Please find below a call for contributions for a stream at the Art of Management and Organization Conference, Paris, 7th10th Sept 2004
The Art of Subversion: Art Against Management, Art For Different Organizational Futures
Conveners: Steffen BÃ¶hm, AndrÃ© Spicer and Mel Strauss
On waking, it seems that we are instantly sucked into a cold cash nexus operated by massive corporations, regulated by faceless multinational bureaucrats, and policed by American military might. This network goes under a number of titles including world-wide capitalism, globalisation, and most recently Empire. Countless social critics have gone to great lengths to trace out the many tentacles of this global empire, and detail just how all pervasive it is. Despite the breadth of the debate there seems to be at least a broad agreement that a central part of this empire is the process through which the market and management are applied to nearly every sector of social life. Nearly any problem that social life produces (increases in poverty, mounting alienation, obese children) is deemed to be something that can be solved through moremarket and more management. Because this idea is so prevalent we might call it one of the dominant forms of hegemony in our time. Given the apparently all-encompassing nature of market managerialism as a form of hegemony, are we simply to wave a resentful fist at it? Are we to embrace it with a cynical smirk? Or, is another configuration of organization possible?
If we cast an eye across social life, we can see that resistance to market managerialism is, in fact, not particularly futile. There are many practices that pensions and punks, immigrants and corporate insiders are engaged in that challenge the continued dominance of market managerialism in their own lives. These include street protests, traditional political mobilization, consciousness raising, whistle blowing, and organizing alternative economies. Perhaps one of the most interesting ways of contesting market managerialism has been cultural means, and in particular the visual culture. This has included culture jamming, the use of art as a form of political protest, deliberate reflection on the economy in recent contemporary art, the development of artist run spaces, and anti-war art to name just a few manifestations. Surveying the worlds of contemporary art we are struck by the thousands of reactions to market managerialism. At the heart of many of these refusals is not just an attempt to question some aspect of contemporary capitalism, but also an attempt to develop alternatives.
In recognizing resistance to current market managerialism we are also reminded that there is a rich and deep history within art practice that has continually called capitalism into question and posed alternatives. This has included the arts and crafts movement, socialist and labour art, Dada and other avant-garde movements in the 1920s and 1930s, responses to ‘the organizational society’during the 1950s and the ‘consumer society’of the 1960s, art produced by colonized peoples, and the many and varied artistic responses to the effects of neo-liberalism all over the world. Perhaps by recalling the histories of these artistic struggles, we may be able to contribute to contemporary struggles against market managerialism.
In order to explore this territory, we would like to include contributions exploring artistic practices of resistance to and subversion of ‘market managerialism'(broadly put). Contributors may want to explore, for example:
– The influence of market managerialism on cultural institutions, and ways in which cultural workers work within and resist the rising tide of neo-liberalism.
– Artistic re-actions to the introduction of mechanized cultural production and attempts to create alternatives.
– The cultural labour process and various forms of resistances within this labour process.Â
– Attempts to critique and build alternatives to consumerism through artistic means.Â
– The art of the labour movement and its role in organizing solidarity.
– The development of political artistic communities.Â
– The role of art in organizing resistance movements.
– Artistic imaginations of alternative social organizations.
Although this stream in interested in exploring the role of art in subverting and resisting the hegemony of market managerialism, it does not aim to be simply negative. Ultimately we seek to include contributions that not only expose, critique and resist dominant management discourses in society but indeed attempt to explore alternative organizational futures. That is, this stream aims to be affirmative rather than simply negative or even nihilistic. In our view, art plays an important part in imagining a different world, and in this stream we hope to be able to stage and give voice to some of these images of what could, perhaps, be radical different views of social organization.
We are particularly interested in historical, empirical, theoretical, or cultural forms of artistic engagement with how ‘market managerialism’is resisted and how organizational alternatives are imagined. We seek to put together a truly transdisciplinary group of artists, professionals, academics and students to present contributions that can range from academic papers to paintings and from sound installations to multimedia presentations. With this stream we are particularly keen to explore the political possibilities of art, which includes an engagement with the pressing political issues of today’s world and its socio-economic-cultural ‘goings-on’. In our view, art needs to be politicized in order to effectively resist and subvert these ‘goings-on’and explore alternative futures. We hope that our stream will contribute to such a project. All this is to say that we imagine this stream to not simply be another academic conference but indeed an event: an artistic space that presents a multitude of political, subversive engagements with the hegemony of market managerialism, a space that might create images of alternative organizational futures.
Enquires should be directed to:Â
Warwick Business School,Â
University of Warwick,Â
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