Dear Glenn,

On many topics and conversations…

Thank you for your super spontaneous and welcoming intro video! You’re way too cool making your fresh homemade strawberry and banana smoothies.. I miss the kitchen at RULA. Have you gotten over your mixed teas? Are you now more into smoothies? I guess in California smoothies suit all year round, while in London we’re more about teas… I would film a video of myself right now but I happen to be writing you from the school library, where I’m surrounded by too many intellectuals wishing to study in silence… Bo-ring.

.co/m! Hahahaha great! I’ve just downloaded Wordpress on my phone to use our new site for more casual everyday thoughts. Yes, thank you! This thought always crossed my mind because every time I want to reply to our letters, I know it requires a good two hours of solid sitting down, reading, reflecting, and writing. Lately I’ve also been writing letters on paper that I then send via email. Proper handwritten letters via e-mail, what’s our world like ey? That way you don’t have to deal with including links or images to everything that is mentioned and is available in the WWW. By the way!!! I never received the post you sent me!!! The box with our automatic drawing cut-outs and all the other 'stuff'! Where is it?!

Online classes… Mmmmm… Such a new approach to teaching. I honestly don't know how I feel about it. I believe learning is a hands-on ‘physical’ inter-personal experience. We already spend too much time on social media and around technology, so why would we ever want to take education into that realm as well? It makes us forget about human, one-to-one or group learnings, using books as a resource, or even putting the effort into going somewhere, getting out of the house, with the aim of learning. I always tried to learn weaving and other craft practices through YouTube tutorials and, even though sometimes I do find them useful, they tend to frustrate me so much! Having to rewind, repeat, listen to the same voice again, watch the exact same action over again... There’s just something about human relations. In auroville, the experimental township I was living in India, most children were unschooled. This was really interested for me, as I had never met such confident, insightful, and curious kids in my life.
Nonetheless it sounds like it works very well for those students who are abroad during the summer and I think the optional meet-ups are essential for both the students and your own personal fulfilment as a teacher. Kids need kids – that's what I say when people talk about homeschooling. Likely, teenagers need teenagers, not computers! Their works looks great and very expressive though, I like them! I’m very jealous of Allison, wearing bright summer clothes and enjoy a winter’s summer day.

On more speech and less silence, I totally agree. The fact that your student’s work is online and is being criticised by department is sort of a motivation for them to improve their writing skills. However if they are being asked to write something that will only be read by their teacher they might feel discouraged to put the time and effort to polish and refine their work. It’s all about public image and new-coming students in institutions these days. The RCA is somewhat going through a similar phase… They’ve closed down the student union, social space, and bar, just so they can fit more students, have more studio space, and therefore earn more £££! You can get an idea of what my upcoming relational art proposal is about...

'THE SEED' is an events platform, a gardening centre, and social space/cafe run the students for the students (with me, and possibly another girl from performance, as founders). Wherever a seed is planted there is potential for growth, as long as there's good soil, water, and enough sunlight (a metaphor for the qualities we as RCA students have). This project is in its really early stages at the moment but I believe it has a lot of potential and many uplifting energies. It's quite a political stance taking the situation we as students of the RCA are in right now, with hardly any input in the decision-making of things. For example:
1) All students from the Painting department have been split into two campuses this year because they've accepted 40 more students into the course, in comparison with the 25 from previous years.
2) A new school is being built so that, by 2021, the RCA can accommodate double or triple the number of students.
I think it's the perfect time to bring these conversations into the light and fight for some student power because only we bring this place to life.
So far I've been doing a collaborative project with both first and second years which consists of growing one plant or vegetable together. They come to me if they want to learn how to grow something and together we go to buy/find the supplies: seeds, pot, soil. Germination happens in my studio space and then the seeds are planted into two pots: one is left in my studio and the other is taken by the student to his space. This way my art is not restricted to one place: instead it's thriving all across the building. It also points out the act of letting go of one's own practice, allowing the work to be about others rather than always being about me, me, me, and my amazing artist ideas. What do you think?

Wow Glenn! Everything you talk about on your letter sounds so foreign to me… I had no idea you had done so many VR works! I too think that claiming an avatar's work is somewhat wrong - what is the purpose of creating the avatar if you have possession over it after all?
I used to be obsessed about hyperrealism and specifically ballpoint pen art. Have you ever heard of the artist Juan Francisco Casas? I always used to attempt to copy his works.
Being completely honest I have never been interested in bearing a false or fictitious name, or even writing under a fictitious character, or an alter ego of myself. I don't know why it’s never ever called me…
I kind of see it in you though, now that we talk about it. Your continuous change of hairstyle and glasses are almost attempts at recreating different identities. It keeps mutating and transforming your sense of self. You could almost be someone else every single time you change hair colour. What would it be like if you related colours to different personas within yourself?
I like mutating, transforming, and alternating my image and self, but it tends to happen over long periods of time... I currently always wear three black dots under each eye, and often wear an African headscarf. I don't think I consider this an attempt to create a pseudonymous version of myself, instead it’s more about embracing what makes me happy and wearing it. despite what other’s may think, or whether if it’s some sort of cultural appropriation. If I look at myself and it makes me smile, I do it!

As of my life, I came back from India a few weeks ago and for the first time in a long, long while I moved into proper house with a decent kitchen, shower, bedroom, and toilet! I am cooking a lot, spending my free time at home, and I feel so healthy! I am so happy to be able to set up a routine around my life and finally settle a bit. My body feels so much better, and so does my mind. These changes have made me question whether if I reaaally want to live in such inconvenient homes, where I just end up eating out a lot and feeling quite dirty and rough most days of the week. However these thoughts are always conflicting: whenever I live this way I feel slightly unfaithful to my beliefs and my art/life practice. Half of the week I'm extremely happy, and the other half I'm frustrated at myself for not having bought a van and live up to my dreams of living nomadically, and having shows inside a portable space! I don't want to be too hard on myself though, and I believe every living space that comes to me is for a reason, so I'm just taking it slow and seeing where this takes me...
I don't know if you're aware of the news but I will be delivering a TED talk on November 5th in London. It's for quite a small audience but I'm still very, very excited. The title of my talk is called Making Through Experience and instead of telling you what it will be about, I'll wait until the video is uploaded on YouTube and then send you the link!

Anyway... I was going to start including pictures into all the relevant areas of the letter but I've just decided I'm not. For the first time I will send you a black and white letter with no images, just writing. I hope this doesn't frustrate or bore your image-saturated experience of reading online, and I'm very happy to be writing to each other again. I can't wait to read your response and I send you all my love and creativity from this side of the world!!! Happiiiiiinesssssssss too,

Marta!

Article by Marta Troya