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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Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of 'participation' that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics.  Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within 'the social', there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines.  Too often I attend conferences or read articles about socially engaged art, participatory art and Creative People and Places only to find an often insular, narrow discussion of practice which often is positioned within existing frameworks of practice and research which themselves are often ultimately defined by the state.

This article therefore attempts to open up new ways of thinking about community development and social engagement in art programmes like Creative People and Places.

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ORANGE PAINT AND FIBRE GLASS FRIGGIN SHEEP: A conversation about artists & communities & life

ORANGE PAINT AND FIBRE GLASS FRIGGIN SHEEP: A conversation about artists & communities & life

This is a transcript of another Twitter conversation between @rattlecans and the poet Martin Daws.  It stemmed from my tweet, which reflected Martin's call for paid artists in place of multi-million pound art centres.  I asked: "Instead of a £50m art venue, a city could pay 200 artists £25k a year for 10 years to work with communities; do what they want.  What do you think?"  This is what happened...

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Carry on regardless: A response to "Rethinking Relationships" - a new report about the #civicrolearts

Carry on regardless: A response to "Rethinking Relationships" - a new report about the #civicrolearts

Two new reports were recently released about how the arts and creativity might engage with society and communities in more meaningful ways.  The first was Rethinking Relationships – an enquiry into the civic role of arts organisations commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the second was Towards cultural democracy, commissioned by Kings College London.  Both reveal, for me, different and yet loosely interrelated attempts to find new ways to advocate for the arts or “everyday creativity”.  This is the first of two blog posts in which I begin to critically examine the reports.  The focus here is on Rethinking Relationships.

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V22 PLC. Artist studios, ex-libraries, tax avoidance:Transnational Artwashing

V22 PLC. Artist studios, ex-libraries, tax avoidance:Transnational Artwashing

I’ve written about the complex artwashing activities of Isle of Man registered V22 PLC and its “group” of associated companies before, first here, then an interlude, then a second piece here.  This blog post seeks to reveal some of the interrelated layers of complexity involved in the artwashing of London’s art studios, regeneration areas, communities, ex-libraries and public buildings.  It presents information and research.  It does not claim that anything illegal is happening.  It does, however, reveal links and interests way beyond the art world and, for that matter, London.  This is, for me, is perhaps the most intricate form of artwashing I’ve encountered.  There are links to alleged tax avoidance, scandals and corporate vested interests.  Nothing illegal but perhaps, I suggest, unethical.  This is transnational artwashing.  All of the information presented here is publicly available.  There is more to come…

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Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

 

This article seeks to reveal the limitations of state-initiated arts and cultural projects as well as spurious notions of ‘empowerment’ by examining them in terms of homogeneity, universality and technocracy.  It focuses on issues of instrumentalism with the arts and explores how state-initiated ‘community engagement’ programmes like Creative People and Places may effectively reproduce state agendas linked to social capital theory and thereby to neoliberalism.  It asks a series of questions: Whose values really underpin cultural value?  Who are ‘we’ and who are ‘we’ trying to ‘engage’?  Whose culture are ‘we’ trying to (re)make and why?  Do ‘we’ need new infrastructure; more managers?  Do people in areas of low cultural engagement have their own forms of culture that some may just not consider ‘cultured’?  If cultural democracy offers a different view of people power, so why is it loathed by the state?

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ASHwash: Architects for Social Housing AND for Establishment Values?

ASHwash: Architects for Social Housing AND for Establishment Values?

This blog post is about ASH - Architects for Social Housing.  It uncovers a different side to ASH's founder that is rooted in the establishment and seeks to work with local councils to promote citizenship and art as a public good.  It suggests that these values (and others) are at odds with the aggressive and passionately political persona often adopted by ASH.  ASH's work has been outstanding but is it all it appears?

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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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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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Duty Now For The Future: Can #SocialAction really co-produce us out of this SHIT?

Duty Now For The Future: Can #SocialAction really co-produce us out of this SHIT?

SOCIAL ACTION NOW! A new anthem for "shared society" Tories and for all the compliant public sector workers. Social workers, community groups, volunteers, cultural organisations, everyone! SOCIAL ACTION NOW!  DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE! [Repeat ad infinitum...]

I ask: "Can social action really co-produce us out of this SHIT?"

This is a short blog post.  That's all I feel is needed.

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Tell me again, why do arts organisations (really) want to work in communities?

Tell me again, why do arts organisations (really) want to work in communities?

Tell me again, why do you want to work in Stockton? asks ARC Stockton chief executive Annabel Turpin.  Of course, this question could apply anywhere and, I argue here, it could also be applied more deeply, perhaps.

Annabel Turpin’s blog about the invasion of London arts organisations in ‘the regions’ reflects a growing sense of frustration within regional arts organisations who feel they are not treated as equals in many such ‘partnerships’.  I argue here that the same thing is in fact happening within the regions – that large Arts Council England funded ‘local’ arts organisations are going into their communities with the same lack of understanding and for the same reasons.

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Art, theory, practice & politics: Differences, not "one culture". A response to François Matarasso

Art, theory, practice & politics: Differences, not "one culture". A response to François Matarasso

This blog post follows on from yesterday’s critique of Stella Duffy’s call for action towards the creation of a “new culture”.  It is a response both to François Matarasso’s thoughtful and challenging critique of my blog post and an attempt to answer the people who asked what my basis was for my critique, what my practice was, what alternative perspectives I might have.  I fear this post will prove unsatisfactory to many as I do not claim to offer singular nor even collective solutions that will ever be acceptable to “everyone”.  Nevertheless, here goes…

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Unlock the all-inclusive fun of a “new culture” with added “genius in everyone” NOW! (A reply to Stella Duffy's New Year provocation & arts "campaigns" like Fun Palaces)

Unlock the all-inclusive fun of a “new culture” with added “genius in everyone” NOW! (A reply to Stella Duffy's New Year provocation & arts "campaigns" like Fun Palaces)

A new year.  A cultural event.  Not all cultures.  Our culture’s.

Traditionally, at least in our culture, a time of misadvised, soon misplaced resolutions.  Most are very personal.  The one I want to talk about here is “for everyone”.  Yes, that’s right, everyone!  It’s an all-inclusive provocation.  A call for change, for cultural change.

The call comes from Stella Duffy on behalf of her Fun Palaces campaign.  The campaign manifesto claims:

We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better.

We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.

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