Call for Papers: Visual Culture in Britain

Call for Papers: Equal Value? Tangents and Tendencies in Contemporary British Art, deadline for submissions January 15th 2012

This special issue of the journal Visual Culture in Britain (November 2013) will present a range of perspectives on practices, ideas and debates in relation to art’s function and value in Britain today. The current economic climate has seen a swathe of cuts to arts and cultural organisations across the country, while imminent changes to the funding of arts subjects in higher education will have a profound effect on the viability of many art departments; on the number and range of courses available and on their student demographic. In the context of the anti-fees demonstrations of 2010-11 which fomented a wave of cultural protest and gave renewed impetus to debates about art’s relation to politics and the broader culture, we invite reflections on how to evaluate and understand some of the tangents and tendencies of recent art.

Areas for consideration include:
• The effect of the focus on social media in raising questions around the proliferation of digital art and online platforms which have transformed ideas about longevity, value, ownership, production and distribution.
• The significance of the commonality of culture and cultural exchange that art and network media tap into in relation to a business-as-usual excess at the established end of the market.
• The continuing development of small and independent artist initiatives, particularly in metropolitan areas, across exhibiting, curating, publishing and performance, which might be viewed either as the vanguard of cultural pluralisation or a dubious agent of gentrification.
• The renewed potency of questions of value in the context of cultural retrenchment and the potential threat of a return to old hierarchies of class and access when it comes to the production of fine art. The recent re-consideration of the location of value in the interaction of object and spectator is a case in point, particularly with the emphasis on the participatory role of the gallery visitor. What are the consequences here for thinking through the complex problematics of social engagement? What part do art institutions play in promoting these ‘new’ tendencies?
• In a slightly different register, the turn to the affective and the experiential has contributed markedly to new forms of cultural evaluation. What is the value of the subjective and the emotional in developing a hermeneutic appropriate to current art practice? What is the relationship of these to the political idiom favoured by many in response to recent events?

Please send abstracts (c.200 words) to Jon Cairns ( and cc. Ysanne Holt ( by January 15, 2012.

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