Abridged text from Chelsea College of Art Blog:
A new student-run gallery space has opened up at Chelsea College of Arts: Punctum Space has been founded in a portion of the MA Fine Art studios with a mission to “embrace the counter-culture and the next generation” and has already hosted a popular and well publicized exhibition of the work of punk and hip hop photographer Janette Beckman entitled ‘Chelsea Mash Ups’.
All of the students on the MA Fine Art course have a say as to how their studio spaces are used and the gallery is a new outcome for this year. Two students have been designated as curators and organisers of the space: Ed Eustace the Chief Curator, and Natalie Anastasiou, the Creative Director. We caught up with them to find out how Punctum Space was created, their exhibitions and future plans.
How did this part of the MA studio become a gallery space? What made you choose this space within Chelsea College?
Eustace: It was never a Eureka moment, where we decided: we’re going to do this.
Anastasiou: It was all very organic.
Eustace: Snowballing is how Babak Ghazi (senior lecturer of the Chelsea MA Fine Art course) described it and I think that’s the best description.
It’s the first year the MA Fine Art studios have all been based on one floor at Chelsea and this has been fundamental in this development. We had a four week ‘boot camp’ at the beginning of the course where we had all kinds of deconstructions, looking at what a studio space is, followed by a long project. At the time it was hard, pushing us outside the realms of our usual practice, but looking back retrospectively, it was essential in letting these ideas come to the fore.
Last term the studio space which turned into Punctum was used as a very experimental space. It held a drawing exhibition and Babak led color therapy there, and then there was some demonic conjuring where I summoned a demon. I had been working with a lot with objects before, and I did this performance just to feel something in the space.
How did all the MA Fine Art students reach as consensus on how to use the space? Was it easy?
Anastasiou: Yes. We left it as a project space – that’s what we called it at the beginning – and then a group of five us came together to decide what went in the space. Then, as people’s studio practices took over and people fell out of the group and by the end, it was just me and Ed left. We organised the Christmas party there which was themed “Apoca-Chrimbo”.
Eustace: We made the decision that we were going to destroy the space and refurbish it in the New Year.
What made you decide to call it Punctum?
Eustace: The title was taken from Roland Barthes’s description of what makes good photography: he talks about ‘stadium’ – journalistic photographs – and ‘punctum’ – anomalies that create a personal affect in photography.
Anastasiou: For Barthes, Punctum is the little thing in an image that makes it perfect to you, so that’s why we named it Punctum.
Have you found having a studio space as a gallery a challenge? Especially with it being so near to your own studios?
Anastasiou: The location has been a blessing as we’ve had so many people from the Tate come to visit – passers-by who’ve seen the signs and come in – which has been incredible.
The community has been really responsive and they want to get involved. They’re happy that a new space has popped up that they might have the opportunity to get involved in, which I hope will be great for fostering relationships post-university.
Read more about the exciting early exhibitions at Punctum, such as: ‘Punk Rock Hip Hop Mash-Up’ showcasing photos by Janette Beckman, ‘David Bowie Archive Images’ exhibition, ‘Head/Head’ show with lead artist/sculptor John Edgar and Chelsea MA FA students, and the series of ‘One Day’ shows by current MA FA students.