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Guest blog post: Luca Campione, Engagement Assistant Placement

Luca Campione, a student at the Birkbeck University on MA History of Art course, reviews his work placement at Iniva as an Engagement Assistant.

As part of my studies at Birkbeck University, I undertook a placement at Iniva for ten weeks. The main aim of my placement was to create a welcoming and rewarding learning experience to visitors through guided tours of the Stuart Hall Library and archive collections. It was an intense and very valuable experience which gave me the opportunity to learn about the many activities of the institution from researching specialist collections, creating and conduct an interactive tour and learning how best to support a programme of events through interaction.

Drawing on the expertise of the Library and Archive Manager, Tavian Hunter, I have gained a close understanding of library and events management. Among the programme of events held by Iniva, I assisted the running of the performance-lecture The Weeds Became Long Graceful Grasses, with artist and researcher Dr. Luiza Prado and writer and Sexual and Reproductive Health Doctor, Dr Annabel Sowemimo as respondent. This event gave me the first valuable suggestions for my final assessment, in particular regarding the development of a coherent argument and the engagement of the audience.

Among my many tasks, I visited and studied the curatorial assemblages of various exhibitions, such as the N.S. Harsha’s solo show and Isaac Julien’s video installation, both held at Victoria Mirò, as well as the Frank Bowling retrospective at the Tate Britain. Iniva has worked with these artists previously on a number of activities, so it was interesting to investigate the relationship between Iniva, artists and other organisations; and learn how an artists’ practice can change and develop. I really enjoyed N.S. Harsha’s display in particular and researching about the artist prior to visiting the exhibition, helped me understand the rationale behind their work on the wider issues of migration. This is a theme which Iniva has facilitated discussion through its Artists Residency programme. From this experience I created an updated bibliography of resources on the artist available within the library.

I also observed part of Syllabus IV collaboratively-produced alternative learning programme that was held at Iniva in June 2019. The zine-making workshop led by Saber Ali (Iniva Digital Marketing Intern) was a great experience that allowed me to observe directly how Iniva engages with artists, both practically and theoretically. Artists have the opportunity to use the resources and the archive of the library, trying to follow a general leading topic, in this case around speculative fiction, and to create their own personal ides: what characterises such events, is an intense interaction among the artists themselves and Iniva staff.

Using the resources in the library, I created an event focused on South African photography practices analysing the works of two prominent South African photographers, David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng. This task gave me a very precious insight into the many aspects of the organisation of events, such as research skills, the construction of a coherent and compelling argument, as well as public speaking skills and the engagement with different communities.

You can read my review of the event held at Iniva’s here.