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Title: Turning left : counter-hegemonic exhibition-making in the post-socialist era (1989-2014)
Author: Wray, Lynn Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 0160
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2016
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This research examines how the practice of curating has been used to further counter-hegemonic agendas in public art institutions since 1989. The central aim is to provide a fuller, contextualised, and medium specific understanding of the how the institutional exhibition might be used to challenge the hegemony of neoliberalism and the post-political consensus politics that sustains its dominance. It provides insights, through both historic case studies and reflective practice, that problematise the idea that the institutional art exhibition is a viable medium for counter-hegemonic critique, or represents the ideal space for the development of an agonistic public discourse. This thesis presents collaborative research undertaken with Tate Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. The research presented both extrapolated from, and contributed to, the development of an exhibition, co-curated with Tate Liverpool, entitled Art Turning Left (8 November 2013 – 2 February 2014) and a supplementary publication of the same name. The first section investigates how the idea that curators can counter neoliberal dominance, through institutional exhibition-making, developed. It draws from analyses of previous exhibitions, and the theory of Chantal Mouffe, in order to critically evaluate the curatorial application of counter-hegemonic critique and agonistic practice. It also provides a review of how exhibitions (held in major art institutions since 1989) have articulated politics, in order to determine their relationship to neoliberal dominance, and to identify significant gaps in the dialogue facilitated by these institutions. These analyses provides the theoretical and contextual grounding for the final two chapters, which provide a rationale and critical evaluation of my own attempt to develop an alternative counter-hegemonic curatorial strategy for the exhibition at Tate Liverpool. They document, and analyse, the areas of dissensus, and the ideological and pragmatic limitations that emerged, in trying to realise these theoretical propositions (in practice) in a public art museum. The thesis therefore provides a critical framework for the development of an alternative practice that positions the exhibition as a form of post-political critique and specifically targets the hegemonic role that institutional exhibitions play in reinforcing class distinctions and devaluing nonprofessional creativity.
Supervisor: Sheldon, Julie Sponsor: Tate Liverpool
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Curating ; Curatorial Practice ; Contemporary Curating ; Exhibition-Making ; Political Exhibition-Making ; Politics ; Counter-hegemonic ; cultural hegemony ; hegemony ; Leftist Politics;Chantal Mouffe ; Mouffe ; Post-Politics ; Post-Socialism ; Art Galleries ; Art Museums ; Art Turning Left ; Tate ; Tate Liverpool ; Lynn Wray ; Exhibition histories ; Art History ; Political Art ; Gramsci ; Agonism ; Radical politics ; art ; left-wing