This website hosts the work of students from the MA Art & Politics course at Goldsmiths, London. The MA Art & Politics course is based in the Politics Department at Goldsmiths. The work hosted here is named according to the students who created it. The work dates from 2011 to the present day. The website is updated when new work becomes available.
The work hosted here comes out of an ongoing pedagogical project we began in 2010 from the somewhat paradoxical position of believing that neither art nor politics could be taught in a politics department. To claim otherwise, in the case of art, would be to predetermine in advance what art should be and, or do and what an art department excludes or overlooks in terms of art. The first thing to suffer in this move is the contingency of art, is art’s ability to speak in different registers simultaneously. To claim otherwise, in the case of politics, is to reject the often irrational, affective, and heterogenous dimensions of human relations that is central to the constitution of the political. In other words, the kind of energy which is always kept firmly outside the parameters of a politics department yet it is this same energy that gives life to the political and which shares a family resemblance with certain concerns of the art world.
We resolved to overcome this paradox by treating both these worlds of art and politics as archives through which to explore questions relating to how ideas devolve to form. Our project was never about disciplinary and defined fields of knowledge but about working through and toward sensibilities then transforming them into a form of material practice. Such sensibilities only arise in the contemporary, for they are ignited by what touches people in the moment. The methodology we developed was designed to capture, harness and channel the almost inaudible buzz that comes from work that touches people in this way. Such sensibilities also move us beyond the realm of cognitive recognition. Beginning with material and with what students bring in terms of their practice, however nascent this may be. This method opened onto a way of speaking across disciplines and across private interests yet doing so without privileging discipline or the direction of travel of ideas. It is work that often involves moving things about in space, mimetically reconfiguring a form; it is about modification and recontextualization rather than reconstruction. Out of this process we have grown an MA which has, at its core, a radical pedagogy developed over ten years of experimentation. The ‘future practice’ we believe we are helping develop during our brief encounter with students is an expanded practice, one in which people and practice find very different forms of expression.
Our approach to teaching is designed around the creation of a collective space of learning and critical reflection. A process shaped by the context and infrastructure through which we collectively work as much as how we and others contribute to and engage with these different forms and mechanisms. This is designed around ‘five technologies’: material, context, public(s), duration and distribution. These are framed by an overarching concern with process which runs through and connects each of these. The five technologies can best be described as five interrelated elements that fold into one another and which each practice is obliged to address or resolve in terms of the specificity and potentiality these point to. The methodology is designed to explore and identify a practice in terms of what it is, where it is and how it belongs in the world. In this way it gently pushes a practice beyond the classroom and beyond the university while bringing a reflexive and critical gaze to the work. It is designed to be both flexible and open in that it privileges neither discipline nor direction but follows the work which can move into an art world and become art as much as it can move into other worlds and be named accordingly. At the same time, it is developed to be rigorous and focused in how it frames the particularity of the practice and work a student is engaged in. It treats the art world on a horizontal axis as a world among other worlds with its own particular genealogies, histories and desires that one can engage with.
John Reardon and Michael Dutton
John Reardon is interested in borders and boundaries, in how these ‘world us’ and shape how we act. His practice frames these interests in terms of how art is made public and how a public is constituted through art; his work has a strong pedagogical and generative approach to these questions and to bringing a reflexive gaze to this work in the process of its unfolding. This takes the form of single and co-authored work, disseminated under a shared name or title, or anonymously, and includes objects, performance, curation and writing. These are shaped by the context-specific conditions of space, architecture, environment and infrastructure, and the expectations and limitations of these.
His work has been shown at Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea, Setouchi Triennale, Japan, Hon-gah Museum, Taipei, A+ Gallery, Berlin, Cell Project Space, London, Whitechapel Gallery project space, London, Modern Art Oxford and various other formal and informal spaces.
Reardon is Artist in Residence in the Politics Department, Goldsmiths, London where he is a co-founder of the MA Art & Politics.
Michael Dutton's work circles around social & cultural theory and usually around his principle geographic archive, China. Increasingly the distinction between archive and interest has become blurred. As these distinctions became blurred, so too did the distinction between text and other forms of material leading to an engagement with the art world.
His earliest major work, Policing and Punishment in China (Cambridge UP 1992), explored the way various Chinese governments disciplined the subject, while his second major work, Streetlife China (1998 Cambridge UP) looked at the popular responses to governmental disciplining. His third book, Policing Chinese Politics (Duke UP 2005) —for which he won the American Asian Studies Levenson Award for the best book on modern China, 2007— explored the underlying dynamic propelling the Maoist revolution while his last book, Beijing Time (Harvard UP), co-authored with former students, revealed another sometimes hidden side to life in the Chinese capital. In his forthcoming book, Dutton explores the concept of the political but once again he does so in a way that highlights its cultural distinctiveness. Arguing for an art rather than a science of the political, Dutton’s work offers a more liquid and affective understanding of the political that through art methods touches upon the affective elements of knowledge.