Our Contagious Materiality, May 2020

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How can artists and visual sociologists invent and translate their problems?

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(image credit: Floriane Misslin- florianemisslin.com)

How can we make our materials - generated through artistic or visual sociological problems - more likely to spread and affect others?

We invite you to join us on Wednesday 13th May, 5-6.30pm, for a series of short talks in which speakers address how we might translate and ‘make contagious’ our materials and materiality so that our problems can be inventively shared with others.

This set of talks will mark the launch of a challenge, to be taken up by the staff and alumni of Goldsmiths’ MA Visual Sociology, to translate one piece of current social research into a new kind of media, or present the problem through a different kind of materiality.

The event has been enabled by the generous support of The Methods Lab, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Please sign up using this Eventbrite. A link for the live online platform and also (hopefully!) live streaming on You Tube will be emailed to you on Wednesday morning.

Our inspiration

The artist and educator Caitlin Yardley - one of our speakers - recently posted on Facebook, that for artists:

“studio practice beyond art school is often isolated, unfunded and deeply reliant on inventive/strategic/desperate attempts to make something from nothing - which eventually gives way to revealing that there is never nothing. There is ALWAYS something to work with, something to turn upside down, something to tear apart, burn, trace, sketch, design, develop, research, build - something to respond to, something to challenge and always to question.”

Event Details


Nina Wakeford (Reader, Departments of Art and Sociology, Goldsmiths)

Ali Eisa (Lecturer in Art, Goldsmiths)

Michael Guggenheim (Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths)

Caitlin Yardley (BA Visual Art faculty, Curtin University)

The event will use a webinar format, beginning at 5pm.

Each speaker has been asked to prepare a 15 minute provocation. There will then be short Q & A session, followed by the introduction to the MA Visual Sociology Alumni Challenge.

After this event, over five days, fitting around their other employment and domestic commitments, and over multiple time zones, MA Visual Sociology alumni and staff will collaborate to translate, into a new form of media or material, a sociological finding from a recent journal article. They will present their results at a follow up webinar on Monday 18th May.

Biographical Notes

Nina Wakeford is Reader in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London where she teaches on the MFA and also convenes the MA Visual Sociology. She makes artworks that begin with the unfinished business of past social movements, and the challenges of revisiting the energies that these movements created. Nina is interested in how identification and disidentification occur, empathy and inhabitation, and the risks of staying loyal or respectful to the kinds of materials that initiate her work. She has also made contributions to Science and Technology Studies.

Her recent work includes: We Will Replace All Men With Machines (Barbican Centre, 2019) Our Pink Depot: The Gay Underground FLO-N202-236000000-TRK-MST-00002-SAY-HELLO-WAVE-GOODBYE-KEN-NIE-BPS (Book Works with Art on the Underground, 2019), On Being Allergic to Onions… We Read Susan Leigh Star (Science Gallery London, 2020) and a forthcoming commission for Stevenage Council as part of the New Town: New Art initiative.

Nina is the co-editor, with Celia Lury, of Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social (Routledge, 2012) a collection of essays that explores, amongst other things, how research might better work with openness and ambiguity.

Ali Eisa is a London based artist and researcher known as half of Lloyd Corporation. He graduated with an MA in Visual Sociology in 2013 and a BA in Fine Art Practice in 2010, both Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been using unconventional (and conventional) means of sociological study to explore, expand, complicate and re-imagine cultures of ‘making’.

Exhibitions of his work include Mirror City (curated by Stephanie Rosenthal), Hayward Gallery, London; This is Visual Sociology, Goldsmiths, London; Austerity & the Body, AutoItalia South East, London; Flow (with Eric Bell and Kristoffer Frick), Peles Empire, London; Competing Temporalities, Carlos/Ishikawa, London; Consumme, Henry Kinman Gallery, London; When People are Silent Stones Speak, GIG, Copenhagen, Denmark and Speak, Memory, N/V Projects, London.

Lloyd Corporation is a collaborative project with Sebastian Lloyd Rees (NOR). Their work is often focussed on informal and local economies, exploring how they raise critical issues of consumerism, globalization and urban development. Their work includes sculpture, installation, performance and text, as well as developing new approaches to collaborative practice and public intervention.

Michael Guggenheim (Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths) has studied in Zürich and Berlin, and obtained a PhD in Sociology in 2005 from the University of Zürich.  Prior to coming to the UK, Michael worked and researched in Budapest, Vienna, Montreal, and Berlin. Michael has taught both artists at art schools and natural scientists at technical universities, which has informed his understanding of how to teach sociology and how it can be used to intervene in the world. He has always found it important to work and experiment with different media and produce both theoretical texts but also visual and sensory works.

Michael teaches on the MA in Visual Sociology and convenes a number of undergraduate options such as Visual Exploration of the Social World and Food and Taste.

Michael also worked with colleagues Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll on an approach that they called “incubation” that combines sociology and art. Currently, they are working on a project "In the Event of... Anticipatory and Participatory Politics of Emergency Provision". Previously, Michael was a co-curator of "die wahr/falsch inc.", an exhibition on science and the public in Vienna.

Caitlin Yardley is a London based artist and for the last ten years has been teaching on the BA Visual Art online for Curtin University, Australia. She completed her MFA (Art Practice) at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2012 and a MA (Visual Arts) at Edith Cowan University, Perth in 2007. Her practice draws on institutional research, documentary and material abstraction as methodologies to consider the archive and its relationship to constructions of distance, influence and narrative. Her work investigates the way objects and images are framed by cultural narratives and how institutional and personal narratives might intersect, giving meaning to the object in contingent circumstances. 

Caitlin's work often develops from time spent with archives and collections, most recently with the Helsinki Design Museum. This new project considers how objects might simultaneously inhabit our world and be a lens from which to view it.

Recent exhibitions and screenings include: Eclipse Sequence, HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, curated by Laura Toots & Marten Esko of EKKM Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (2019); Mobile Composition, Maison Louis Carré with Association Alvar Aalto, Paris (2017); Exterior A as part of Alvar Aalto – Art & the Modern Form, Ateneum, National Gallery of Finland (2017).

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Organiser MA Visual Sociology

Organiser of Our Contagious Materiality, May 2020

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