© Chenille L'Oiseau, Image Dump, 2020.

Critical Pulse – UnderExposed

9 November – 8 December 2021

Critical Pulse is a commissioned work by the collective UnderExposed. It is the outcome of a six-month project initiated by the Sussex Festival of Ideas and Photoworks.

In June 2021, a panel of curators, directors and arts consultants came together to discuss what lay ahead for the UK cultural sector. Alongside the panel, five well-known University of Sussex alumni working in the arts were asked to pose a series of questions, to try and gauge what a wider public were thinking about the future of UK culture. The questions served as prompts for image and text-based submissions, which have, in turn, provided the inspiration and source material for Critical Pulse.

Rather than present wall-based objects for quiet contemplation, UnderExposed decided to inhabit the ACCA café space, promoting a very physical interaction with the ideas their project explores. Critical Pulse consists of three related interventions: a contract stacked on plinths; a photographic installation on the windows; and a series of texts printed on translucent paper suspended from the ceiling. Light passes through the photographs on the windows to cast images across the floor and tables. Tracing paper moves in response to changes in air current and passing bodies. Contracts sit between the islands of tables, forcing visitors to navigate around them, or else to pick up a copy to read.

The images and suspended paper texts provide the most literal response to the initial public submissions: a series of visual and textual ideas that animate the space; potential components of any number of conversations activated by the people who move between them. The contract outlines a series of more concrete measures via which the hopes and values that emerged out of the public responses could be linked to material change. Addressing the four discrete but related themes of community, power, opportunity, and money, the contract identifies a number of routes towards a more inclusive, more democratic, more equitable cultural sector. Visitors are asked to gather together the four pages of the contract from separate plinths, to read and to sign them, and then to pierce them on to a spike. The growing tower of paper provides a visual and material demonstration of people’s commitment to positive change.

Public programme:

Exhibition opening at the ACCA Café

6pm Tuesday 9 November 2021

Panel Discussion ‘How can we build a fairer, more equitable, more democratic cultural sector?’ 

6pm Tuesday 30 November 2021

Workshop facilitated by UnderExposed for Sussex staff and students

6pm Tuesday 7 December 2021



The starting point of this project are the following five questions by the University of Sussex alumni:

‘How can arts organisations make the world a better place?’ – Sarah Philp, Director of Programmes and Policy, The Art Fund

‘How can our cultural sector unite to respond collectively to the widespread and systematic ideological, political, and financial attacks? How will we take a stand together?’ – Helen Cammock, Artist

‘How should artists be rewarded?’ – Bertie Carvel, Actor

‘How can we be of service to you?’ – Cara Courage, Head of Tate Exchange

‘How can cultural institutions ensure that artists/creators are recognised and valued as their core assets without which they could not exist?’ – Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive, DACS

UnderExposed is a platform and collective dedicated to encouraging artistic collaboration.


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