David Cross

Reader and Pathway Leader for MA Visual Arts (Graphic Design)

Camberwell College of Arts

Biography

David Cross has given lectures internationally and chaired events at the South London Gallery, Tate and Whitechapel. As an artist, he began collaborating with Matthew Cornford while studying at St Martin’s School of Art in 1987, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1991.

In London, the work of Cornford & Cross has been exhibited at the Camden Arts Centre, the ICA, the Photographers’ Gallery and South London Gallery. They completed a solo touring exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, and the Exchange Gallery, Penzance. They have carried out an Arts Council residency at the London School of Economics, and a British Council residency at Vitamin in Guangzhou, China. In Europe, they have exhibited in Bologna, Rome and Stockholm; in the USA, they have exhibited in San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York. Perceiving a conflict between his values of internationalism and environmentalism, Cross stopped using jet travel in 2005.

Research interests

Fine art, context-specific sculptural installation and photography.

Research statement

Cross' research, practice and teaching have long been informed by a critical engagement with the relationship between visual culture and the contested ideal of ‘sustainable’ development. More recently, his focus has been on financial systems, fossil energy dependency and climate breakdown. He is now shifting towards promoting a cultural transition to a post-carbon society.

In addition to producing aesthetic experiences, he maintains that a key function of contemporary art is to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries. In public debate, he explores the ‘instrumental’ potential of contemporary art – not as a channel for didactic messages, but as a space for dialectical propositions. In making such propositions, he aims to stimulate the kind of debate that is at the heart of active social agency.

In 2012, in homage to the Artist Placement Group, Cross designated his employment at UAL as an artist’s placement, as a way to move beyond the separation between his artistic and academic activities. In September 2015, he began working with students (especially Georgia Brown) to initiate and run a campaign to persuade UAL to divest from fossil fuels. In November 2016, UAL announced not only that it would divest its £3.9 million endowments from fossil fuels, but also sign the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. Cross is now proposing that students and staff work together to identify and map the extra-economic value produced in the University/art school, as a prelude to producing a viable model of the University as a not-for-profit co-operative.

Recent work Cross has undertaken to develop this proposal includes, ‘Radical Rethink’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and ‘What Happens if We Push This?’ at the Tate Exchange.

Students

Current students and thesis titles

Manoela dos Anjos Afonso
Language and place in the life of Brazilian women living in London: an artistic approach to life writing.

Vasiliki Christouli
Site-Specific Art as an exploration of Spatial and Temporal Limitations.

Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat
Displacement and Climate Change: Is there space at the table for artists to influence international policy development?

Marianne Guarino-Huet
Knowledge exchange and artistic practices with a pedagogical dimension: a vector for change.

Bridget Harvey
How can Re-making and Repair Function as both Political Action and Design Strategy?

Thomas Helyar-Cardwell
Still Life & Death Metal: Painting the Battle Jacket.

Jin Ah Lee
Mapmaking through Drawing Practice: How Drawing can Help us to Observe Territorial Borders.

Vanessa Saraceno
Sustainability. A New Sensitivity in Contemporary Art.

Clara Vuletich
Full Circle:  A Practice-Based Reflective Investigation of Qualities and Values for Transitionary Textile Design

Completed students and thesis titles

Voon Pow Bartlett, Spectacle as myth: The relational and the quotidian in contemporary Chinese art (2005-2008).

Ana Beatriz Ferreira de Rocha e Silva, Spectacular architecture, identity crisis, cultural politics and the reinvention of the significance of museums of modern art.

Maryclare Foa, Sounding out: performance drawing in response to the outside environment.

Diego Masera
Eco-production in the Purepecha region of Mexico

Olivier Desvoignes
Blackboards were turned into tables:
Questioning ‘horizontality’ in collaborative pedagogical art projects

Selected research outputs

  • Black Narcissus

    Cross, David (2014) Black Narcissus. [Art/Design Item]

  • Bonjour tristesse

    Cross, David (2013) Bonjour tristesse. In: Relational Architectural Ecologies: Architecture, Nature and Subjectivity. Routledge, pp. 109-126. ISBN 9780415508582

  • The White Bear Effect

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew (2012) The White Bear Effect. [Show/Exhibition]

  • Bonjour tristesse

    Cross, David (2010) Bonjour tristesse. Field, 4. pp. 135-147. ISSN 1755-0068m

  • Gossip from the forest

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew, Artpoint (Oxford), Milton Keynes Council, Mott MacDonald (Consulting Engineers) (2010) Gossip from the forest. [Art/Design Item]

  • The Treason of Images (2001/2010)

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew (2010) The Treason of Images (2001/2010). [Art/Design Item]

  • The sleep of reason

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew (2010) The sleep of reason. [Art/Design Item]

  • It happened here

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew, Meadow Arts (2010) It happened here. [Art/Design Item]

  • Chapter in, 'Curating and the Educational Turn: II'

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew (2010) Chapter in, 'Curating and the Educational Turn: II'. In: Curating and the Educational Turn. Open Editions/de Appel, London/Amsterdam. ISBN 9780949004185

  • A dialogue on art school

    Cross, David and Cornford, Matthew (2010) A dialogue on art school. In: Curating and the Educational Turn. Open Editions/De Appel, London, UK/Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 262-270. ISBN 9780949004185