‘Does anybody want to leave their crappy desk space?’ This proposition was put forward by Rachel Pimm, London-based artist and researcher, midway through her MFA at Goldsmiths, to a group of peers on the course as an attempt to restructure the partitioned working environment in the studios. Rachel was a founding member of Auto Italia in 2007, and an alumni student of the experimental 4D pathway taught at Central St Martins whilst on her BA. In a recent conversation, we discussed the politics of the inevitable formalising process collaborative practice undergoes, and the (anti)synthesis between her individual work and other group projects.
At Goldsmiths, Rachel and group of 5 peers eventually occupied a kind of sub-studio, which was regularly redesigned or repurposed for a year. Part of the reason behind the spatial intervention was to question the potential for a work space that was more conducive to group oriented practice and shared learning, by directing attention toward activity such as discussion, writing exercises, research, group crits and more ‘familial’ routines, ie – ‘coffee mornings’.
The output or benefits of more discursive activity can be harder to define or recognize, as Rachel admits it felt like ‘nobody in the group was doing any work whatsoever’. An ongoing reading group was maintained however, looking at a lot of post-utopian texts and social theory, and it was from this that the group formed under the title MoreUtopia!; a leftover domain from a member’s previous project, and bad pun on Thomas More’s 16th century epic.
MoreUtopia! weren’t completely introspective, and ‘as it goes, soon as you start to identify the work as a practice it grows into something, and after a while we started to receive invites to show in exhibitions’. Remarkably, one of the first public outings beyond the studio was a seminar event at Whitechapel with Gustav Metzger and Pedro Reyes, curated by Kyra Kordowski in 2012. Other initial works were realised at South London Gallery during a performance event, and TAP gallery in Southend-on-Sea a year later.