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Call for Papers: Organization & Collaborative Practices in the Arts
Organizers: Mark Banks (University of Leicester), Mandy Earley
(University of Leicester), Stevphen Shukaitis (University of Essex / Autonomedia)

As a part of the 9th Critical Management Studies Conference, 8-10 July 2015, University of Leicester
Theme: Is there an alternative? Management after critique

Artists work in groups. This is a primary fact of artistic production. Collective work is an a priori, a reality of creative life. At nearly every moment artists are working together in one way or another and
under many different arrangements. Without the others no one can succeed. Artists’ groups have helped them to survive in a capitalist system which values art primarily as branded commodity, and in which agents seek to accumulate art as cheaply as possible. The history of artists’ collaborations describes a flow of both resistant and protective cultural formations that moves through time. These contingent practices change shape according to the necessities of artists’ lives – maximizing their chances to live cheaply with time to work on their art, and to escape alienated labour, first in the industrial shop, and now in the service and information industry.

The social organization of artistic production is generally considered to be extraneous to the forms of art. Indeed, the analysis of each has come to concern different scholarly disciplines, with formal criticism at one end, and the sociology of art – and increasingly arts administration and management of creative production – at the other. The questions of artistic collectivity and collaboration per se cuts across disciplinary lines. Different adaptations of the collaborative practice within artistic production have diverse outcomes, generating institutions, programs and works of art, as they have ever done.

Artists’ work within groups in the fine arts is very different than work within most businesses, and even most cultural institutions. While the results may seem the same – exhibitions, installations, spectacles,
publications, recordings, films, designed objects and architecture – the processes of self-organized collective work proceed from different premises and toward different goals. The organizational structure of artistic work in groups has not been much studied.

This conference stream invites contributes that engage analytically with the questions of collectivity and collaboration among artists. A materialist point of view on the question might find that collaboration among cultural workers is contingent, circumstantial, and practical – an outgrowth of cultural economies and a necessary condition of many kinds of cultural work. Working collectively is about making a living. But modalities of collaboration are also a prime concern of those who want
to remake the world, to join the great issues of the day, and to find a reason to work at all.

Please send proposals / abstracts of up to 500 words to Stevphen Shukaitis ( by 31 January 2015. Papers selected for the panel will receive confirmation by 15 February 2015.

Please note that there will be a registration fee for the conference (the amount of which has not been confirmed yet), although there is a reduced rate for PhD students.

More information about the overall conference can be found here:



‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

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