The idea for the Citizen Artist site emerged from a consideration of the activities of Citizen Journalists and contemporary issues in aesthetics and politics.The project began in the autumn of 2009 and is an online publishing platform for art projects that interrogate the notion of citizenship. The projects trouble the assumption of status citizenship and investigate how alternative forms of membership can be explored, expanded and legitimated through artistic practice and vice versa. The Citizen Artist project also employs journalistic strategies as a form of art practice in its own right and as a way of advancing the notion of investigative art as mechanism for articulating and shaping new imaginaries.
The site will continue to expand and develop content over time. The intention is to participate meaningfully within the 'virtual' public sphere.
The O+ Nation project, in development since 2014, investigates how statelessness is directly produced through the apparatus of citizenship regimes and asks 'what if stateless peoples constituted their own autonomous 'state' of statelessness? The project explores the potential for new articulations of 'state' membership not linked to territory, national identity or ethnic cohesiveness or sanctioned by existing nation states. It also assumes that statelessness is not citizenship's 'abject other'. Instead, the (contingent) privileges and protections of (status) citizens persists alongside of, or is bolstered by, the management of the stateless and migrants. Through sound recordings, artistic re-enactments and staged and real-life interviews, this project examines the daily-lived, affective, conditions of statelessness on the assumption that the various, but otherwise shared, experiences of statelessness may constitute a unique criterion and productive foundation for a truly trans-national, multi-local and nested, political regime in its own right.
The project website coming soon.
F.I.E. is an interventionist project and organization that experiments with notions of governance within the setting of a University. As an independent organisation, F.I.E. is nested within a host institution. Its focus is on creating new methods of pedagogical data capture (such as collaborative surveys) as a creative tool with the purpose of affirming the central role and value that temporal, dialogical, interpersonal and affective experiences play in shaping the nature and purpose of an educational institution.
The popular conception of a University involves notions of hierarchies of knowledge distribution and centres of excellence. However, within that popular image, students look to a University for material i.e., career advantages, lecturers believe that universities are for critical inquiry and self-development (at least in Europe and America) and managers see it as a business enterprise reinforcing the values of neo-liberalism. None of these conceptions sit very well together. In fact, they sharply conflict. So what is going on? What is a University?
This project investigates and responds to this problematic question by looking more carefully at how people imagine the idea of a University. What exactly are the assumptions of say, a group of new students to an institution? How do different universities instigate and enforce the boundaries of participation? And exactly what kind of education is on offer when universities operate as a 'service' industry with a managerial rationale borrowed from the business models of corporate capitalism? These questions weave through a series of collaborative projects, some of which are still in development and others have yet to be realised. The point is not to arrive at an answer, but to visually map the University in transition.
A University is assumed to be a place of equality and mobility. However, inside the system, identities vary and barriers and boundaries exist. In this academic year especially, foreign students are heavily monitored by the University on behalf of the Home Office, the costs of fees point up the differences in students’ economic status and the spaces and places of an institution are discrete and securitised.
This special edition newspaper (available for download below) commemorates the transformation of the university into a border regime.
Two visual questionnaires were developed in response to the current (i.e., in the academic year 2012–13) escalation of the UK government’s requirement for universities to monitor and report on the attendance of their foreign national students to the immigration services. As interventions, the purpose of the surveys was to interrupt the (daily) production and embodiment of discrimination that structures the University. Forty-five ‘home’ (UK) students at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design were approached to complete the surveys. The questionnaires presented the interviewees with the dilemma of discrimination and prompted reflection on the logics exposed in the act of identifying a ‘foreign’ student. As a whole, the project explores the affective experience and ethical implications of partaking in an act of decision-making and determining who does and does not 'belong'.
The Citizen Artist team participated in a workshop with members of Goldsmiths College and Sciences Po Ecole des Arts Politiques (SPEAP). The theme for discussion was 'Militant Research'. Instead of responding to the topic as a point of conversation, the Citizen Artists embraced the opportunity to not only parody the idea of militancy but to provoke members of the group of specialists to respond to the question of 'What is a University?' Who better to ask such a problematic question of than its members? The question was framed by a trenchant outline of the problem and after soliciting responses from the specialists, the team collated the research and within an hour of the session ending, published the results as posters which were then distributed around Goldsmiths college.
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It is not obvious that one needs a sovereign for a society to organise itself or to address its concerns and much of what the Occupation movement has drawn attention to is the possibility for people to assemble, discuss, vote on and implement actions that have local and national significance in the absence of a leader. This article examines the legislative and judicial system of Medieval Iceland's proto-democratic, 'sovereign-less' state and draws comparisons with activist networks. An edited version of the article can also be read in the Occupied Times.
Members of the Hacktivist Organisation, Anonymous, wearing Citizen Artist Armbands at the TUC Rally, March 26, 2011.
As citizens, if the State undermines the public good, we have a right to resist its policies and protest. So too, we are all familiar with the rhetoric that is used when reporting the tensions between citizens and state during a march: protesters are often caricatured as a violent 'mob' and this inturn serves as justification for provocative and aggressive actions of the state in its policing of such events. Equally, when and if protesters display force, the state is seen as a just arbiter instead of being responsible to the political issues. And yet despite these portrayals one peculiarity of a rally is the atmosphere of a carnival. Satire infuses the spirit of a march and that was a source of inspiration for the Mobile Armband Exhibition.
One hundred and twenty protest slogans were generated by an online 'sloganizer'. The online software combined movie tag lines and commercial promotional phrases with the key word 'Protest' resulting in a vast array of hideous but amusing new slogans. In handing out the armbands, we were in essence playing a double game; parodying protest slogans at the same time as supporting the cause and participating in the march.