MA Innovators Close Central Saint Martins Soho Campus

Fine Arts MA Degree Show Opens For Final Charing X Exhibition

This year’s Central Saint Martins MA Fine Art Show is an historic event, signalling not only the end of the MA Fine Art course in its present form, but also waving goodbye to the iconic Charing Cross Road address hitherto synonymous with the Central St Martins College of Arts and Design. (From September 2011, it will have relocated to a new custom-designed building in King’s Cross, as well as occupying the Byam Shaw School of Art campus at Archway in North London).
The promised program is one ‘driven by a dynamic and self sustaining group of MA students’, ‘keenly aware of the historical significance of the this moment’, who have ‘revelled in the possibilities thrown up by the past and future choices the institution has made’: very often, it does not disappoint.
Among the highlights is Ben Turner’s ‘Landscape: Noon’, comprising a collection of over thirty different reproductions of Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’, which has its genesis in an old family print (lovingly touched up on multiple occasions as the colours faded), but has now matured into a generous reflection on the diverse and subtle identities afforded to a single mass-produced image via unique histories of use.
Lizzy Whirrity’s work, a video-scrolling text-message style conversation being clarified and re-rendered into ‘correct’ English by a prim voiceover, is equally successful, the viewer being presented with (paradoxically) both a commentary on the decay of language usage and a demonstration of the yawning gap between pedantic communicative convention and the easy flow of practical interchange.
The humour of Whirrity’s piece is mirrored in Elsa Phillippe’s video, ‘The Conductor’, in which a band of musicians undergo a nightmarish transformation, their arms becoming instruments, their movements, zombie-esque. Rapidly, the situation deteriorates as the keyboard player is randomly victimized and pursued through the woods by her deranged bandmates.
The crowd-pleaser of the opening night, however, was surely Aimilia Palo’s platforms of sand, aluminum, wood, carpet, perspex, and bin liner, each miked-up to corresponding speakers around the room and echoing and creaking as visitors traversed the surfaces. The piece furthermore improved throughout the evening as more and more sand was kicked from the sandpit onto the aluminum, adding a skin-crawling scratchiness the already-engaging soundscape.
Less flashy, but no less effective, is Helene Sorensen’s ‘Sound Nutrition’ in which an earth plot of wheat seed is blasted at two minute intervals by aviation noise from menacingly-directed speakers, ultimately forcing us to ask questions as to the effect of such pollution on organic organisms, including ourselves. Similarly ominous is Oliver Guy-Watkins ‘Technicolour Process’, the Central Saint Martins’ tuck shop having been transformed into a post-Ice Age apocalyptic vision, replete with an ice-encased computer suite with mouses [sic] dangling from the desks like icicles. In contrast, Kate Barsby celebrates postmodernity, her glitchy pixel-fest ‘Gifs and Jpegs’ championing the texture of digitalisation as the worthy successor to the festished graininess of film.
Given the creative range, generally high quality, and remarkable humour running through so much of the work on show, this MA Fine Art Exhibition represents a worthy end to a piece of art history – Central Saint Martins on the Charing Cross Road. 

The show runs from September 1st – 5th 2011 (10am – 6pm)  Visit The Exhibition

Words/Photo © Thomas Keane ArtLyst 2011 Work illustrated: (courtesy of the artist iyvone Khoo)