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Central St Martin's Fine Art Grad Show

Dazed speaks to a few of the most talented Art & Design students at the prestigious London college

Central St Martins College of Art and Design has a reputation spanning decades, boasting an alumni that includes filmmaker Mike Leigh, Paul Simonon of the Clash, author Richard Millward, Hussien Chalayan, Lucien Freud and Faris Badwan of The Horrors. But the focus this time is on the Fine Art MA. Founded by Joanna Greenhill, the show marks the end of an era in two ways since this was Greenhill last show as head of the department and also the last one before the college relocates to Kings Cross in autumn 2011. Josh Baum, Ami Clarke and Funa Ye were three of the artists that stood out. Dazed was lucky enough to catch up with them to find out what brought them to this point, and how they might move forward.

Funa Ye

Funa Ye created filmed moving portraits of herself dressed as members of her family, who are from China, over a period of time. Dressed as him and other family members she recreates actual family photographs as she mimes to a tape recording of her grandfather as is played very quietly through the semi static photograph (in the photograph of her grandfather). Drawing from Cindy Sherman the show was also reminiscent of the idea of re written histories.

Dazed Digital: You use the history of your family for your show, with quite wonderful results, how would you move forward? Would you always work with human stories?
Funa Ye:
The next plan is hard to say, on the one hand the subject of family history is worth developing further, on the other hand there are many other ideas in my mind. I have not decided yet how to go next, although there are many difficulties. But I think it is just beginning, everything is in a good direction.

In fact, we all live in history, but we are not conscious. In a very chaotic, mindless reality, we cannot see the future, so we often in a quandary. We tend to look back and bring back memories. Recalling the past time bring me the incentive to work. People do not only have the ability to remember, people also have the ability to forget, and those who can not be forgotten is become a post -memory. I think that post - memory is not just history, but also a imagination and re-creation. It takes our attention to the time and change.

DD: How did you decide on the concept for your show?
Funa Ye:
Original intention to do this work when I moved to London later, I began to rethink the issue of personal identity. Living in a foreign land made me think about myself, and other people's differences. So I started research on the personal identity and image. This research slowly evolved into a kind of personal history, dating back. I found that every immediate family have more or less influenced me and made me become such a person now. This effect is not only the appearance, and also their experience of the times, social, ethnic and culturally. I decided based on a family member of the youth's portrait photographs to create my work.

DD: How would you progress creatively in an ideal world? What would you do if you could do anything?
Funa Ye:
I think a mature artist should have its own context and concepts consistent. Creativity comes from life, when some ideas formed, as long as life continues, is endless, the key is to have their own discretion, determine what you are good at and what is really touch you. Anything? Aha, I want to travel around the world, in every place to do my solo show, make lots of friends, make life very fulfilling.

Josh Baum

Josh Baum works with text and science. In his show he used water, metal and magnetism to create a show which a little weird and very wonderful. The small sculptures using glass, rocking metal creations and water were the particular favourites as well as the silver balloon tied to a lamppost streets away, floating above the rooftops.

Dazed Digital: Your work marries science and art, where does that come from? What made you choose art over science?
Josh Baum:
I grew up in a family where science was always discussed around the kitchen table, my dad was a doctor, my mum is a painter and two of my brothers are biochemists. I remember my dad used to explain things like movements of the planets and moons using oranges and a cherry and though I loved the ideas of gravity and orbits, even more compelling was the possibility that a cherry could be the moon. I think that if I did choose art over science it is only  because a playfulness of the mind sits more comfortably in art.

DD: How did you decide on the concept for your show?
Josh Baum:
There are many concepts which inspire my work but the idea for the show was to produce a kind of garden. I read a lot about Darwin's garden as a place to wander and experiment, but also a place for pleasure. I like the idea that artworks can be like plants which need tending and watching and that an installation can be a place for the mind wander.There is also a performative aspect to the work where I am usually in the exhibition space like a kind of gardener tweaking and watering the installations.
DD: How would you progress creatively in an ideal world? What would you do if you could do anything?
Josh Baum:
Eventually my practice is rooted in writing and often all the making and performing can be removed like a kind of scaffolding and what remains is a poem or a few lines of writing. So ideally I would like to continue on this path, making and performing but as a way to produce writing and maybe write a book of essays or poems. If I could do anything I would ride whales and make watches or cello bows or study maths or release bigger and bigger silver balloons into the sky on longer and longer threads or maybe no threads!

Ami Clarke

Ami Clarke makes installations using film and sculpture as well as text - namely a funny take on Donald Rumslfeld’s ‘known unknowns’. The central part of the show was a film based around the Fort Worth Water Gardens in Texas USA, this film is viewed though a large frame, the viewers are separated from each other and for the most part from the film which is essentially framed in many different ways depending on where you stand within the installation.

Dazed Digital: You use a variety of media. Would you say that was essential for your work, for what you have to say? How did you incorporate this into your show concept?
Ami Clarke:
I am interested in how the different works in the room might play off one another, yes, and here there are several mediums shown together.  The film is a fairly recent development for me, and I am keen to follow up more of the ideas that evolved along the way whilst producing this particular edit.  The relationships between the works are important and act as a set of coded signs that I would hope correlate through an experiential awareness of being in the works, viewing, reading, and working towards meaning, a diagram if you like of sorts.

I am motivated to consider the gallery in the sense of the potential critical framework that this might provide.  I would hope that the visitor to the work finds themselves being ‘directed’ by the design of the screens, and with that an implicit relationship occurs, touching on ideas with regards participation and engagement, and ultimately authorship. 

I am keen to draw attention to concerns that might exist outside of the gallery space whilst operating within this framework.  Ideas relating to design and architecture drawn from the experience of the screens, say, I would hope relate to a broader picture, and touch on maybe the background ideologies that are apparent in such architecture as the Fort Worth Water Gardens, designed by Phillip Johnson and John Burgee, and referenced in the film.

DD: What would you do if you could do anything?
Ami Clarke:
Pretty much what I am doing now but with more funds to do it with.  Which would mean more time to spend on the work, more space to do it in, and more technical support and back-up.  I am opening a reading room and project space on a platform in Hackney Downs at the end of September, partly funded by an Empty Shops fund award from Hackney Council and some very welcome Arts Council funding.

The project Banner Repeater, named after one of the stop/go signs on the railway, has a strong focus on artists publishing, and will develop a program over the year that includes events, performance and a permanent library for browsing.  Exhibitions will run throughout the year and will consider further, ideas relating to the diagram.