. Contemporary Art Practice students have access to all facilities within the School of Fine Art.

Critical theory has emerged as an essential intellectual framework for art criticism but what is its potential as a tool within the production of contemporary art? Studio-based and primarily focused on supporting the development of the artistic practice of its students, the Critical Practice pathway offers regular seminars exploring emerging ideas and bodies of theory as well as opportunities to work with organised forms of knowledge such as public archives and institutions.

Moving Image is aimed at artists using film and video, and practitioners working in the areas of documentary film, film and fiction cinema as well as practitioners who wish to draw upon, challenge and re-map established realms of Moving Image based practices. The diversity of approaches employed in the Moving Image pathway reflects the new reality of contemporary moving image.

Performance happens in the ‘here and now’ and not the ‘there and then’. Unlike many practices, where time is historic, and the image presented is necessarily an archive or record, ‘being and doing’ are more immediately significant in live time, and the expectation is that – in the contemporary – artists are often presenting work that is not made in advance but rather happening now!

Public Sphere is a major research area in the School, and the pathway supports expanded engagement with art and its publics as well as art’s social function. Social art practices have featured as a key force in the rise of the global biennale as well as being utilized by the Occupy Movement. Therefore questions about public space, participation, collaboration and collective action are becoming essential principles within the production of contemporary art both in terms of practice and theory.

Your application should be for MA Contemporary Art Practice and you will have to specify in which Pathway you wish to study: Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance or Public Sphere. 

The programme offers:

  •  specialisation through its pathway structure enabling students to engage with a particular approach to developing their own art practice through the pathways of Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance and Public Sphere   
  •  a commitment to developing and foregrounding the conceptual and social ideas in an individual students practice   
  •  a teaching methodology which is not technologically or materially determined that encourages students to utilise appropriate and specific means for making contemporary fine art now   
  • a teaching structure that incorporates content-led approaches to the teaching of Fine Art through lectures and seminars to enable students’ engagement with the histories, theories and expanded practices of Fine Art
  • individual and group tutorial and cross school group crits, facilitated by leading practitioners and thinkers
  • a critical discursive environment in which to discuss contemporary issues for thinking about, making and displaying contemporary fine art 
  • a flexible studio space that can be utilised collectively or individually 
  • access to a range of technical facilities across the school of Fine Art including the Moving Image Studio, traditional and digital printmaking, photography and wood and metal workshops 
  • access to college-wide technical workshops
  • an on-going programme of off-site events, exhibitions and commissions
  • opportunities for teaching placements, exhibitions, overseas travel and international exchanges (including Paris and Kyoto)

Visit the Contemporary Art Practice - MA page on the Royal College of Art website for more details!

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