Graduating from BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, Damilola Ayo-Vaughan talks to us about his photographic practice which synthesises personal and collective memory.
Tell us about your final project and why you chose that subject.
"Home For Now is a research project which uses photography as a gateway for a phenomenological exploration of the memories and experiences of young adults in London. It stems from my attempts to trap my memories of London via documenting and archiving the people and things around me. Through this project, I acknowledge the mundane as evidence of identity and progression, pulling all these things together to bridge personal and collective memory. The work aims to bring people together by virtue of shared human experiences. Ultimately, it is an ode to all the young adults who call London home."
Can you tell us about your BA Culture, Criticism and Curation group project That CSM Talk Show and how you worked with your fellow students?
"That CSM Talk Show is a light-hearted show focused on exploring the experiences of graduating Central Saint Martins students – particularly looking at how recent events have impacted their practices. Trying to finish the group show outside the College was a significant adjustment. Initially, it was quite frustrating not being physically within the group. Our project required creating a live event, so entering a pandemic pretty much turned that upside down. I struggled with adjusting to the “new normal” we were all facing. Our initial brief was speculative realities, but with the way things panned out, we found ourselves living in one! It was interesting to see in real-time how the world adjusted to redefinitions of a “live” event. Meeting online, each group session brought up different ideas and reflections on the lockdown. We covered everything from virtual reality to open word games and online shows. In the end, we were all able to bring together different skills and also support each other."
How did coronavirus and the lockdown impact your practice?
"During the lockdown, I was unable to create and document new memories with my friends. Not being able to go outside allowed me to reflect and gain clarity on my relationship with my friends, my time in London and what I wanted to do with my practice. I made a haven of archives, reflecting on my time at university and England. I decided to work on a photo book as a love offering to all my friends. While preparing the book, I was interested in how these images spoke of being a young adult in England. I was looking at our nights out and summers in London, dealing with school, chasing internships and just growing up amidst the stress of Brexit and broader political contexts. I started to think bigger, asking myself: how can I freeze these fleeting moments? How can my work bridge personal and collective memory? This gave me the push to create Home For Now."
What does it mean to you to be part of the “Class of 2020”?
"For me, it means being at the forefront of a changing world. I think now more than ever there’s an added gravitas with the “class of” tag for us. Fundamentally, when graduating with a group of people the only that ties you all together is the fact that you finished in the same year. But, with everything that’s happened this year, we’ve had to adapt to a new way of life. The world has completely changed around us. We’ve had to react to that in real-time. As much as that has been daunting and frustrating, it’s also been liberating. I’ve seen so many people’s works reach new and incredible heights. I think this set of creatives are just getting started, and I’m excited to see how my peers continue to push the boundaries and contribute to the world."
Thinking about your fellow students, whose work should we take a look at next and why?
"That’s a hard one. I’ve met a lot of brilliant creatives within UAL whose practices deserve attention. The two I’m most excited and inspired by are Sandra Poulson and Bunmi Agusto – who are both featured on the That CSM Talk Show. I’ve been privileged enough to see their work grow and evolve over the past three years. I love how they blend their creative and intellectual fascinations within their practice. They both explore the self and how it’s impacted by space – particularly the cultural nuances they observe both home and away. In a world where notions of the self, identity and culture are being questioned, reclaimed and understood to be fluid rather than fixed, I think they are asking important questions and providing fascinating answers."
What are your plans post-graduation?
"My life is pretty up in the air right now. I’m getting the through the post-graduation “what am I doing?” phase. I hope to be staying on at Central Saint Martins to study MA Contemporary Photography: Practices and Philosophies in October. Moving forward, my main aim is to build on my art practice. I’m currently working on a website for my project Home For Now, which should be launched this month. In addition, I plan on submitting my work into competitions and hope to have my first solo show before the end of next year."