Skip to content

Monday January 12th: Business as Unusual and Beyond — A Discussion on Office Work, Self-Organisation and Marketisation

January 6, 2009

Monday January 12th 7-9pm
62 Fieldgate St.,
Whitechapel E1 1ES

Lead by Peter Conlin


From Peter:

To introduce the topic by way of personal motivations: In many ways I came to art, like so many, as a way out of a deeply utilitarian society, that denounced anything not economically viable or part of conventional social order as worthless. But predictably, I soon became frustrated with many true believers in aesthetics who were oblivious to institutional contexts and social conditions that made their art practices possible. By refusing easy-going reconciliations, I entered into the seemingly perpetual tensions between culture and administration. So what was beyond the divide of ‘art for art-sake’ and ‘business is business’ other than denial or a vast array of dubious rapprochements (institutional critique art, theorists of ‘creative’ management and UK creative economy policy consultants)?

I shifted emphasis from art-making to looking at how culture functions in organisations—which was really a way into a nexus of practices, communities, aesthetics and economics; and in so doing posed these questions in a new way: can we organise without managing? What does it mean when something is run like a business? I began to sort through the similarities and differences between self-organisation (both in sense of ‘autonomous spaces’ and the formation of subjectivities) and so called post-bureaucratic organization. What is the language to describe collective initiative beyond enterprise?
If organisational forms are solutions, why not shift back to the problem?

Three short excerpts of texts for this session:
Jim McGuigan, ‘Rethinking Cultural Policy’, 2004.
Raymond Williams, ‘Culture’, 1981.
Stephan Dillemuth, Anthony Davies and Jakob Jakobsen, “There is no alternative: THE FUTURE IS SELF-ORGANISED”, 2005

Please see Temp Text Links above for PDFs


Monday December 8th 2008: * ME AND MY GROUP * working session around group processes and configurations

December 1, 2008

6.30pm, chez V+M


21 Redwald Road
E5 0JG, London

See Map

6.30-9pm : session
9-11pm : dinner

How do we position ourselves within the groups we work with, and what do we expect from different forms of collective work? how do we think group processes, and conceive of them in relation to social and political dimensions as well as psychic and individual becoming? where do our desires lie with groups? We believe that to develop a culture around the micropolitics of group ecologies is a particularly urgent step facing the managerial turn of contemporary power relations. We would like to reflect upon and look beyond the slightly tired formats of the “liberal debate” or the “teacher-student” situations implicit in so many group setups. We would like to think together about our experiences and ideas regarding collective becomings – both from the psycho-subjective point of view and with regards to the ways in which we organize our group processes (particularly in political and cultural contexts).

In preparation for the session, during which we may experiment with some alternative discursive formats, we would like to suggest the following short texts, which have been translated informally for the purpose of our meeting (for full texts, see “temp texts links” page on this blog):

Gilbert Simondon, Individual and social time; Interiority groups and exteriority groups, in: L’individuation collective at les fondements du transindividuel, Ed Millon, Paris, 2005, p.293-295
David Vercauteren (with Thierry Muller and Olivier Crabbè), Micropolitiques des Groupes; Pour une écologie des pratiques collectives, HB Editions, 2007, pp.39-44
In French online at:

Monday November 17th 2008: * FAITH * CRISIS * FUTURES *

November 14, 2008

Monday November 17th 2008

(former Union Bank of London)
95 Chancery Lane

How did we come to put so much faith and trust in bankers and other managers of finance capital, think of the future in terms of speculation and investment, and ultimately see economic growth as synonymous with our own best interests? How have these become hegemonic common sense and what is the role of emotions in this process: faith, trust, hope, anxiety and fear?

The session will be lead by Kirsten Forkert, Janna Graham and Francesco Salvini. We will be reading from the following texts:

JF Pixley ‘Beyond Twin Deficits: Emotions of the Future in the Organization of Money’, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Oct 1999
Nikolas Rose, ‘Inventing Ourselves: Psychology, Power and Personhood’, Cambridge, 1998
Christian Marazzi. Measure and Value (excerpts)
Foucault, M. Hermeneutics of the Subject. Palgrave Macmillan. 2001 p.463-473.

You can find links to the texts (except the Foucault which we will read in the evening together) on our ‘Temporary Text Links’ on our blog (above), or on:

Micropolitics Updates: Autumn 2008 and The Sensible At Work

October 7, 2008

Micropolitics Autumn 08

Micropolitics Mondays
Beginning 13 October 6:30 PM
Housman’s Bookshop, 2nd floor

5 Caledonian Road
Kings Cross
London N1 9DX
(Directions at:

Building on lessons learned from past visitors, this year the Micropolitics Research Group will take it slowly…
Departing from our drifts, narratives and fables of our experience of Post-Fordist life and labour, we will elaborate concepts from what Suely Rolnik calls the ‘sensible mutations’ found within our current regimes of value production. How do provoke frictions and counter-conducts, structures of support, and other forms of value, for ourselves and with others? How might we intervene into the formats and processes that manage expectations, relationships, the production of knowledge and social care?

Part seminar, part analytic support group, Micropolitics will meet on the second Monday of each month.

Monday, 13 of October 6:30 PM
at Housman’s Bookshop, 2nd floor

5 Caledonian Road
Kings Cross
London N1 9DX

This first session will include an introduction to group processes led by Brazilian Occupational Therapist
Elizabeth Maria Freire de Araújo Lima.

Beth teaches at the Medicine Faculty of Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP); is coordinator of the Study and Research Laboratory “Art and Body in Occupational Therapy” at the Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy Department, FMUSP, São Paulo.

Beth has asked us to read the following short text:
Gilles Deleuze. ‘Three Group Related Problems’ from Desert Islands and Other Texts, Semiotexte, 2004, pp.193-203

Beth has written on the resonances between art and clinical practice, for background reading see:

At this meeting, we will also plot the schedule for the Mondays of the next few months.
The group is open to anyone.

Summer meeting with Radical Education Collective, Ljubjana

June 15, 2008

Micropolitics Events
JUNE, 2008

Friends from the Ljubljana-based Radical Education Collective will be in London for three days at the end of June to meet with local housing organisers, artists and educators. With them the Micropolitics Research Group will drift to two sites, in search of transversal alliances between sites of art, education and struggle.

Both events are free of charge and all are welcome!

I. 24 June, 7PM
Transversal Occupations
Report from the ROG Social Centre in Ljubljana and discussion
Bowl Court Social Centre

II. 25 June 17, 7PM
Arts Education in the Name of What?
Report from the Radical Education project in Ljubljana and discussion of London possibilities
Camden Arts Centre



I.Transversal Occupations
An informal report and discussion on the Rog Social Centre in Ljubljana
24 June, 7PM
Bowl Court Social Center, just off Plough Yard,
6 Bowl Court
London EC2A

Gasper Kralj, a member of the Rog collective will present on the current state of affairs in an occupied factory in Ljubljana currently under threat by local government. Rog is a completely furnished, programmatically innovative and well visited concert hall, circus and gallery. The social centre holds regular meetings and weekly discussions with workers living in boarding houses, activists from the asylum seekers home, people without papers, detained in the detention centre in Postojna, the erased citizens of Slovenia and others who recognise the creative, organisational and resistance potential of Rog. The temporary users of Rog represent an inexhaustible wealth of knowledge and experience. In many ways they have become an example to other autonomous spaces of independent art and cultural, intellectual and social activities both in Slovenia and in Europe.

The Rog factory proves that it is possible to organize life and labour without concessions to privilege and profit demanded by the capitalist city management and the advancing eradication of public spaces, including institutions of art, culture, education and social activities. As an active site of occupation, Rog’s users denounce all forms of eradication of such places and stand committed to defending them.

The event follows a meeting of European Social Center’s meeting to be held at ROG, 20-21-22 June
More information at:

II. Art Education in the Name of What?
25 June 2008, 7PM
A Report from the Radical Education Project in Ljubljana and
Public Roundtable Discussion
Camden Arts Centre
Arkwright Road
London NW3 6DG

Bojana Piskur and Adela Zeleznik and Gasper Kralj, members of the Radical Education Collective project initiated by the Moderna galerija will present on the convergence of groups using processes of militant research and popular education to organise transversally in Ljubljana. The Radical Education Collective has worked in the context of social centres, gallery spaces, the street and sites of formal education, bringing together and supporting the work of artists, housing and migration activists.

The starting questions for our discussion will be: Which pedagogical and affective processes become sites of seduction for the neo-liberalising forces of higher education, the programmatic engines of the corporate museum and accelerating waves of gentrification? How might arts education activities in London be re-oriented, reverse engineered to support specific sites of struggle?

Join us for presentations by members of the Radical Education Collective, local pedagogists and an informal discussion.

Micropolitics Updates: April and May 2008

April 10, 2008

After a week and several events Brian Holmes in March, a presentation as part of Gasworks Disclosures series and extended discussions and planning sessions the Micropolitics Research Group constituted itself as a much broader base and aimed to diversify its work beyond inviting speakers and running one-off events. We decided that we should build a series of sites and experiences together over the coming months, in order that we have some more ‘material’ through which to imagine future modes of organising. We talked about the group holding a space where multiple reflections can take place, where different modes of action might occur and how we might work with other people, groups and sites from a micropolitical perspective. In this, we talked again about Free Labour as a line of situated inquiry. We decided to aim to meet roughly twice a month, once at a fixed location, and one drift to another site/ event each month. The following took place at the end of March, April and May:

Saturday MARCH 29th
Presentation and Discussion as part of Gasworks ‘Disclosures’ at Toynbee Hall
We spoke about the Micropolitics Research Group and issues around cultural work and free labour. We spoke about the history and format of the Photoromance and how we were trying to use this as a staging of aspiration and a tool for reflection and activation. See separate page on PHOTOROMANCE above.
Gasworks: Disclosures

Thursday APRIL 10th
“…there’s no number, just look for the black door, rap 3 times on the door with the piano pedals…”
nearest tubes: finsbury pk (victoria/piccadilly) 15 mins walk: archway (northern) 20 mins walk
Reading: Colletivo Situaciones text distributed via list.
At this event Richard Crow and Lucia Faranati spoke of the history of the Institute of Rot on the eve of their eviction/ relocation from the space. We discussed differences between independently run spaces in the early 1990s, and now in London, and what the current possibilities of another recession might produce. Richard spoke of de Certeau and Artaud and the necessity of secrets in an era of supposed transparency.

Tuesday APRIL 29th: Chelsea College of Art PhotoRomance Session.

Thursday MAY 1
MAY 1 is May Day and also the London Election. Ideas for use and material generated by the Chelsea Free Labour Photoromance workshop were brought to London’s Annual MayDay march.

Micropolitics DRIFT with Brian Holmes

January 24, 2008

FEBRUARY 26 and MARCH 8/9, 2008

The City of Willingness, 24 hour walk through London with 16Beaver, Oct 2005
The City of Willingnesss, 24-hour walk with 16Beaver
London October 2005

As part of our ongoing enquiry, the Micropolitics Research Group at Goldsmiths has invited cultural theorist Brian Holmes to accompany us on a mobile extra-disciplinary investigation of conditions of precarity, flexibility and cultural production in London. The event is divided into three parts:

Preparing for the Drift
TUESDAY Feb 26, 6-8 pm
Goldsmiths College
Richard Hoggart (Main) Building, room 141

SATURDAY March 8, 10:30-6
DRIFT: A London Cultural Workers’ Inquiry
Starts Richard Hoggart (Main) Building, room 142

SUNDAY March 9, 1-4
AFTER DRIFT: What will we do with our research?
Richard Hoggart (Main) Building, room 142

Preparing for the Drift
TUESDAY Feb 26, 6-8 pm
Goldsmiths College
Room 141 Richard Hoggart (Main) Building

At this seminar we will discuss some key texts and discuss our route through cultural worksites. We’ll read the following:

1. Liar’s Poker, a key text by Brian written a couple of years ago that flags up some of the problems artists run into when they attempt to engage in radical projects within the ‘art frame’.

2. Marta Malo de Molina’s text, Common Notions, Part 2: Institutional Analysis, Participatory Action-Research, Militant Research from the recent Transform issue on Instituent Practices gives us another set of genealogies through which to consider how we might think about our drift through London as something beyond the production of an ‘art project.’

3. Marx’s 1880 A Workers’ Inquiry
an early form of militant research which might help us to focus our attention on the analysis of cultural work we hope to undertake on the drift.

THE DRIFT: A London Cultural Workers’ Inquiry
Starting at Goldsmiths College
Room 142, Richard Hoggart (Main) Building

Over the course of day, we will engage in what Brian Holmes calls an ‘extradisciplinary investigation’, walking to sites of culture and knowledge production in London, exploring the ways in which people experience flexibility, precarity and possible futures in relation to the paradigms of cultural production. At each stop, invited guests will be asked to share thoughts and anecdotes outlining the contradictions, affects and critical tactics produced within their own experiences of their workplaces.

Our point of departure is Brian’s assertion that:
‘…cultural producers today, are humiliated by the conditions under which we work’

Our end point:
A pub (location tba)

Practically speaking, we will begin at:
10:30 a.m., Goldsmiths College (Room 142, Richard Hoggart Building)

The route includes a stop at the 56a social centre, Gasworks Gallery, The Ideas Store, various spaces in Shoreditch, and if there is time we’ll head to the edge of the Olympic site.

We’d prefer for folks to attend the entire day.
If this is not possible for you and you would like to join us along the way, call
0778 233 9529 or 0794 628 1841.

Seminar with Brian Holmes
1-4 pm
Goldsmiths College,
Room 142 Richard Hoggart (Main) Building

Brian will open the discussion by talking about the ambiguity experienced by contemporary cultural producers in relationship to the flexible economy and the stories told on the drift.
Referring to Brian’s text on Extradisciplinary Investigations and Saturday’s events, we will begin to generate an analysis and imagine next steps for the investigation.

All are welcome!

Micropolitics Research Group