Central Saint Martins’ final year art show boasted a colourful and eclectic mix of interdisciplinary art that is as fresh and cool as its students – exactly what the art world needs.
With alumni including Hussein Chalayan, Yinka Shonibare and 2013 Turner Prize Winner Laure Prouvost, Central Saint Martins is a hub for raw, new talent that only seeks one thing – prove itself to the world. This year’s show, made up of works across BA Fine Art and MA Art & Science, Fine Art, Photography and MRes Art, continues to hone Central Saint Martins’ reputation when it comes to the creative energy it harbours.
CSM’s Degree Show One is unusual in its content, and a treat for the eyes when it comes to its form – paintings share the wall with installations, immersive experiences, and regular performances across the room that transport you to other worlds. Upon entering the show, one is greeted by giant sculptures that lead you to the main area, where a student recreated the atmosphere and setting of a nail salon bar. Working around that particular framework, she greets visitors with a smile before proceeding to glam up their nails, while the adjacent space is occupied by another student and his aquaponics water plants (a system of raising fish and plants in a symbiotic cycle) and cosy sofas where one can read books whilst waiting to get one’s nails done, or for a friend to bring beer, or anything – you decide. The beautiful part about CSM’s degree show is that it invites you in a manner that other works of art placed in certain institutions don’t. Here, it is never a question of ‘is this lost glove on the floor art?’ or ‘do you think we can touch this?’ or even ‘can we sit on this or is it part of the work?’, rather it is completely interactive and herein lies the fun aspect of art – art can be fun too, and we more often than not forget it too quickly.
The showstopper of the night was undoubtedly Alexis Marie Sera’s big rock-like installation at the back of the room, which made the entire university look like a meteorite landing platform. After walking around the massive structure and feeling like an ant, you climb up inside only to be confronted by three creatures covered in black oil, wailing, rummaging around, circling around and staring at you –frightening and claustrophobic. Paired with some foreboding sounds, the giant ball opens up at the top to reveal some light, while the creatures moan and wail even more –a fascinating and immersive take that aims to recreate the instance right before death occurs.
Another immersive piece that transformed space and relationship towards the audience is the artists’ massage station, set up by student Yao Wang. The décor of the space, which had been constructed in a white, minimalistic salon, greeted visitors with the distinct sanitised yet seducing smell of all health stations –dentists, hospital, doctors. The crowd watched gleefully while one lucky artist got his shoulders massaged, while the space next to it, which was made to look like its complete antithesis –dark, dimly lit by candles and oozing an aura of mysticism, gathered curious bystanders. The great thing about CSM’s show is that the students blend in with the visitors, and the pieces are transformed whenever someone interacts with them. There is no visible hierarchy, and all are simply happy to experience months of hard work put into everyone’s art.
Other pieces which transport the audience into different immersive worlds and settings use film as a medium, creating sensations rather than linear narratives, such as Henrietta Young’s video installation that places the visitor inside a surgical framework by surrounding him with freshly cut pieces of flesh. Upon entering the space, one is cornered by double projections that emphasize the waiting of a hospital room.
Central Saint Martins proves again that it is filled with fresh, raw energy and talent when it comes to art.
Images by Suzanne Zhang