Somewhere between Mark’s mural and the Amazon lockers. Over the road from the picket line, past the bins at the back end of the field, and the lights left on in Studio B.
Where reputation meets ambition and we eat well to do well.
Finding we still have a bit of time and a bit of space.
Digging in against the commuter traffic and the biting east coast wing that ushers out these long evenings.
We line up to stamp our time sheets.
Clocking in, clocking off, pushing on, pushing on.
Shout out to Archie Smith, this year’s Junior Fellow for the BA Fine Art and History of Art course at Goldsmiths. I think the above text, written for the degree show this year, might be the most beautifully concise degree show text I’ve ever read.
Texts in degree show publications often try to fill in all the inevitable blanks. Archie instead just hints at a range of topics, a drive-by hinting at internal gossip and false representations — everything degree shows aren’t supposed to be about but inevitably require those on their way out of the institution to painfully come to terms with.
I love degree shows for this. They’re so weird and pointless. They mean everything to the people that are in them but likely remain opaque to all their polite visitors. They’re meant to be the culmination of three years of study but such an experience is surely impossible to distil into a piece of work, tucked in the corner of an outbuilding given a temporary makeover.
Degree shows are futile exercises and all the more fun for that reason. They’re absurd and the best ones embrace that fact. Goldsmiths knows this best, I think. Better than any other university I’ve been to. They futureproof the feelings of anticlimax by making sure each degree show after party is so insane and excessive that no one could possibly feel like they have missed out on some necessary release.
The high fashion strutting that is always a feature of the opening night is just performative foreplay for the low brow mayhem to follow.
What Archie captures in his text, tellingly elusive and concise, is everything bubbling under the surface of the process of letting-go, hinting at just some of what this year’s graduates have been through, the contradictions inherent to a modern neoliberal university, and particularly one which likes to think of itself as somewhat “radical”.
A further shout out must go to Kitty McKay, whose work in the show was perhaps my favourite, for similar reasons. It also did well to summarise these contradictions and tensions, framing them within the tensions of the country at large, making them even more implicit and far-reaching, but smuggled into a version of the mayhem to follow, taking form as a series of phrases and statements, critical and scathing, an abstract karaoke, prompts crawling along the bottom of a screen showing a montage of newsreel footage and her own videos.
Until next year.