Since the Decolonising the Arts Curriculum zine was launched back in June, it has helped to open up numerous channels of productive discussion across UAL and the sector. It featured at the Changing Mindsets Conference at the University of Portsmouth, University of East London’s Teaching and Learning Symposium and UAL Academic Leader’s Forum, and acted as a conversation starter at the UAL Attainment Conference, organized by the Teaching and Learning Exchange.
Much of these discussions centre around themes captured in the zine, the main one being the curriculum – what it constitutes and how specific course curricula relate to the institution as a whole, moving beyond reading lists to consider decolonisation of wider systems and structures influencing what is taught. The other recurring theme is the persistent underrepresentation of academics and students of colour in the arts academy.
Aside from sparking discussion, the zine is also influencing the development of decolonised arts research which is connecting creative practices and pedagogies. As decolonisation grabs the attention of so many and securing support from the institution, we are mindful of something one of the zine contributors state in their essay, a caution to be ‘watchful of ‘decolonisation’ not turning into another trend, but a form of criticality to shake the very group on which UAL stands’ (M.F. 2018, p.17).
Our next step is to open up more spaces for such criticality, with a series of exhibitions and events across the UAL colleges through 2018-19. The Teaching and Learning Exchange are continuing to work in collaboration with the Arts Student Union on developing and facilitating this programme, plus new collaborations with academics, students and librarians at each college to explore decolonization at a more local and disciplinary level.
The series kicks off at the London College of Communication from 4-31 October, with an exhibition in the main Library space and across vitrines in the canteen and Typo café, complimenting other events being organized by the Arts Student Union for Black History Month. Students and staff are invited to attend events on Thursday evenings through October from 5-7pm, in which they will hear recitals from Zine #1 contributors, discussions about decolonising the LCC locale and disciplines, and finally to participate in a critical production event exploring ‘the zine as decoloniser’.
This will be followed by exhibitions and events across the Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges from November to January, then London College of Fashion in the spring and Central Saint Martins in the summer for the anticipated launch of Zine #2. The exhibitions, events and production of Zine #2 intend to sustain such criticality and to continue prompting the ‘opening up of creative spaces to facilitate the production of culture informed by indigenous thinking and doing’ (Singh 2018, p.1).
Read the Zine and find out how you can participate by visiting: http://decolonisingtheartscurriculum.myblog.arts.ac.uk/
Lucy Panesar and Rahul Patel