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Alumnus in Residency : Rachael Disbury

Alchemy Film & Arts Curator Rachael Disbury is our Annual Alumnus in Residency in the School of Art, ECA.

Rachael was a Contemporary Art Theory postgraduate student in ECA 2013-15. The MA Contemporary Art Theory and MA Contemporary Art Practice Programmes have invited Rachael to return to ECA to research a project of her own chosing. During her residency over the summer she will work with the graduating masters cohorts and postgraduate staff.
Rachael is currenly Co-Director at Alchemy Film & Arts in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. She previously worked as Project Manager at Deveron Projects, Huntly in rural Aberdeenshire. Since 2010, Alchemy Film & Arts has been engaging its creative residents, young people, and visitors, in high quality arts experiences, generating creative, cultural and economic benefit regionally and nationally. Alchemy aim to unlock creative potential, enhancing community cohesion, and enriching quality of life for all. Rachael does this through the delivery of an annual film festival, filmmaker training workshops, a volunteer programme, touring programmes, artists residencies, educational symposia and international projects.
This year, Rachael pivoted the entire Alchemy Festival online during lockdown:


The 2020 festival took place 1 – 3 May as a free worldwide stream, the first exclusively online iteration of our flagship event. Further details can be found here.

During her ECA residency over the summer of 2020, Rachael will be focusing on:


“Starting with the codification of space and arts spaces – and the way people access, consume and participate in culture – I’d like to explore what art events/works lose, gain and need when art spaces are online.
Conversations and engagement around art online seem to focus on a weighing up of pros and cons, online versus in-person. This binary conversation ignores plural audiences, plural requirements and circumstances of audiences, and the potential to create, experiment with and own multiple methods/platforms.
I would like to encourage a practice that considers the viewer in and for every unique context (digital presents the case study here, but learning should feed back to other platforms), and uses the opportunity of 2020, when the world has been forced to platform and access art in new and different ways, to think through the differences, similarities and necessary adaptations an artist or organisation has to take when codification is replaced with code.
The internet is text based at its core, cues are different, and the rules we have come to rely on no longer apply. How can artists and art workers harness this opportunity, making and ensuring new rules for viewing?
Focuses within this might include: the difference between accessing and viewing, and how to consider both; instructions on participation, and the ethics around this; creating community and meaningful space for discussion in online events; interrogating aspects of codification in the gallery and cinema; how to preserve the best and reinvent the rest when rewriting the rules for viewing; backstage and production considerations; the art sector’s possible resistance to online platforms, and other sector’s embrace.”

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