Some photos of the great exhibition SustainLab curated earlier this month and exhibition text below...
From left to right: RCA Sustainability Report 2020, Betty Brunfaut & Magda Tritto / Half Adam, Shir Raz / Ebb And Flow, Harriet Hellman / Ask The Moor, Ed Carr / Making Plastic Precious Again, Woo Jin Joo / Air Pigment Machine, Peter Green / Future Wardrobe, Eva Lili Bartha / Forest Listening, Liz K Miller / Selk’nam Calling , Tere Chad
‘Freeform’ 3D Weaving, Sylwia Orynek / Making Plastic Precious Again, Woo Jin Joo
Half Adam, Shir Raz / Ebb And Flow, Harriet Hellman / Ask The Moor, Ed Carr
Ask The Moor, Ed Carr
Japanese Knotweed Project, Marina Belintani
Making Plastic Precious Again, Woo Jin Joo
‘Sustainability’ is often used for different industrial means in the name of providing ecologically sustainable services and products. The frequent use of the term can numb its relevance. As social media accounts flood with new ‘sustainable’ consumer brands, an eco-friendly conscience has become something that one can buy into rather than practice, making one question the difference between the two. Here we ask, what does sustainability mean today and how can art practices respond to this diluted term? Sustain Lab, an extra-curricular society at the Royal College of Art, is pleased to present a broad range of works by students from practices across the university, departing from the term which the society draws its name.
Divided into four sub-themes, the exhibition unearths alternative modes of thought, allowing a nuanced and expanded vision of what a sustainable mindset means today. The first sub-theme Changing Landscapes displays works that are inspired by the shorelines of the British coast to the hills of the North Yorkshire moors. By revisiting visions of the landscapes through their material markers, the works? re-examine current human attitudes to those contexts. Speculative Scenarios provide alternative forms of production; through fashion, power and farming industries, old and new ways of working are postulated: crops may fail but ideas re-root. The works in Afterlife prove that our culture of waste can be disassembled by re-approaching the un-used and left over residue of our consumption. Finally, Sustainability at the RCA is an institutional critique of the university's current actions and promises towards a sustainable university, bringing to light the discrepancies between the visions of the students and those in charge.
Sustain lab was set up in 2016 as a Student Union society in response to the closure of the college’s own SustainRCA department. Recognising the importance of maintaining a dedicated space for sustainability, the intention of the society is to support, champion and nurture a critical sustainable mindset and practice of the artists and designers of the future. In holding workshops and open crits, Sustain Lab provides a space to make, debate and ponder on the relations between art practice and impacts on the environment.
At the time of writing this exhibition text, academic tutors belonging to UCU Union are currently on strike at RCA and across the country. Staff are striking for four reasons: To end casualisation and rising job insecurity, Tackle rising workloads, Address the gender, race, and disability pay gaps, Gain pay awards at, or above, the rate of inflation. Whilst our exhibition focuses on the use of sustainable materials within the institution we would also like to acknowledge and pledge support for those who are fighting for sustainable careers, workloads and a fairer institution to work.