Artists Against Artwashing: Anti-Gentrification & the Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

Artists Against Artwashing: Anti-Gentrification & the Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017.  The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art.  There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too.  It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.

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An open letter to Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England from artist Richard Parry about arts organisation V22

An open letter to Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England from artist Richard Parry about arts organisation V22

I received this letter from Richard Parry as a comment to my blog post entitled SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.)  Richard has been researching the arts organisation V22 for some time (as have I).  His letter which he has agreed to publish as a blog post here instead of a comment is the result of his research and relates to a number of Freedom of Information requests he has made to Arts Council England.

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Gentrification is a dirty word, so artwash it! My paper from AHRC CDT Conference at BALTIC

Gentrification is a dirty word, so artwash it! My paper from AHRC CDT Conference at BALTIC

This is my paper which I presented at the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Art and Design Research Annual Conference at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on 25th July 2017.  Powerpoint and PDF versions can be downloaded here too...

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Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital - Cardiff presentation

Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital - Cardiff presentation

I did a talk at Diffusion 'Revolution' Festival Symposium at Cardiff University today.  I've uploaded my presentation with notes here.  Click the link below to read it and remember to turn notes on in bottom right hand corner of presentation when it loads...  The talk is called Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital.

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Artwashing London #2: Art's complex web of financial investments - an ethical dilemma

Artwashing London #2: Art's complex web of financial investments - an ethical dilemma

The first post in this series, Artwashing London, explored V22 and its alter-ego V220 in a little detail, linking its group of companies to its headquarters in the Isle of Man.  It asked why would an arts organisation apparently interested in social impact want to register its activities in a tax haven?

This second post looks in more detail at some more of V22’s connections and compares its stated aims to its other directly or indirectly linked corporate interests.  This is a trail from London to the Isle of Man to Africa and back again.  I do not suggest that anything illegal has happened but there are several ethical questions that, in my opinion, should be answered.

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Artwashing & gentrification (or the deeply interwoven web of arts & corporate interests)

Artwashing & gentrification (or the deeply interwoven web of arts & corporate interests)

I recently wrote a blog post about Artwashing London.  It looked at V22 and its connections to corporate interests and offshore company headquarters.  I will write another shortly and more about different cases I think could be classed as artwashing after that.

It is important that I explain my rationale.  This is not a conspiracy.  This is global capitalism underpinned by neoliberal ideology.  Nothing illegal but perhaps unethical?

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Artwashing London – ‘Artist-led’ Studios, Library Takeovers, GLA Cultural Advisors, Property Developers & Offshore Tax Havens

Artwashing London – ‘Artist-led’ Studios, Library Takeovers, GLA Cultural Advisors, Property Developers & Offshore Tax Havens

London is awash with ‘artist-led’ initiatives that use ‘meanwhile’ spaces as temporary galleries, studios and all the usual stuff.  There are many bigger companies doing this too.  Nothing new here.  Sometimes, like in the case of Bow Arts and Balfron Tower, for example, they are rightly called out for artwashing.  There are many more cases of artwashing now than ever before.  More and more people are getting interested in its cynical misrepresentation of arts and culture as a ‘community good’ when really art is used as a front for big businesses, national and local government ‘regeneration’, property investors and a whole host of other people wanting to make a profit from, what is for many people, social cleansing.  Even artists are getting in on the artwashing act.

But why would any arts organisation want to set up its primary base in a tax haven -  particularly one who claim to be all about supporting local people and local economies?  And, why would Arts Council England and the Mayor of London (amongst others) be happy giving funds to a company that’s ultimately based in the Isle of Man?

This is the tale of one such case – V22, an ‘artists-led’ and, indeed, ‘artists owned’ arts organisation with a few different incarnations.  It’s a bit complex, but that seems to be how they like it.  It is one part of a mammoth case of interrelated artwashing that’s going on in London right now.

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The Idea: Profitable Business "As If" Performance Art (or The Complexities of Artwashing)

The Idea: Profitable Business "As If" Performance Art (or The Complexities of Artwashing)

This is a reblog (with additions) of a post that was originally posted anonymously on LSE Sociology blog.  I must explain a few things.  I wasn't comfortable being anonymous because, as a fellow activist said, anonymity is the greatest dispossession.  So here it is on my own site.  I stand by my work but must explain that my issue is not with the ESRC research nor with anyone involved in the forthcoming research project.  I am only interested in exploring The Idea - Platform-7 and what I consider to be an example of artwashing.  It is also important to note that this work is personal and not connected to anything else I am involved with professionally.  I consider this part of my ongoing activist work: an intervention; a performance; research as practice (praxis); art (or perhaps anti-art).  It is an act of resistance and a critique.  If this is problematic, I'm happy to explain more.

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Opportunty areas Pt 3: The Artists and The Puppet Masters - A Cautionary Tale

Opportunty areas Pt 3: The Artists and The Puppet Masters - A Cautionary Tale

This is the final part of a three-part series about "opportunity areas".  The first two blog posts in the series, Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle nd 'There for the taking', focused on three artists who I suggested were complicit in gentrification by working for state-funded initiatives like Creative People and Places and with property developers Delancey in the soon-to-be-demolished shopping centre at Elephant and Castle.  I know quite a few people felt I had been unfair, aggressive, vitriolic, indignant and cynical.  I was at pains to explain that the tale I told was not unique nor unusual.  Socially engaged art is commonly used as a form of placemaking.  The examples I described in the work of Eva Sajovic, Rebecca Davies and Sarah Butler were mundane.  A perhaps crass attempt to illustrate much bigger problems in our lives that are mirrored in art practices.

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Opportunity areas Part 2: 'There for the taking' - (Re)writing gentrification & placemaking

Opportunity areas Part 2: 'There for the taking' - (Re)writing gentrification & placemaking

This is part two of a three-part series of posts about Opportunity Areas.  Part one is here.

Part two explores Sarah Butler’s work in a little more detail.  Creative consultations, writing stories for Creative People and Places, advocacy of socially engaged writing as part of regeneration agendas, poetry hoardings ‘covering’ demolished social housing sites whilst new builds spring up and working for the New Deal for Communities.  It reveals, perhaps, how artists can be increasingly drawn into complicit relationships with local councils, the state, funders, charities, schools and property developers.

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Opportunity areas - Part 1: Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle

Opportunity areas - Part 1: Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle

Everyone loves an opportunity don’t they?  What about a whole area of opportunities: an Opportunity Area?  Investors love them.  Property developers love them.  Local councils love them.  The State loves them.  Even (some) artists love them.  Opportunities for all!  (Well, not people living in social housing … Oh, and not homeless people … Erm, and not market stall holders … Low income families who bought their own council home? No!)

This blog post explores the art world equivalent of MI5 – the socially engaged artists – the creative secret service for third wave gentrification, who, unlike the pioneering, colonial foot soldiers of first and second wave gentrification, do not necessarily live in gentrifying areas and are paid to infiltrate soon-to-be-decanted communities of social housing tenants, low income home owners, market stall holders and small shopkeepers, even, on occasion, homeless people.

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