Project Lead: Kyle Zeto
Number of participants: 15
Duration: 3 days + 1 external event
A series of collaborative seminars & presentations for art students to think about how they position themselves within the politics and bureaucracy of the culture industry which they are now (by choice) a part of. The university is not a neutral space. Within the arts, attendance of such institutions is often seen, but not overtly acknowledged, as a necessary rite of passage. The litany of public art institutional ‘scandals’ is a testament to the unhealthy relationship between art and capitalism. There is also the practice of ‘Artwashing’ where artists and art organisations are co-opted into urban gentrification, which often results in the social cleansing of particular city locales. On the converse, government funding for the arts is shrinking, the art fair commerce model is becoming more entrenched. Many galleries/arts venues exist with the looming threat of unceremonious closure, with their survival depending on crowdfunding or arts council grants. Therefore in this environment of increased precarity, one might not always have the luxury of ethics if the ultimatum is either making work or not. But yet if any progessive future is to be had, we must collectively work to ‘detoxify’ the parasitic relationship of art to oligarchy, high finance and neoliberalism.
Personally, I believe in building an art practice that includes critique of its own means and circumstances of production – from the perspective that there are inequalities that should be corrected towards a more egalitarian and anti-capitalist set of artistic ideals. But as artists have specific freedoms with how they can question power/history within their cultural output, it is imperative, especially at this time of zombie capitalism and climate crisis, that a privileged position isn’t squandered. I also believe in building a sustainable practice – one that doesn’t rely on specific technologies or circumstances to actualise it. Part of that sustainable practice can use the experiences of art institution bureaucracy to strengthen its pragmatism and adaptability.
Day 1: Monday 4th November:
Presentation by Kyle Zeto ‘When Dreams Meet Admin’
This talk will cover a few core points – the intersection of art and bureaucracy and the inherent hierarchies of the arts & culture network (London specific in this instance). How does this affect you as a student? How have your experiences of art education impacted your perspective on making or the industry-at-large?
Following the morning presentation, there will be some group discussions on how to navigate the ethical hellscape of contemporary art making. We’ll look at art worker unionisation, decolonisation movements, museum funding scandals and share our views and/or play devils advocate.
Day 2: Tuesday 5th November:
Acronyms and Revolution!
Artist Benedict Seymour will join us for a presentation of his film Dead The Ends (2019) followed by a discussion on the film and its background in the political struggles post-2008 financial crisis
Day 3: Wednesday 6th November:
Productive Failure or Anti-Product: DIY Zine making
While not as glorious or CV-buffing as an exhibition, DIY zine making is a good way to experiment with ideas and doesn’t even have to be part of your personal art ‘brand’ either! It can be as cheap or as fancy as you desire and audiences are far more interested in them than self-serving catalogues of artworks. Plus there are loads of zine fairs, so there’s a distribution network far more accessible than the art competition/fair/gallery ziggurat.
We’ll have a look at some examples of art-oriented zines and a really basic method of how to make them using the college photocopiers, a stapler, a knife and Adobe InDesign. Then you’ll be encouraged to use your notes from earlier sessions to form the basis of a zine. You can work individually or collaboratively.
Day 4: Thursday 7th November:
This day is left open for you to continue working on or print & bind your zines.
Day 5: Friday 8th November:
Weather or climate crisis permitting, you’ll bring the zines or any work you’ve made to BOOKS Peckham and between 5-8pm (tbc) we’ll have a presentation table for them set up. If you’re charitable you could even donate your zines to BOOKS! There will also be an opportunity for anyone to do a short reading if they want to. There may be some wine.