Previously at the ICA - Events
23 Mar 2016
From the Front Room to the Frontline: Creative Practice and Process
In this audio-visual presentation, Michael McMillan unpacks some of his longstanding practice, beginning with his theatre work as a playwright and live artist and then moving into curatorial work. Within this narrative his practice has become trans-disciplinary and explores the intersections of migration, identity, gender, sexuality and hidden histories through ethnography, material culture, oral history, performance texts, installation and audio-visual media.
McMillan unpacks The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye Museum 2005/06) in terms of his creative process, linking the social, cultural and political meaning of this ‘special’ space within a wider context of the street/urban landscape where the ‘frontline’ was located. This frontline was historically the boundary with the backyard (Stuart Hall 1995) where socially deviant activities took place, such as drug dealing, gambling and prostitution. McMillan will discuss the contemporary neo-liberal gentrification of the British urban landscape, where these frontlines no longer exist or have mutated through ethnic cleansing.
Michael McMillan is a London based writer, dramatist, artist/curator and scholar of Vincentian migrant heritage. His plays and performance pieces have been produced by the Royal Court Theatre, Channel 4, BBC Radio 4 Drama, and across the UK. Since the 1990s McMillan’s practice has taken a more interdisciplinary approach using devised performance, installation and mixed media in a collaborative context. Work in this context includes: The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye Museum 2005-06), Van Huis Uit: The Living of Migrants in the Netherlands (Imagine IC, Amsterdam 2007-08), A Living Room Surrounded by Salt (IBB, Curacao 2008), BBC4 documentary: Tales from the Front Room (2007) and The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (Black Dog 2009). His most recent work includes: No Colour Bar: Black Art in Action 1960-1990 (Guildhall Art Gallery 2015-16), Doing Nothing is Not an Option (Peckham Platform 2015), and Rockers, Soulheads & Lovers (New Art Exchange 2015 & 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning 2016). He received the first Arts Doctorate from Middlesex University (2010) and is currently an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies at London College of Fashion, and Associate RAS Researcher at the University of the Arts London.
In a series of ten lectures, Decommissioned seeks to address how strategies of disavowal, inactivity and transition are employed in contemporary art and design. When encountering cultural bias, uncertainty and co-option across the arts, how can the dominant flows of information, language, policy and ideology be circumvented? Curators, sociologists, artists, politicians, academics, queer-thinkers, bio-designers, film-theorists and others will respond through diverse fields of exciting and critical research.
This series is curated and convened by Dr. Stephen Wilson and is staged in collaboration with Chelsea College of Arts Postgraduate Community and the University of the Arts London, CCW Graduate School.