copyright José M Macías, SombrasSpeaking ahead of the launch of UAL Research Fortnight, Jeremy Till shares his thoughts on the key theme of ‘Art in Polarised Times’:

“These are indeed polarised times. Every tweet from Trump, every pronouncement from the hard Brexiteers, every announcement of further austerity – all these and many more accentuate division. In the context of all this turbulence, and the feeling of helplessness invoked in the face of the execution of power over truth, it is tempting to retreat, individually and collectively. However, as I have argued elsewhere, there is an urgent imperative for artists and designers to engage with these new conditions. There is a danger that the current political mood will lead to the establishment of tighter barriers, which will threaten the very lifeblood of creativity. This is because creativity has to operate across borders – social, geographical, cultural.

But these new conditions also present opportunities for art and design. The election of Trump and the Brexit vote were both driven by a fury at current political systems. It is clear that both sets of victors, by reinforcing political power, are betraying those who voted for them. This opens up a space for others to speculate on new social and cultural narratives, a space for art and design to engage with – art as a ‘distant early warning system’ in Marshall McCluhan’s terms, and design as a disruptive, transformational agency. On the day that Article 50 is triggered, Central Saint Martins and UAL will launch Creative Unions, an open platform to show the efficacy of creativity in these challenging times. Tonight’s debate forms part of that platform.”

Research Fortnight at UAL runs 6-17 March, launching with a panel debate on 6 March titled Keynote Debate: Art in Polarised Times, find out more about the panel debate.

Read the full programme for UAL Research Fortnight

Read Jeremy Till’s article ‘Reality in the Balance’ in Places Journal