A Day in the life of a student ambassador!

Hello my name is Megan and I am a student ambassador for the project Animating Art History. Before I get stuck in and tell all about what we’ve been up to, I should probably explain a bit about what Animating Art History actually is! Animating Art History is a project that combines the practices of photography and animating with the skill of observation and research! We work alternately between The Courtauld Institute of Art and Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design to offer a unique opportunity to experience the combined expertise of two institutes and the chance to make the most of their specialist facilities, be they the dark rooms and animation equipment at CSM, or the highly specialised library at The Courtauld and, of course, the gallery!

(See: http://www.courtauld.org.uk/aah/ for more ‘Animating Art History’ info!)

This week we were based at The Courtauld and the session looked particularly at Curation and Narrative. The students began by taking a look around The Courtauld Gallery and considering the relationships between the works of art on the walls. For those of you who are not familiar with the term ‘Curator’ it is basically the person that decides which works of art they want to show and how they want to show them! The process of curating requires a lot of thought and so we were looking to see how and if the decisions of the curators shaped and influenced our understanding about what we were seeing. There are several ways to curate a gallery space – it could be thematic or chronological for example, both ways lending themselves to a particular way of understanding art and its history!

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With these thoughts fresh in our minds, we headed back to The Courtauld Institute for a talk by two current Courtauld students that curated an exhibition at The Institute. It is called ‘INTERACT: Deconstructing Spectatorship’ and the works in the exhibition can be seen hanging up on the walls in out teaching and learning spaces – the aim of which being to liven up the environment that we spend every day studying in. ‘INTERACT’ is particularly interesting because the viewer and the audience of the show are given as much importance as the artworks themselves! The show is arranged (‘curated’) to explore the different ways that we, as viewers, experience art. Check out: www.eastwingbiennial.org for more info!

We then watched a short section of a film called ‘The Clock’ by Christian Marclay that had a recurring theme about time, and considered how a narrative could be constructed through film. Short clips of this 24 hour film can be found on Youtube, and it is certainly worth a watch! Christian Marclay painstakingly selected scenes from other films to create his day-long montage, paying particular attention to ensure that he included clips that showed clocks, watches, and snatches of people saying what time is was so that, when watched from the beginning, whatever time is shown on the film is also the time that it is in real time!

(Check out this link for a short clip! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKHmj83VC78)

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Finally, it was our chance to have a go at curating! By looking through a selection of images and postcards, we came up with a theme of our own and created an imaginary show. The themes that the students came up with included everything from a focus on landscapes, to colour and nudes. Now that we are fully-fledged curators, I wonder what next week holds in store…

For anyone that is free on Sunday 30th March, come along to the next ‘INTERACT’ Open Day between 12-4pm and see the exhibition for yourself!

Megan Youell, Student Ambassador