We are a group of ninety-five students, residing all over Europe and spanning different disciplines. Although united by a common passion for the arts, we see our cultural and artistic diversity as one of our key strengths. There is a core group that facilitates the group’s activities.
If you are a student based in or connected to the European continent - excluding the UK (see specific OCA groups) - and would like to become part of our growing community please register at OCASA. We would love to welcome you.
During the academic year 2022-2023, the focus was on experimentation, creative research and presentation.
On every first Wednesday of the month, we held virtual Open Cafés. These are informal gatherings among members, where the Zoom lines are open to anyone who would like to share something, ask questions, ask for a critique, advice or simply meet fellow students and students from other disciplines.
In January, tutor Michele Whiting ran a workshop on Contextualisation: Let's talk about practice, contexts and complicity. The meeting started with a presentation/talk from Michele, drawing from her practice and research. Then students were placed in breakout rooms in pairs, where each one had to describe how the chosen artwork looked like. Once back, selected pairs of students had to describe what they understood from the description previously heard. This exercise helped to “see” the work from Cy Twombly below (photo by Annalisa Mercuri) another perspective and to gather links between the practice and context.
In February, we scheduled a crit workshop with tutor Bryan Eccleshall and were requested to read “The Crit” (chapter 2 of Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World), which dealt with Michael Asher’s 24 hour crits at CalArts. Fourteen students from across Europe attended the workshop.
Bryan first held a presentation during which we discussed what crits were meant to be: to provide feedback, improve presentation skills and provide support, among others. We also discussed fundamental conditions like allocating a moderator and time slots and that everyone should present work at some time. Bryan shared some useful tips for presenters as well as attendees: “Ask questions” and “make connections to other work you’ve seen or read” and “suggest artists who might be useful”. My personal takeaway was to reflect on things that could be done differently next time rather than worrying about what went wrong. We were then allocated into breakout rooms to look at and comment on images allocated to our groups, taking into account what we had discussed previously.
This workshop was enriching in that it gave us the tools for professionalising our approach. The theme of crits ought to be dealt with at all levels, but especially after level 2. We in OCA Europe already have an inclusive crit group meeting every month where we have created a safe space. It is especially unique as students of all levels and different modules can attend, thus widening our scope of feedback. The feedback to Bryan’s workshop was positive and helpful. Bryan suggested reading “Why Art cannot be taught” and “What Painting Is”, both by Elkins. Also “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon.
In April, tutor Katie Taylor led a workshop on “Beauty and aesthetics” in the context of challenging topics like the genocide in Rwanda. She first talked about her artistic evolution, starting with her studies at OCA, focusing on the visual aesthetics of her work, the sensitivity with which she approaches her social and political topics and her aim to give identity to unknown or forgotten humans, seeing herself exploring like a reporter.
We then discussed a few selected works by artists that like Katie address traumatic experiences or work with materials often considered as disgusting, the inherent beauty of their artworks drawing the viewer in instead of repelling.
An in-depth insight into a previous student's pathway and beyond to PHD level. The imaginative process gave me a deeper understanding of carefully reflecting and developing my processes. The group work enabled me to articulate and discuss initial reactions and thoughts with like minded people.
Just as June started, an intense artist talk between Sonia Boening and Dhama Thanigasapapathy accompanied the visit of their online exhibition “Menacing Beauty” https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/11477727/menacing-beauty. The discussion encompassed how the collaboration started, how they got together to curate this exhibition and how it might evolve in the future with a physical exhibition, possibly, in Sri Lanka. The talk also touched technical aspects on the techniques used for the paintings, as well as the pros and cons of using a digital space as Kunstmatrix.
Listening to you talk about all the work that went in is amazing. The output is dreamy and strong and your work transported me to that beauty and menace realm you wanted to bring to life. Really beautiful. Thank you Brindusa Burrows
With a very full year behind us, we are looking at future ways to enhance our activities, based on feedback received from the group. The focus for the new academic year will again be on experimentation, creative research and presentation. We will continue to have a range of activities that bring us closer to one another, which will include:
Regular monthly Open Café sessions as a means of encouraging peer crit and informal interaction - every first Wednesday of the month, in the evening
Tutor-led events, including a making day with Michele Whiting, workshops with Helen Rousseau, Bryan Eccleshall and Faye Hall.
Artist talk with photography student Peter Hungerford
We would love to organize a group excursion to the Venice Biennale.
We will continue to look for and encourage group Collaborations, whether ad-hoc or in a more formally organised way. An idea we will pursue is an exhibition in Munich in Jul 2024.
We are looking forward to an exciting and stimulating year and welcome new members who would like to take part to register at OCASA. The only condition is to live and / or show connection to continental Europe.
Your thoughts / Get involved
We would like to hear from you, especially with regard to topics for talks, speaker suggestions and any questions you have about your studies. What has been good and you would like to see more of? What are we missing?
If you would like to help us run the group, we would love to have you on board. We are always looking for help in communication, planning, organising, supporting etc., as well as potentially organising face-to-face visits in European countries – hopefully soon.
Annette, Annalisa, Karen, Lia and Sonia