Double agents is a project, based in the Art Programme at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, which creates relationships: between artists, internationally and across disciplines, to commission new work for publication, exhibition and staging. Central to the work of Double agents is the principle of dialogue – that the processes of exchange, negotiation and conversation are generative actions – and that it is in these actions that new positions can be formed.

Double agents was formed in 2002 by Anne Tallentire and Graham Ellard as the first Research Group to engage the activities/research of a group of artists/practitioners on the BA (Honours) course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, who identified shared concerns related to the 4D Pathway (which has a remit to teach Fine Art with an emphasis upon time-based media e.g. moving image, sound, performance, installation and photography) and its curriculum. Joined by Jaki Irvine, Adam Chodzko, Uriel Orlow, and Lisa Panting, the basis of the group within the College is to construct a productive relationship between the artist and the academy, one which aims to devise, initiate, theorise, and strategise, through a range of ‘model’ projects, the bridging of the activities of artists teaching Fine Art at (BA, MA, PhD levels) and the experience of their students, as the means to capitalise the strengths of staff, to create a ‘two-way traffic’ between the Art School studio and the professional context, and fill the ‘gap’ between Research and Teaching. The cross-disciplinary and complimentary practices of these practitioners and teachers provides a unique paradigm for furthering knowledge in the field of Contemporary Fine Art Practice particularly in relation to process, concept and context based work.

The group represents a new model for research group activity within Fine Art Education.

The project aims to:

Support and engage in the production of specific projects and their material outcomes, and further the conditions for research that embodies specialist expertise necessary to progressive practices that acknowledge the ‘act of dialogue’ as both a premise and a process.

Extend strategies of collaboration, negotiation and exchange based upon a ‘principal of dialogue’ which address issues of relevance to contemporary forms of art practice with an emphasis upon those which cross disciplines or bring artists, curators, institutions and audiences into new relations with one another.

We aim to initiate, support and disseminate the outcomes of projects which serve as models or exemplars of a form of research within the college context which take a relationship with the curriculum and the potential of students as an active element of the work or its process.

We contribute to the ongoing debate within the Art School regarding policy on the priorities for co-ordinated Research activity within the teaching of Fine Art in Higher Education – it’s role, purpose and direction. In general our methods revolve around the conception and production of projects (events, exhibitions and publications) as a means to ‘perform’ the processes of thinking and production in an open and transparent exchange between participating artists, curators and students. Through its active engagement at the intersection of teaching and practice, Double agents is brokering new relationships between the Art School and the wider art world.

Our methods include:

Devising a teaching and learning experience to produce a two-way channel to relevant discourses of Contemporary Practice.

Formulating seminars, workshops and lectures, as points of learning integrating the curriculum with the current activities of Double agents.

Revisiting the idea of the studio as a ‘site’ where processes of making happen in the Art School to expand the notion of the studio as a workshop as well as a ‘hub’; a point of encounter between the immediate experience of the student and the ‘professional context’ (typically of the practicing artist) to which they aspire.