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Title: The artist-led condition : reframing self-organisation in the visual arts in the UK post-2007
Author: Schofield, J.
ISNI:       0000 0005 0288 2622
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2021
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The term ‘artist-led’ has become commonly used as shorthand to describe cultural forms grounded in principles of self-organisation, largely as part of the ‘second economy’ of the globalised art system. The thesis critically explores this self-organisation by visual arts practitioners in the UK following the Financial Crisis (2007), arguing that the terminology itself is defunct. It proposes the ‘artist-led condition’ as a way to re-frame those self-organised practices, enabling a social and productive benefit to practitioners through a framework of collectivisation. One that acts as a composition of individuals acting in common rather than flattening differences into a homogenous mass, supporting them to be politically active in their own circumstances. Situated within a broader discourse on self-organisation in the visual arts and cultural resistance to neoliberal hegemony in times of austerity, the research addresses key questions relating to socio-economic conditions of practice; resistance to systems of social organisation and governance; and the impact of increased internet connectivity. Outlining how artist-led self-organisation has become established as the methodology for the majority of practitioners in the period post-2007, it explores how neoliberal power structures have shaped its development, perception and function, creating a paradoxical interdependence between two sides that inherently oppose one another. Through this paradoxical relationship critique is often recuperated by that system, with a small number of practitioners able to stage meaningful critique through utilising dynamic organisational forms. When viewing practitioners as a whole the subsequent need for further dynamic forms of resistance shows the complex and modulated potential to help bring about social change artist-led self-organisation possesses. The artist-led condition specifically supports this potential, allowing for the formation of networked and localised forms of resistance to neoliberal governance in solidarity with one another. Embracing the paradox of its own existence, the artist-led condition makes public the potential it holds as a site of both problems and opportunities to potentially utilise neoliberal hegemony as a tool to support self-organised resistance to it. The research outlines the practical and ideological parameters of it to demonstrate how it can be understood and function as a catalyst for new models of self-organisation and organisational structures to be created, or existing ones to be reformatted and repurposed for continued use. Re-framing the understanding of artist-led self-organisation to provide practitioners with a new framework of practice presenting new possibilities for social change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: N Visual arts (General)