Arts & Humanities Festival 2015
The suggestiveness of Fabrication takes us to the core of the Arts & Humanities. The original meaning of ‘Fabricate’ is ‘To make anything that requires skill’. In its sense of ‘making’, fabrication covers all forms of creation, fashioning, construction, manufacture: anything made by homo faber, man as a worker in materials such as metal, stone, wood etc. It is now more often used of industrial processes of machining and finishing. We speak of the fabric of the built environment; or of other objects we have created; but also of the fabric of our bodies, and, more metaphorically, of the fabric of society, of knowledge, or language.
The kind of fabrication we speak of most now, though, is textile fabric – the material in our material culture which we use for clothing, fashion, domestic interiors. But language too is textile: our word ‘text’ comes from the Latin verb for weaving. As humanists we fabricate our own texts, studying how the tissue of language is woven together. When we study fabrication we seek to understand how texts work; how they are put together; their make-up. But fabrication also carries a more troubling suggestion of how things might be made up: not just invented or imagined, but possibly falsified or forged. Here it covers a range of art-forms operation through illusion, from poetry to fiction to drama. But it also takes in psychology and law: patients confabulating, and witnesses giving false evidence. This radical ambiguity of fabrication is crucial to the study of the Arts & Humanities. It captures the critical attitude universities bring to research on texts, fabrics or any other material objects. In trying to understand how and why they were made, we also question the reality of the worlds they bring into being.
This year’s Arts & Humanities Festival tackled the theme of ‘fabrication’ – how humans create, fashion, construct and manufacture their environment either literally through the built environment and objects and more metaphorically through the fabric of society, knowledge or language. Throughout the Festival, visitors, led by Studio INTEGRATE, were invited to participate in the formation of DNAted, a 3D-printed sculpture made from DNA code and installed on the site where X-ray studies of the structure of DNA were carried out by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin.
The Festival, organised by the Arts & Humanities Research Institute, explored the theme of fabrication from every angle through a full programme of talks, interactive workshops, exhibitions, and performances of immersive theatre, music, dance and poetry. Maureen Duffy, a distinguished playwright, poet, novelist and biographer explored her part in the fabric of King’s College London, from her time as an undergraduate in the fifties, through her fabrication of King’s as ‘Queen’s College London’ in her novel Capital (1975) and the donation of her archive to the university.
In the 'Fabric of Movement', London-based dance and percussion group Zil'Oka led an interactive dance workshop showcasing the high-energy rhythms, music and movements of the French West Indies. Participants were invited to wear 'Madras check', the brightly coloured traditional fabric identified as national dress in these islands. This event was followed by a panel discussion on 'Madras check', exploring how British and French imperial rivalry helped to shape national identities in these islands through transporting material culture, as well as human beings, from one continent to another.
Now in its seventh year, the Festival provides a vital platform to celebrate and disseminate the work going on across the Departments and Research Centres which make up the Faculty of Arts & Humanities to members of the public, alumni, creative partners, staff, students and members of other academic institutions. You can find out more about the Festival, sign up to our mailing list and check out photos from the events on the Festival website.
Throughout the festival
Monday 12 October
Tuesday 13 October
Wednesday 14 October
Thursday 15 October
Friday 16 October
Saturday 17 October
Monday 19 October
Tuesday 20 October
Wednesday 21 October
Thursday 22 October
Friday 23 October
Festival in images