Department 21 a student-led interdisciplinary department at the Royal College of Art

Cultures of resistance: Commodification of cultural production

Ruth Potts from the new economics foundation, theorist and designer Adriana Eysler, the Carrotworkers’ Collective, and colour artist Seainin Passi reevaluate the value of labour and discuss cultures of resistance.


These are the key points that emerged during the discussion (transcribed by Shirley Surya):

1. Cultures of resistance in the form of re-imagining our relationship with the material world such that we reject mass consumption for a more ecological relationship by re-organising our lives and how we exchange goods. This requires a redefinition of well-being, to see that the disconnection from the world around us is undermining our sense of well-being. The basic objectives of society is to create conditions in which people can flourish, grow, and live long happy lives.

2. The arts and cultural industries play an important role in re-imagining such new relationships, in enabling society to make a leap in imagination, to show the possibility of another world in which we can be more engaged and invigorated in our interaction with people, materials and the environment.

3. The question of innovation always comes up – but to what end? Within these environmental limits, how do we create a new kind of creativity? Innovation can be small and diverse, drawing inspiration from the past, such as collective memory from the past.

4. Are universities still the centres of critiques where rethinking takes place? If this isn’t the space, where is it? Thus the need to create new spaces for discourse and action – in networks of people and tapping on systems such as the museum or gallery systems where people want things to be done differently by allowing small innovations, perceptions can change. It’s about connecting people, creating a dialogue that becomes very powerful as it creates a focal point. Different think-and-do tanks should be connected and open up space to increase the amount of inspirations and connections.

5. When we try to change things, should we think about changing ourselves? What’s the basis of our own practice?

These are some of the references we shared on the day:

The Work Foundation
Offers research, consultancy and advocacy to make workplaces more effective, successful and fulfilling.

The Young Foundation
A centre for social innovation based in London.

The Soul at Work – From Alienation to Autonomy
by Franco Berardi

Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire
by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri

Commonwealth
by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri

justfortheloveofit.org The freeconomy community
Promotes skillsharing

21 hours – Why a shorter working week can help us all to flourish in the 21st century
by new economics foundation

A Bit Rich – Calculating the real value to society of different professions
by new economics foundation

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