Friday, 10 March 2017, 18:00 – 20:30 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH Rail/tube: City Thameslink, Blackfriars, St. Paul’s
Chaired by Katie Tysoe and Sophia Kosmaoglou Free, fully booked
In March we’re reading Rhizome, the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980) by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Rhizome was first published in 1976 by Éditions de Minuit. Continue reading Deleuze & Guattari: Rhizome→
Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle is a landmark text of the Situationist International, and its most influential one together with Raoul Vaneigem’s The Revolution of Everyday Life. Originally published in 1967, it has been related to the radical heritage of the May 1968 uprising in France and has been in print as well as enjoyed new translations and editions to this day. Debord revisited it in his Comments on the Society of the Spectacle in 1988.
The Situationist International offered a radical critique of advanced capitalist societies, manifesting the fusion of art and politics and the prominence of everyday life as a field of analysis and intervention. It combined elements from Marxism and anarchism, and while being separate from both it developed in a libertarian direction and in opposition to the orthodox Marxist-Leninist canon of the time. The Situationists have been criticised, among other things for vanguard cultural elitism, as well as praised, among other things for contributing to the renewal of radical social theory and practice.
In The Society of the Spectacle Debord both draws and reflects upon Marx’s original analysis of the capitalist mode of production, including key concepts such as commodity fetishism and alienation. The result of such an intellectual endeavour is the production of an original perspective: the concept of the spectacle, a social relationship between people which is mediated by images, suggests a society where genuine activity is replaced by representation and social life is colonised by commodities. In this respect, the emerging critique promptly focuses on the key role of media culture and consumerism in late capitalism; but, unlike most of the contemporary postmodernist paradigm, it maintains a radical edge rooted in class consciousness and struggle.
Chapter 8, titled Negation and Consumption in the Cultural Sphere, emerges as a potentially useful reading with regard to art practice and theory on the basis of two reasons. On the one hand, it is the part of the book where Debord is principally concerned with art’s position in the field of culture; the provided discussion addresses the autonomy of culture and its connection to history in a class-based society, as well as art’s relation to language and communication and its function as a form of dialogue and a practice.
On the other hand, the text constitutes a sophisticated polemic against conventional social theory as well as a fierce defence of the unity between theory and practice; and its argument culminates in the discussion of détournement, a concept signifying the language of anti-ideology and subversive action. Perhaps it is in this respect that Debord echoes Marx most clearly, and his infamous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach more particularly: the point is not just to interpret the world, but to change it.
Aristotelis Nikolaidisstudied sociology, completed a PhD in media and communications at Goldsmiths and has been involved in free and self-organised language programmes for migrants and refugees. He is teaching and researching in the field of social theory and media studies from a critical perspective, which is to say that he is at odds with marketization, careerism and precarious labour conditions in the university.
Why does Debord argue that ‘art’s declaration of independence is the beginning of the end of art’? (Thesis 186, p. 133)
How does Debord define avant-garde art? And how may the contrasting examples of Dada and Surrealism inform our understanding of the transcendent potential of art or lack thereof?
Why is conventional sociological theory criticised for offering ‘a spectacular critique of the spectacle’? (Thesis 196, p. 138)
Why does Debord argue that critical theory is inconceivable independently of a rigorous practice? (Thesis 203, p. 143)
In what ways may the concept of the détournement empower a radical critique and practice? How may it be related to contemporary practices such as culture jamming, for example in the case of the Adbusters, or to the work of conceptual artists such as Barbara Kruger?
As we await the arrival of summer the pandemic appears to be at bay, but only by giving way to new fronts of crisis, disinformation, struggle and resistance. Artists have been particularly impacted in the last two years and still reeling as we emerge into the new dystopian normal, so you’re not alone. Book a free advice session with Artquest One to One to discuss your practice and plans for the future – new dates in late May and early June will be posted soon.
The Summer 2022 Art+Critique online course starts on Saturday, 23 April and continues for 16 weeks until 6 August 2022. The course is popular beyond the London bubble and Covid is still creating some uncertainty, so there are no immediate plans for face-to-face courses. We have just wrapped up the Autumn/Winter 2021-22 course and it’s always sad when the regular meetings with a fantastic group of beaming faces come to an end. But we’re hatching a plan for follow-up sessions for alumni of the course. If that is you please stay tuned and I will be in touch with more info.
The Festival of Alternative Art Education is still postponed indefinitely for the time-being but I’m looking forward to restart the Co-operative art school? action-research project with an new strategy. If you have completed the co-operative art school survey please stay tuned for news and updates. If not then head over there and fill it in because I might finally have the chance to compile the report during the break. Hope you get some sun whether you’re taking time off or raging on 🐞
Free one-to-one remote advice sessions for London-based artists
Book a free Artquest one-to-one advice session to get feedback about your work, build a strategy for an upcoming project, get practical career advice, discuss the logistics of operating as an artist and find out about other arts organisations and how they can support you. New dates in late May and early June coming soon.
Critical & Contextual Studies in Art Practice Online, Summer 2022
This course integrates practice and theory to address our concepts of art, how they are being transformed and the problems of making and exhibiting art in the broader context of social conflict. The curriculum surveys essential histories and discourses of contemporary art, demystifies the art world and provides multiple entry points into critical theory. The lectures address the questions of what art is, how it is judged, how it relates to society and what is at stake for artists today. The programme fosters collaborative study and provides practical tools in workshops and group feedback sessions. 23 Apr – 6 Aug 2022, Saturdays 10:00-12:30 BST (GMT+1), for 16 weeks Course fee £360 / Concessions £288
For more information and to register please visit the course page. For detailed information on the schedule, lectures and reading please download the course outline. If the course fees are a barrier to your participation please get in touch so that we can find a way to make it more accessible for you.
It’s been a long hard slog but things are starting to look up with the easing of restrictions and a potential end in sight for Covid. In the meantime, if you’re feeling stuck or want to hatch some plans sign up for a free advice session with Artquest Outpost Online.
The next Art + Critique online course begins on Thu, 14 Oct 2021 and continues over two terms until 10 Mar 2022. I will continue to offer this course online to accommodate those who wish to participate from outside London and the UK. If you’re interested in a face-to-face course in London please stay tuned for updates when this becomes a viable option.
The Festival of Alternative Art Education is still postponed indefinitely due to restrictions on large indoor events, please stay tuned for updates and new dates when the events can go ahead.
I’m very excited to be working with Artquest to provide one-to-one advice sessions to answer your questions and provide feedback on your work. This is an opportunity to get practical career advice, discuss the logistics of operating as an artist, and find out more about other services and organisations that can help you navigate the art world in these unprecedented times. When booking you can select which advisor you would like to meet based on their areas of expertise. Each session lasts 45 minutes and is conducted on either Skype or Zoom. The sessions are very popular so you are asked to book one session per year. The regular advisors are not all available every month, so if the slots are booked up or if your chosen advisor isn’t available please try again the following month.
This course integrates practice and theory to address our concepts of art, how they are being transformed and the problems of making art in the broader context of social conflict. The syllabus will help you develop your practice and research in a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and off-site visits. The lectures series surveys the histories and discourses of contemporary art, demystifies the art world and provides multiple entry points into critical theory. The programme fosters experimentation and collaborative study in a community of peers, and provides practical tools to empower you to pursue your practice with confidence.
Course aims, outcomes & learning objectives
By the end of the course participants will have a sound grasp of the historical underpinnings and current debates in contemporary art. They will be able to critically discuss and evaluate contemporary art. Participants will leave the course with critical awareness of contemporary art practice, a road map and a toolbox of methodologies for their continuing practice and the confidence to pursue it independently.
Who is it for?
The course is open to everyone at any stage of their career or level of experience but it is particularly suited to those who have a background and experience in art and wish to develop their practice and extend their knowledge of contemporary art practices and discourses.
Very excited to launch a new course! It combines almost a year’s worth of critical studies lectures and seminars, group tutorials and workshops into one term so it’s going to be pretty intense. Designed during the transition from lockdown to whatever it is we have now, it tries to make up for some of the community, context, interaction, challenge, motivation, freedom and future horizons that we lost in the last six months.
A comprehensive bibliography for the Art + Critique Critical & Contextual Studies lecture and seminar series. You can use it as a further reading list or to locate references that are not in the handouts, reader or further reading and resources. Please click the headings for a drop-down list.
CRITICAL & CONTEXTUAL STUDIES IN ART PRACTICE: ONLINE COURSE
This course integrates practice and theory in a comprehensive programme that emphasises critical inquiry in art practice and research. The course will help you develop your practice and research through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, group tutorials and off-site visits. The syllabus offers a solid background in essential histories and discourses of contemporary art to help artists address questions about their practice and its context: about what art is, how it is judged and how it relates to society.
Thanks to everyone who came along and contributed to the Alternative Art Education (Slow) Marathon! We launched URgh!#1, amplified the movement, opened up the discussion on some of the more esoteric aspects of self-organised art education, demonstrated the possibilities of online education and had a lot of fun!
Self-organisation for a co-operative art school: report
Many thanks to the participants who joined the workshop for their contributions and their patience! I can only hope that it was as useful for them as it for me. I was very excited to meet them and hear about their backgrounds, practices and reasons for joining the workshop. Many are members of collectives or cooperatives and it was especially good to have people drop in from Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Madrid! Continue reading Self-organisation for a co-operative art school: report→
Feral Art School: an interview with Jayne Jones and Jackie Goodman
Feral Art School is a Hull-based co-operative founded in 2018. The art school offers courses in drawing, painting, printmaking and textiles, as well as day schools in fashion and documentary photography. I caught up with Jayne Jones and Jackie Goodman to find out how they set up the co-operative and hear more about the programme, their working methods and expectations for the future. Read their fascinating insights on coops, the ambiguities of their structure and the challenges and debates around funding and accreditation.