Previously at the ICA - Events

Image courtesy Victoria Erdelevskaya

The Art School: The Future for 'Theory'?

25 Jan 2014

What is the future of ‘theory’ in the Art and Design School? Variously considered as Historical and Critical Studies, Critical and Contextual Studies, art and design history, visual and material culture studies,  ‘theory’ has always had an ambivalent standing, and has been embraced enthusiastically and treated with suspicion in equal measure. Recent changes are exacerbating this ambivalence: new critical tendencies, practice-led research, new forms of pedagogy, new sites for disseminating (e-flux, TED talks, Art History in the Pub, etc), and new sites of praxis, as well as the collapse in public funding, the merging of institutions, the redeployment of staff and resource, and the rationalising of provision.

This symposium will ask: What purpose does ‘theory’ serve? What should be delivered, and how should it be delivered? Should ‘theory’ take place in the classroom or the studio? Has ‘theory’ become redundant, and if so why? Has a certain kind of philosophising replaced it? What are the consequences of these demarcative shifts for an artist, designer, or architect’s capacity to contextualise and ‘speak on behalf of’ their practice to colleagues, critics, curators, gallerists, and industry professionals? And what do such shifts mean for theorists themselves?

Ultimately, does ‘theory’ even have a future in art and design education, and if it does, what form should it take?


10am – New Voices
£5 / Free to ICA Members
Book New Voices tickets here

10am: Introduction
Mark Little (UCA) and Marquard Smith (RCA)

10.10am: Session 1
Chair: Roni Brown (UCA), Steve Smith (Westminster), Judith Brocklehurst (IoE, University of London), Mirko Nikolic (Westminster)

11.25am: Break

11.40am: Session 2
Chair: Chantal Faust (RCA), Zoë Mendelson (CSM), Annie Davey (IoE, University of London), Emily LaBarge (RCA)

1pm: Lunch

2pm – Symposium
To attend New Voices and the Symposium: £12 / £10 Concessions / £8 ICA Members / £5 ICA Student Members

2pm: Introduction
Mark Little (UCA) and Marquard Smith (RCA)

2.10pm: Session 3
Chair: Mark Little, Tom Holert (Berlin), Julie Louise Bacon (Kent), Peter Osborne (Kingston)

3.45pm: Break

4.15pm: Session 4
Chair: Marquard Smith, Henk Slager (Utrecht), Rebecca Fortnum (Middlesex), Alison Green and Rosie Ram (CSM), Adrian Rifkin (London)

6pm: End

In partnership with

  • University for the Creative Arts



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E.g., 01-08-2021