Monday, 23 May 2011

An Explanation of my Degree Show Proposal

The Crooked House

A proposal for the Chelsea College of Art and Design BA Fine Art Degree Show:

Leading from the university rise of fees earlier this year to £9000 per annum for national students, we are now told- “Richest students to pay for extra places at Britain's best universities” (Guardian, May 9th 2011).
The argument originally on everyone’s lips for the rise in fees, was that the country is in financial difficulty; ‘there would being no difference in student intake, as the loaning system would not change’. How can this now be the case when students are able to pay to secure a place that others may be more worthy of? This is a factor that I cannot ignore in the site-specificity of the artwork that I am to. There have been cuts in arts funding, cuts in arts education funding, so what choices do the university of the arts have, and which ones will they make? 

The Crooked House is a participatory performance piece spanning over a week. Hosted by a stereotype London lettings agent, events, including champagne receptions and bookable tours of ‘un-built’ flats will take place in and around a marketing suite at the front of the D Block facing the parade ground in the college. The imaginary flats will be marketed as a ‘way forward for the college to both make money and maybe even house it’s most affluent students’- as Westminster is a sought after place on the property ladder, and the college has such a rich heritage, the flats will be marketed at the appropriate high prices.
An imaginary solution to the cuts in arts education funding, this is also a work that addresses commercialism within the arts, and the rise in rental prices since the recession hit. 

A letting agents worth may not be identified immediately as that of the hostess, however, if the process is actualised to the agent’s full job description, it can be the ‘truest’ form of hospitality. If you stretch the term hostess to the edge of its meaning, it is to make someone feel so ‘at home’ in an environment that the host no longer retains ownership over the space. A lettings agent introduces you to a space, invites you to live there without intrusion, unless asked, in which case will facilitate any need; with the intention to please, to retain custom.

The twist of course, is the custom, the guest ultimately pays for a service, and those who can pay more will receive a better service. In central London, where rental prices are high, you find that overall there is a much better lettings service- suburban budget agencies offer a lot less in service, for example cheap online estate agents who will just do online bookings or a middle of the road company like Foxton’s who will only ever perceive to being hospitable with an advertised drink- These are the agents who do not facilitate a home, they only symbolise the commerce. This tier system of estate agent hospitality is similar to the new to be tier system of education where you pay for what you can afford, where the rich are facilitated, the poor turn to the ‘Open University’ and the rest of us join a course for a cup of free coffee and Amoretti biscuit.

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