"Our Boat": Zombie Art Biennale Turns Venice Into The Island of the Living Dead

"Our Boat": Zombie Art Biennale Turns Venice Into The Island of the Living Dead

This is my attempt to explain the horror I feel witnessing the crass appropriation of a boat on which over 800 people (lumped together under the universally belittling term “migrants”) died when it sank in 2015 as an art object at this year’s Venice Biennale. I’m REALLY angry!

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Home is where we start from: Cultural Democracy and Working-Class Struggle

Home is where we start from: Cultural Democracy and Working-Class Struggle

The struggle for cultural democracy is part of our fight back against those who have always sought to keep us down – who have always told us: “KNOW YOUR PLACE!”

I know my place: it’s called HOME. We all have homes of one sort or another. And home is where we start from. Not art galleries or spectacles or museums or whatever else we are told are “cultured” places. HOME. This is the place where we build our own cultures, our way.

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No Breathing Space: V&A, Artwashing & the Theft of Robin Hood Gardens (a reblog of an article I wrote for Bella Caledonia)

No Breathing Space: V&A, Artwashing & the Theft of Robin Hood Gardens (a reblog of an article I wrote for Bella Caledonia)

I am reposting this article which was originally published by Bella Caledonia here because it formed the basis for my keynote speech at Lancashire Arts Exchange along with the film A Cacophony of Crows which you can see here. It deals with the artwashing of Robin Hood Gardens by state agent, the V&A.

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A Cacophony of Crows - Film about how V&A's theft of a piece of Robin Hood Gardens is artwashing as creative destruction and class redomination

A Cacophony of Crows - Film about how V&A's theft of a piece of Robin Hood Gardens is artwashing as creative destruction and class redomination

This is a film about V&A’s crass exploitation of council housing following its “acquisition” if some pieces of Robin Hood Gardens in the Labour controlled London borough of Tower Hamlets - a once iconic council housing estate that is being demolished to make way for luxury apartments. It was part of my keynote given as part of Lancashire Arts Exchange on 8th November 2018. I explored how this example of state-led artwashing relates to David Harvey’s arguments around how neoliberalism uses creative destruction and arts/culture/media as a means of re-enforcing class domination.

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In my beginning is my end - a film about the impact of neoliberalism on our cultures, the instrumentalisation of art, & cultural democracy

In my beginning is my end - a film about the impact of neoliberalism on our cultures, the instrumentalisation of art, & cultural democracy

This is a film with narrative from a performance I gave in Belfast earlier this year about neoliberalism, instrumentalism and cultural democracy.

“We must trust in our individual and collective selves.  We must remember our struggles.  We must remember that official arts and culture and, for that matter, the creative industries, reflects only one rather small part of our arts and culture.  We do not live in a cultural democracy.  The cuts to state-sanctioned arts and cultural production makes this assertion starker as each day passes… And cultural policy, like fortune, has always favoured the rich and powerful.”

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In my beginning is my end - transcript of my prose poem and film performed at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast

In my beginning is my end - transcript of my prose poem and film performed at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast

I was really privileged to be invited to take part in What Next for the Arts? - an afternoon symposium which was part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival - on 12th May 2018. As I like to do whenever I get the chance nowadays, I performed the piece with accompanying film and audio. This is the transcript... A test recording of the film will be uploaded soon...

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SPEAR THISTLE - transcript of my performance prose poem for Imagined Biennales at Tate Exchange

SPEAR THISTLE - transcript of my performance prose poem for Imagined Biennales at Tate Exchange

I was invited to participate in the final day of Imagined Biennales which was produced by the University of Southampton at Tate Exchange on 13th May 2018. I wrote SPEAR THISTLE a non-manifesto for an Anti-Biennial. This is the transcript of my piece which I performed as a prose poem at the event.

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The field upon which you walk and upon which the chain is laid is the song. A transcript of my talk @panda_arts & link to my presentation with notes.

The field upon which you walk and upon which the chain is laid is the song. A transcript of my talk @panda_arts & link to my presentation with notes.

This is the transcript and presentation with notes from my talk at Panda (The Performing Arts Network) in Manchester on 28th March 2018. The event was a celebration of the network's 15 years working with artists and communities but it was also tinged with sadness as they announced that they were unable to continue to operate due to the toxic arts funding environment and local council cuts. I spoke of two songs with two very different fields and two very different chains.

The first is the song of neoliberal state-sanctioned power and control; of compliance and conformity; of commerce and economics. This is the siren song of austerity and the systematic destruction of our communities, of our lives. This is the song that has sunk so many hopes and dreams.

The second song is that of childhood, of freedom, of creativity, of disobedience, of hope.

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Culture is BAE Systems Britain. The Great Exhibition of the North: "Family-friendly fun", the corporate takeover of the arts & the maker of weapons used to kill families

Culture is BAE Systems Britain. The Great Exhibition of the North: "Family-friendly fun", the corporate takeover of the arts & the maker of weapons used to kill families

This blog is a brief response to the artwashing of the Great Exhibition of the North, particularly the inclusion of BAE Systems as a "premier partner" of the event, which is billed as the UK's biggest event for 2018. There's a campaign to force event organisers to remove BAE Systems from the list of sponsors and I'm a member, but I want to consider the following questions in relation to the scandal: a) Who really organises the exhibition? b) Where is the money coming from? c) Who decides on sponsors? I suggest the arts community in the North East may have had little, if any choice in the decision to brand the event with a weapons manufacturer with a terrible reputation.

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Extracting New Cultural Value From Urban Regeneration: The Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

Extracting New Cultural Value From Urban Regeneration: The Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

This article was first published in print in Sluice Magazine and then on their website in 2017. I've decided to publish it on my website because I hope its content still resonates in 2018. It addresses issues of instrumentalism in the arts, artwashing, living creatively and cultural democracy. As I wrote in 2017, I believe "it is still possible to conceive of art as part of living creatively, as part of everyday life, as local cultural democracy, as artistic autonomy." It's time to talk about how...

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The Status Quo Will No Longer Do! (The Corporate Takeover of Art & Artwashing, or Social Justice in a Cultural Democracy?)

The Status Quo Will No Longer Do! (The Corporate Takeover of Art & Artwashing, or Social Justice in a Cultural Democracy?)

I was kindly asked to talk alongside Labour MP Laura Pidcock, Jessie Jo Jacobs (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Northern TUC) and Ramona McCartney (National Officer for the People's Assembly) at the People's Assembly event, "In Place of Austerity", in Newcastle on 20th January 2018. It was an incredibly inspiring day! This is the transcript for my talk...

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Old Boys Network: Elite connections can't prevent local people from defeating University of the Arts London & offshore property developer Delancey plan for social cleansing of Elephant & Castle

Old Boys Network: Elite connections can't prevent local people from defeating University of the Arts London & offshore property developer Delancey plan for social cleansing of Elephant & Castle

Plans to redevelop Elephant and Castle shopping centre and the surrounding area by tax-avoiding, Tory-supporting property developer Delancey and London College of Communication/University of the Arts London where rejected (subject to confirmation on 30th January 2018) by Southwark Council’s planning committee. It is understandable that arch-capitalists Delancey (owned by the notorious father and son property development partnership, the Ritblats) aren’t interested in local people and local communities, but what’s with LCC/UAL? Why would a top arts and design institution behave so aggressively to existing community members? The connections between the Ritblats and the Vice Chancellor of UAL are interesting. They reveal how the corporate takeover of high education and the arts are intersecting with the corporate takeover of our communities and our land.

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Neoliberalism, language and engagement - A workshop

Neoliberalism, language and engagement - A workshop

This is the transcript of my 3 very short provocations presented to stimulate discussion during my workshop at the Sound Connections Social Justice Conference at Cecil Sharp House on 30th November 2017.

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