Arte Útil (Useful Art): A Working Group (Previous Staff-Led Events)

What is Useful Art and what role can it play in our turbulent times?

Join three PhD researchers from the Slade School of Fine Art UCL, to tackle these questions over three days of utility-based participatory investigations.

In the context of artist Tania Bruguera’s current community engagement project and installation at Tate Modern we invite you to The Calthorpe Project, an inner-city community garden and café in Kings Cross, just a short walk from UCL, where we aim to bring together students, academics, and local community organisers to make, cook, eat and talk together.

Building on Calthorpe’s circular economy and living lab themes, each event will bring participants together with invited guests and academics from across disciplines, including anthropology, art theory and philosophy of science to contribute and share specialist knowledge in group discussions.

The sessions each take a different thematic and practical focus, through which we will discuss art and its relationship with utility, investigating recent developments in art theory and practice. In doing so we will explore the overlaps of art, activism and community action, particularly in response to pressing issues such as climate change and sustainability.


Monday 10th December 13:00 – 16:00
Energy ecologies: utopia and the Anthropocene
Lunch followed by making hydrogen for use as a cooking gas.
Led by Nick Laessing, Slade School of Fine Art.

Tuesday 11th December 13:00 – 16:00
Transmutation of value: materials to object, object makes object
Lunch followed by making edible bowls.
Led by Kasia Depta-Garapich, Slade School of Fine Art

Thursday 13th December 12:00 – 17:00
The material body: edible materials and embodied knowledge in making
Making lunch together using the hydrogen stove, to be served in edible bowls.
Led by Ellie Doney, Slade School of Fine Art / Institute of Making

You are all invited (though not compulsory) to bring and share something for the series, for example a short text, or a utility-based object or an action. Please contact us in advance so we can plan this into each session. Up to 20 places are available for each day, participants are welcome to join for more than one session.

More information
Asociación de Arte Útil was initiated by artist Tania Bruguera in 2011. Roughly translated as ‘useful art’, it also suggests art as a tool or device, drawing on artistic thinking to imagine, create and implement tactics that change how we act in society. This working group aims to investigate how art which uses the methods of craft and applied arts, domestic activities and aspects of science and technology, can engage with society usefully and sustainably.

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