The Peckham Cultural Institute

South London Gallery- Facade.
Photo by Andy Stagg

Part think-tank, part design studio, this six-month project will be organised as a series of study-sessions, aimed at developing a model for representing ‘culture’ through digital curating and archiving, one which is alternative to Google’s offer to ‘host the world’s treasures online’.

The project will bring together two groups: students on MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and South London Gallery’s (SLG) REcreative UK Editorial Board.

It will connect postgraduate students with research and professional interests in curating and museum education and a group of engaged young people active in SLGs educational programming.

The Peckham Cultural Institute will be addressing what is in fact an urgent issue. As we know from the power of Google’s previous projects (Street View, Google Scholar, Google itself) such initiatives overwhelm alternatives with their seeming encyclopaedic authority. Whilst offering participation and access, The Google Cultural Institute nonetheless appears to represent culture in its most narrow and high form.

This project aims to draw a different picture, one based on equally important versions of culture and participation that have been developed in the recent past.

The key aim of the project is for the two groups to co-produce the outputs to represent the discussions and interests of the participants, and to offer a public response to the question ‘Why should ‘Googlers’ be left to decide what is ‘treasure’?’ We know they can code, but can they define culture?

Project leads

  • Dr Alison Green, Course Leader, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins.
  • Sarah Coffils, Young People's Project Manager, South London Gallery.