Stefan Szczelkun

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Born Hammersmith, London in 1948. "Lived an isolated life in a bedsit at the top of Regents street until we moved to Feltham when I was 3. Later I was a mod; then a reluctant architect; then a happy artist. Since then I've been in ten collectives or networks of cultural producers from the Scratch Orchestra to Exploding Cinema. With one of these groups I built my own house in Kennington (finished in 1995)."

Stefan Szczelkun worked on the MA in Visual Culture at the University of Westminster before his recent retirement. He completed a PhD at the Royal College of Art in 2002 on the legitimation of collective sites of cultural production and their value within a democratic culture. The particular focus of this research was Exploding Cinema, an underground film and video showing collective that has been active in South London since 1991 [1].

In the Seventies Stefan had his three Survival Scrapbooks, Shelter, Food and Energy published by Unicorn Bookshop and Schocken Books NY after an architectural training at Portsmouth Polytechnic. He then 'dropped out' and lived in a van whilst playing with The Scratch Orchestra - the British version of Fluxus. On returning to London he took new dance and bodywork classes at X6 in Butlers Wharf and did extensive research into the elements of human ability. Published as Sense-Think-Act; first as a mediawiki and more recently as an ebook.

Stefan is an artist with a particular interest in publishing both in traditional book format and more recently in multimedia and digital video. In the Eighties he organised two groups relating to identity issues. The first was Bigos: Artists of Polish Origin which was a open group which was interested in putting on made-to-measure shows: now archived by Tate Archive. The second, ‘Working Press, books by and about working class artists’, supported artists to publish offset-litho books under a collective imprint. Working Press published a trilogy about his experience as a working class artist - Collaborations which was raw documentation, Class Myths and Culture, a book of polemical essays and Conspiracy of Good Taste, a history and theory review which led to academic teaching and research. The Working Press archive was acquired by UCA in Farnham and has recently been activated during a four week residency (2016).

In 2012 Stefan published the third in a series of DVDs concerned with London people-power and the counter culture of the Nineties. The DVD title is 'Creating a movement: the struggle for Inclusive Education'. Another collaborative project, Agit Disco, was on the web before in became a book later in 2011. After that he worked on a large scale activation of the archives of Brixton Artists Collective that ran Brixton Art Gallery 1981 – 1986. As part of this he produced an oral history video and working with a group of artists from London Underground called ‘Out of Uniform’. This was in partnership with 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, supported by Arts Council, Heritage Lottery grants and Westminster University. See Brixton50 for more detail.

Pedagogic research interests included the use of video in teaching. One module used phone cameras and a YouTube channel as part of the students tools for data gathering and critique. He has supervised three students to complete their doctoral studies and was an external examiner of MA Cultural Industry at Goldsmiths College.

Now retired from academic work and publishing work with Routine Art Co his collaborative imprint. And making video works.

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