Messy Democracy, Hanover Project, Hanover Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2XQ
Open 9:00-17:00, Monday – Friday
Opening Event Monday 9th April 2018
Student Control of the University!
Students at the University of Central Lancashire are taking over creative control of Hanover Project for the month of April; in an event, they have titled ‘Messy Democracy’. This will involve the university’s students, not staff, deciding what work to show in Hanover Project, how to use that gallery, and whether it will remain a gallery at all!
Messy Democracy will take place in Hanover Project from 9th–27th April 2018. Throughout this period, the gallery will be cladded in chipboard, transforming the space into an arena of live art production. The exhibition will function as a space of student-led learning and making, a counter-institution running parallel to the Department of Fine Art.
UCLan students have welcomed this opportunity, and are planning an ambitious series of actions for April, including wall drawing, writing workshops, durational performance, sonic art, zine making, and even the re-location of their lecturer’s workspaces to the gallery. Students have devised each action in order to address concerns they raised in a series of workshops staged by artist collective @.ac in February and March as a session of their ongoing project The Precarious University.
Some students who attended these sessions also formed an art collective called THE FEMINISTS, who will be in residence in Hanover Project throughout the duration of Messy Democracy. This will result in the installation/performance CUNTHOUSE that will span the duration of the exhibition. The work references the Womanhouse exhibition of 1972, a project resulting from a pioneering alternative art course taught by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro that explored issues including ‘women’s work’, money, ambition, sexuality, parenting, power, clothing, body image and violence.
Messy Democracy will comprise a collective curatorial process negotiated between participants, making the exhibition itself a shared space of mutual ethical commitments. Each action will result in an exhibit within the space and over the course of three weeks; participants will negotiate one another’s contributions. The results will be a suitably messy experiment in democracy prioritising ‘difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems’ (Foucault in Deleuze and Guattari 2003: xv).
This experiment in student-led education is part of an initiative by @.ac, designed to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the various occupations of universities and art schools, which spread across the country in 1968. The so-called ‘sit-ins’ art schools in Leeds, Guildford, Brighton, Croydon, and most famously Hornsey, involved students taking over
their institutions to demand changes to the educational system. These events gained notoriety, not only due to the anarchic and spectacular nature of these protests, but also because of a perception that these radical student groups were squandering an education paid for out of hard earned tax payers money. However, times have changed and, since 2010, students pay for the cost of university education out of their student loans.
Richard Hudson-Miles, artist and member of @.ac stated, ‘art schools have always been spaces of revolution and experiment, but now you have to pay £9,250 a year to access that. At the same time, you get very little say in how that money is spent. In some small way, giving the art school back to its students for a month is a way of challenging that dynamic’. Third year BA Fine Art student Annie Anderson states, ‘Being part of the Precarious University has been both challenging and inspirational. The depth of conversation and passion felt by workshop participants immediately struck me. The exhibition in Hanover Project will, I hope, reflect some of the many things we discussed.’ Andy Broadey UCLan lecturer and member of @.ac states, ‘we are interested in creating process-led exhibitions, whose structure is flexible enough to enable participants to define the form of their realisation’.
‘Messy Democracy’ will run from 9-27th April 2018, in Hanover Project, Hanover Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2XQ
Open 9:00-17:00, Monday – Friday.
Opening Event Monday 9th April 2018