“It is 2022. I am an artist researching the curriculum and history of a little known, independent art school that ran, in various guises, between 2013 and 2021. I have access to an archive of disparate material; traces of ‘real’ and digital correspondence and documentation. These myriad sources; from print outs of emails; audio and digital files; newspaper clippings; official and un-official biographic accounts, construct the fragmented aims, activities and legacy of a small group of individuals – who together, attempted to carve a path for a new generation of artists. Throughout its poorly documented yet tumultuous existence The Future School attempted to build on the pedagogic approaches of the near and distant past whilst responding to the demands and context of the ‘Teens’.

In 2013 The Future School emerged from a context of radical privatization and economic / educational inflation. In the UK, institutions continued to raise their fees and reduce provisions for students. Yet conversely, the pressure to continue studying; to obtain MAs and PHDs in order to establish one’s professional artistic career, increased. This left students in a paradoxical dual state of enforced poverty and increased professionalization. Other issues that impacted on art and the ways it was taught was the advent of The Networked Digital Reign: A paradigm shift from the stubborn order of information and the skill-shackled stroke of the hand, to the amorphous and omnipotent presence of data and the democratic mediation of the App(lication).

One positive result of these shifts was the reactionary emergence of alternative schools and academies; small pockets of self governed institutions that began to emerge as early as the 00s. The Future School was one of these small, independent groups that took radical approaches to teaching in order to generate alternative possibilities for an artistic future. The Future School’s current absence from contemporary discourse is perhaps a sign of its failure – or merely a testament to its active resistance to mainstream critique and absorption.
The title of this lecture takes its name from Lucia Moholy Nagy’s book ‘Marginal Notes: Documentary Absurdities’ published in 1972. Lucia Moholy Nagy was Bauhaus Master, Laszlo’s first wife. Focusing on particular works and exchanges, this slim volume corrects minor errors and misconceptions, including details such as dimensions, edition sizes and circumstances of production. Whilst attempting empirical objectivity Lucia’s language cannot help but belie a personal agenda. Lazlo’s second wife, Sybil, wrote a book called Experiment in Totality, 1971. Fay is drawn to this rarely discussed aspect of Bauhaus activity and the ways both books shift between personal and social history, between the liminal margins and the centralizing total.”

As an artist Fay Nicolson traces relationships between form and content whilst elucidating the problematic marriage of history and documentation. She uses autographic, photographic, performative and textual approaches to making works that are often open and cumulative within specific constraints. Recent projects have focused on connections between art education and documentation; unpicking current fascinations with pedagogy through languages and strategies that are both generative and deconstructive. These approaches often erode the primacy of the written or the place of the record; renegotiating the positions of the didactic and the aesthetic. Exhibitions and projects include; Verlan, Twelve Around One, London, 2012; Constitution of the Damned, Landings, Vestfossen, Norway, 2011; The Anti Library, SPACE, London, 2011; La Verdad: The Newspaper Project for Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain, 2010; In Search of the Perfect Lecture, RCA, London, 2010, ABC of Aesthetic Journalism, Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, Innsbruck, Austria, 2009; and Fictions, co-curated with Hugh Dichmont at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, 2009. Fay writes for journals such as a-n magazine and Jan Mot Newspaper. Her text Never Odd or Even was published in Issue 1 of the independent art journal A Circular July 2010.