BICA and Tate Public Online Lecture Series: Global Futures

Birmingham School of Art in partnership with Tate Liverpool present a series of online public events focusing on the critical issues facing art, artists and the art world in the wake of the pandemic. Birmingham City University aims to foster new and innovative perspectives in arts, design and visual culture in conjunction with galleries, curators, artists and students.

With this in mind we are excited to present our latest lecture series in collaboration with Tate Liverpool.

On Biennale Ecologies: Climate Solidarities, Pedagogies and Radical Change

Date: 4th March 2021
Time: 19.00 - 20.30
Venue: Online

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Features curators Lucia Pietroiusti (Curator, General Ecology project, The Serpentine Galleries) and Serubiri Moses (Writer and Curator, Greater New York 2020 exhibition, MoMA PS1). Our two speakers each presents a short talk, followed by a discussion chaired by Jonathan Harris, former Head of Birmingham School of Art. 

‘Broken Waters’

Through liquidity, toxicity, infrastructure and ritual, this brief talk discusses a series of artistic and curatorial projects dedicated to, or intersecting with, environmental justice and climate balance. The questions at the core of this presentation are: what role(s) might art be able to play in the environmental effort? What is the place of more-than-human thought across deep time? Can a radical, ecological anthropomorphism resist posthuman nihilisms?

‘The School of Anxiety’

Serubiri Moses speaks about the performance organized in the Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Kenya, during 2018, in a corner of the park called Freedom Corner’, with trees that were planted there by the National Council of Women in Kenya in honour of the protest against the arrest of political prisoners. It was part of the itinerant learning environment called The School of Anxiety.

Speakers’ biographies:

Lucia Pietroiusti is the Curator of General Ecology at the Serpentine Galleries, London as well as the curator of Sun & Sea (Marina) by Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte and Lina Lapelyte, the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. At the Serpentine, Pietroiusti founded, programmes and curates the long-term General Ecology project. General Ecology is a strategic, cross-organisational effort dedicated to the implementation of ecological principles throughout the Galleries’ public-facing programmes, internal infrastructure, and networks. General Ecology has presented live events, radio programmes, publications as well as ongoing research projects.

Serubiri Moses is a writer and curator who lives in New York. He is co-curator of Greater New York 2020, MoMA PS1’s survey of contemporary art. Moses was part of the curatorial team for the Berlin Biennale X (2018). From 2013 to 2017 Moses traveled extensively to participate in curatorial residencies, conferences, and juries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. In 2015, Moses held the position of Stadtschreiber at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies and in 2014 he co-curated the second public art biennial in Kampala, KLA ART, entitled Unmapped, and organized a four-volume public program at the Goethe Zentrum Kampala.

Students from MA Contemporary Arts China and the MA Arts and Education Practices put forward the ideas and speakers for this event.

Health, Activism and Social Arts Practice

Date: 25 March 2021
Time: 19.00 - 20.30
Venue: Online

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At this time of rapid social change, economic instability, and global health crises, people have turned to creative and health driven pursuits for self-care, solace, human connection and self-expression.

Socially engaged arts practice has often been at the forefront of activism on social issues addressing current issues within communities. What are the most urgent questions of our time and how can they be addressed through creative and cultural forms? What are the conditions necessary to sustain this focus on creative activity in support of the mental health and wellbeing of individuals and communities? What is the role of the socially engaged artist working with and in communities for active social change? This seminar will pose these questions to both commissioning organisations and artists.

Featuring Sheila Ghelani, UK artist, and Minna Tarkka, Artistic Director of m-cult Helsinki Finland. Our two speakers will each present a short talk, followed by a discussion chaired by Ailbhe Murphy, Artist and Director of Create Ireland.

'Cultivating a Careful Practice'

Sheila will trace a particular line through her practice, thinking about the ‘why, where, who and how’ of her work in relation to health & wellbeing; why she makes work, where her work happens, who she makes work with and the collaborative methods she employs. She will also discuss her own checklist of care - now shared widely amongst artists, and consider why this might be.


Minna Tarkka will speak about m-cult's collaborative programme in Helsinki's Maunula neighbourhood, which they have reframed to focus on long-term processes aiming at building local commons practices and resources. Minna will also discuss a new project that specifically focuses on economies of care.

Maunula Collaborations

Speakers’ Biographies:

Sheila Ghelani is an artist of Indian/English mixed heritage, whose solo and collaborative performances, social art works, installations, texts and videos seek to illuminate and make visible the connections between race, ecology, science, history and the present day. She has made and shown work at venues and festivals across Europe including Belluard Bollwerk International, Fierce Festival, NRLA, Trouble Festival, Sydney's Performance Space and the Wellcome Collection. Since 1995 her attentive, detailed and care 'full' practice has been cross-pollinating ideas, materials, people and places in order to un-settle dominant narratives and make space for those that are (or that which is) in-between, on the edge, in the middle, at the border.

Minna Tarkka is the Artistic Director of m-cult, a researcher, producer, critic and educator of media arts and design. Her areas of expertise are in cultural, social and participatory approaches to new media and technology.

Ailbhe Murphy is an artist and Director of Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in Ireland. Create provides advice and support to artists and arts organisations working cross art form and in collaboration with diverse communities of place and of interest.

From Where I Stand: Alternate Perspectives, Re-imagining Sources and Other Histories

Date: 28th October 2021
Time: 19.00 - 20.00
Venue: Online

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Colonial power, postcolonial theory, feminism and ecology are the meeting points for this discussion. The roles of artistic, curatorial and educational practices offer a framework to consider these intersecting themes, which have been chosen on the basis of their relevance to current students in art schools, while reflecting larger national and global concerns. This talk provides an opportunity to address and reflect on the key issues, voices and stories in ecological, indigenous and feminist narratives.

What makes a socially responsible practitioner? How can we bring alternate narratives to the fore through open dialogue in educational settings and art institutions? How can we prepare the ground to tell the relevant stories to make the future more equitable? This seminar will unpack these questions with artists Roshini Kempadoo and Grace Ndritu.

Roshini Kempadoo will present a short talk, followed by a discussion with Sylvia Theuri, curator and art educator. Grace Ndritu will be in-conversation with Sylvia Theuri.

Black Gold to Dust

Roshini will present the artwork Like Gold Dust created while on the Artist International Residency (AIR) at Artpace San Antonio, USA (2019) in order to explore women’s work, activism and speculative futures as urgent ecological concerns. The artwork evokes narratives about everyday survival, economics, and special powers needed for the 21st century. Its starting point are women narratives from two terrains, Guyana and Texas, to explore relationships between environments and present life. Like Gold Dust registers our time of increasing racism, violence, volatility, and the precarity that women of colour (as queer, bisexual or heterosexual figures) are experiencing in the here and now.

They are Wynter suggests, ‘hybrid-auto-instituting-languaging-storytelling species,’ narrating themselves into existence. The notion of slow violence (Nixon, 2011) is implied in the work. Roshini recognises efforts by writers, activists and artists including Wynter, Da Silva, Roy, Maathai and Saro-Wiwa who rethink environmental activism for a planetary future that recognises the afterlives of slavery. They enact responses to pernicious violations to the terrain and life experiences, particularly those who are disempowered and involuntarily displaced, caused by ecological neglect, corporate greed and colonial legacies.

Preparing the ground to tell the relevant stories to make the future more equitable

Grace will be in-conversation with Sylvia Theuri discussing her background and artistic practice, the spaces and localities she has worked with and from, her current work, forthcoming exhibitions and where her practice is going next. Some of the topics to be addressed will include:

  • How can one have a ‘practice rooted in ethics?’ (Reilly 2018)
  • How can contemporary art be a tool to activate good in the world? (Ndiritu 2016)
  • What possibilities are there for re-imagining alternative representations through artistic practices?

Speakers’ Biographies:

Roshini Kempadoo is a London based photographer, media artist, and scholar at the University of Westminster. Roshini’s recent exhibitions, research projects and publications include: Thirteen Ways of Looking (2020), Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry; Ghosts: Keith Piper and Roshini Kempadoo (2015); Lethaby Gallery, London; Passion, The Aperture Photobook Review, Issue #018 - Fall 2020; Itinerant Imaginaries (2021) – a British Arts Network two-day seminar series with Creating Interference; the monograph Creole in the Archive: Imagery, Presence and Location of the Caribbean Figure (2016). Roshini is an academic committee member of the Stuart Hall Foundation (SHF) (2021).

Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist whose artworks are concerned with the transformation of our contemporary world. Works including The Ark: Center for Interdisciplinary Experimentation; COVERSLUT© fashion and economic project; and performance art series, Healing The Museum, have been shown around the world since 2012. Recently, her debut short film Black Beauty has been selected for prestigious film festivals including 71st Berlinale in the Forum Expanded section and FIDMarseille in 2021. Ndiritu has been featured in TIME magazine, Phaidon’s The 21st Century Art Book, Art Monthly and Elephant magazine. Her work is housed in museum collections such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The British Council and The Modern Art Museum (Warsaw). Her writing has been published in her critical theory book Dissent Without Modification (Bergen Kunsthall) in 2021; The Whitechapel Gallery in the Documents of Contemporary Art anthology series; Animal Shelter Journal, Semiotext(e) The MIT Press; Metropolis M; and The Oxford University Press.

Dr Sylvia Theuri is an art educator, researcher, independent curator and lecturer in Contextual Fine Art and Photography at University of Wolverhampton. Most recently Sylvia was Curator in Residence at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (2019-2020), working in partnership with New Art West Midlands, International Curators Forum and Coventry Biennial. Her residency culminated in the exhibition Thirteen Ways of Looking at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (October - December 2020).

As part of BICA's continuing partnership with Tate Liverpool, students were given the opportunity to work with staff from both institutions to be part of the design and planning team behind the public online lecture series. In an open call, students and staff from across the School of Art were invited to submit proposals for innovative and exciting topics, with a committee of students selected from different courses across the school to join the mentorship scheme.

Panel (Staff and Students): Beth Derbyshire, Jonathan Harris, Lindsey Fryer, Alison Jones, Nuria Querol, Cathy Wade, Alis Oldfield, Jemma Mellor, Caroline Raybould, Selina Sagnia & Fiona Spence-Reid. Other students and staff whose ideas helped us form the lectures series were Alarna Lawley, Alis Oldfield, Xi Lai, and Zehui Ju.