October: The Great Experiment

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05 Oct - 06 Oct 2017

October: The Great Experiment is a free public programme of talks and screenings brought together by the students and staff of Central Saint Martins and Afterall.

October 1917, and its immediate aftermath of artistic and cultural experimentation, set the terms of the great twentieth and twenty-first century debates around art’s autonomy and it’s political ‘commitments’. The fundamental argument in the wake of the Russian Revolution  - which, according to the Gregorian calendar, took place in November 1917 – that art and culture could, through education and enlightenment, influence the course of history, seems ever more pertinent today, in the context of new cultural and media phenomena that powerfully influence ‘public opinion’, governance and, indeed, elections.


Programme of Events
​All events are free, but booking is essential. Tickets are available from www.csmevents.co.uk 

Thursday 5 October

Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi in conversation with Laura Mulvey
6 - 7.30pm, LVMH Lecture Theatre 

The programme opens with a keynote lecture by the Marxist theorist and activist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, introduced by film maker and theorist Laura Mulvey and followed by a discussion with her and writer and curator David Campany. 

October: Ten Days that Shook the World 
8 - 10.30pm

With an introduction by leading scholar on Soviet film, Professor Ian Christie, we will present Sergei Eisenstein’s October: Ten Days that Shook the World (1928). Celebrated as a pioneer of film, Eisenstein’s dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution combines graphic images with editing of unprecedented inventiveness. Food and drink will be available.


Friday 6 October

Render Ghosts
5 - 6.30pm, LVMH Lecture Theatre

From the kommunalka of 1917; to the utopian pre-fab of the Futuro House, to the lost 16mm archive of London City fire brigade — the politics of architecture: its hopes, promises and crumbling facade.

Screenings of: Futuro: A new stance for tomorrow (29m, 1998) Mika Taanila; London’s Burning (30m, 2016) Louis Benassi;  Joebuilding (extract) (10m, 2006) Jonathan Meades
Post-screening conversation between Douglas Murphy (author of Nincompoopolis: The Follies of Boris Johnson), Maria Lisogorskaya of Turner prize winning collective Assemble, filmmaker Louis Benassi and curator Stanley Schtinter.

Followed by a wide-ranging debate with directors present. Introduced by curator and filmmaker, Stanley Schtinter.

From Lenin to Trump: Glasnost in the Digital Age
7 - 9pm, LVMH Lecture Theatre

A discussion focusing on new forms of political protest in an era of rapid technological expansion, leading to a period of enlightenment in the arts and new media which hasn’t been seen since the Russian Revolution. Similarly, the events of October 1917 saw the overthrow of an authoritative regime which led to innovative and creative methods of activism and propaganda. The recent allegations of interference by Russia in the US election highlight both the evolving east-west relationship and advancements in technology which make this a politically urgent subject.

Luke Harding - Senior International Correspondent at The Guardian
Kevin Rothrock - Senior English Language Editor at Meduza & Former Web Editor of The Russian Times
Mark Simpkins - Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins in the Design Against Crime & Socially Responsive Design Research Unit
Daphne Skillen - Author of Freedom of Speech in Russia: Politics and Media from Gorbachev to Putin

In conversation with Saranya Kundasamy and Katy Sacks


On display alongside these events, will be specially commissioned works in The Street:


Lead by Associate Lecturer Andrew Friend, a student and staff team from Central Saint Martins' Spatial Practice programme will design and construct a temporal tower in the Street, in acknowledgement of the most potent architectural symbol of the 1917 Revolution: Monument to the Third International, or more commonly know as (Vladimir) Tatlin’s Tower, a design for a grand monumental building that was never built.

Revolution 180

Seb Benson, Chirag Patel, Simon Wells, Simon Keeling, Jace Harrison Crowley, Angelos Liakakos, Rowan Ings, Anton Novoselov

Inspired by the revolutionary manifesto of the communist party, architects created bold and futuristic visions of utopian buildings throughout the territories of the USSR. These now stand as a testament to the brutal and fragmented Soviet leadership, representing a dream gone sour. The design aims to represent the complex layers of Soviet benevolence, power and repression through a geometric structure that showcases triumph and disaster side by side through a projected historical timeline. It will physically reference these symbols of Soviet will and design ingenuity, whilst addressing the often forgotten and misunderstood human side of being a citizen of the Soviet Union.