Postgraduate Talent

London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London continues its annual MA Season in 2017 with the exhibition Found in Translation, showcasing a dynamic collection of work from the School of Media and Communication Postgraduate courses at London College of Fashion, UAL, held at one of London’s most progressive creative spaces, House of Vans London. Nilgin Yusuf, Programme Director for Media & Communications at LCF shares ideas about the upcoming event.

A: What can audiences expect from the works on display?
NY: Audiences to the House of Van will be introduced to gamut of new postgraduate creative talent spanning media, communication and performance disciplines – everything from film work to audio visual installations, niche publishing, fantastic photography and magazines, concepts for curation and costume for performance.

London College of Fashion is probably best known for its fashion design courses – a reputation that has been built over 110 years – but we also have a thriving Media and Communication School which produces some incredible talent. The exhibition is called Found in Translation because this is a generation that speak fluidly across multiple media languages often communicating narratives across a range of platforms: print, screen or experiential.

All of our postgraduate students develop a piece of independent work over six months that combines practice and theory. They are encouraged to be creative and really push the boundaries of their own discipline. Found in Translation MA_17 is the result of all those journeys. It’s often a very personal journey and can sometimes be quite autobiographical. It’s important to produce something at the end of the process which is quite authentic not just an imitation or echo of what is considered be cool or fashionable. This is the fashion temptation that we always discourage.

A: With such a diversity of courses and sources of inspiration, how do the works compare to previous years in terms of themes, narratives and techniques? 
NY: It is interesting how you do get theme waves that ripple across a cohort of students and this will often change from year to year. This year, I notice there is a concern with mental health and a number of works that reflect this: Uma Damle (MA Fashion Photography) and Theresa Vitinius (MA Fashion Media Production) have both produced quite effecting, experimental films about depression. And we have one auto-visual installation from Lukas Blasberg (MA Fashion Media Production) that uses body scanning, sensors and infra sound to make you experience a physical edginess when you stand close to the screen. There is a lot of anxiety in the world at the moment so it is no surprise that this is being literally transmitted.

There has also been image-making work around addiction, abjection, globalisation, consumerism and social media. Family is coming through different pieces of work too; notably from Kovi Konowiecki, a photographer that recently earned third prize in the prestigious international Taylor Wessing Portrait Award. In terms of techniques, many students have been drawn to the book (which is definitely not dead!) producing beautiful physical objects to frame their work with a turn away from the digital space; in other years, digital, has been more prevalent. There was also more of an embracing of non-linear narratives and more abstract approaches to storytelling.

A: Is there a recurrent topic(s) that has/have inspired many of the students?
NY: People are often quite surprised by the breadth of topics that are London College of Fashion postgraduate media students will explore; there are quite narrow preconceptions about what fashion media, communication and performance might be – and they are nearly always confounded. The literal definition of fashion is how we live, not just what we wear, so final projects span a range of themes touching on identity, technology, sustainability, globalisation, heritage, aging and consumerism. Rather than fashion being a small box from which you can discuss only certain things, we think of it more as a platform from which you can dive into an ocean of possibilities.

Our postgraduate student community is also incredibly diverse. Our students come to LCF from all four corners of the earth, so this too is reflected in the resulting work with a real richness of content that mirrors a breadth of global heritage, this year Columbia, India, China, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Thailand to name a few. Creativity has no borders.

A: How do you think that the works respond to / are developed in the creative space of House of Vans?
The House of Vans is an amazing space; a labyrinthic indoors skate park near Waterloo station that also operates as a cultural and music centre. It is quite raw and urban with its own exuberant energy that makes it the perfect platform for a new generation of talented students who will be bring ideas to the industry. The space also introduces the idea of interdisciplinary –no discipline exists in its own vacuum anymore – we will have music from Domino on the opening night and skaters doing their thing. Fashion needs to be connected not just operating in an ivory tower.

A: Why do you think that it is important to support a new generation of communicators and practitioners, and how do events like this feed into this thought?
To do a Masters course at LCF – or actually to engage in any educational programme – is one of life’s privileges. To have the mental space and the support needed to think through and develop a piece of significant work that is unique and meaningful to you – and can often signal or trigger a new direction in your life – is a very important lifestage for our post graduate students, most of whom will go on to work in a range of jobs or as freelancers and some will start their own businesses. They might have started their journeys somewhere totally different but they want to change direction and choose a new path. We say: come here; find yourself, be yourself and project yourself. Fashion is an interesting context for our students; it’s all about being brave with new ideas and being prepared to do what feels right and true – not just keeping up with the latest aesthetic. That’s just not cool.

A: Tell me about the programme of activities that run alongside the exhibition.
NY: We’ve put together a whole series of workshops, presentations and discussions that are all FREE to attend and give a real flavour of the richness of the London College of Fashion postgrad media courses and community. There are workshops on everything from fashion film making, photography, styling, embodied reality and glitch culture – through to presentations on independent publishing, female image makers and the importance of Fashion Curation. As we well as being inspired, you can come and learn something too … everyone is welcome, space permitting!

Found in Translation MA_17 runs 16-26 February at House of Vans, London. Find out more:

1. Yanzhu Yuan, Enter the Candy. Courtesy of LCF and Vimeo.