The Whitworth: Economics Seminar

On Friday 15th February 2019 I was able to participate in a seminar at The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, which forms part of the lead up to a forthcoming show on Art and The Economy (currently slated to open in late 2020 or early 2021). Organized by Alistair Hudson and Samantha Lackey, in conjunction with economist Ismail Ertürk, this was an opportunity to begin thinking of how this show could be developed as an open, ongoing and constituent project, via the forthcoming Office of Useful Art (which will open at The Whitworth in Autumn 2019), that will reactivate alternative thinking about how art can be used as a catalyst to rethink forms of both economic and non-economic reciprocity, exchange and use-value. As a means to develop thinking around this subject, our good friends Kathrin Böhm and Kuba Szreder presented the Company Drinks project as an example of how an art project can work across different scales, locations, communities and identities (both economic and otherwise) and, also, some of the key questions that this kind of 1:1 Scale practice now raise for the contemporary art world and alternative plausible art worlds.

The Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries Collaboration

In January 2019, and as part of my role as Director of the Uses of Art Lab at Liverpool John Moores University, I began a collaborative project between LJMU’s School of Art and Design and The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery. Over the next years, this will see me develop a role as a Researcher and Writer in Residence at both The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and, consequently, this will enable me to work on a long-term basis with staff and constituents of The Whitworth and the Manchester Art Gallery, as well as staff, students and constituents of Liverpool School of Art and Design, via The Uses of Art Lab. Initially I have been attending a series of Ruskin Reading Groups, led by Luke Uglow, at The Whitworth and I have also been working with Curator Poppy Bowers to develop Constituent practices via the forthcoming Ruskin show ‘Joy for Ever: How to use art to change the world and its price in the market‘, which will open at the Whitworth on March 29th 2019. I will also be collaborating on the development of a permanent Office of Useful Art that will open at The Whitworth in the autumn of 2019 which will also house the Archive of the Association of Arte Util. I would like to thank long term collaborator in use, and Director of The Whitworth and Manchester Galleries Alistair Hudson, as well as my Director of School, Caroline Wilkinson, and LJMU Faculty Dean of Research John Hyatt for making this collaboration possible.

AAU Summit and Coffee Table Mapping

On October 5th 2018 the Association of Arte Útil summit took place at Company Drinks in Croydon, Middlesex. The morning session was given over to discussions about the next steps and developments of the Association of Arte Útil and, in the afternoon, a series of open discussions and workshops took place around the ‘Redrawing Artistic Economies’ project initiated by Company Drinks. Information on the day itself, including an audio recording of the Association of Arte Útil’s ‘coffee table’ mapping tool presentation can be found at the Company Drinks post for the Artistic Economies Event.

Our Many Europes

From September 17th to 19th, 2018, the launch for the new L’Internationale project ‘Our Many Europes’ took place at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. This was an opportunity to celebrate the work done on the previous L’Internationale project ‘The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’ whilst, at the same time, to look forward to the next step of this incredible confederation. As the ‘Our Many Europes’ project is funded by the EU, it is with real sadness that LJMU, like The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, can no longer be direct European Partners in this project. However, The Whitworth and Manchester Gallery, under the Directorship of Alistair Hudson, will become Associate Members of the L’Internationale. Via collaborations and projects that I will participate in with The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, I hope to also contribute in some way to ongoing L’Internationale research. After five years of working with the L’Internationale consortium, I genuinely regard my colleagues within that network as a family. Working on the ‘Constituencies Project’ as manager and coordinator of that Research Strand, and having the opportunity to take the role, on behalf of LJMU, as Lead Editor in the production of ‘The Constituent Museum’ book, I can honestly say it has been a privilege which has fundamentally changed how I think, do and act. Suffice it to say that I see Brexit as little more than a short-sighted catastrophe based on nostalgic fictions of sovereignty and dangerous delusions of nationalist grandeur – both brought on by a lingering inability to deal with postcolonial loss. As individuals, families, communities, and countries we are stronger together, as constituents, in the struggle against conditions of neoliberal occupation.