What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About The Artist-Led
January 31, 2020.
A symposium exploring the often unspoken issues relating to artist-led practices and organisation.
Self-organisation by artists and creative practitioners in the UK has in recent years come to be understood as being ‘artist-led’ – initiated and directed by them – often in non-commercial contexts that act as an alternative to the mainstream offerings and practices of the institutionalised art system. Through this self-organisation practitioners respond to a perceived lack of provision in the arts communities in which they or their networks of peers are based, creating new opportunities and organisational structures for expression, experimentation and change that can be traced historically to other self-organised movements from the post-war period onwards.
Those practices have always been developed in some form of opposition to those in power and display an innate sense of social and institutional critique. But over the past decade at a time when the socio-economic stability of the country has been in flux and felt the full force of ideological austerity, practitioners and their collectives, groups and organisations have found themselves routinely co-opted, exploited and appropriated by external actors and institutions, often nonchalantly justified by the perpetrators. These conditions are largely accepted as simply part of the contemporary nature of the art system itself, and in part allowed to continue by practitioners for legitimate fear of speaking out publicly and limiting their future prospects of opportunities, support or career development; constrained into maintaining the status quo by their economic instability.
This symposium seeks to provide a neutral space to open discussion up beyond the usual perimeters on those very subjects, acting as a safe and welcoming environment in which to do so. It will function as both a site of knowledge exchange, discourse and development, and a provocation to freely and publicly challenge those conditions detrimental to the physical, mental and creative wellbeing of those involved. As the culmination of the first year of the Open Forum discussion programme held at the Exhibition Research Lab, and building on previous events surrounding artist-led and self-organised practices in the visual arts, it will host critical dialogue and begin to formulate new approaches.
The event will critique the culture of accepting social hierarchies and conditions imposed on practitioners within the artist-led by external actors, organisations and institutions in order to begin collaboratively developing possibilities and proposals for meaningful change to occur throughout the art system. It will allow participants and attendees to share their thoughts, opinions and proposals for future strategies that otherwise go unspoken or ignored.
– 12ø Collective (Eva Duerden, Kelly Lloyd & Lou Macnamara)
– Dr Dave Beech
– More Than Meanwhile Spaces (Dr Emma Coffield, Rebecca Huggan, Dr Rebecca Prescott & Dr Paul Richter)
– Dean Casper
– Dr Emma Coffield
– Michael D’Este
– Juliet Davis-Dufayard
– Dan Goodman
– Susan Jones
– Rory Macbeth
– Katy Morrison
– Sufea Mohamad Noor
– Jonathan Orlek
– James Schofield
– Lauren Velvick
– John Wright
Organised by James Schofield, PhD researcher based at the Exhibition Research Lab.
Selected presentations from the event can be viewed below:
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.