The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?
You can find an introduction to the archive is here
Below are examples of some student statements. Interviews from Susan and Tom are available here
Archive Project : Mail Art asking for an image from childhood to subject
s to gain access to their stories and build an exhibiton.
Poor Dear [leaflet relating to disability], a leaflet in the working press archive (WPA) was the trigger for my idea. Which developed through looking at reports about the͞
Life Beyond The Label exhibition (Colchester castle 2007-8) [looking at disability representation] into my exhibition of how we choose to represent our own identity by looking at childhood memories and upbringing, provided by people in response to a mail art request to a shortquestionnaire. This collection that I have gathered results into a display of prints with text as well as the combination of a book including documents and information gathered and collected from the subjects. The WPA is a truly amazing collection and has really inspired me with my own work. The extent and broad paths that things can be gathered from is mesmerising and it truly has confirmed the path I want to follow as my career [Archivist].
Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art. Using the annotated Conspiracy of Good Taste book, and inspired by the themes of identity, language and power
During this residency I am responding to the Working Press archive as a whole. The substance of the archive is for me as important as the premise for it. I am considering some of the themes and issues raised by the artists who worked with and were represented by the Press and how we see these themes and issues today over twenty years later.
The main themes I am considering are Identity, Language and Power and the mediums I am choosing to use are photography and location specific performances.
Initially I am using a Facebook blog and Instagram to disseminate my photographs and my thoughts on the themes. I have created a gif for The Conspiracy of Good Taste and I am sending out two pieces of mail art as a live exhibition and will also show the pieces that I receive in return as part of the exhibition. I will also be using one of the photographs from my blog to create a life size cut out of myself as an installation piece reflecting the culmination of my residency. This piece will be used for the exhibition but I would also like to place it in some significant locations (probably in London) and photograph these. This will be a continuing work for me.
Reactivating the Working Press archives has in turn reactivated my own sense of identity and my acknowledgment of being a working class woman artist. There is much to discuss on the issue of class; relevance, fluidity, identification or stigma, limitations and freedom. But as any artist (in my opinion) needs to consider their own perceptions and where these come from, owning your own identity is a huge part of this. Twenty years on the Working Press has a great deal to offer artistically, academically and historically and the considerations of the writers in this Press need to be disseminated much further, especially in relation to Building a Better World.
Iana Mizguina, Photography , inspired by a pamphlet, Random Access Memory Raids
My project is based on working with a ‘Random Access Memory Raids’ pamphlet found in Working Press archive. This is an agitational left wing booklet made by Conscious Collective in early 90s. My work would contain quotes and phrases from this pamphlet, as I find most of the messages still relevant nowadays. Text will be used as a part of collage, that will also include random screenshots made on my phone. Final images will be modified in Photoshop and replicate visual content that can be seen on any mobile phone screen. Images will be disturbed by certain phrases from the booklet, replacing original meaning with another. Final stream of images will be displayed as a digital slideshow and represent the on going search for truth. Also work will include QR code taking viewers to a link where images can be seen and possibly edited
Catinca Malaimare, Fine Art, inspired by Class, Myths and Culture book (published by Working Press)
In the work produced in response to the Working Press Archive I am referencing the illusion of glamour and the self-scrutiny it attracts as presented in 52 Glamour Cards (Class, Myths and Culture). Glamour is a form of visual persuasion, it is cultural and thus,
deceptive. Glamour, as visual activity, forces the eye into a compliant gaze constructed by repetition and the absence of it leaves the eye without purpose, forced into chaotic repetition.
Katharina Becker, Photography, inspired by Postcards from Poland
(published by Working Press)
Response to: Postcards from Poland by MARIA JASTRZEBSKA and JOLA SCINCINSKA
Your visual/conceptual strategy: Combining some bits of the text from the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ with images of Palestine and the current situation of occupation. Uncommented comparison between the two, how the texts strangely fits with the situation in Palestine (images). -> Text and Image
Display and dissemination strategy: Haven’t really decided on a way of presentation, I still have to experiment with different presentation types. I might print the images as postcards and put bits of the text on the back. I would also find it interesting to hear someone reading the text.
Your impressions, opinion and reaction to the Working Press Archive: I have never worked with an archive before, so it was very interesting for me to look through all the documents and to get access to a lot of different stories and opinions. It is a very sensitive and considered way of working. Making something new with something that is already there and to respond to it. Combining different opinions and perspectives. Especially the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ which I am referring to in my project, really inspired me in many ways. It reminded me of my own family history and made me also think of the current situation in Palestine. It will be interesting to see how everyone activated or responded to the Working Press Archive. And the fact that it will grow even more through this workshop is amazing.
Posters from the anticopyright Flyposter book from the archives, which I used as a visual resource,inspires the image on the t-shirts.
When I was working on Creative Writing for my illustration I was looking a
t different film genres with the visual scenery from Classic film from the 1950s.
People may assume the solder is a man but I have used a silhouette, which could be
any gender or nationality.The solitary word “story” invites the viewer to decide what the image actually means.
Annie and Elodie, Photography
Inspired from records from the Class, Culture and Identity conference, related to middle class, working class mothers, they produced a performance piece
, related to multiple identities
Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer