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Variant is an independent arts & culture magazine; a platform for critical debate and the circulation of challenging ideas utilising both a pulp and on-line presence.

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Speakeasy | Workshop to explore your experiences and concerns over discursive practices and organisational stance in the arts in Scotland, and how these relate to self-organised and co-operative practices.

Glasgow - CCA (Club Room) | Thurs 22/5/14| 18:30 - 21:30
Aberdeen - Peacock Visual Arts | Sat 24/5/14 | 14:00 - 17:00

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The nose of a mob is its imagination.
Discussion of pressures to reposition artist-run activity within a 'Creative Economy - which draws from ‘Artist as Executive, Executive as Artist’, by Kirsten Forkert.
Followed by Variant AGM2013.
   November 2013 - Transmission Gallery, Glasgow

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NGM 2013 - call for papers
Competitive cultural nationalisms across Northern Europe : Research practices & cultural policies

Concerns the strengthening tendency of the transformation of cultural politics into cultural economics – whereby the processes of arts and culture become a competitive factor for national economic growth – and effects of this fuller integration of the aesthetic disciplines into nations' economic production of value.
   June 2013 - Reykjavík, Iceland

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October Workshop @ Transmission
Workshop for those affiliated with artist-run activity to discuss changes in public funding taking place - to collectively explore the differences we positively hold, towards understanding our own conditions of 'doing'
   October 2011 - Transmission Gallery, Glasgow

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From Funding To Franchise (Workshop)
Following Variant's interview with Creative Scotland CEO Andrew Dixon, a facilitated workshop to discuss the implications for artist-run spaces in Scotland with CS ending its 'Flexible Funding' programme.
   June 2011 - Transmission Gallery, Glasgow

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Variant pub-table discussions
beneath the crazy paving... urban governance & 'in-between' spaces
Discussion of the vague clichés about in-between spaces, frictions, cracks, fissures, gaps and multiplicities, urban fragments left unoccupied and non-sutured. How deep and total a capitalism do we need to say it is still capitalism?
   December 2010

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"MASHING UP" : Art+Labour a public conversation
Art+Labour, a public conversation exploring the conditions and experiences of creative labour in the cultural industries - working conditions, pay, working hours; freedom and autonomy, pleasure and obligation; insecurity and uncertainty; social reproduction, networking and isolation - and artists' organising within it - unions, artists' associations, or self-organised studio/exhibition spaces.
Panelists: Angela McRobbie, Scottish Artists Union, Graham Jeffery, Katarzyna Kosmala, Gesa Helms, Brett Bloom, Owen Logan; facilitated by Gordon Asher
   November 2010 - in collaboration with UWS @ CCA, Glasgow

LOANS & INTERNSHIPS WORKSHOP
Exploring: Loans for Arts Organisations in Catalonia; and Carrotworkers' Collective, London, with Sophie Hope.
   November 2010 - in collaboration with Carrotworkers' Collective @ CCA, Glasgow

Art+Labour LINKS

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Variant pub-table discussions
with the writers of two articles from Variant issue 37:
Doodley-doo? Doodley don't! Life and Sabotage - Gesa Helms
"Art Workers Won't Kiss Ass" - Owen Logan
   August 2010

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What's Left in Feminism?
Facilitated by Eleanor Gordon - Maud Bracke,Catherine Eschle, Ailsa McKay, Marina Vishmidt respond to Nancy Fraser's 'Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History'. Situating the processes of feminism’s evolution in the changing social context of neoliberalism, Fraser holds that although feminist demands for equality have been largely accepted, this acceptance has come at the cost of decoupling feminism's emancipatory edge. Fraser then contemplates the possible reorientation of feminism in the present context of capitalist crises, which could start a shift to a new form of social organising...
   May 2010 - CCA, Glasgow

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Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life
To invoke the imagination as a basis for radical politics has become a cliché: a rhetorical utilisation of ideas already in circulation, invoking the mythic unfolding of this self-institutionalising process. But what exactly is radical imagination? Drawing from autonomist politics, class composition analysis, and avant-garde arts, Stevphen Shukaitis explores the emergence, functioning, and constant breakdown of the embodied forms of radical imagination.
   May 2010 - CCA, Glasgow

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The harnessing of creativity for urban growth agendas... or, doing differently.
Neil Gray & Leigh French look at the role of the artist in a time when 'creativity' is increasingly harnessed for urban growth agendas (property development and gentrification).
   February 2010 - re:public exhibition, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin

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Poverty Advocacy & Action
Presentations & discussion with:
- Chik Collins, University of the West of Scotland, and Clydebank Independent Resource Centre: 'To Bankers from Bankies - Incapacity Benefit: Myth and Reality';
- Gesa Helms, University of Glasgow: 'Beyond Aspiration: Young People and decent work in the de-industrialised city, Discussion paper';
- discussion chaired by Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, Glasgow.
   October 2009 - Document 7 film festival, CCA & GFT, Glasgow

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COMPETITIVE EDGES Symposium : Culture, Nationalism & Migration
A necessary opportunity to historically locate contemporary cultural trends and to situate the politics and discourse of diversity in a comparative international context; to examine cultural policies in the context of uneven development and the phenomenal rise of the speculative international economy.
Speakers: Femi Folorunso, Ronit Lentin, Sarah Glynn, Robbie McVeigh, Stephen Mullen
Introductions & Chairs: Owen Logan, Daniel Jewesbury, Alex Law
   March 2009 - CCA, Glasgow

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THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE II
Does private-public funding and management of culture mark the death of institutional and critical autonomy? Is direct censorship an anomaly, the most visible form of a wider constriction of cultural freedom, or the shape of cultural policy to come?
Panel discussion with: Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, Jaron Rowan, Anthony Davies, Marina Vishmidt, Leigh French, Daniel Jewesbury.
Followed by screening sf: 'Can Dialectics Break Bricks?'
   November 2008 - Dows bar, Glasgow

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RESISTING REGENICIDE : STRUGGLES IN THE CITY
Discussions bringing together representatives of community & activist groups – including local groups from Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Manchester – to share their experience of community-based engagement in the planning processes of urban regeneration and the built environment.
With: Mark Saunders, The Spectacle; Martin Slavin, Games Monitor; Nick Durie, Glasgow Residents Network; Carl Taylor, Hackney Independent; Libby Porter, Planners Network UK; Neil Gra,y Variant; Jonathon Atkinson, Urban Research Collective; Anthony Iles, Mute.
   November 2008 - CCA, Glasgow // The Forum: ACE, Edinburgh

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60th Anniversary of Human Rights Declaration discussion
On the 60th Anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration, presentations on the human rights issues that are so prevalent to the panel's work and which have directly impacted on their lives. The ensuing discussion will concentrate on the effects the UK government's laws are having on the rights to freedom of expression, life and liberty.
Speakers: Aamar Anwar, Neil Davidson, Desmond Fernandes, Yassamine Mather. Chair: Daniel Jewesbury.
   October 2008 - Document 6 film festival, CCA, Glasgow

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Eastwards Ho! A New Urban Frontier?
A series of film screenings addressing conflicts over urban space, regeneration and privatisation. Introduction by Simon Yuill.
   October 2008 - Market Gallery, Glasgow

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THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE
A Mute Magazine talk on privatisation and critical artistic practice
Does commercialisation enhance or corrode 'critical' culture? Why does an institutional turn to 'openness', collaborative and politicised art practices coincide with privatisation? And how will capitalist crisis impact on arts funding and cultural practice – a shift from radical reformism to conservative reaction or revolutionary refusal?
Leigh French, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Richard Birkett, David Garcia.
   August 2008 - Publish and Be Damned, London

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Overidentification and/or Bust?
Discussion with Stevphen Shukaitis on issues raised by the publication: 'Cultural Activism Today - The Art of Over-Identification' (Bavo, eds, 2007). If, as claimed within the autonomist tradition, capitalism derives its lifeblood from attempts to negate it, where does this leave the position of the subversive artist? Of the aesthetics of resistance?
   May 2008 - Uisge Beatha, Glasgow

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Everyone's at it!
The Rentier Economy and the Morality of the Cultural Industries

Written in the spirit, but not the style, of Mandeville's ‘The Fable of the Bees’ (1705), Jeremy Valentine begins with a critical analysis of theoretical claims that reduce culture to economy by virtue of the meaningful and embedded nature of the latter.
   April 2008 - STUC, Glasgow

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Art in the Age of Competitive Cultural Nationalism
Discussion of issues raised by Marita Muukkonen's text ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Possibilities for Contemporary Art Institutions to Function as Critical Political Spaces’ (which formed part of the Public Preparation series for the upcoming Biennale of Young Artists, Estonia). How do notions of nation, nationalism and instrumentalisation relate to the everyday practice of art institutions and the artist as constituents of neoliberal globalisation?
   October 2007 - Market Gallery, Glasgow

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Privatising Culture : One-Day Symposium
The publication of the draft Culture (Scotland) Bill marks a defining moment in the relationship between the state and its cultural workers. The response so far has been largely hostile and this symposium will examine the arguments for and against the proposed legislation. However, the Bill is also published against a wider context of neoliberal reform in Scotland and elsewhere, marked by a diminishment in the freedoms of artists, intellectuals and their audiences. In the wake of worrying developments in higher education, local authorities and elsewhere, the symposium sets out to explore the extent of the privatisation of public culture. Are we witnessing a decisive turning of the Thatcherite screw in Scotland?
Speakers: Owen Logan, Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, John Devine, Alex Law, Jim McGuigan, Paola Merli, Neil Davidson
   March 2007 - CCA, Glasgow

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Occasional Documents: Towards Situation
Howard Slater @ Break/Flow
Variant welcomes discussion of the issues raises in 'Occasional Documents: Towards Situation', and postings that contribute to the ongoing discussion of Socially Engaged Art Practice.
   July 2001

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Socially Engaged Practice: on-line forum
One outcome of pressure through the public funding system for the arts in the UK to create at least the allusion of engaging a broader demographic of the population has been the supporting of art that adheres to promoting and cultivating 'Social Inclusion'. This has placed the emphasis on artistic engagement as educational, or pedagogic, in a way that attests to inclusion within society as an integrated whole. At least superficially, this is espousing a shift in the terms of engagement between artists and what were traditionally regarded as audiences, to a more therapeutic or correctional interaction with an underscored group of people.
To raise and debate these issues, Variant is hosting an on-line forum concerning Socially Engaged Practice.
Given his commitment and work done to date in these areas, to initiate this dialogue we asked Grant Kester to re-present his paper from the conference 'Critical Sites: Issues in Critical Art Practice and Pedagogy' (Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin):
'Dialogical Aesthetics: A Critical Framework For Littoral Art', Grant Kester
   August 2000

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