Vivid Projects presents a snapshot into four decades of alternative Birmingham culture. The month-long season of exhibition, provocations and events investigates the impact of University of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS).
Looking Out From The CCCS makes connections between 70s Birmingham culture and the present day, by way of alternative publications and community action print, film workshops and style magazines, and contemporary artists working with social media and data.
A series of weekly events will critically engage with the exhibition and explore the key themes in a contemporary context. Artists, writers, social networkers, cultural provocateurs, new young feminists, archivists and more will be unpicking the astonishing cultural legacy of the CCCS.
The exhibition launches Friday 06 June, 6-10pm with a SUPERSTYLING! party for Digbeth First Friday. You can access the full schedule of events here.
As the 50th anniversary of the founding of CCCS approached, Mahasiddhi, formerly known as Roy Peters, embarked on a journey to photograph some of his contemporaries from his time at the Centre between 1975 and 1979. The result is this series of intimate, reflective yet lighthearted portraits of just some of the movers and shakers who passed through the doors of CCCS.
With support from Roger Shannon throughout, and before his death, Michael Green, the photographer visited his old friends and colleagues in their homes or places of work, met them at cafes, and even outside a football ground. The attitude adopted was a collaborative one where the photographer allowed the sitters to squeeze something of themselves – whatever they wanted to give – through the lens.
However, as much as the portraits celebrate the individuality of each sitter, echoes of the CCCS can be perceived in all. Indeed, Mahasiddhi’s approach to photography is still strongly influenced by his experiences at the Centre. The photographer is as much a ‘product’ of the Centre as are his subjects. Since being ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2010, when he was given the name Mahasiddhi, the photographer’s approach has been additonally influenced by Buddhist philosophy and practice.
Back in the CCCS forms a fitting tribute to the Centre, which not only impacted on the landscape of contemporary academic thought, but also on the lives and minds on numerous individuals.
Janet Mendelsohn arrived at the CCCS on a scholarship from the United States in 1966. While at the CCCS she was encouraged by Stuart Hall and others to experiment with photography as a tool for academic research. Mendelsohn ended up taking thousands of photographs of life in Birmingham in the late-1960s. One of these images was featured on the 1969 CCCS annual report (pictured), and a selection will be on display at the CCCS50 exhibition at mac birmingham. The exhibition opens to the public on the 10 May.
Here is the sociologist Laurie Taylor’s tribute to the life and work of the late Stuart Hall: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03tt50m/Thinking_Allowed_Stuart_Hall_(19322014)/
The sad death of Stuart Hall last week has come as a great shock to anyone working in the fields of cultural studies, Sociology and far beyond. Here is a collection of tributes to a figure who will be much missed by many: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/stuarthall.html
‘Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies 50 Years On’
University of Birmingham, 24-25 June
This is a blue plaque that is currently on the wall of the Muirhead Tower at the University of Birmingham. It pays tribute to the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in the development of British cultural studies. The plaque was erected in 2011, almost ten years after the University had closed cultural studies at Birmingham.
Like Just-17, Jackie Magazine was the subject of a famous study by the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies graduate Angela McRobbie. McRobbie explored the way young women were portrayed in such magazines, and the way in which their lives were represented always in relation to men. Have things changed in women’s magazines today?
This is an issue of the once-popular girls’ magazine, Just-Seventeen. In the archive of CCCS material that has been set up at the Cadbury Research Library there are piles of Just-Seventeens. Students at the CCCS saw such magazines bothculturally and politically important. Figures like Angela McRobbie and Trevor Millum analysed them and showed how they often presented young women in negative ways. This will be one of the themes that will be explored in an exhibition on CCCS at the Midland Arts Centre in May 2014.
This is a flyer from the Shoop Shoop, a 1970s sound system run by local mover and shaker Mike Horseman and his business partner and friend, Dick Hebdige. Whilst helping out with the Shoop Hebdige was also a postgraduate at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. As an adolescent in London he become heavily into the mod scene and when hejoined the Centre he decided to write about the phenomenon of youth subcultures for his MA thesis. He was eventually commissioned to write a book on the subject, much of the research for which he did amongst the mods, Rastas and later the punks who attended his sound system. Subculture: the meaning of style remains one of the seminal studies of post-war British youth culture.