Art Schools and Place: Geographies of Emerging Artists and Art Scenes [1 ed.] 1786614715, 9781786614711

Art education has a definite impact on artists' sense of place and their spatial relations. Exploring where and why

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Art Schools and Place: Geographies of Emerging Artists and Art Scenes [1 ed.]
 1786614715, 9781786614711

Table of contents :
1 Introduction
2 Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world
3 Theoretical framework: From place-based learning to communities of practice
4 Case context and methodology
5 Learning at the intersection between the studio and the city at Manchester School of Art
6 Spatial relations, emerging scenes and questions of the market in Manchester
7 Positions of artistic learning and diverse place-based activities in Leipzig
8 Artists’ spatial relations and landscapes of practice in Leipzig
9 Comparative analysis and conclusion
Author biography

Citation preview

Art Schools and Place

Art Schools and Place Geographies of Emerging Artists and Art Scenes

Silvie Jacobi

Published by Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd 6 Tinworth Street, London, SE11 5AL, UK Rowman & Littlefield International an affiliate of Rowman & Littlefield 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706, USA With additional offices in Boulder, New York, Toronto (Canada), and Plymouth (UK) Copyright © Silvie Jacobi, 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN:

HB 978-1-78661-471-1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Jacobi, Silvie, 1989– author. Title: Art schools and place : geographies of emerging artists and art scenes / Silvie Jacobi. Description: London ; New York : Rowman & Littlefield International, [2020] | Revision of the author’s thesis (doctoral)—King’s College London, 2019, under the title: Art schools and place: an investigation of place-based learning, artistic practice and spatial relations in Manchester and Leipzig. | Includes bibliographical references and index. | Summary: “This book is the first time the art school has been studied this way in the nascent field of art geography, lending from the tool kits of human geography and urban studies. This is timely, against the backdrop of worldwide university closes of space and cost intensive fine art courses as a triumph of managerialism and business-case over education”— Provided by publisher. Identifiers: LCCN 2020010311 (print) | LCCN 2020010312 (ebook) | ISBN 9781786614711 (cloth) | ISBN 9781786614728 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Art schools. | Place-based education. | Artists—Psychology. | Learning, Psychology of. Classification: LCC N325 .J33 2020 (print) | LCC N325 (ebook) | DDC 700.71—dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences – Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.





Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world


Theoretical framework: From place-based learning to communities of practice



Case context and methodology



Learning at the intersection between the studio and the city at Manchester School of Art



Spatial relations, emerging scenes and questions of the market in Manchester



Positions of artistic learning and diverse place-based activities in Leipzig



Artists’ spatial relations and landscapes of practice in Leipzig



Comparative analysis and conclusion



Bibliography177 Author biography


Appendix191 Index195

Chapter 1


More than most other institutions, art schools are always local. No matter how large and international the city, the local art academy will always display features that one cannot find in other places, and this is probably quite natural. Who, if not the young artists studying in a city and the professors teaching them year after year, should define the local art situation? (Birnbaum 2009, 239)

While much writing on the geography of the art world emphasises the formation of specialised global circuits (Sassen 2004), evidence is showing that globalisation of contemporary art production and circulation has specific under-researched local effects. These can, for example, be explained through the wealth of local Do It Yourself (DIY) initiatives emerging in different cities and regions around the world (Relyea 2013) or through trust relationship between local gallerists and artists who re-evaluate physical distance in the art world (Velthuis 2013). Art historical and curatorial texts often emphasise on schools of art which are either directly linked to a specific way of teaching at an institution, for example, through distinguished teaching staff (Baldessari 2017; Gerlach 2008; Gronert 2009; Persons 2014; Stallabrass 1999), or they can relate to groups of artists practicing in a shared location whose relation to the academy or institution may not be as defined. Cases of the latter could be not only The London School which refers to artists around Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon engaging in figurative painting in the 1970s in the face of avant-garde approaches (Kitaj 1976) but also The School of Paris and the city’s connection with modernism (Arnason and Mansfield 1986; Nacenta 1961) which underlines the co-location of artists around which a specific culture emerges. While there is a historical study on location choices and mobility of modern 1


Chapter 1

artists in Paris and New York (Hellmanzik 2009), further qualitative research needs to investigate the contemporary art situation today from various geographical angles, starting with the emergence of scenes through the lens of art schools. Although co-location (Andersson et al. 2014; Hellmanzik 2009) and specialisation of artists in urban environments (Markusen 2006a) is particularly relevant here, Markusen highlights the mobility of artists in another one of her papers (2013) while the interaction between urban and rural (Borggren and Wahlqvist 2010) should form part of this discussion. This thesis takes Birnbaum’s (2009, 239) argument that ‘art schools are always local’ as a starting point to interrogate the evolving relationship between artists and place from the perspective of learning, which includes asking why art schools have the capacity to sustain certain activities in a location or why artists move elsewhere (Hellmanzik 2009; While 2003). Framing the relationship between art schools and place, the research asks the following questions through the lens of fine art education: • How is learning at art school place-based? • How does this process condition artists’ sense of place and spatial relations? • How do art scenes emerge through learning and what is their relationship with place? These questions follow a hierarchy, which investigates how and what aspects of art school education could be considered within the frame of place-based education (Gruenewald 2003a). This is put into the context of artistic practices that are taught at and emerge from fine art education at two case study art schools, which provide empirical evidence on how art schools respond to developments in contemporary art relating to expanded practices with their spatial, relational and political dimensions (Bourriaud 1998; Krauss 1979; van den Berg, Jordan, and Kleinmichel 2019). This is then reviewed as part of the process of why sense of place emerges and what this means for artists’ spatial relations, putting in conversation rootedness and mobility as interconnected processes. Through investigating aspects of the local, a much larger geography of the art world emerges, which artists navigate to develop their practices and careers. The art school serves as a case for understanding art scenes as source of belonging through the concept of communities of practice (Wenger 1998), in which learning and practice are part of understanding the geographical boundaries of art scenes as landscapes of practice (WengerTrayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). The experiences of art students, graduates and staff at two art schools become the focus within a time frame between 2014 and 2017 when I undertook fieldwork. Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts is known as paradigm for establishing a controversial, yet market-hyped scene around the New Leipzig

Introduction 3

School (Gerlach 2008), which sits in line with the other schools of art I have introduced earlier and with the opportunities in this book to interrogate the processes that led to Leipzig as prominent place for contemporary art production. A second case study was chosen in the United Kingdom with Manchester, whose art school is linked to Manchester Metropolitan University and does not signify a specific school of art. From a geographical point of view, it was important to study an art school in another regional city to avoid overlapping factors, that is, of having multiple art schools in one city, which would be the case of global or capital cities. This research is timely and relevant because of additional research gaps: While there are art criticism texts interrogating the value of art schools to the production of contemporary art (Buckley and Conomos 2009; ElDahab 2006; Madoff 2009), none of them lay out in detail why place matters to art school education despite acknowledging their link with the ‘locale’ (Birnbaum 2009, 239). Also, while relational and spatial practices (Bishop 2004; Bourriaud 1998) have taken a prominent place within contemporary art production, the above texts on art schools do not provide sufficient investigation into the pedagogies around place that are employed in art school education today. These complex practices and processes will be investigated in this book, as well as understanding them in the context of the development of artists’ sense of place and how this impacts on their spatial relations. Aspects of how the art world works and its actors are described in Birnbaum and Graw (2008) and in Helguera’s (2012) art scenes, which focus to a large extent on consumptive mechanisms exercised through the interaction of artists with critics and dealers. Within that the role of the artist as producer seems to have become secondary. From a geographical research perspective (Borggren and Wahlqvist 2010; Velthuis 2013; Velthuis and Curioni 2015; While 2003), there are also limited resources that account for the art world and contemporary art production, which is why I often refer to art-theoretical texts to point out some existing empirical accounts. Across all these sources, productive elements of the art world are under-researched because of a conception of the art world as the art market. While there is increasing attention on the globalisation of the art world (Sassen 2004; Velthuis and Curioni 2015), local effects especially on the production of contemporary art are not yet well understood, although art historical and critical texts have sketched some elements of geography (e.g., Kraus 2004; Lowndes 2010; Relyea 2013). The question of location and with it the importance of place has centred in recent empirical research on retention and mobility of so-called bohemian graduates, under which art students could be classified to point out regions that are more successful than others as creative cities (Comunian and Faggian 2014). My research is primarily concerned with the art world that refers to contemporary art and artists


Chapter 1

engaged in its production. This is different from the way we can understand location choices of other creatives and knowledge workers such as designers (Brydges and Hracs 2019), those engaged in craft and artisan practices (Price and Hawkins 2018) and software developers. This distinction is important in a field where the term artist is often used interchangeably with the term ‘creative’, which does not accurately portray the practices relevant to phenomena in each sector. This research can add a clearer understanding of why it matters to artists where they locate and what the processes are that underpin this. This also enables a better geographical reading of the production of contemporary art (While 2003) through the art school as important institution that can evolve and sustain certain activities at the local or even global level. The geography of the art world can therefore be considered as a larger frame for this research, evolving an intersubjective understanding between art and geography (Hawkins 2013). This is because this study focuses on artistic learning and practice as a source for understanding geographical relations, through which it generates geographical knowledge from art. 1.1. ROADMAP OF THE BOOK Following this introduction, chapter 2 sets out the subject-specific context for this research with a literature review on the art world, contemporary art and art schools. The chapter introduces different actors of the art world and their roles in the process of gentrification and urban regeneration, which has been what geographical research on contemporary art has so far mostly focused. This gives an insight into how artists’ activities are place-based and fit within the framework of the expanded field (Krauss 1979), which also relates to Joseph Beuys’ expanded concept of art (Michaud and Krauss 1988; van den Berg, Jordan, and Kleinmichel 2019). I outline what constitutes an art school education and how it has changed in response to developments in contemporary art. I am drawing from historical and international examples where art schools have been influential in creating art scenes, also referred to as school of art, through the cases of Düsseldorf Academy, Glasgow School of Art and CalArts. These are linked through exploring conceptual art as well as the teachings of Beuys and reveal how artists and their ideas move. This subjectspecific knowledge prepares the reader for understanding aspects of learning at art school that are presented in the empirical chapters, and positions this as the key aspect in artists’ development of a sense of place. Chapter 3 details the theoretical framework for this research, introducing a hierarchy of concepts and theories that do not only help analyse the empirical perspectives but also frame the research questions. It first investigates

Introduction 5

definitions of place in relation to space and gives a definition to sense of place and spatial relations. It introduces a global sense of place (Massey 1991) and multisited ethnography (Marcus 1995), to accommodate for an understanding of a globalised art world in which place needs to be understood as a system of places. Following from this, the concept of place-based education is detailed, which will later on be applied to how art schools use place as expanded learning environment. To conceptualise learning at art school as process that evolves art scenes, I am introducing the communities of practice (Wenger 1998) concept, which combines learning with the emergence of social and symbolic capacities. This is crucial to understanding learning and with it practice as boundary of the community, more so than location. The chapter also provides important art-theoretical knowledge to enable an in-depth understanding of contemporary art practice and how this contributes to our understanding of art as urban engagements and geographical knowledge (Hawkins 2013). In chapter 4 the urban and cultural policy contexts of the two cases are presented, which are Manchester School of Art (UK) and Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts (Germany). The two fundamentally different art school systems are illustrated, which are on the one hand the traditional continental European academy and on the other the Anglo-Saxon art school. The way these are differently organised influences the curriculum structure and with it spatial manifestations through different student experiences of place, which is further analysed in chapter 9 in connection with empirical data. The chapter continues with an outline of the epistemological approach underpinning this research through grounded theory as well as introducing the role of qualitative enquiry in conducting research on this process-led topic. Furthermore, I am detailing interviewing strategies and ethnographic aspects of data collection as well as how different data formats were analysed. Chapters 5 to 8 present the findings of this research with references to the data collected from the two cases. This is structured into two chapters for each case and follows two key themes. The first theme focuses on how art school education is place based and how this is part of the process of meaning making of place. The second theme illustrates how this impacts artists’ sense of place in close reading with how spatial relations of place are operationalised for their practice. I am enquiring here how this has an impact on artists’ spatial relations (i.e., rootedness and mobility) and their belonging to an art scene. The chapters contain some theoretical analysis that were relevant in understanding the significance of a specific finding, which is expanded on in the concluding chapter 9. Chapter 9 provides a comparative analysis juxtaposing the cases through the factors of time, space (urban conditions) and art school specialism, which is crucial to understand how different contexts of higher education enable artists’ development in a specific place (and therefore the different spatial


Chapter 1

relations of art scenes). Here it becomes evident how spatial conditions alone cannot explain why artists navigate to a specific place and instead how the discussion of learning, practices and different curricula matter in the development of artists’ spatial relations. This is followed by a concluding section in which the research questions are answered in summary and in context of the research gaps they have filled. The project’s limitations are highlighted as a source for further work on this topic. Definition of key terms It is important to have a clear conception of the terms introduced in this book, to understand how they are used and what meaning they evolve around. The terms are outlined in table 1.1: Table 1.1  Key terms Term



Refers to a person engaged in a practice of making contemporary art and within the expanded fields might occupy roles in other creative disciplines. A temporary or permanent space, which artists use to establish an exhibition practice or self-organised curatorial programme. They are in most cases non-commercial. In the German context, the term ‘off-spaces’ is used. A formal higher education institution delivering art education, in particular fine art (painting, sculpture, media art), also referred to as Academy in the continental European context. In some cases, art schools can also be informal and are referred to as alternative art schools. A smaller part of the art world consisting of social and symbolic interaction. In this research, art scenes are understood within the frame of communities of practice (Wenger 1998; Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014) The social, cultural and economic environment that embodies the production and consumption of contemporary art. This is often reduced to the art market or a society engaged in art criticism and dealership. The art world however also includes the productive side through art schools and artists. This thesis highlights the art world’s global dimension. Art of the present. The term is also used to refer to the fine art or visual art sector. Fine art courses, for example, focus on the production of contemporary art. Refers to the expanded field (Krauss 1979; Michaud and Krauss 1988) of artistic practice, in which I discuss relational as well as spatial (situated) practices.

Artist-led space

Art school

Art scene

Art world

Contemporary art Expanded practices

Introduction 7

Term Practice


Sense of place

Spatial relations

Definition This is referred to as artistic practice in the narrow sense, and as cultural practice in the wider, which applies to the communities of practice (Wenger 1998) concept. The artists’ term for workplace, in which artists traditionally develop their practice. The art school building includes studio spaces for the students, while for some studio space is not necessary as their practices are developed in other place-based settings. In contrast to spatial relations this means the human interaction with space- and place-based affairs, which are not measurable and in this study expressed through learning and artistic practice. It can also mean belonging to a specific community (Agnew 2011). In contrast to sense of place, this is associated with spatial and therefore abstract/measurable relations: (a) of a specific place, for example, distances, boundaries, density of a specific city or hierarchies in relation to other places; (b) of artists, whether they express place attachment (also understood as rootedness) or mobility.

Use of the appendix The appendix, which can be found at the very end of this book, features links to the key organisations and institutions I have researched. It includes a list of participants from both cases with their relevant codes, alongside some basic background information including the participant’s year of graduation and specification of their practice and involvement in other activities. Through this quotations in the empirical chapters can be linked to their sources, while ensuring anonymity of participants. Relevance and readership The research is timely and urgent on many different levels. It first provides an important qualitative contribution to the disciplines of art and geography, carrying relevance for art theorists investigating spatial practices and geographers studying art and cultural production. More broadly, it is of relevance for urban scholars and creative industries researchers interested in interrogating the creative city narrative and studying the relationship between contemporary art production and place in the context of regional development. It also has a strong relevance for the subject-specific field of art schools and the art world, with an important readership being those who participated in this project, that is, art students, artists, art school lecturers and contemporary art


Chapter 1

organisations. The research’s urgency is signalled best through its relevance for advocacy for fine art education, which has come under increasing pressure in times of accountability or financialisation of higher education. The book can show the importance of this form of education for the formation of art scenes and the cultural investment this brings to a place.

Chapter 2

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world

This chapter provides an overview of the different strands of literature that give a comprehensive view of the contexts in which art schools and contemporary art production unfold. It starts with an overview of the notions of contemporary art from perspectives of art theory and sociology of art. I am introducing the different actors in the art world and their role in creating value chains that are to some extent disjoined from economic relations. I will explore how the globalisation of the art world could be understood through a geographical lens, rather than this being restricted to explanations in cultural studies and art theory. This seeks to understand how different functions of the art world are located and how they geographically interconnect. The view of urban studies complements this with an analysis of the relationship between artists and the urban realm, through which expanded practices can be contextualised. Here in particular artists’ ambiguous role in gentrification is discussed, which is considered the most established discourse of art in urban studies and human geography. It is important in this chapter to provide a clear emphasis on what is meant by art school education, which is the term Madoff (2009) uses in his book Art School (Propositions for the 21st century). Art education is a blurry term, often used to describe the teaching of art at primary or secondary schools (Gielen and van Heusden 2015) and in participatory art and gallery education contexts. In this research it refers to the study of art and design subjects at higher education level with a focus on fine art education. To conclude this, I introduce three international cases of art schools and academies that are closely linked with the emergence of a specific art scene or school of art. These present themselves as preliminary cases of this research topic; however, coming from an art historical angle they do not go beyond theorising within the subject of art only. 9


Chapter 2

2.1. DEFINING CONTEMPORARY ART, THE ART WORLD AND ARTISTIC LABOUR To understand what is taught at art schools and how contemporary art is produced and circulated, I am highlighting here the importance of the term art world in grasping contemporary art as a sector. This allows for contemporary art to be evidenced in an environment of social and symbolic interaction, which will be crucial in understanding the emergence of art scenes (Helguera 2012). The art world in the sense of Becker’s (1984) book Art Worlds describes the complex system through which art and culture is produced, circulated and marketed. This is often mistaken with the art market. Hence, Becker uses the term in separation from describing ‘fashionable people associated with newsworthy objects’ (xxiv) and instead builds on its more technical connotation of ‘denoting the networks of people whose cooperative activity, organised via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things, producing the kind of art works that their art world is noted for’ (Becker 1984, xxiv). While Becker gives empirical examples of a range of art worlds including, for example, those relating to performing arts and classical music, this research focuses on contemporary art, which is also referred to as fine art or visual art to define a broad subject area. Before articulating aspects of how the art world works, it is crucial to highlight briefly what contemporary art is. There are a variety of different understandings of art, which in German is known by the term ‘­Kunstverständnis’ (conception of art). This is traditionally based on notions of classical, modern and contemporary art, with postmodernism allowing for these to be reinvented and existing either independently or side by side. With the emergence of digital mass media and the global expansion of the art world spreading notions of contemporary art, art critic and curator Bourriaud proclaimed a new era in art: Altermodernism (Cunningham 2010). He believed that postmodernism is dead because contemporary art is no longer an ‘aftershock’ of modernism. He instead located modernity through globalisation in which art ‘wanders time, space and media’ (Cunningham 2010, 122). This aspect will become evident in the unfolding narratives in this research of the relationships between artists and place in the face of globalisation. But still, what is contemporary art, what makes its contemporaneity and who defines this? Contemporary art according to the website of Tate (2017), which is the major UK-based art organisation that staged Bourriaud’s Altermodernism exhibition in 2009, is the ‘art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, one of an innovatory or avant-garde nature’. While this attempts to give a rational answer, what defines art and more specifically the aesthetics of art of the contemporary is ambiguous – and with it how this

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 11

is born out of and connected with contemporary culture (Roelstraete 2009). What is art and what is not has instead been considered through its symbolic meaning and negotiations of autonomy, which is not measurable in the same ways economic value chains would be (Abbing 2008; Beech 2015). For example, fine arts can be clearly distinguished from the applied arts (Abbing 2008, 13), which are considered less autonomous from commodification and less exceptional in terms of their economic function. This is one of the reasons why this research focuses on fine art, which provides dimensions that are relatively removed from markets. Through this I aim to determine relations with place that offer social and symbolic meaning more so than economic and other hard factors. Abbing (2008) notes what defines art is subjective and determined by the tastes and intrinsic qualities defined by different actors and audiences who participate in the art world. In Helguera’s (2012) Art Scenes, we learn how the process of value and reputation creation of artists and their work occurs through social and symbolic interaction with other artists, critics, dealers and art school lecturers, among others. Their interactions are staged in specific performative environments in which artistic value is informally and recurrently agreed and mediated. Artists take on increasingly new roles to become part of this pluralised environment, which includes becoming, for example, self-promoting agents, curators or researchers (Birnbaum and Graw 2008; Helguera 2012) as well as teachers of art (Gerber and Childress 2017). On an interdisciplinary level, artists can become urban agents and activists (Jacobi 2014; Novy and Colomb 2013) or ethnographers of the everyday through producing social situations (Bishop 2006; Johnstone 2008). They are required to be active participants in the art world, being part of the aforementioned performative environment rather than becoming the romantic isolated figure in the studio of modernity and what preceded it (Buren and Repensek 1979). Value creation through symbolic means and through a mythicised desire for art involves disagreement, which is put onto the stage of the art scene (Helguera 2012). Economics has attempted to explain the supply and demand system for contemporary art (Ginsburgh and Throsby 2006), yet it has fallen short of illustrating how the desire and demand for art involves discussion and subjective judgement, which has an important social (Banerjee and Ingram 2018) and symbolic value (Helguera 2012). For many artists, it is important for their practices to be autonomous from the market and commercial activity (Abbing 2008; Gerber and Childress 2017; Taylor and Littleton 2008) to nourish symbolic value of their work. This symbolic value, yet again, can function as price leveller for gallerists (Velthuis 2003), which was conceptualised by Bourdieu’s market for symbolic goods with restricted production (Bourdieu 1985). Autonomy of art is not just sought from the commercial but also from any field in which art fulfils a specific function beyond being


Chapter 2

art (Haskins 1990). While art itself is not economic, Beech (2015) notes the context and environment of production incurs costs to the artist and makes art part of an economic value chain. This will become important in integrating the impacts of tuition fees and living costs on artists’ sense of place and spatial relations. Money also plays a role through its negation and the formation of alternative economies, through which artists operate outside the monetary system, also referred to as DIY or self-organised environment (Relyea 2013). Examples of this include communal forms of living such as house projects, artist-led spaces or skill exchanges (Jacobi 2014). These kinds of engagements have horizontal hierarchies, which are crucial to provide for opportunities and support networks outside of the art market, which in contrast has a vertical hierarchy (Oakley 2009a). It is widely researched how artists are pioneers of flexible work, which has become an important element in the creative industries work culture. However, it is often forgotten that freedom and emancipation come along with challenges of precariousness and selfexploitation (McRobbie 2018; Ross 2009). Galloway et al. (2002) provide a comprehensive list of precarious conditions, which include uncertain income, infrequent sales or commissions and needing to take on multiple projects as well as unpredictable locations of work. Gill and Pratt (2008) attend to the fact that labour organisation (unionisation) is largely absent in cultural workplaces, but how emerging forms of this still need to be studied (i.e., Artist Union England). Artists are only part of a wider population effected by casualisation of work and the difficulties of the welfare state coping with such effects. We artists should be fairly happy; we are often largely autonomous, can control what we do in our day-to-day practice and in a cultural sense have a high standing in society. The reality is that although we may be happy, we generally have very low incomes, need to have second jobs where we almost certainly lack autonomy, and we often feel powerless about the lack of control over our own futures. (Jones 2016, n/a)

This statement signals the artist’s career as an investment in a personal meaningful life at the expense of security and financial stability. One could argue the access to public funding could even this out, but Abbing (2008) criticises this as a source for more inequality as access to public funding is exclusive and based on subjective judgement. According to him, income policy and tax measures can create better instruments to improve the conditions for artists who more often than other professionals rely on state employment benefits. Conditions of precarious cultural labour are also discussed specifically in relation to higher education provision in art and design subjects. As Ashton and Noonan (2013) expose, studying for a degree involves elements such as

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 13

work placements or practice-based training in which students are prepared for a precarious labour market they enter (and are already becoming part of during their studies). The point of graduation and the first year out of education is considered the most precarious time in an artistic career (Oakley 2009a and b). This is something art schools and the contemporary art infrastructure have addressed through the provision of continued professional development (CPD) (Gordon-Nesbitt 2015) as a way to build support structures and entrepreneurial confidence. 2.2. GEOGRAPHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON A GLOBALISED ART WORLD The relationship between art and globalisation has been addressed primarily from the viewpoint of cultural studies, visual cultures and art theory. For example, these account for the effects globalisation has on contemporary art and how it transformed practices, which are considered as globalised art (J. Harris 2013) and can be read in connection with the notion of Altermodernism (Cunningham 2010). The system of production and circulation is understood as global art world, which includes research on art biennales and fairs, the rise of art in Asia, critics’ and curators’ global itineraries as well as anti-globalisation activism (J. Harris 2013, 439). To a lesser extent there are geographical accounts of the effects of globalisation on the art world, of which I will introduce existing ones here. This will provide a context for understanding the theoretical framework in chapter 3. While the audiences of contemporary art have grown with absorption of contemporary art into mass culture, the market for art as prestige or investment good has grown alongside the globalisation of the art market, which is a likely sign of the dispersion of global wealth and wealth inequality (Velthuis and Curioni 2015). Alongside this, contemporary art infrastructures and discourses have diffused globally, and have adopted a Western system made up of dealers, critics and collectors (Birnbaum and Graw 2008). While markets emerged in regions where previously none existed, artists who are absorbing this global identity are considered to be more successful on the art market, whereas it is suggested local artists have been treated with insignificance (Relyea 2013; Velthuis and Curioni 2015). Velthuis (2013) also contradicts this view, as his research on galleries in Amsterdam and Berlin revealed the preference of gallerists in recruiting artists with a local profile, that is, those born and/or living locally, and engaging with them in trust relationships through frequent studio visits or attending art school degree shows. This is considered as a home bias, in which art scenes and institutions can act potentially as barriers against globalisation. While


Chapter 2

(2003, 252) notes ‘some institutions have better institutional capacities to sustain certain kinds of cultural activity’, which can be particularly local. This research will detail how art schools along with their scenes have this capacity, and what this means in a context of the global. There are clear benefits especially for emerging artists to develop a local network first before they can branch out and develop a global artistic profile. This signals how globalisation leads to specific under-researched local effects such as local ties, which offer a ‘re-evaluation of physical distance’ (Velthuis 2013, 302). Oakley (2009a, 36), for example, found that cultural workers ‘remain bound to place despite technology making distance easier’, which supports the notion that proximity is important to build reputation and trust relationships. While (2003, 252) specifies ‘in theory art can be made anywhere’ but suggests how art’s social production in art scenes configures its spatial relations. There is a need to highlight how artistic practice and the social production of art have an important geographical dimension, both in terms of the difference place makes to the production of art and how the production of art has a geographical form (While 2003, 252). As much as a progressive and global sense of place considers place as multidimensional and defined by external as well as internal influences (Massey 1991) (see next chapter for more theoretical detail), this notion transfers to art, which according to Biggs (2001) needs to be understood as both local and global. With this he means an understanding of how artists living and working in regions with limited access to metropolitan centres are part of the global art world system, in which connectivity remains underexplored. McRobbie (2004) considers how too much attention is being paid to the study of the cultural economy in global cities such as London, at the expense of perspectives emerging from ordinary cities (Robinson 2006). She, for example, considers the global city status as exceptional, which has limitations for generalising how the cultural economy works. Despite the role large cities hold in art’s social production, there is a notion that global cities will lose artistic production capacity due to a looming shortage of affordable and flexible studio space (e.g., in the case of GLA 2014), which leads to the displacement of artists, which academics have not yet sufficiently shifted their attention to. Artists may move to peripheral areas outside the city or creative hub (Catungal, Leslie and Hii 2009), to other cities and regions (Markusen 2013), rural areas (Borggren and Wahlqvist 2010) or even to other countries (Hellmanzik 2009) where they have access to other artists, information, space, power channels and money. This is more and more ‘diffused around the world’ (Relyea 2013, 29). Regions are arguably becoming more important for understanding the art world, as the traditional art world nodes such as New York and London are forecast to lose their significance for production.

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 15

Artists engage in ‘extreme local performances’ as a way to become more autonomous from market success and form networks of support, at the same time they may well be exposed to ‘unimpeded travel’ (Relyea 2013, 6). Global exposure of artists is seen as success marker and as such the degree of mobility reinforces power relations (Massey 1991). For example, successful artists, often those represented by globally operating galleries, have the financial resources to travel, underlining their global brand and therefore success. Emerging artists, those operating through artist-led activities, on the other hand struggle to gain global exposure as their financial resources to travel can be limited, and therefore this poses a potential barrier to success (Relyea 2013). Relyea (2013, 114) also points to a hierarchy in the art world in which there is ‘a high-altitude mobility offset by an expanding bottom of DIY activity’. With that she means first how the majority of artists are embedded in local scenes in which they are part of tight-knit networks that engage in DIY activities, which is a way to work with limited financial resources. These networks are locally tied, which can be considered as strong ties (Granovetter 1973) through frequent and face-to-face interaction of artists engaged in DIY activities. As artists become more established and gain representation on an international scale, their reliance on local networks lessens and they develop global ties. 2.3. ARTISTS AS ACTORS IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT While I have sketched the ways in which there are geographical dimensions to the art world, this section emphasises artists and their engagement with the urban environment as their preferable location choice (Andersson et al. 2014). This is an area covered by geographers and urban scholars mostly through artists’ roles in the processes of gentrification and urban regeneration. While this research will not further elaborate artists’ detailed impact on these processes, I will illustrate their roles here to later on contextualise this as a part of place-based learning at art school. First I will point out two examples from New York City, which have established this angle of research. Trained as an art historian, Deutsche and Ryan (1984) highlights the roles of art world actors in New York’s East Village and what informs their positions within gentrification. This distinguishes her work from that of Zukin’s (1989) on lofts in SoHo, which is more concerned with the changing uses of space in relation to artists’ lifestyle rather than the content of art. In her book she coins the process by which developers use artists to up-value property through what she defines as ‘artistic mode of


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production’ (Zukin 1989, 176). The absorption of artists’ creative and cultural capital through property investors allows for a controlled investment in the environment, which attracts economic capital following a long-term accumulation strategy through cultural consumption. Zukin emphasises how this process leads to the eventual displacement of the artistic class and increasingly competing uses. Deutsche’s (1984) paper specifically discusses how art world actors and especially the art world press rarely acknowledges or analyses their involvement in gentrification, and instead uses their arrival in the neighbourhood in the self-interest of their own survival. While artists’ claim for housing and workspace may be legitimate on grounds that artists can be classified as working class with low incomes, in many cases they may still place their housing needs above that of poorer households, that is, as Zukin (1989) highlights with the victims in her case study being small industrial or commercial businesses and their workers. Molotch and Treskin (2009) extend the attention of the art world in relation to urban developments by highlighting how urban form and economy shape ‘aesthetic currents’ (535), and with it artefacts and markets for art, and how these in return impact the form of the city through (re)location of art scenes. They conclude however how the durability of an art district depends on ‘an array of phenomena’ rather than a ‘contingent spatial formation’ (536). Harris (2012) provides another example of this co-dependence, in a case study of Hoxton in London, where artists benefit from cultural transformation of a neighbourhood through using its cutting-edge identity for their career development. Interesting for the focus of this book is how Harris (2012) points to the art school, in this case Goldsmiths (University of London) and its particular teaching as phenomena from which the dynamic of value creation in Hoxton originated: By deploying the large amount of ‘incorporated’ cultural capital they had acquired at art school, particularly the theoretical teaching on the role of the ‘popular’, these artists were able to create new value in Hoxton despite possessing only limited stocks of economic capital. (Harris 2012, 233)

The case study also highlights a similar form of segregation between artists and local communities, observing how artists avoided visiting and interacting with the parts of Hoxton to the north dominated by social housing. This puts into question a possible self-inflicted notion that artists are ‘victims of gentrification’, while they may be ‘agents’ of it (Markusen 2006, 1936). This character of ambivalence is symbolised by how artists may find themselves instrumentalised (voluntarily or not) in urban regeneration (Cameron and Coaffee 2005), even when the prospects of displacement (Catungal, Leslie

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 17

and Hii 2009) make them form resistance against being moved (Novy and Colomb 2013). Zukin (1989) reflects on how artists are part of the middle class which increasingly considers art as a legitimate sensibility rather than something ascetic. This contributed to how the growing value of art led to the success of ‘urban forms that grew around [art]’ and ‘the status of consuming it’ (Zukin 1989, 177). It is criticised how artists are often part of the middle class’s ‘dominant culture’ while ‘pose[ing] as sub-cultural’ (Deutsche and Ryan 1984, 100). This can be transferred to how avant-garde groupings are considered to be part of a dominant class as based on their social positioning in Bourdieu’s field theory (Grenfell and Hardy 2003). Contributing to this discussion of societal identity, Ley (2003, 2533) locates artists in a particular place of the middle class, in which they have the power to ‘stretch its imagination, its desires, even its practices, beyond its norms and conventions’. The lack of economic capital means artists are in relative poverty, which is offset by their high levels of cultural capital (e.g., attained through an art school education), signalling their belonging to the middle class. Artists engage with the urban realm through their artistic sensibility, which has the capacity, in principle, for improved social and material outcomes. As aesthetic disposition requires autonomy (Haskins 1990), Ley (2003) sees the purpose of debating art more within displacement discourses than in the aestheticisation of a neighbourhood. This disposition is outlined through examples where artists express their discomfort with sanitised neighbourhoods and workspaces, and how, for example, custom-made lofts are rarely attractive to artists in Vancouver. Ley (2003) also illustrates the role of artists in moving into poverty areas which offer cheaper rents and where they ‘make cultural virtue of economic necessity’ (2534). This recalls the political struggle over space and which user group should have preferential access to it. Harris and Moreno (2010) call for a disentangling of the arts from the real estate market, which in their view does not need the arts to mask their marketing goals. They believe in artists’ critical and social capacity to develop solutions relevant to the interests of all levels of society, despite the evidence from Deutsche (1984) on self-interest within the art world. Although gentrification has become an artistic discourse in its own right, the role of artists remains contradictory and needs to be engaged with further. While this will not be the focus of my research, it provides an important context for understanding how these processes condition the practices, sense of place and spatial relations of art students and graduates. As capitalist urbanism evolves, gentrification has taken on planetary scale (Lees, Shin and López-Morales 2015) and produced similar inequalities globally. We hear many headlines from artist-led organisation how artists


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are pushed out of popular global centres, for example, London (GLA 2014), New York (Buckley 2014) and Sydney (Waitt and Gibson 2009). Many young international artists have recently navigated towards Berlin because of its affordability and artist-influenced marketing (Bernt, Grell and Holm 2014; Colomb 2012), while other stories tell of artists moving from New York to LA (Relyea 2013). In her doctoral research, Forkert (2012) illustrates the importance of local differentiation in determining the scope and approach to artists’ resilience (Pratt 2015), comparing artistic lives in London and Berlin. 2.4. WHAT IS AN ART SCHOOL CURRICULUM? Having debated some key mechanisms of the art world including possible geographical dimensions, I now want to shift to introducing what constitutes art school education. This carries importance for an in-depth understanding of the learning processes taking place at art school, which I am investigating as part of this research in relation to where they take place. Art schools are ‘highly active sites of production’ (ElDahab 2006, 5) where art is taught in dialogue with its production, which allows for knowledge development around art to be an active process rather than a passive and determined canon. To what extent art can be taught is debatable (Elkins 2001), as the definition of contemporary art itself is controversial, as already specified under section 2.1. in this chapter. Art requires an open curriculum corresponding to the condition of art’s un-conventionalism, its state of flux and acceptance of failure (Buckley and Conomos 2009). Teaching fine art since the 1960s has increasingly focused on developing unique artistic practices in the students, instead of them following their professors, traditionally referred to as masters (Buckley and Conomos 2009). Artistic practices are unique processes, which are open-ended and to some extent require knowledge and subject-specific material from various different fields, which artists cross over in order to research for and develop their practice. This raises questions about subject specificity in fine art education. Does it have the capacity to teach the wealth of possible subjects artists are drawn to? Or should its capacity lie within that of an aesthetic or conceptual inquiry away from a written curriculum that defines what art is (ElDahab 2006; Madoff 2009)? There are many qualities to this open-endedness found in Madoff’s (2009) volume, which is one of the very few edited books along with Buckley and Conomos’ (2009) Rethinking the Contemporary Art School that looks beyond the sense of lost nostalgia for a liberated art school education. These books say art schools have the capacity to accommodate the complex needs of art students in neoliberal times, while not being submerged by them.

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 19

Other essays draw a more pessimistic picture, like the paper ‘The art school in ruins’ (Beck and Cornford 2012). This focuses on the closure of local art schools in the United Kingdom and with it the abandonment of purpose-built institutions following the absorption of art courses into universities from the late-1970s onwards. The authors see this development as a loss for local social mobility and ‘the place of art within the public realm’ of these regions, with the abandoned or repurposed art school buildings ‘standing as monuments of a future that did not happen’ (Beck and Cornford 2012, 65). Spinning the feeling of loss and nostalgia further, Chicago (2014) notes for the Anglo-Saxon context the financial risks students take to go through an undirected form of education that might even be inadequate for its sector and does not provide clear career prospects at the end. Having a career as artist is not the original intent of art school education, but as this has become monetised in the Anglo-Saxon world the career question is often asked. Chicago (2014) calls for more attention on re-establishing a structured curriculum, one that is less driven by market success, instead reconsidering content, meaning and developing skills again. This has to be understood in contrast with the deskilling of fine art education in the 1960s/1970s, when artistic training became less focused on technical and aesthetic skills. In the book London Art Schools (Llewellyn 2015), this journey is described through the disappearance of the life drawing room, which in the past has been an essential teaching space for representational art. Some central European art schools, more so than Anglo-Saxon ones, have continued to teach life drawing as an important skill not exclusively for representational modes of art. This is the case of Leipzig Academy of Fine Art, where drawing is an essential part of the diploma course’s foundation studies (Grundstudium). Esche (2009, 103) argues this is because ‘some [art schools] are still locked in 19th century model, [while] others explore legacies of 1960s free expression’. Birnbaum (2009, 238) suggests the old academy, including the modernist model, live side by side with the ‘deconstructive afterimage . . . in a world increasingly driven my market interests’, which supports the notion of art school education as hybrid and nondeterministic. With the arrival of conceptual art (Buchloh 1990) and the prominence of Beuys and his expanded sense of art (Beuys and Bodenmann-Ritter 1972), there was a shift from skill to concept and language, and artists were encouraged to reflect on their work through the lens of critical thought rather than being subjected to drawing as the only source of aesthetic training. Art also changed the ways in which it interacted with the world, with an emphasis on art’s increasing or diversifying relationship with the everyday (Johnstone 2008). Bourriaud (1998) refers to the relationship between the everyday and art through relational aesthetics, in which he draws lines between art and the urban environment, and art as a state of encounter in spaces and places. The


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focus on the everyday and relational in art subverts intellectual and institutional authority by focusing on counter-intuitive knowledge and ambiguity represented by lived experience. For the teaching of art within this context art schools have to acknowledge that they should in principle nurture critical minds with the potential to be anti-institutional (Tickner 2008). There are of course also non-relational practices such as painting and to some extent sculpture in its more traditional sense, which are still taught as separate strands in some art school fine art departments. Within these disciplinary and material-specific boundaries, practices also started to expand along and beyond their lines. It is important to investigate how the art school curriculum has embodied these changes. The art student’s experience is conditioned by the freedom of art school education to accommodate a hybridity of practices, as part of a pluralistic approach to art. Rather than being defined by a specific curriculum, it is the possibility of how to teach art that informs the curriculum and the development of a specific way of thinking or language that unites artists: ‘Art education is an education that functions more as an idea of education’ (Groys 2009, 27). A method of this was tested at Bauhaus in Dessau, which developed the pedagogic principle of ‘unlearning’ (Bergdoll and Dickerman 2009, 17). This was important for students to have no preconceptions about aesthetics and to develop a sense of autonomy for art and design from preformed social and cultural conventions. The unlearning aspect is to some extent still part of the current art school curriculum as students are recurrently challenged to engage in a critical discourse around their practice, which is expressed by ‘crits’ (critique sessions in the Anglo-Saxon context) (Carey 2015; Thornton 2009) and ‘Klassentreffen’ (class meetings of students studying under one professor). This critique is also concerned with an art school education in which failure is a source of innovation and radical positions (BBC Radio 4 2014). In most other educational contexts failure associated with not passing exams means the opposite of success. There are often clear parameters by which this success can be measured, but in fine art education there is no such scale that applies. While these open qualities on the one hand ensure the students’ understanding of the autonomy that art requires, that is, autonomy from instrumentalisation for commercial or even social purposes, there are limits to how much autonomy is credible without letting ‘bohemian fantasies stand . . . in the way of critical social discourses’ (ElDahab 2006, 4). This point is illustrated by the discussion under section 2.3 on gentrification, where artists act in their self-interest, perhaps for art’s sake (Haskins 1990), rather than acknowledging the social consequences of their practices. Chicago (2014) underlines how today’s art schools have focused too much on connecting students with the art market. There are now specific professional development modules at art schools that familiarise students with how

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 21

to be entrepreneurial (Carey 2015) including aspects such as networking in the art world, running artist-led spaces and other business skills, that is, setting yourself up as freelancer, and managing a website. While gaining business skills is valued as a practical tool which was not always available, artists are now pushed towards entrepreneurialism. This seems instrumental and undermines the fact that the art world is too complex to be standardised. It relies on a network of artists, dealers, critics and collectors operating through subjective meaning making and personal trust relationships (Birnbaum and Graw 2008; Helguera 2012; Velthuis 2013). The rigid professional development aspects stand in opposition to time and experiment needed for developing a lifelong artistic practice. Hence, art schools are considered as ‘critical conscience of the art world’ (Pujol 2009, 9), alluding to their capacity to oppose commodification and instrumentalisation. Yet an art school degree does not authorise someone to be an artist, as this is done through their practice, which is developed over time and often a lifetime. The art school experience is only part of that lifetime and described as ‘shortcut’ and ‘condensing of a certain kind of experience’ (Baldessari and Craig-Martin 2009, 52). It is a crucial stepping stone towards starting, unlearning or reconfiguring artistic practice. Time to focus and to form a support network is crucial for art students. The art school is more than just a degree, but moreover a distinct education environment where people meet who would have otherwise not come together (Mitchel 2015): Students form a community of colleagues that often lasts a lifetime, infecting one another through ongoing dialogues, studio visits, exchanges of work, collaborative projects, exhibitions, publications, and so on. (Groys 2009, 32)

In the BBC 4 radio programme ‘Art School Smart School’ (BBC Radio 4 2014), the social strength of an artistic education was narrated through the power of bringing people from different class and ethnic background together and through this learning from difference and incoherence. This was considered highly important for allowing social mobility and led to the crosspollination of many other branches in the creative industries in the United Kingdom, especially the music sector (Banks and Oakley 2016). While there is existing research on the challenges of sustaining artists’ livelihoods (Forkert 2012) in the face of precarious work (Oakley 2009a and b), this is not yet studied in connection with how certain networks were formed through art school and how opportunities emerged from them. Oakley, Sperry and Pratt (2008) studied the trajectory of graduates beyond art school in the case of University of the Arts London fine art graduates, looking into their position in the labour market at different stages of their career. While this attends the importance of networks for economic opportunity, it does not go into depth


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how the curriculum and developing artistic position influence spatial trajectories of artists and their community. Along with the neoliberalisation of art schools, there is a notion that they provide a specific lifestyle in which artists perform an act of being artists (Jacobi 2017), more so than nurturing quality of artistic positions and discourse. There are now a number of alternative art schools claiming to provide a form of education that is more autonomous than its institutional counterparts, while re-establishing artistic quality. Tripling tuition fees were one of the main reasons behind the emergence of alternative art schools in London after 2011 (Jacobi 2017). In the German context, while art schools are free and publicly funded, alternatives emerge through the need of antiinstitutionalism against an academy that is considered hierarchical through the master-student system (Rödel, Czarnecki and Ruske 2014). Art schools can furthermore be considered as studio providers, as they deliver workspace for artists. The studio is for many artists the site of their production (Buren and Repensek 1979) and conditions the work they make. While it is considered how neighbourhoods ‘put a spin on artists’ work’ (Myers 2011, 101), in reverse so does the studio and its building ‘provide a primary function in the processes of urban and cultural regeneration’ (McHugh 2014, 34). A 2015 symposium exploring the cross-fertilisation of location and art schools (Q-Art 2015) attempted to fill some of this gap of knowledge. The aspect of art schools providing physical studio space has much potential for discussion. Buren and Repensek (1979) would even argue that the work of art is closest to its reality when it is still in the studio, of which the art school is one example. While pressures on resources are inevitable and expanded practices potentially undermine the need for studio space at art schools, McHugh (2014) emphasises the case for the studio as learning space which ‘in [its] emptiness, [is] waiting and redolent of potential and ambition’ (Dennis 2014, 30). The art school as fixed space of operation is important for the development of shared enterprise, engendered by the proximity of different spaces in which students observe, research, gather materials and test specific artistic hypothesis (Dennis 2014, 30). 2.5. SCHOOLS OF ART IN DÜSSELDORF, GLASGOW AND LA This book unpicks how lecturers and art students define the local art situation (Madoff 2009), or otherwise referred to as schools of art and art scenes. While there are art historical texts on the emergence of such scenes, which I will unpick in this chapter to illustrate existing international cases, very

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 23

little empirical knowledge in other disciplines exists on such phenomena, especially those that provide a geographical emphasis. I have in the previous chapter detailed that schools of art can refer to specific ways of teaching originating from a specific art school or academy, or in the cases of the School of Paris (Nacenta 1961) and School of London (Kitaj 1976) being connected through association between artists who work in the same location around the same time and whose work is of similar character, for example, explored through exhibitions and curatorial concepts. Another case of the latter could be the Young British Artists (YBAs) emerging in the 1990s in London. However, many of its representatives went to Goldsmiths University of London, which runs an acclaimed fine art programme including a parttime MA in which many of the YBAs were enrolled, which gained a mythical status due to its conceptual and vague approach to teaching (While 2003). Until the YBAs, London was known for its artistic insularity and traditionalism represented by the representational character of the School of London. Working closely with powerful market makers, in this case Charles Saatchi (Grenfell and Hardy 2003), who saw the potential in discovering and promoting home-grown artists, the YBAs changed the notion of London. The area of Hoxton was instrumental in the development of the YBAs as it provided cheap production space and an existing cultural scene with warehouse parties, impromptu galleries and art shows (Harris 2012; Pratt 2009). Harris (2012) points out how the YBA scene transformed Hoxton into an attractive area for artists and designers using their cultural capital gained at art school and branding themselves with the success of a culturally transformed area. Following on from this example of a school of art that emerged from artists’ co-location with an added benefit of being taught a certain way, I want to focus on three cases where teaching and specific teaching staff were instrumental in establishing the reputation of a specific city for a school of art at a specific time. These cases are the following (chronologically): • Düsseldorf with the Düsseldorf Academy famous for Joseph Beuys in the 1960s and 1970s as well as the Düsseldorf School which relates to photography teaching of Bernd and Hilla Becher in the 1980s. • Glasgow School of Art and the emergence of an art scene with peak success in the late 1990s and early 2000s coined by New Image Painting versus Neo-conceptual Artists embedded in an active artist-led scene. • CalArts and the LA art scene through the lens of artist and educator John Baldessari who was teaching there since the 1970s. As I researched these cases, I began to notice how interconnected developments in contemporary art are and how they spread globally through the exchange of ideas and teaching staff, such as visits of Beuys to Scotland or


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Thomas Lawson of the Glasgow scene becoming the rector at CalArts in 1991. To understand these links further, I have summarised them in table 2.1, to which I will refer to in further elaborations of each case. Beuys studied at Düsseldorf Academy from 1946 until 1952 and became professor of sculpture there in 1961, a post he held until 1972 when he was

Table 2.1  Comparison between Düsseldorf, Glasgow and LA institutions and scenes Düsseldorf Academy Schools of art, movement

Expanded sense of art, social sculpture, Free University (1) Düsseldorf School of Photography (2)


Sculpture (1), Photography (2)


Joseph Beuys (1), Bernd and Hilla Becher (2) Jörg Immendorf, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky Beuys congregated students in local bars and restaurants and was commissioned works for public space (Schönhoff 2018), he had an instrumental role in Documenta Kassel (Beuys and Bodenmann-Ritter 1972), international reputation of teachers and graduates Beuys visits Scotland in the 1970s and develops works there (Demarco 2016)

Notable alumni (selection)

Places, influences and institutions


Glasgow School of Art Neo-conceptual artists (vs. New Image painting), artist-led/DIY scene, The Glasgow Miracle Sculpture and environmental art (vs. painting) Lecturers fostering strong support network Duncan Campbell, Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland, Steven Campbell Everyday environment of a deindustrialised city, Transmission Gallery, Third Eye Centre (later on Centre for Contemporary Art), Tramway (Lowndes 2010)

Thomas Lawson who emerged as an art critic in the Glasgow scene became rector of CalArts in 1991

CalArts, Los Angeles Post-studio art, neo-conceptual art-school art

Painting which Baldessari turned into post-studio art class John Baldessari

Eric Fischl, Mike Kelly, David Salle, Matt Mullican

Baldessari took students on field explorations around LA and met them in third spaces such as bars (Baldessari 2017), exposure to media/film scene in LA lead to video art/ performance (Kraus 2004) Frequent exchanges between CalArts and Glasgow students

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 25

dismissed following attempts to enrol a large number of students onto his course, which were not formerly admitted. Despite his teaching methods being dismissed by some teaching staff as ‘mischievous stupidities’ (Anna 2007, 55), the institution gave him space to work around his definition of sculpture. This lead to the emergence of the famous social sculpture concept, with his classroom and studio at the school becoming a live laboratory involving students and graduates in protest activities and political affairs (Toldy 2011). A lot of these activities left the realm of the classroom and were carried out in urban space, in which he used restaurants and bars as meeting spaces with his students or where he staged happenings and activism (Schönhoff 2018). His unconventional teaching and actions in public space gained him major local, national and international press coverage, which attracted students to the academy who did not find any purpose or pleasure in studying other subjects. Not being able to accept many of these students led to his engagement in setting up his Free University initiative, founded on the interest in democratic access to education. He was connected with Düsseldorf as his place of birth and left a legacy through permanent public art and memories associated with happenings in the city, which Schönhoff (2018) and Anna (2007) highlight in their books. Being a member of the Greenparty and student union, he founded several politically engaged organisations in the city, which he considered as a form of art. Düsseldorf as a place benefits from a rich tapestry of art and cultural organisations and an openness towards conceptions around art as a tool for societal change and democracy, which Beuys built upon and which secured him institutional support. This is signalled through local art collections acquiring his work while he was teaching at the academy and after. While we know that some of Beuys’ sculptural works were influenced by aspects of the local-built environment (Schönhoff 2018), most of his thinking seemed to have emerged from an internal process of myth making around his life story, for example, the felt and fat used in many of his works symbolises the materials with which he was treated after injury in World War II. This internal process which is externalised through his work is further elaborated through his interests in the notion of art, politics and education, none of which are directly linked to a particularly local situation, however they are played out locally. Beuys entered the international stage through being closely involved with Documenta Kassel, for example, with his 7000 trees project (Beuys and Bodenmann-Ritter 1972). He influenced the agenda of conceptual and politically engaged art beyond Germany, for example, through his 1974 action in a New York City gallery where he spent three days locked in with a coyote. Beuys also maintained strong links with Scotland where he was interested in the natural environment and working with basaltic stone, while being


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drawn to Celtic traditions and Macbeth. He also developed a close artistic relationship with prisoner and artist Jimmy Boyle, at the Special Unit of HMP Barlinnie Prison near Glasgow (Demarco 2016), who was a member of the Edinburgh Arts summer schools. This lead to ‘heightened growing interest in ideas-based art practice in Scotland, and contributed directly to the growth of the performance and conceptual practice in both Edinburgh and Glasgow’ (Lowndes 2010, 42). Beuys was not the only prominent graduate or teaching staff at the time. Since 1976 Bernd Becher became professor for photography at the academy, teaching with his wife Hilla. Influenced by the 1920s German ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ (New Objectivity), their documentary photographic practice underlined the conceptual spirit of the time at the school. Their students, among them Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and Thomas Ruff, developed the documentary approach further by using new technical processes and possibilities, which gained them international reputation and coined the term Düsseldorf School of Photography. Here ‘school’ refers to the specific teaching of Bernd and Hilla Becher, which is not entitled as Becher School but instead gains reference through its place of emergence, with an emphasis on the Düsseldorf Academy and the city as a good scene for photography (Gronert 2009). Around that time the city was considered a ‘fertile ground for artistic development through high quality training at the academy, outstanding print technology since 1968, and city and region itself with its surroundings and cultural infrastructure of museums, exhibition halls’ (Gronert 2009, 14–15). Other notable graduates such as Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke also used photography, but rather than developing new technological approaches they defined its relationship with painting. As earlier revealed, Beuys had direct impact on the art situation of Glasgow, which although known for New Image painting during the 1970s had a growing artist-led scene around performance and neo-conceptual practices. This direction was influenced by an urban environment, which was coined by a declining shipbuilding industry, social deprivation, slums and alcohol. Artists responded to this with community art projects in form of murals, an interest in working class everyday culture and using abandoned or underused buildings for studios and as exhibition spaces. In the early 1980s, the Department of Sculpture and Environmental Art was established to embody some of these tendencies in local art production and in opposition to New Image Painting. This subject specialism is unique until today within fine art education and sets the college apart from others. More so than specific teaching staff, the school was influential in establishing a local art scene through the close-knit support network the environmental art department provided (Lowndes 2010). While Transmission Gallery, Third Eye Centre (Centre for Contemporary Art) and Tramway provide a rich and critically aspiring and self-organised

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 27

visual arts programme, institutional support in form of museum representation was of New Image painters and did not until the 2000s acknowledge the value of the artist-led scene engaged in neo-conceptual art and coined as The Glasgow Miracle internationally. This international focus emerged partly through Hans Ulrich Obrist involving Glaswegian artists in his shows but also through many Glaswegian artists being shortlisted for Turner prize, and since 2005 producing five winners including Simon Starling, Duncan Campbell and the 2018 winner Charlotte Prodger. Further international reputation and exchanges were established through art critic and painter Thomas Lawson who emerged from the Glasgow scene but moved to the United States in the mid-1970s to continue his studies in New York where he wrote for Artforum, Art in America and Flash Art. Lawson is arguably as well known for his critical writing as for his role as dean of CalArts which he took up in 1991, increasing the confidence in socially engaged and performance practices there as a result of his appointment, bringing influences in from Glasgow. In return, he still remains influential in Glasgow as a mentor through his experience of the New York and LA art scenes and exposing students to artists such as Bruce Nauman, Bas Jan Ader and Paul McCarthy, formalised through student exchanges with CalArts’ MFA course. Glaswegian artists did not have comparable arts infrastructure like in London, therefore they were either dependent on the benefits system or alternative economies through renting cheap spaces. Those who had art world connections in London felt more connected with wider international scene; however, they were exposed to the commercial culture of London which was frowned upon by some artists in the local scene. When Lawson visited in the 1990s, he noticed that ‘young graduates did not desperately wanted to leave, but were ambitious not only for their work but also Glasgow’ (Lowndes 2010, 139). Unlike their contemporaries in London, artists who have deliberately chosen to base themselves in Scotland and the North of England particularly Glasgow and Manchester had first to establish and sustain a forum for their activities. This was only achieved through an international perspective and a genuine solidarity in face of an uncertain future (Lowndes 2010, 143)

This highlights the importance for Glaswegian artists to go out and explore the world, which they have done as a group, which in return brought people to Glasgow. Over time this meant how ‘Glasgow-based’ had become ‘Glasgowaffiliated’ (Lowndes 2010, 226–27) as artists trained in Glasgow also lived in Berlin, New York or Rome, highlighting the expanding sense of place and spatial relations of artists. The narrative between the three cases concludes with more details about CalArts which was an exchange destination for Glasgow lecturers and students


Chapter 2

through Thomas Lawson whose influence has strengthened the profile of the school as one for performance practices and conceptual art, also following the influence of John Baldessari through his post-studio art class. The three cases are woven together through Beuys’ legacy being spatially dispersed over time through first coming to Scotland where he influenced Glaswegian artists and second through Thomas Lawson who brought his neo-conceptual experience from the Glasgow scene to CalArts. The role of art schools and colleges in the emergence of local scenes and global discourse is pronounced through these examples. Before Lawson was involved at CalArts, painter and conceptual artist John Baldessari became a highly influential figure in establishing the global reputation of CalArts where he was appointed professor of painting in 1970. Having abandoned painting in favour of a conceptual practice, he re-established his professorship as one of post-studio art in which he questioned aesthetics and the prevailing art-historical canon (Baldessari 2017). Baldessari and his students explored the regional landscape and localities, for example, a bar became the outpost of CalArts and the classroom a gallery, which has coined the school’s reputation for neo-conceptual art in which the city is an expanded studio, an aspect that I will discuss in much more detail with the empirical cases in this book. Baldessari developed his practice through the lens of fine art pedagogy, which feeds directly into his work and in return contributes to symbolic value created around the institution CalArts. As a result, gallerists recognised in the late 1990s: ‘What makes LA so great is that the school program is actually a vital part of the community. A big part of being in the art community in LA is being a teacher’ (Kraus 2004, 25). Kraus however questions what is meant by community, as she feels ‘it is bizarre . . . that here, in America’s second largest city, contemporary art should have come to be so isolated and estranged from the experience of the city as a whole’ (Kraus 2004, 26). She based this upon an experience of art evolving in closed circles with a lot of self-reference and directed through being able to pay the fees to attend one of the city’s MFA courses (apart from CalArts there are MFA programmes at UCLA’s Department of Art, Otis College of Art and USC Roski). Kraus continues to highlight how it used to be difficult to make a career as artist in LA, but how in the 2000s graduates saw themselves as trained professionals with a practice recognised by commercial galleries as ‘Neo-Conceptual Art School Art’. In this sense, the MFA puts the artist and their work on a higher pedestal than other artists producing comparable work without a similar degree. Many who cannot afford to be part of these closed circles engage in artist-led activities as part of DIY living room exhibitions and makeshift art events (Relyea 2013), a culture in which, for example, the Mountain School of Art emerged in 2005 as an alternative education programme. They hold

Contemporary art and schools of art in a globalised art world 29

free classes three months a year on a couple of nights a week, with a third day committed to doing studio visits or having visiting lecturers, attracting also some of the city’s formal lecturers in fine art. Their name references the famous Black Mountain College, which coined by the European avant-garde and based in a rural area in North Carolina played with notions of a ‘retreat’. They also conceptualise their activities as retreat, considering LA as urban wasteland which can remove the artist from the wealth and market influences of New York or Europe (Golia and Wesley 2007) with the focus to study and think. While LA does not have the multiple art scenes that, for example, New York City has, Hollywood’s industry and culture influenced in the art scene through exposure to pop culture and video-based practices (Kraus 2004), which also Baldessari made use of through access to a multimedia lab at CalArts with lax monitoring. Having introduced the three cases which build an international context for the empirical cases that are to follow in this book, the following considerations can be made: More empirical accounts of the emergence of those schools of art is needed to understand their connection with place, and how important particular individuals and/or curricula are in defining this capacity. 2.6. SUMMARY This chapter has provided an insight into the complex system that is the art world, which does not just consist of an art market but most importantly includes artist and art school education as productive focus of this research. Contemporary art and art school education were introduced as an open-ended and pluralistic field of subjects and media, in which social and symbolic interaction creates value as part of art’s social production. A geographical perspective on the art world has detailed a dialectic between local performance and global mobility, and how this orchestrates notions of professional success of artists. This is expanded through existing research on artists’ involvement in the urban environment, which has primarily explored their role in gentrification and urban regeneration. This is an area that has become absorbed into the artistic discourse, not only through relational practices that are critical of gentrification but also in the aspect of self-interest in protecting production space. I have outlined how teaching fine art is more of an idea of an education, but not a written canon of pedagogies and knowledge, which is crucial for the development of independent artistic positions. The hybrid and open approach to how art is taught today is explained in relation to developments in art since the 1960s, with art gaining a spatial and relational dimension. This accommodates for the practices that situate artists in the context of engagement with


Chapter 2

place and the urban. This builds a context in which art school education is considered an intersubjective platform, which opens the possibility for it to be a form of place-based education. To conclude the chapter, I illustrated the emergence of three schools of art through the lens of their connection with art schools/academies and important teaching personalities and curricula, to provide an international contextualisation of this topic.

Chapter 3

Theoretical framework From place-based learning to communities of practice

In the previous chapter I detailed organisational and geographical aspects of the art world, contemporary art and art school education, which underline a detailed subject-specific understanding of the field. In this chapter I will outline the elements of the theoretical framework and why they are important to answer the below research questions: • How is learning at art school place-based? • How does this process condition artists’ sense of place and spatial relations? • How do art scenes emerge through learning and what is their relationship with place? I am using a hierarchy of interconnected theories to account for the complexity and interdisciplinary reach of these questions: The purpose of this is to integrate a subject-specific understanding of art school education as place-based education, with an objective view on this process through the development of a sense of place and spatial relations of artists (and art scenes). An isolated subject-specific focus on artistic learning would not allow for a better understanding of any of the aforementioned spatial impacts on artists. Figure 3.1 illustrates a possible hierarchy of this theoretical framework and highlights the key components that I will outline in more detail in this chapter. These are place and space, place-based learning and communities of practice (inclusive of landscapes of practice). Spatial relations in this reading can be attributed to a specific place, that is, the city’s density and size, but I also understand them as artists’ relations to space-place, whether this is place attachment/rootedness or mobility. Rather than making a distinct contribution to any of these fields, the framework allows for the emergence 31


Chapter 3

Figure 3.1  Theoretical frame visualised

of geographical knowledge of the processes and practices developing at art school, which provides new context for the discourse between art and geography (Hawkins 2013). Why I use a geographical perspective on art schools to answer the research questions is evident through an emphasis on answering why place matters for art school education. Place is understood here as relational to other places instead of having a singular identity. This is also why I am introducing the dialectic between space and place for a clearer definition of what place is, and how this is differentiated from but also meaningful in relation to space. This is exemplified through considering rootedness and mobility as interconnected spatial relations of artists. With an emphasis on the relational understanding of place, I am questioning the art school’s influence on ‘the local art situation’ (Madoff 2009, 239), as its relations and therefore impacts reach beyond one place. This allows for new connectivity, which is exemplified with the art school as one-sited case, from which a multisited ethnographic perspective (Marcus 1995) emerges. This means how through following a biographical narrative of an art student or graduate, who are participants of this research, multiple places of interest emerge that become part of a relational understanding of place. Importantly, this is constructed by the world view of the participants (Charmaz 2014), which I will expand on in the methodological approach in the following chapter (chapter 4). Within this progressive understanding of place (Massey 1991), it is then possible to analyse how place concerns place-based education, and vice versa. Investigating the relationship between artists and place through the lens of the art school does not just contribute to how artists identify with place and choose to locate, it also provides a geographical reading of the productive

Theoretical framework 33

processes in the art world (While 2003). I will detail in this chapter how this productive process is socially and spatially organised through a conception of the art school as communities of practice (Wenger 1998). This transfers to how art scenes can be defined as landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014), which as an aggregate concept of communities of practice focuses on the value of their boundaries as source for knowledge exchange and the negotiation of belonging. The particular value of the concept for this research lies in its ability to address how learning and practice condition not just social but also spatial relations. I am transferring the term landscapes, which was used by Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2014) as a way to describe a system rather than a geographical phenomenon, into a geographical context. The chapter concludes with an overview of how art has developed practices that are spatial and relational, of which some details were already introduced in chapter 2. While this serves as contextualisation of how the disciplines of art and geography have increasingly developed overlapping interests (Hawkins 2013), understanding these practices enables an in-depth reading of activities at art school that are place-based. 3.1. SPACE-PLACE DIALECTIC This research is specifically concerned with place, as it aims to integrate the processes of learning and artistic practice with the ways artists develop a sense of place and spatial relations. Spatial relations are attributable to a specific place, such as a city, but they also mean the relations artists develop with place, in particular rootedness and mobility. Human processes evolving in place and in response to spatial relations are central to the meaning-making process that underpins sense of place. To understand this better, this section details what is meant by place and how this is connected with, but also differentiated from, the terms space, location and the city. While cities can be understood as places themselves, the city is conceptualised in terms of specific spatial relations (Massey 1991), for example, density, proximity, size, intensity, heterogeneity, and how this impacts on specific human behaviours (Wirth 1938), socio-spatial processes or power relations over space (e.g., Deutsche 1996). This can best explain why the focus of this research is not on urban form and phenomena such as gentrification, but how this conditions the practices and perceptions of place that the participants of this research construct. The concept of place pre-empts the focus on spatial relations as specifically urban, and allows for a focus on the processes of meaning making of spatial relations more broadly.


Chapter 3

It is important here to highlight the relationship of place with space (and spatial terms such as location), to understand the process of becoming that underlines place. This is crucial to then transfer the dialectic that underpins space-place to an analysis of artists’ sense of place and their spatial relations. On another level having a clear conception of place is important for contextualising place-based learning, which takes on the conditions of place introduced here. The discipline of geography is an inherently spatial discipline, which is referred to as science of places (Agnew 2011). However, philosophers have also variously defined the concept (Casey 1997), which includes the notion that everything exists somewhere and how this is a process of becoming rather than being (Casey 1997). This connects with how we study place today as emergent through human processes rather than it being a mere territorial construct or container of information, which was a pre-1970s conception (Cresswell 2015). In the 1970s the discipline of geography saw a humanist shift, which challenged this outdated notion. This shift in scientific thinking of space-place coined its dialectic. Cresswell (2015) details how space is defined by abstraction and measurability through spatial metrics or grids, for example, latitude and longitude or coreperiphery dimensions, whereas place, which exists and develops in space, is specific and constructed by meanings that derive from human interaction in a specific location. In summary, we could say that place is space (including the term location), which has appropriated meaning through human processes. Harvey (2012) discerns particular value in the looseness of the term place in being able to account for other meanings, with which intersubjective links can be best articulated, which in the case of this research is art and education. Social relations and cultural processes give space meaning, through which it becomes place. Examples of such processes could be shared histories, which I will discuss later in this chapter as part of the communities of practice concept (Wenger 1998), but also more generally memories, stories, representations in space as well as cultural experiences. Borrowing from Lefebvre’s (1991) production of space, we can infer how space becomes place when it is used and lived. This can highlight the importance of place in which layers and layers of lived experience of individuals and groups shape its character. Surprisingly, Lefebvre mostly refers to space rather than place, which he rarely uses (Vermeulen 2015). A reason for this could be that he does not refer to a specific place, as I will do with Manchester and Leipzig, but instead points out a continuum of spatial relationships. Merrifield (1993) urges researchers to consider a dialectic between both where place is understood as ‘practiced space’. A dialectical understanding is crucial not only to emphasise contradictions but also to account for change, flow, relations and process.

Theoretical framework 35

The space-place dialectic embeds important questions of human existence and space-time constructions. Heidegger, for example, emphasised the concept of place in relation to studying being in the world, that is, ‘Dasein’, defining place as the process of ‘dwelling’ somewhere (Malpas 2012). Heidegger connects this notion of place with authenticity, in which dwelling creates meaning and roots, in contrast to the urban and modern being considered as in-authentic, homogenised and rootless (Cresswell 2015). However, considering Heidegger’s sympathies with national socialism, the notion of place as traditional, rural and associated with the past has been criticised as regressive and exclusionary, especially in relation to the urban, which cannot be reduced to containing rootless existences. I have used Heidegger’s notion in particular to later on explain not only empirical narratives and artistic positions of belonging that are articulated through the narrow angle of the local but also positions that ridicule this as patronising. Harvey (2012) points out how Heidegger lacks a moral compass in his pursuit of understanding place solely on the basis of sensuous experiences as part of discerning human existence. For example, there are important power relations, economic and political dimensions that are enshrined in place through social relations that enforce these, which he misses out. Modernity has brought forth the concept of non-place (Augé 2008) and placelessness, which puts a critical lens on inauthentic and homogenous aspects of urbanisation. In postmodernism, however, authenticity and homogeneity have become part of this environment, in which local roots and authentic cultures have often become part of corporate and commercialised urban environments (Harvey 2012; Zukin 2009). This means how the spaceplace dialectic can be understood as connected experience rather than as opposites. This is important in developing a relational understanding of place, which I will detail in the next section. As for a systematic definition of place in relation to different dimensions of space, I will follow Agnew’s (2011) and Cresswell’s (2015) definition, which puts place into the three categories below: (1) Place as location, referring to a place as an absolute and measurable point in space. A city or a neighbourhood within the city can be such a location. Here not only spatial relations of place itself, for example, the density, proximity and size of a city, but also spatial relations of artists with that location, for example, rootedness and mobility, become a factor of analysis. Understanding these spatial relations is important as they contribute meaning to a sense of place. (2) Place as locale, referring to the setting in which social relations and processes evolve. The art school or the art scene can be considered as such.


Chapter 3

(3) Sense of place, as the meanings associated with place, which evoke emotions and can either be individual or collective. It is also considered through the dimension of ‘belonging through place-related affairs’ and ‘identification as unique community, landscape or moral order’ (Agnew 2011, 327). It is related to how we construct spatial imaginaries (Bailly 1993) through which we connect the imagined with the real world. This includes how place is constructed through past experiences of place as well as future projections, which are all in the mental realm. The term suggests a relation to Lefebvre’s (1991) triad of spatial production (Morère 2014), in which he emphasises how space is imagined and conceived through representations, symbols and images. Spatial imaginary as a term is not readily used but finds application in a range of academic contexts, for example, in political ecology through imaginaries of the nation state, which is not a ‘real place’ but becomes real through material, political and educational effects that condition spatial form. (Wegner 2002) In the empirical chapters, these conceptions of place in relation to space will be crucial for a clear analysis of what constitutes sense of place and spatial relations. It also will help to provide clarity of the transformative impacts of place-based education on artists, as well as place. 3.2. GLOBAL SENSE OF PLACE AND PLACE-SYSTEMS Harvey points out why the study of place has become more important in the past two decades, as he explains how the restructuring of spatial relations following deindustrialisation in the West led to alteration of the locations of places in a global system of capital accumulation (Harvey 2012). This means some places with a formerly secure economic status have found themselves in decline and those which hold fixed assets in one place face competition with other places in a system of highly mobile capital. As ‘things are speeding up, and spreading out’ through globalisation, Massey (1991, 146) points to ‘an increasing uncertainty about what we mean by “place(s)” and how we relate to them’. In the face of intermixing of cultures and mobility of people, the particularity of place and the sense of what is local is put into question. In her seminal paper ‘A global sense of place’ (Massey 1991), she addresses how the current time-space compression requires a new understanding of place as multilayered in terms of its identity to externalised places. This is an understanding that assumes how people do not just live and/or work in one place as their social relations are spreading out. Places therefore need to be understood through places beyond and as point of intersection of a larger system in which there are degrees of mobility

Theoretical framework 37

determined by power relations and social differentiation. This underlines a relational turn in human geography, which understands place as relative to other objects and processes in space and time (Jones 2009) rather than being a container whose contents can be observed and mapped. The relational understanding also bridges traditional hierarchies, for example, between the local and global, which is replaced by conditions of connectivity (Thrift 2004). Massey (2012) criticises the Heideggerian notion of place as problematic due to its association with tradition, heritage or ‘competitive localism’ (26), but the value of her thinking lies in the acknowledgement of rootedness as equally valid as mobility. She is calling for a progressive understanding of place rather than dismissing rootedness and stability as reactionary. I use Massey (1991, 2012) to underline the dialectic between the spatial relations of place attachment/rootedness and mobility, which is important to account for empirical narratives that articulate both. Harvey (2012) has identified how this dialectic of seemingly opposites is in fact not mutually exclusive and can be understood as interconnected process. An example of this is how artists may simultaneously engage at local level and travel to other places to constitute support networks at various geographical levels. In relation to the spatial organisation of the art world, this is described as ‘high-altitude mobility offset by an expanding bottom of DIY activity’ (Relyea 2013, 114), which underlines how mobility and rootedness are interconnected. In Relyea’s book, this is conceptualised as strong and weak tied networks, citing Granovetter (1973) who did not originally intend for this to have a geographical focus. Relyea adopts a geographical dimension transferring how proximity means the strength of ties, while distance means its weakness. Strong ties rely on regular face-to-face interaction and social cohesion, whereas weak ties are those that reach beyond existing local networks to allow for access to new resources, opportunities and knowledge. Granovetter’s paper details how weak ties enable mobility and become crucial in linking different networks (in different locations possibly), also considered as ‘pipelines’ by Bathelt et al. (2004). Mobility however is highly differentiated and dependent on power hierarchies as part of geographically spreading out social relations. Social groups are positioned differently to the flow and interactions of time-space (Massey 1991). For example, as I have explained in the previous chapter, more established artists have relevant financial resources to travel, which increases their global exposure and with it their power. Massey (1991) argues that some people are more in charge of mobility than others, while some might be required to move physically but are not in charge of it, that is, displaced individuals or communities. Part of understanding a global sense of place remains to highlight how a global system of places can be conceptualised, for example, to describe


Chapter 3

the different functions of places in the art world. Here we have to come back to the city as place. While this research does not focus on drawing up systems of cities in the art world itself, the places that emerge from a multisited ethnographic approach can be understood and contextualised as such a system. Sassen (2000) explores how there is a network of global cities with transnationally linked financial and corporate functions, which have more in common with each other than, for example, with their lower hierarchy national cities. This is also relevant to the study of the art world as it relies on financial centres accommodating art markets with a class of people with enough disposable wealth (A. Harris 2013; While 2003). What the world city system dismisses is the important roles of smaller cities and regions, which Robinson (2006) attends to with her notion of ordinary cities. She rejects the global cities approach on the basis of their status as ‘successful’. While her main argument is that U.S. and European cities are typically used as the standard for comparison for all cities, she argues that this limits researchers’ and planners’ scope for understanding ordinary cities. If we take Manchester and Leipzig as cities fulfilling a middle-ground approach between the extremes of urban success and decline, she sees the potential to account for multiple dynamics within a single city through drawing from a ‘world of [ordinary] cities’ (Robinson 2005) rather than exclusively focusing on processes that coin ‘world cities’. Understanding the changing relationships and linkages between global centres and ordinary cities in the art world will become increasingly important. This is because the art world’s global centres are predicted to lose their importance for artistic production (Relyea 2013) due to displacement of artists. In the face of a changing geography of the art world, Sassen (2004, 1) highlights that globalisation brings opportunities with it to improve the connectivity of smaller cities, linking them with a wider community of artists, curators and critics working in many locations around the world. Through this global exposure, ‘non-cosmopolitan forms of emergent globality or global consciousness’ are formed (Sassen 2004, 2). While Sassen puts an emphasis on how new processes become legible and evident in larger cities, in a changing geography of the art world this needs to be questioned. For example, institutions like art schools can exercise the power to legitimise (ElDahab 2006). This transfers to how Massey (2012) notes place is constructed through internal as well as external social and cultural logics. She uses the example of her local high street in Kilburn, North London, to illustrate that understanding place requires the consideration of wider links of Kilburn with the world, which goes as far back to British imperialist history. These wider global relations do not necessarily lead to homogenisation. Instead, Massey stresses how globalisation leads to internally differentiated processes in a specific place through accumulated histories, ‘with layer upon layer of different sets

Theoretical framework 39

of linkages to both local and global world’ (2012, 69). Massey (2012) and Harvey (2012) also challenge any territorial notions of place as assigned with defined borders, which act as barriers and containers of human interaction, rather than allowing for flows and fluidity of spatial relations. Also because of an emphasis on how social and cultural processes transform an abstract space or location into place, place is not static and needs to be understood as a process. 3.3. PLACE-BASED EDUCATION The definition and different dimensions of place are important in this section to transfer how we understand place in the context of pedagogy. The notion that everything is always located somewhere can also be attributed to schools and higher education institutions which are situated in a specific place at a specific time. As such, education and learning are always embedded in a world beyond the classroom (Fox 2013) – or the studio as is the case with the art school. Place-based education conceptualises the relationship between learning and place, mostly in the narrow sense between pedagogy and place, often emphasising pedagogic methods and environments rather than processes of learning embedded in non-strictly pedagogical but social environments. The communities of practice concept (Wenger 1998), which I will detail in the next section, is an example of a learning environment that is not strictly pedagogical as it locates the process of learning in practice-based and social environments. Place-based education has many different meanings and fields from which it emerged and in which it is applied. For example, the concept is laid out as community-based education at schools (Smith and Sobel 2014), as critical pedagogy (Gruenewald 2003b), place consciousness (Gruenewald 2003a), teaching outside the classroom and outdoor learning (Waite 2011). These examples are mostly studied at primary and secondary education and rarely in higher education, which is one of its limitations. Place-based education has traditionally occupied the notion of the rural, which is founded upon its empirical links with environmental education and an outdoor context, whereby urban perspectives have been associated with the concept of critical pedagogy as its opposite (Shannon and Galle 2017). These sides have been bridged in a more contemporary notion of the concept, which has attended to the processes of globalisation through aspects of diversity, multiculturalism and conflicts in place, questioning the status of the local and indigenous in a globalised world (Gruenewald 2014). Here we can see how place-based education is, by definition, responsive to place, including its relational and global notions.


Chapter 3

Place-based education draws closely upon conceptions of place that I introduced in section 3.1 and adds the perspective of learning as an evolutionary process of meaning making – and therefore is a process that ‘makes places’ (Gruenewald 2003a). Gruenewald (2003a) stresses the important role of education in the production of space (Lefebvre 1991) and with it the production and most importantly challenging of power relations. He argues that education should ideally challenge the existence of places and should empower democracy rather than accept place as unproblematic and with it becoming complicit in political processes. Place in the context of education can not only fulfil the function as pedagogue but also become an educational construct or field of intersubjective knowledge. Beyond geographical knowledge students can learn from place about architecture, history, biology, economy and politics, among many other subjects (Shannon and Galle 2017). I place contemporary art in this field, by suggesting in this research how art school education can be considered as place-based education, when in conventional research it has not been considered as such. As I will further detail in the last section of this chapter, art has developed spatial and social dimensions while also being material-bound and situated through its mode of production, which makes the question indispensable how art school education is also place-based. There are a small number of attempts to connect place-based education with art education, all of which continue the line of associating place-based education with ecology and sustainability. The link between urban connotations of place-based education as aligned with critical pedagogy is not further invested in, yet this seems a more obvious connection than the ecological route, considering artists are often urban dwellers. In her paper on an ecology of place, Gradle (2007) studies performance art as example of relational practices that directly experience being in place as its core value. In her view, the capacity of a place-conscious art education lies in developing ‘pattern of relating, to think about contexts, [and] to become grounded in the local as well as the global’ (407). This illustrates the development of spatial relations through learning. Graham (2007) extends this view by adding how learning shapes identity as critical place-based pedagogy can ‘cultivate a sense of wonder’ (388), help the students to understand and challenge the context in which they find themselves, as well as to challenge the boundaries and purposes of art. In reference to the Situationalist International, the renowned avant-garde group active in the middle of the twentieth century and engaged in capitalist critique, Kitchens (2009) calls for situated pedagogy to encounter placelessness. He envisions students becoming ‘psycho-geographers’ and attends to specific places not just as discursive analysis but also for purposes of transformation, action and intervention (Kitchens 2009, 259).

Theoretical framework 41

While most of the literature is concerned with conceptualisation of placebased education and providing primarily pedagogic empirical examples, to a lesser extent this extends to how students develop a sense of place and spatial relations. This requires a linkage between the subjective view on learning, with an objective view on the learner’s and its community’s spatial relations, which could be considered as spatial theories of education (Gulson and Symes 2007). 3.4. COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE I am using the communities of practice (CoP) concept (Wenger 1998) as the structural framework that underpins place-based learning as social learning, rather than it being a scripted pedagogy of an institution. The value of the concept lies in its ability to consider the social and symbolic environment of a specific practice as source for its structural conditions, that is, access, belonging, boundaries as well as spatial relations. I will also highlight how the concept is applicable in understanding art scenes as landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). Although the concept emerged from organisational studies and traditionally looks at how learning creates innovation within practice-based environments, that is, the work place or vocational environments, it can underline the processes that define learning at the art school as practice-based and social. These capacities distinguish art schools from other forms of higher education. In art, knowledge is constituted through social phenomena and as social value chains that extend beyond the confines of the art school (Crossick and Kaszynska 2016). Learning as (social) practice The idea behind CoPs was to understand how learning is naturally embedded in workplaces. Work and as such practice-based environments are not static, as meaning and practices are recurrently negotiated within an evolving social environment. Process plays an important role, as ‘what [is learned] is not a static subject matter but the very process of being engaged in, and participating in developing an ongoing practice’ (Wenger 1998, 95). Practice here has a cultural connotation, which can be transferred to artistic practice specifically. Wenger sees learning not only as a vehicle to produce practice but also as something that is done in practice. The practice-based aspect embedded in a specific social and material environment makes the concept highly adaptable to the study of art schools. Art students learn the social and subject-specific dimensions of artistic practice in a studio environment, which mimics the


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workplace of professional artists. The CoP concept places an emphasis on social participation as a way of learning and acquiring information, which leads to a sense of mutual engagement and forms of belonging to the learning community. Wenger also looks at access to communities through understanding practice as source of its own boundary, within which participants have close relationships built around their distinguished practices. In relation to education as a designed learning environment, Wenger acknowledges how CoPs also exist in schools, as he considers their social environment as source for the development of shared repertoires and histories. Schools are crucial places for the negotiation of identity, not just subject matter. If schools do not offer the possibility to negotiate new forms of meaning and identification, there is a danger that communities of practice will shape their own learning environment and engagement outside the institutions. This, for example, is the case of alternative art schools emerging in response to increasing neoliberalisation of art school education and artists seeking new opportunities to make arts education affordable and meaningful for them (Jacobi 2017). But also school-internally different forms of alternative practice communities can emerge, which I will detail in the findings later on. Locality, shared histories and repertoires While it was not Wenger’s (1998) focus to highlight a geographical dimension of CoPs, this is important in aspects of co-location and clustering. There is a wealth of literature on the creative industries and clustering from the perspective of cultural policy (Pratt 2004), innovation (Chapain et al. 2010; O’Connor 2004), economic growth and urban regeneration (Bagwell 2008; Montgomery 2003), and in a non-urban context (Harvey, Hawkins and Thomas 2012). What the literature on clusters sidelines in favour of an instrumentalist narrative is the subject-specific and practice-internal processes that can explain the spatial configuration of specific sectors. With the help of CoPs, I am not just highlighting those internal practice-related processes but also attempt to discuss CoPs in relation to spatial form and forms of belonging. Wenger relates co-location to mutual engagement, interaction or shared encounter, which is enhanced by geographical proximity of people and, for example, the sense of coming to a workplace, that is, the art school. In such a shared place of practice, meaning making is linked to localities in which members engage and in which shared histories and repertoires emerge. The progression on an art school degree could be considered as shared environment in which shared histories and repertoires emerge in reference to its locality and informal knowledge around: ‘What to do and not to do . . . what

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to justify and what to take for granted, what to display and what to withhold, when actions and artefacts are good enough and when they need improvement or refinement’ (Wenger 1998, 81). Through learning and engagement with localities, CoPs recurrently negotiate spatial relations, for example, proximity and distance, and with it modes of belonging to the community associated with the locality. It is precisely this aspect of geography that Amin and Roberts (2008) address in their critique of CoPs. They argue situated practice, which means how learning evolves in a spatial setting, is integral to CoPs. The concept has potential to be thought further to spark new reflections on processes of learning and practice, and how place and spatial relations matter. This research attempts to fill this gap by studying in more depth the spatial relations that learning configures. Landscapes of practice The communities of practice concept is revisited and theorised in relation to a multiplicity of coexisting CoPs in a 2014 volume, which refers to landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). Landscapes of practice describe the complex systems of CoPs and the boundaries between them, which in the context of a global sense of place, acknowledges mobility of members of practice communities. I will use this aggregate concept as a way to conceptualise art scenes as bounded and spatially constructed through practice. The book reveals previously unidentified linkages between CoPs and place-based learning, which highlights their capacity as concepts not only to describe social learning but also to account for CoPs as being situated. It does not understand landscapes in a topographical reading associated with nature and locality but rather concerns a socially constructed landscape (Massey 2006) emergent on the basis of a system of practices. In this paper, Massey (2006) considers place as well as landscapes as events, highlighting how the natural and social world are happenings that exist momentarily while again being dispersed. Such a moment could be the art school, which becomes a meaningful place for a specific time, and disperses at the moment of graduation. The authors (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014) offer a conception of two scales of landscapes. A flat landscape relates to a local nature of practice, with its own locally shared histories and organisation of competences. It is considered politically unequal and therefore contestable. In contrast, diverse landscapes relate to boundaries of different practices, each of which produces meaning and a social value. Boundaries are considered learning assets as relationships are negotiated between practices, which open up for reflection and potentially innovation. Learning can be considered


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as journey through these landscapes and therefore embodying a sense of mobility. These aspects will become relevant in conceptualising art scenes as landscapes of practice, which are both socially and spatially constructed. What I am particularly concerned with is how the process of learning shapes such landscapes, which extends the development of spatial relations from individual artists to those of communities of practice. Art scenes It is important at this point to understand the origin of the term art scenes, which is often used by art world actors, including the participants of this research. Art scenes are traditionally conceptualised as part of social world (Strauss 1978) theory, which includes the art world. These social worlds by definition account for multiple simultaneous organised actions of individuals and groups in which there is enough fluidity to articulate belonging to these worlds. An important example of a social world perspective is the work by sociologist Becker (1984) on ‘art worlds’, which I highlighted in the previous chapter. He looks at art’s production through the lens of cooperative networks of artists, dealers, critics and collectors, among others, and how these networks shape art in return. The title of his book itself suggests there is not just one art world, but in fact multiple worlds to which individuals can belong, depending on the activities and practices they pursue. Art scenes can be understood as smaller parts of this world. According to Helguera (2012), they are ‘small performative environments’ (7), in which social processes meet the making of art and where place becomes the ‘stage’ (27). Helguera’s volume applies the notion of the art world specifically to the contemporary art context, which offers scope for distinguishing it from other fields in the arts such as, for example, music or performing arts. This does not just offer a critique of Becker’s (1984) volume but provides precisely the depth needed to depict the world that surrounds the production and consumption of contemporary art. Helguera’s (2012) notion of art scenes is largely based on his own empirical observations, putting an emphasis on scenes as loose and informal social relations, which he calls ‘social scripts’. These are based on the social and symbolic interactions between art world actors, which include artists, gallerists, critics and also academics. This provides much more insight into the fragmentation of social relations within the art world and therefore exposing very important dynamics that also manifest in spatial relations. While Helguera writes from the lens of belonging to the art world himself, in which the term art scene is frequently used to distinguish the art situation of a specific city, in the academic context the debate around scenes evolves around structural explanations. Straw (2004) who refers to

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‘cultural scenes’ more broadly specifies how they are defined by particular genres of cultural production in relation to a loose link with space. Bennett and Peterson (2004) includes the consumption side as part of what shapes cultural activities, which is also illustrated in Molotch and Treskon’s (2009) study on art scenes and how they locate to different neighbourhoods depending on art market activities. The relationship between cultural activities and location is complex as cultural phenomena do not just inhabit a territory, they also configure it. In another paper, Straw (2006) details the efficacy of the term ‘scene’ because of its flexibility to describe cultural unified phenomena whose boundaries are ‘invisible or elastic’ (248). As they are elastic, cultural phenomena can be geographically dispersed and multiple places can nourish a particular cultural preference or forms of production and consumption. This underlines the global notions of place in which cultural activities are not restricted by rootedness, and instead engage in the dialectic with mobility. Straw (2006) also highlights the role of institutions such as art schools in integrating activities and knowledge from the scenes that evolve in everyday urban life, while also releasing talent into scenes as their career development requires them to ‘move through scenes’ (Straw 2004, 413). The aspect of movement however opens up some crucial questions about the composition of scenes in relation to place(s): ‘Is a scene the group of people, as they move from place to place? Is it the places through which they move? Is it the movement itself ?’ (Straw 2006, 249). This points to the aspects of the relational understanding not just of place but also of landscapes of practice, which I employ in the discussion of findings. 3.5. INTERSUBJECTIVE UNDERSTANDING OF ART AND GEOGRAPHY Geography, and social science generally, has engaged with art as both subject and object of study. The objective side, for example, includes the study of practices and livelihoods of creative professionals in relation to place and the city (e.g., Forkert 2012; Gilmore, Gledhill and Rajković 2016; Green 1999), or, for example, spatial economics of the creative industries, cultural districts and clusters (e.g., Bagwell 2008; Chapain et al. 2010; Pratt 2004). While recognising how geography has experienced a creative turn through these strands, it is necessary to ask whether art can be an alternative mode of geographical knowledge making? There has been much advancement in the understanding of how artistic practices can feed into the development of geographical research output, which Hawkins (2015) pioneered as creative geographies. While this research is not applying artistic practice as method to


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collect geographical data, the learning experiences and practices at art school will instead provide new geographical knowledge. For example, Harris (2012, 227) argues that urban scholars studying gentrification ‘failed to incorporate cultural landscapes, histories and aesthetic registers into their analyses’, which could potentially be derived from subject-specific knowledge about art. This is furthermore articulated by Hawkins (2011, 473) as a field in which subject and object of research intersect: ‘Art works can offer us a rich means to destabilise Cartesian subjectivity, with its separable subjects and objects, in favour of a more inter-subjective, relational way of understanding art work and world’. Introducing a discussion about art practice and theory to the scientific conversation allows for inclusion of artistic dimensions (e.g., aesthetic, conceptual, economic, social, cultural, etc.) otherwise lacking depth and understanding when interpreting art’s relationship with place. This goes hand in hand with acknowledging how art is situated in an expanded field (Krauss 1979) in which its disciplinary boundaries were challenged and within which it saw the incorporation of intersubjective approaches, that is, the relational and spatial, into artistic practice (Hawkins 2013). Contextualising this historically, the thinking of art as an expanded field emerged alongside the post-1960s avant-garde environment in which experiments around art’s conceptualisation broke many ties with representational modes of artistic production. This led to art widening its material focus, while drawing on various other subject matters including scientific discourses. Also, the site of production of art has shifted, as the studio is no longer the only realm in which art is made. This is highlighted by the various forms of artistic practice that are situated in everyday environments (Johnstone 2008), making work on the basis of experiences in everyday social spaces building on the legacy of Beuys and his social sculpture (Sacks 2011; Toldy 2011). While Dadaists have pioneered a way in which art is produced in non-art settings and without specialised artistic knowledge or pretentions, Surrealists have at the same time realised spontaneity in urban space as source for artistic production (Bonnett 1992). The Situationalists, for example, developed a creative practice outside the conventions of art by positioning urbanity and the city as subject and realm for their work. Situationalists have defined four systematic approaches to their practice (Bonnett 1992, 76), in particular stressing the concepts of Dérive and psychogeography, which see the artist drifting through the city in the spirit of a flâneur (Baudelaire 2010). These practices are meant to trigger unpredictable emotions and events that highlight experiences in the city otherwise unrevealed. These are often recorded through either visual or text-based methods including map-making, but are not necessarily restricted to these as new technologies lend themselves for use.

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While Dada, Surrealism and Situationalism can be classified as modern traditions because of their linearity as movements, postmodernity is coined by plurality of influences and, as Bonnett (1992, 82–83) concludes, aspects of the modernist movements are reproduced in contemporary art without necessarily linking these to their original manifesto or radical ambition. The challenge remains to overcome the barrier between art and the everyday, which Bonnet sees undermined by the exclusivity of avant-garde groups representing a form of ‘intellectual arrogance and exclusivity’. With the beginning of the 1960s, these boundaries were dissolved as art criticism challenged the ‘modernist tenet of aesthetic autonomy by exploring arts functions in mutable social circumstances’ (Deutsche 1996, 61), along with practices that become more radical and socially responsible. From another angle, Bourriaud’s (1998) relational aesthetics considers how social aspects and its urban contexts re-emerged as the material and content of art in the 1990s. He believes art can open up ways otherwise obstructed through the dominant neoliberal culture; however, Bishop (2004) identifies limitations in this assessment, considering 1990s relational art as a form of adaptation rather than resistance or protest. According to Bourriaud, relational art is directly linked to recent worldwide urbanisation, which led to the development of a distinct urban culture, as well as art responding to globalisation and digitalisation (see Altermodernism: Cunningham 2010). I have already introduced how some of these aspects have shaped art school education in chapter 2, and the empirical chapters will provide crucial evidence on this as part of the meaning-making processes underpinning place. 3.6. SUMMARY I have highlighted in the last section on art and geography how this research provides insights into an interdisciplinary field that seeks to answer the research questions and develops geographical knowledge about art schools and more broadly on the productive processes of the art world through artists and contemporary art production. It has exposed two different angles from which this is investigated: First, a subject-specific view on artistic learning as place-based learning or education to expose the meaning-making process that potentially underlines artists’ sense of place. Second, an objective view on this is achieved through understanding artists’ spatial relations. This research understands both angles as interconnected and investigates their causal relationship, pointing to practice as source for understanding spatial relations. The relational aspects of spaceplace and a global sense of place underline the question of art school’s relationship with place as local, and put it into the context of a larger geography.


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Through understanding art scenes as landscapes of practice, I am able to transfer aspects of the social organisation of learning and practice to the way art scenes are spatially constructed and how communities of practice can be considered as source of belonging, extending the debate on sense of place.

Chapter 4

Case context and methodology

This chapter has two functions: It will first introduce the two contexts of the case studies and second detail the methods employed in this research. I will start with providing a focused overview of the urban conditions of both Manchester and Leipzig, and how artists have adapted to these, before going into detail about a brief history of their art schools. These historical accounts start with the foundation of the schools and bridge over to mostly recent histories, which emerged as subject of the interviews with current students and staff. I am also analysing the general higher education systems the cases are embedded in as well as approaches to national cultural policymaking, as this elucidates the environment in which art students and graduate artists find themselves. This is followed by a brief introduction to the methodology underpinning the fieldwork, detailing what kind of data was gathered – for what purpose and with which methods – as well as how this was analysed to support the empirical findings and conclusions made later in the book. 4.1. COMPARATIVE RESEARCH The position of a city in a hierarchy of cities informed the case selection, as studying art schools in global cities would have led to contradictory results for interrogating regional-scale phenomena. In global cities there are multiple institutions and many international students, which may present an exceptional case rather than the ‘normal’ (McRobbie 2004). As the research has taken shape, it became clear how this hierarchy could be understood in a context of an interconnected system of cities, in which comparative urbanism should be reframed. Robinson (2006) calls for a reconsideration of the role of 49


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‘ordinary cities’ in this system, in which much focus was set on global centres (Sassen 2000). Thinking across different places should originate from the very processes that shape the cities in question, which enables differences to be held together while providing a clearer linkage on the basis of causalities (Robinson 2006). The two case study cities chosen for this research, Manchester and Leipzig, have comparative spatial relations in terms of their regional size and their distance to their national capital city, as well as a strong post-industrial heritage with a built environment dominated by cotton mills and other brick-built factories. But to compare them on the basis of their spatial relations and internal characteristics would be a limiting logic as there are too many differences to take into account as well. The question is not simply how Manchester or Leipzig compare in the processes I am studying, or how they make a case of regional cities in the art world, but more so what their role is as part of a larger geographical system. This is signalled through many participants detailing connectivity with London or Berlin in their interviews. While Manchester experienced severe loss of population over a long period in the middle of the twentieth century due to post-industrial decline, Leipzig suffered a comparable loss over a shorter period post Reunification in the 1990s. As a result of this, both cities have had relatively large stocks of low-demand housing available, until recently (Mace et al. 2004) when their attractiveness to young people as university cities made the local housing market desirable and competitive again. The oversupply of space and housing was a crucial precondition for the formation of subcultures in both cities, with Manchester being known for its underground music scene (Robb 2009) and Leipzig for a subculture dominated by house project and transformation of empty shops (Raabe and Waltz 2014; Steets 2007). While this window of opportunity is likely coming to an end with increasing populations and rising rents, this research understands affordable space as a crucial condition for the formation of local art scenes. 4.2. MANCHESTER, INDUSTRIALISATION AND ITS SCHOOL OF ART Manchester is one of the world’s oldest industrial cities, even regarded as the world’s first (Mace et al. 2004). The city saw a rapid expansion between 1750 and 1850 in line with becoming a major centre for cotton trade. The built environment features many cotton mills and warehouses, with their commercial activities dominating a large part of the city’s infrastructure. Born out of the industrial revolution, Manchester was a seedbed for radical thinking as the economic and technological advancement of the time

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triggered unprecedented social and political change. The writings by Marx and Engels (1993) are intricately interwoven with Manchester in explaining the poor slum-like conditions of the working class, which formed the basis of critical thought on capitalism and socialism. In the face of deindustrialisation, the city lost almost a third of its population from 703,000 in 1951 to 462,700 in 2001 due to fundamental shifts in the types of employment, in particular, loss of manufacturing jobs (Mace et al. 2004). For the built environment, this meant decay of both residential and industrial infrastructure in many of the city’s neighbourhoods while the inner city was uplifted through a consumption strategy catering to the middle class. One of these neighbourhoods is Hulme, which grew out of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century and featured densely packed terraced housing, mills and other industry. In the 1960s much of this was demolished and replaced by council housing blocks (Crescents), which were soon considered a disastrous failure with insufficient heating resulting in damp, the arrival of pest infestations and crime. With 30 per cent vacancy rates and only 2 per cent owner-occupied, Manchester City Council demolished the blocks in the 1990s and replaced them with mixed-use tenure, low-rise housing more connected to its urban form featuring community gardens and many public spaces. The neighbourhood saw an increase in population, especially from many of the students who study at Manchester’s universities located along Oxford Road including Manchester School of Art. I will come back to Hulme in chapter 5, where I detail how an art student has engaged with this area and legacy. One of the current problems Manchester’s artists face is the redevelopment of inner-city industrial or commercial estate into upmarket housing or offices. This makes it also more difficult for them to secure temporary artist-led spaces for production in or near the city centre. Castlefield Gallery, which is one of Manchester’s most renowned institutions for artist development, faced problems of losing their inner-city spaces for their initiative, New Artspaces. In agreement with developers and the City Council, they provide spaces for artists to work on a temporary basis before a site is transferred to a more commercial use. The initiative could be argued is yet another example of the mode of artistic production described by Zukin (1989) where artists are at risk of long-term survival because of short-term opportunism. Another example of inner-city displacement of artists is that of longestablished studio provider Rogue Studios, which were based at Crusaders Mill near Manchester Piccadilly Station since 2000. When the mill was sold to developers in 2015, this triggered the support of Manchester City Council who saw the need to protect artist studios. This provided the opportunity for the group to move into a former Victorian primary school in the east of the city in mid-2017 (Manchester City Council 2017). Several artist-led


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initiatives opened in Salford, Greater Manchester, with Islington Mill pioneering the development of an independent art school. Other contemporary art spaces and groups (e.g., Caustic Coastal, ArtWork Atelier, Paradise Works) clustered in the area using its industrial estate. Manchester School of Art’s strategy for securing studio spaces for their graduates takes them even further to the peripheries of the region, as they run studios for artists and designers in Stockport (ca. seventeen kilometres south-east of Manchester). Manchester’s institutional infrastructure for contemporary art is perceived as too small as I will detail more in chapter 6; however, the city attracts many people working in the creative industries (Comunian and Faggian 2014). The city only has a small number of commercial galleries, and even these depend on what we understand as commercial. Many artists consulted for this research felt the choice of public art institutions is limited to the triangle made up of Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and Castlefield Gallery. Gilmore et al. (2016) reveal in their research on the careers of Rogue Studio artists, how the city does not have enough local infrastructure to retain artists against the pull from other locations in the region, or London where they seek primarily career development through the art market. As a response to this, Manchester Contemporary was founded in 2008 to attract curators, critics, dealers and collectors to the city and instigate an art market in the north-west region. While this has put a new lens on the art scene of Manchester, it is questionable whether this helps many of the DIY initiatives to grow permanent roots in the city, or grow into sustainable spaces for contemporary art. While the city does not seem to have an art market, it is the presence of Manchester School of Art that creates much of the potential for an art scene, as will be discussed in detail to answer some of this research’s objectives. Growing out of the need for fabric design, Manchester School of Art was established originally as a School of Design in 1838. It is one of the oldest art schools in the United Kingdom and one of the first to offer higher education to women from 1880 onwards. It operated as independent art school up until the 1970s when it was absorbed into the polytechnic system, which then became Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in 1992. What was then Manchester School of Art became the Faculty of Art and Design, only to be rebranded back to the school in 2013, with the art school brand recognised as marketing asset. The fine art courses (BA and MA level) are based at Grosvenor Building, which is the original art school building that also features Holden Gallery, which is accessible to the public. According to internal statistics, the school ranks second in applications for art and design courses in the United Kingdom, and recruits students mostly from the region, but an increasing number of students come from the South and London.

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Figure 4.1  Manchester School of Art, Grosvenor Building Copyright: Tim Green

4.3. NEW LEIPZIG SCHOOL AND THE POST-REUNIFICATION CITY Under the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR’s) communist regime, Leipzig maintained an industrial production base from 1945 until 1989 when the end of the regime led not just to the state’s but also to the city’s economic collapse. Subsequently due to shifts in employment, the city experienced an abrupt outflow of people to West Germany or the surrounding region where they bought or built homes, as many inner-city properties were uninhabitable due to the regimes’ neglect of bourgeois housing. During World War II, Leipzig’s Gründerzeit period style housing stock was largely kept intact, which is one of the reasons the city is becoming attractive today. With approximately 90,000 manufacturing jobs being lost, the city’s population declined to a low of 437,000 by 1998 (Plöger 2007) from a high of 713,000 in 1933 (Bontje 2005), leaving around 60,000 vacant housing units in late1990s. This illustrates why Mace et al. (2004, 1) stated how Leipzig has had the ‘biggest problem of abandoned housing in all of Europe’, and why it is considered a unique case for the emergence of subcultural scenes (Raabe and


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Waltz 2014) at a time when many other European cities have experienced the effects of gentrification with the decline of these subcultures. Leipzig became idealised as an emancipatory place like no other, where people can free themselves from market forces and the immediate imperative of survival. A scene of house projects, communes and artist-led projects developed, which were preceded by housing occupations during the last years of the GDR. HausHalten e.V. is one of those organisations aimed at bringing multi-apartment houses at risk of being lost into use through socalled Wächterhäuser (guardian house) or Ausbauhäuser (upgrading house) projects. These are schemes in which, for example, artists are allocated as caretakers of empty properties, while as a collective renovating them with little money but with many helping hands. There is a realistic option that these properties could be owned by those maintaining them, which some artists and activists achieved so in cooperation with Mietshäusersyndikat, a German-wide network building a solidarity-based economy around the collective ownership of property. Their aim is to withdraw property from a competitive and profit-driven market. These aspects will be mirrored in the experience of art students in chapter 7. Since Reunification, Germany invested heavily in the regeneration of East German town centres as part of the social, cultural and physical transformation of the new federal states (Wießner 1999). Many of the inner-city Gründerzeit neighbourhoods were renovated first, with a gradual spreading out of regeneration to Lindenau and Plagwitz in the west of the city. This evolved alongside the establishment of the ‘West’ as cultural scene with many artist-led spaces, studios for architects and the arrival of underground bars and coffee shops (Leipzig 2010; Steets 2007). Urban scholars argue that this could be seen as a form of soft gentrification whereby local residents were not directly displaced and if so only to other available and affordable flats in the same street or neighbourhood (Bundschuh 2010). This situation is however rapidly changing with the increasing attractiveness of Leipzig to students as well as international property developers, and evidence of stateled gentrification in the east of the city which stands in contrast to the organic and slow transformation in the west. In concert with the unique urban setting, a new form of painting, although born out of conservative structures of communist teaching, emerged from graduates of the Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst – HGB). Critics and dealers clustered artists under the umbrella of the New Leipzig School (Neue Leipziger Schule) loosely defined by representational form, surreal subject matter and the portrayal of theatrical spaces and scenarios (Modes 2007). While painting was eclipsed in global art scenes by other art forms aligned with expanded practices and conceptual art, the revival of a representational mode of painting in Leipzig came

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as a surprise. While the conservative mode of teaching at the school during communism lost its relevance with Reunification, the relevance of drawing and an emphasis on technical skills and knowledge remained part of the curriculum until today with a two-year structured foundation study (Grundstudium). Other academies in Germany do not have this kind of offer, which makes Leipzig’s academy attractive to those interested in skill-based artistic training (Gerlach 2008). Local dealers, among them Gerd Harry Lybke, who founded Eigen & Art gallery, saw this as an opportunity for creating a niche art market. This market is still fed by the original New Leipzig School artists with new painterly positions emerging from their students. Neo Rauch, the most acclaimed of the group, was professor at the academy between 2009 and 2014, following in the footsteps of his teacher Arno Rink. Many of his students are successful painters who are represented by galleries that sell New Leipzig School works. The move of Lybke’s gallery to the cotton mill quarter in Plagwitz known informally as Spinnerei led the coordinated clustering of other galleries around there, with a grand opening (Rundgang) in May 2005. Although the site in the west of the city is at some distance to the city centre, the decision to move there depended on desired co-location with many established artists who had their studios there and the generously sized space exhibition spaces

Figure 4.2  Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Copyright: Günter Beutner


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in what was formerly an industrial estate. At the same time in the west of the city, Lindenau and Plagwitz became the stage for an unprecedented wave of artist-led activity and the opening of many so-called off-spaces, culminating in a yearly festival called Lindenow. This is organised by a team of artists who want to position themselves against the prevailing narrative that defines Leipzig’s art world rather narrowly around painting. 4.4. JUXTAPOSING ART SCHOOL SYSTEMS It is important to contextualise how art schools are organised around their national higher education systems so that the experiences of art students can be understood and explained in relation to their local situation. The key difference between the two systems that the cases are embedded in is their government’s approach to funding. The United Kingdom has withdrawn most public funding from higher education in 2012 and students are required to pay fees of over £9,000, whereas the German system is publicly funded within a decentralised federal system. From a regional perspective, it can be hypothesised that funding dynamics influence the capacity of higher education institutions to attract students, with the example of high fees influencing the location choice of students with a preference to stay regionally, for example, through living with family to save costs. This is subject to more detailed analysis in relation to empirical perspectives in chapter 9. British higher education, art schools and their neoliberalisation Higher education in the United Kingdom is traditionally based on a twocycle system with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The sector saw a massive expansion in student numbers in the last quarter of a century, with consecutive governments aiming to widen access to higher education instead of vocational forms of training. Blanden and Machin (2004, 230) argue the ‘expansion [of the sector] has not been equally distributed across people from richer and poorer backgrounds’. Greenaway and Haynes (2003) point out how in the 1960s UK universities were almost entirely publicly funded and how this decreased to two-thirds of income from public subvention in 2003, until public funding was almost all withdrawn in 2011. When tuition fees were introduced in 1998 under New Labour, fees were at a moderate level of £1000 per annum. In 2011, the Conservative-led government allowed universities in England to charge up to £9,000 per annum for undergraduate courses, raising the cap from its 2011/12 level of £3,375. A government-owned organisation called Student Loans Company lends

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money towards fees and maintenance, which students have to pay back when they graduate and earn above a certain income threshold. This ensures that fees do not have to be paid upfront, yet results in large debts as students leave university. The emphasis on private finance sits with the concept of the neoliberal university (Slaughter and Rhoades 2000). This is expressed by a recent emphasis on students as customers, markets being central to educational value and career development being the goal of education. This is a counter-narrative to the university’s original role in nurturing analytical and critical thinking. Culturally, the UK higher education system has an acknowledged historical divide between traditional universities and new universities formerly constituted as polytechnics, of which Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University was part. The latter were established in the 1960s as part of a steady higher education expansion strategy (Chatterton 2000; Goddard and Vallance 2013). This binary divide, however, was abolished in 1992 with reforms that gave polytechnics formal university status, which accelerated the process of higher education sector expansion. Whereas traditional universities such as those represented by the Russell Group offer a canon of degree programmes generally focusing on research-intensive subjects, post1992 universities have tended to offer practice-based and applied research subjects including arts and design courses that reflect the need for skill-based practical and technical learning (Mould, Vorley and Roodhouse 2009). Art schools in the United Kingdom have found their place mostly in the new universities field, as they were absorbed first into polytechnics between the 1970s and 1980s, which then became universities in 1992. Banks and Oakley (2016) detail how post-war art schools were independent colleges subsidised by the government, which awarded their own degrees and recruited people from their local communities. These were often working class, part-time students or returners to education. This allowed them a route into higher education and space for intellectual and aesthetic encounter, but also ‘freedom to imagine and inhabit new social worlds’ (Banks and Oakley 2016, 6). Their article concludes how this role, in which the art school provided social mobility, has been eroded by the current neoliberal model of higher education, which restricts access to those willing to take on the risk of debt and precarious career prospects in the arts. In the book The London Art Schools (Llewellyn 2015), these system changes are illustrated alongside changes in the curriculum between training and education. ‘Anxieties about long-term viability [of art schools] remained’ (Llewellyn 2015, 46), and a lack of utilitarian knowledge brought challenges and pressures for art school degrees to adopt business aspects. In that sense, the current art school curriculum is much more calculated and allows less space for experiment and artistic values. However, meeting the


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needs of industry was not an invention of the neoliberal time, as the old art schools provided training opportunities to educate the human capital needed for mostly craft and design trades. To counterbalance the requirements of commerce, post-war art schools provided a very unstructured curriculum with an increasing theory element following the reforms of arts education in the 1960s under Sir William Coldstream, a former principal at UCL’s Slade School of Art. Art schools then were the focus of radical activity, with protests within art schools themselves, for example, Hornsey College of Art in North London (Tickner 2008). Students occupied the school challenging the conventions and traditional hierarchies of art school education, demanding more autonomy and democratic structures between students and staff. A very different form of radical engagement by an art school was experienced in 2015 with the occupation of Central Saint Martins, sparked by cuts to foundation degree places and other resources in further education. Having a foundation degree in Britain is often a requirement for entry onto a BA in art and design subjects, and was provided until recently free of charge for school leavers up to the age of nineteen. Foundation courses were traditionally based on the idea of the Bauhaus Basic Design course, as a ‘common starting point’ (Llewellyn 2015, 27) and ‘clearing the slate’ (37) for people who had a preformed idea of what an art school is. Instead of demands for artistic autonomy at Hornsey, the struggle today is much more concerned with marketisation and questioning of democracy at institutional level. Beck and Cornford (2012) have described the loss of independent art schools at the local level and with it the erosion of art school’s social duty to the community, which is still to be redefined in the current neoliberal model. This may happen through universities reaching out to local businesses, through work placements and through the provision of cultural infrastructure to showcase the university’s talent to the community through arts events and degree shows, for example (Ashton and Noonan 2013). While much of the tuition in art and design subjects is fee-based, some postgraduate courses especially in the United Kingdom offer scholarships provided through high net worth individuals or charities. Many art schools offer postgraduate programmes to provide students with a longer time frame in which to study art and to develop their networks. For many BA graduates, however, fees for such courses pose considerable financial barriers, often resulting in graduates waiting a number of years before applying for a master’s. The most prominent schools, which specialise in postgraduate tuition only, are the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy in London, which are destinations for graduates from across the country including for representatives of my Manchester case. These schools are highly competitive as they offer a limited number of places compared to

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most undergraduate courses, which contributes to the symbolic status of its students and their work. Alternative art schools or studio programmes have made a name for themselves since 2012, when student fees substantially increased, to establish other forms of postgraduate training outside of the formal higher education frame (Jacobi 2017). Post art school and to some extent embedded within the extended curriculum of art school’s career departments, continued professional development (CPD) provided by arts organisations enables a network and advice platform for artists on how to sustain their practice and be professional while maintaining artistic credibility (Gordon-Nesbitt 2015). German higher education and art academies as public system There is a historical divide of the German university enforced by the postwar division of the country, coined by the clash between capitalism in the West and communism in the East, which has influenced how universities on each side functioned. In West Germany, universities played a crucial role in democratisation of the post-war society (Paulus 2002, 249). Additional to raising democratic capacity, this process saw an alignment of academic disciplines with Western world views. This makes obvious how with the post-war division of Germany, universities played a very different societal role on each side of the wall. In comparison to West Germany, the GDR had a centralised higher education system, which did not differentiate between university and nonuniversity sector education. The study of Marxism-Leninism and learning the Russian language were obligatory (Gellert and Rau 1992, 93) as aligned with the communist ideology of the state. The higher education sector in the GDR had an increasing importance in providing research and science for the centrally planned economy. The system ensured work placement provision for graduates by smooth transition into the labour market. With German Reunification in 1989/90, the Treaty of German Unity (Einheitsvertrag) set the task of restructuring the higher education sector. This included the closure of some university departments, which were ideologically linked with the former regime. For the West German sector, Reunification offered an opportunity for rethinking its own system and, rather than rejecting the GDR system, building on some of its strengths and disciplines. Germany currently has two types of higher education institutions, which are traditional universities and so-called Fachhochschulen, delivering applied science and vocational degrees similarly like polytechnics in the United Kingdom (Gellert and Rau 1992). Schools of art and music are considered an additional form of higher education, and can either be universities, academies


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or higher schools. Fachhochschulen became very successful and flexible in responding to the needs of the labour market. Germany also has a strong work-based vocational education sector, which absorbs many school leavers and can be seen as an alternative to higher education (OECD 2010, 45). In terms of governance, Germany’s federal states are responsible for the organisation and funding of higher education as public institutions. It is remarkable how tuition fees have been abolished across Germany, following major public protests after they were introduced in some states. Only recently a two-cycle degree system was adopted with the aim of adapting degrees across Europe and enabling international exchange along with the Bologna reforms. The pre-Bologna system was a five-year diploma leading up to a magister degree, which is comparable to master level. This resulted in problems of international degree recognition and transferability, with an inflexibly longtime commitment to completing a degree. There are a number of art schools in Germany, especially in the East, that have not yet adjusted to the new degree system. Their preference is for a diploma system based on two-years foundation training (Grundkurs) and subsequent years being taught in the studio as part of a professor’s class (Meisterklasse). The German art school system mirrors the central European academy model coined by master-pupil division, which enforces strict hierarchies. Gerhard Richter, who is cited in ElDahab (2006), views this as a legitimisation of status in which art students are to some extent misshaped, rather than allowing them to develop independent artistic positions. Tobias Rehberger who teaches at the renowned Städelschule in Frankfurt, however, sees potential in the master-pupil system as it does not have to enforce hierarchies but aids the development of close relationships between staff and students, in which students challenge the teachers. The emergence of selforganised teaching within art schools in the German-speaking context as part of so-called free classes (Freie Klasse) counteracted the need to adhere to the guidance of just one teacher (Rödel, Czarnecki and Ruske 2014). This often mounted in engagement around the epistemology of artistic training, which involves questioning the extent to which art can be taught or learned and how this is influenced by its institutional setting and network. Joseph Beuys who was teaching at Düsseldorf Academy of Art in the late 1960s demanded more politicisation of art schools and for them carrying more social responsibility, which was also mirrored in the 1968 student protest movement. While there is to some extent a focus on professionalisation as part of teaching, which includes self-organisation and networking, German art schools nurture capacity to promote artistic autonomy from markets as their students do not depend on finance as urgently as those studying in the Anglo-Saxon world.

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4.5. THE BRITISH AND GERMAN CULTURAL POLICY ENVIRONMENTS This part of the chapter provides some context around policymaking in the cultural and creative industries (CCIs), which contextualises the challenges art students face when entering the labour market. I am not restricting myself to a discussion of the field of contemporary art here, but rather want to give a broader frame for graduate’s pathways into careers beyond the art world. The United Kingdom has been widely recognised as pioneer in CCIs policymaking in the 1990s, when recognising the sector as key for economic growth and innovation (DCMS 1998). This highlights the understanding of art and culture not just as public good but also as an important economic player for the national economy. This emphasis has increased dramatically with the post-recession politics in the United Kingdom, as funding cuts increased the responsibilities of cultural organisations (including universities) to generate their own funding. The recent conservative-led austerity politics entailed cuts to the Arts Council England budget. The funding body administrates a large proportion of cultural funding in England, and cuts resulted in the closure of some smaller and mid-size local cultural organisations that did not have other sponsorship in place. Pratt (2012) explains on reflection, the impact of austerity cannot be fully understood as it is not yet over. He emphasises how policymakers and researchers alike have been blinded by too much focus on cultural consumption. This led to a disintegration of non-commercial culture as part of the creative economy, in which visual art is an important driver. Some of the new requirements for cultural organisations attached to the austerity regime are accountability of their economic impacts as a way of justifying their existence. Regrettably, these are linked to economic indicators rather than accounting for their social and cultural value. There has been substantial criticism over the misrepresented quantitative values of culture in the current policy environment, where a recent AHRC report highlights inconsistency between policy aspirations and their outcomes (Crossick and Kaszynska 2016). For the visual arts as sub-sector of the CCIs, the loss of public funding is intensified by the increasing costs of live and work space. Labour market shifts led to more risk and instability through an emphasis on freelance work, casualisation and a networking culture. A-N magazine, a visual arts network and think tank, has undertaken a study on livelihood challenges of visual artists based on 2016 survey data (TBR 2018). The results underlined precariousness and inequality in the access to opportunities mapped against gender imbalance, lack of diversity and regional bias towards London. There


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are a few membership organisations such as the Artist Union England and A-N which provide a political voice to visual artists, and enable them to be involved in campaigning and policymaking. Shifting to the German approach, here cultural policy on the contrary highlights a commitment to public culture. The value of culture and the state’s role in its protection and support is written into the German constitution (Grundgesetz: Art. 5 Absatz III ). This outlines how arts and culture along with science should be free, inferring a responsibility for federal states and municipal governments to support these values. Due to a lack of specification and enforcement of policies to determine the funding of culture, this remains a voluntary task with a risk that funds are diverted to other areas of need. However, central government value is placed on culture for the development of citizens and a democratic society, with an emphasis on politics to support culture in order to serve people (Glaser and Stahl 1983). Here culture is not understood as high culture, but builds on the notions of Soziokultur (socio-culture). This is a distinct division of the cultural sector in Germany, and includes any organisation or institution that provides a platform for heritage and civic culture, that is, community centres (Soziokulturelle Zentren). Because of the importance of culture for the state, Huber (1982) defined Germany as Kulturstaat (culture state). This has a number of dimensions with the state itself being a form of culture and having a crucial role in nurturing, governing, funding and protecting culture and its autonomy. The meaning of culture here also includes its expanded sense as civic culture. Scheytt (2008) problematises the juridical responsibility of the state towards culture and how any enforcement of cultural policies would lead to too much bureaucracy along with quantification of cultural value. That Germany is a Kulturstaat itself is not written into its constitutional law as it is actively lived and integral to its national identity, which stands in contrast to the more neoliberal and entrepreneurial approach of the United Kingdom. The emphasis on Kulturstaat may mean a more fixed regime of cultural policy institutions and hierarchies. They can be perceived as too stale to respond to cultural shifts and economic changes. Cultural policy has a bias towards generous support for big cultural institutions while very little is invested in independent cultural producers. In response, the Freie Szene (free scene) in Berlin has formed a coalition to raise this issue at political level (Landau 2017). Recently there has been more emphasis on participation in line with inclusive cultural and urban planning, which is catching up with what has long been common practice in the UK context. Marguin et al. (2016) have shown in the case of Leipzig how large barriers between local government and cultural stakeholders still need to be overcome, in order to recognise local cultural assets and invest in them and build relationships. Since the late 2000s there has been more emphasis on specific support from

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national and federal governments for the CCIs sector, with the opening of a national centre and regional support bureaus providing training, advocacy and knowledge exchange, specifically highlighting the United Kingdom as pioneer in this field. 4.6. EPISTEMOLOGICAL APPROACH Following this introduction of case context, the next part of the chapter is concerned with methodology to outline the means by which this qualitative research was conducted. While quantitative epistemologists attempt to survey data about understanding the social world by highlighting, for example, quantifiable differences between social groups, field workers are less concerned with proving the existence of such relationships, but are more concerned with describing ‘a system of relationships’ and what this is conditioned by (Becker 1996, 56). As qualitative data is subjective to the viewpoint of the researcher and those being researched, a critical hermeneutic approach can establish rigour. This, for example, is achieved through reflexivity of the roles of the researcher in relation to his or her participants, the interpretation of participants’ world view, whether this concerns reality or the imaginary, as well as a clear and consistent coding practice, which to some extent structures and quantifies the data to observe underlying patterns of behaviour or processes. As emerged from the theoretical discussion in the previous chapter, the focus of this thesis is not to outline the art world as a static system but to understand it as an ongoing process in which relationships evolve. Without motion and transient aspects of an evolving social world, the portrayal of the art world and its scenes would be a mere inventory. This would ignore that all aspects of this world are relational and interconnected as mirrored in Strauss’ (1978) social world perspective. It highlights how knowledge is not strictly determined and instead exposed by processes, change and relations. Clarke and Star (2008) discourage a static analysis of social worlds in order to account for multiple simultaneously occurring actions as part of common social relations. Through the responsiveness of qualitative research to account for as much as possible of what can be observed from the art world as a social world (Becker 1996), it is possible to employ a multisited ethnographic angle (Marcus 1995) on place, which opens a window to other places. Here the art school becomes a one-sited case for a multisited perspective through which place can be understood as part of a larger system. This builds a bridge between the empirical narratives and the theories, which interpret places in their relation to places beyond (Massey 1991). It also allows for a reflection upon existing


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literature about the art world in relation to today’s time-space compression, which speeds up and spreads out social relations. For both social world theory and multisited ethnography, grounded theory is recognised as an approach that requires ‘track[ing] back and forth between empirical materials and conceptual means expressing them’ (Clarke and Star 2008, 117). Grounded theory avoids theoretical preconceptions and stops with data saturation when a specific theory derives or saturates through patterns identified in the data (Dey 1999). While this can seem daunting at first as the researcher is faced (ideally) by a state of tabula rasa with no determined thematic direction or hypothesis, the focus becomes narrower as empirical narratives emerge. This ensures that the unfolding narratives are emerging from the respondents without being predetermined by the researcher and therefore they tell the stories most relevant to the field. Here we can consider two important dimensions of grounded theory to integrate reflexivity on the narratives, which is integral to how researchers analyse findings. Glaser and Strauss (1967) argue data is there and has to be systematically found, while Charmaz (2014) criticises the lack of the realist approach, which should acknowledge how categories emerge through the construction of participants or by the researchers themselves. This constructivist approach is very important for taking into account how participants interpret their social world and how the researcher, again, makes an interpretation of this. For the multidimensionality of art scenes, which are imagined differently by each participant, this constructivist approach is highly applicable. It assumes there is no one-dimensional view on how the world is. This is applicable to the notion of place and the human processes that shape place, as people are experiencing these differently. 4.7. SAMPLE SELECTION The focus of this study is students’ and graduates’ trajectories through and beyond art school, which serves as a tool for understanding how they experience and relate to place. As the focus is on contemporary art, students and graduates were recruited solely from fine art disciplines, which were in Manchester the pathways of painting, sculpture and interactive arts and in Leipzig painting/graphics and media art. The courses I surveyed at both schools are differently structured, which is why they are not strictly comparable. While Manchester’s core offer is a BA in fine art, with an option to undertake an MA afterwards, Leipzig Academy runs a continuous five-year programme leading to a diploma. For practicalities in accessing students and staff, I took the BA in fine art in Manchester as benchmark in comparison to Leipzig rather than including the MA in this study, which not many students decided to progress

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onto. I also conducted interviews with lecturers in fine art and art world professionals involved in the professional development of artists to understand local differentiation on provision of art school education and a specific local repertoire. A detailed table of participants including their role, specification of their practice and year of graduation is provided in the Appendix. I recruited many of my participants through fine art lecturers employed by either school who became engaged gatekeepers. Once I conducted a small number of interviews, recommendations to interview other artists were made which led to a ‘snowballing’ process of participant recruitment (Cloke et al. 2004, 156). As snowballing can potentially limit the diversity of respondents, I made sure to contact potential participants from a range of backgrounds and through a variety of contacting approaches. Researching artists’ websites and being active on social media, such as using Facebook, was instrumental in contacting students or graduates. Both schools had their very own systems for representing students and graduates through which I could find students’ and graduates’ contact details. In the Manchester case this was through the school’s degree show web pages, while at Leipzig Academy this was the responsibility of the professor whose class (Klasse) often had a web page. The sample for each case is made up of just under thirty participants, at which point I witnessed data saturation, in the form of cross-references between actors and patterns of processes emerging. 4.8. BIOGRAPHICAL INTERVIEWS Inspired by Steets’ (2007) analysis of networks of creative practitioners in Leipzig, which I read as part of a broad literature review of one of the local contexts for this research, biographical interviews became the starting point for my fieldwork. Fieldwork started in Leipzig in 2014 as part of my master’s thesis, which was a preliminary study to this research, and was continued throughout 2017. Research in Manchester started in 2015 and concluded in 2016. During the interview process, it became clear how the biographical narratives enabled a multisited perspective (Marcus 1995), which acknowledges the biographical approach as a method through which the trajectory of a participant is followed and from which unexpected relations with sites emerge. I have closely researched the biography of each participant where an artist CV was available to let these inform the interview process through a set of questions directly related to the artist’s relevant practice or specific projects. Rather than being based on biographical trajectories, interviews with lecturers and external organisations evolved around the art school curriculum, professional development and support structures for artists, which were thematic. More directly, as some of the lecturers acted as gatekeepers to participant


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students, they played a key role in summarising certain processes observed in the livelihoods and practices of artists. Consequentially, from the accounts of teaching experiences provided by students, lecturers added much-needed counter-perspectives, cross-checking the experience of students. The problem with one-off interviews lies in their inability to capture change over time. Repeat interviews were not scheduled as the time frame for research was limited, and in which two cases in different locations were studied. Therefore, some of the accounts of students and graduates have to be read cautiously as construction of their own worldview, in which aspirations can perhaps be naive or unrealistic, as they may be based on an imagined art world rather than an experienced sense of it. This is especially the case with students at graduation stage, which is considered as the most difficult year in an artist’s career (Oakley 2009a). 4.9. ETHNOGRAPHIES This thesis uses images in a limited way. Rather than using images, I studied artistic practices unfolding from art school along with the settings in which these are produced and circulated. These are primarily discussed as part of ethnographic questions through which participants gave a clear verbal account of their practice and how, for example, in the case of performance or site-specific work this was staged. In many cases it was difficult to obtain visual information on the events artists staged temporarily, which was not accessible to the researcher other than through documentation by the artist. For this research it is crucial to develop a ‘thick description’ (Geertz 1973) of the social settings and phenomena studied, which aims to uncover how they observed themselves make interpretations about their world. Ethnographic research generally involves fieldwork to observe people’s activities, the spaces they inhabit and what it feels like to be part of the situation. The ethnographic research cycle I employed here was not primarily focused on observation, as there were limitations with observing temporary spaces and work situations of artists, and instead I added ethnographic questions to my biographic interviews directed to studying the art school and its scene as social world (Spradley 1979). Ethnographic inquiry can range from a broad understanding of practices or livelihoods in a setting (the school or place) to a narrower focus on processes known to exist in a community. Through asking ethnographic questions it is, for example, possible to gather information about how social situations are geographically meaningful, as well as how certain networks of social situations are either linked to certain places or by similar activities.

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Activities emerging in and around art are both visible as well as hidden. The studio environment at the school is visible without restrictions through spaces being accessible to the researcher. However, as the studio is an expanded practice environment through the adaptation of relational practices, some spaces are hidden from the researcher as they are embedded in communities or temporary spaces that are not accessible at the time of the fieldwork. Also, some teaching situations require permission to access and only take place during certain points of the year. This is one of the reasons why I employed ethnographic questions, so these difficult-to-observe accounts could be narrated and captured. It is common that multiple ethnographic techniques are employed besides asking ethnographic questions, which includes moderate participation of the researcher. In my case, this was done through attending critique sessions and class meetings, doing observation of artists in their studios and asking my participants to engage in auto-cartography. Auto-cartography, also referred to as auto-ethno-cartography (Grasseni 2012), is a technique I used while conducting the interviews to establish a preliminary understanding of the locations and institutions that art students and graduates frequently visit – and how they create meaning around these. I asked participants to indicate on a map of Manchester and Leipzig the locations they frequent for leisure, on the one hand, and professional development on the other, through which I could record stories and meanings associated with those places. Rather than generating data themselves, these maps served foremost as a tool for unlocking an ethnographic questioning process, which is why they do not feature in the analysis of the findings as such but through the narratives that emerged. Here is also remarkable how despite recurrent locations being named, their meanings and the movements between them have been constructed individually, which underlines the aspect of place as multilayered and multidimensional. This is further emphasised through a multisited ethnographic (Marcus 1995) approach, which emerged through the narratives that unfolded. By studying a participant’s biography from the vantage point of a single site, that is, the art school in a specific city, a world of multiple sites opens up through which their experiences are interpreted. 4.10. ANALYSIS OF DATA OUTPUTS Having a wealth of possible data to establish empirical narratives required careful consideration to make sure data contributes to a consistent picture of the world constructed by my respondents and is relevant to my research questions, which shape the focus of this study. Table 4.1 provides an overview of the different data outputs that were available for analysis. The table lays out


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Table 4.1  Analytical framework Data outputs Interview transcripts


Observation notes and own photo documentation Images of students’ work or other art works

Information data conveys and how this is used in analysis • Include biographic narratives that lead to a multisited understanding of the art world by following artists’ trajectories. • Include ethnographic information about processes and feelings connected with artistic practice and learning. • Were not used as focus for analysis, as maps triggered conversation about place and served as tool for research rather than as subject. • A number of participants did not engage with mapping as they either did not have many references, or if they had any they preferred to include them in our conversation. • These informed the accounts of artists reflecting on their experience of art school, particularly to verify or question information and to describe a setting to the reader. • Were not used as general focus for analysis, except to explain certain processes or points which served as poignant illustrations. This is reasoned through the focus of this research being with the processes of artistic learning and production as enabler of a sense of place/spatial relations, rather than any aesthetic or transformative impact on urban space. • A limitation here was that documentation of works by students was not always available either because the situation was not accessible to me as it was in the past and/or the student has no form of visual documentation available.

what kind of information the data conveys, how this information was filtered into the empirical chapters by means of analysis and why I have chosen not to include certain data outputs. Data and in particular the interviews were analysed through a coding process (Saldaña 2012), which is important to develop a systematic hierarchy from the data and aids the grounded theory approach. The interviews were first analysed by creating descriptive labels that summarise the phenomena in an inductive approach. At a second stage, coding has become more analytical. From the wealth of codes that emerged, a hierarchy was created by aggregating several labels under main categories. It was not until the writing process, however, that certain themes enabled narratives. More so than structured by themes, these narratives followed the internal logic of each case. For example, it became evident in both cases that

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the interview process followed a temporal logic from experiences before, during and after leaving art school, which then served as structure for laying out the finding chapters. 4.11. SUMMARY I have outlined the case-specific context in this chapter following a hierarchy from state to city level on cultural policy, higher education and urban development, which gives a detailed background to each case and also provides the basis for comparative analysis later on in chapter 9. I have clarified the methodology underpinning the fieldwork, the use of interviews including ethnographic questioning and ways in which data has been analysed to support claims made in the empirical chapters that will follow next.

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Learning at the intersection between the studio and the city at Manchester School of Art

This first chapter of two on this case discusses the findings at Manchester School of Art from fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2016, concerned with how the curriculum shapes the engagement between art students and place through artistic learning and practice. This allows for analysis of these processes as place-based learning and how this contributes to an artists’ sense of place. A second chapter on Manchester (chapter 6) will detail how this impacts on students’ and graduates’ spatial relations, which focuses primarily on rootedness and mobility, but also on the emergence of art scenes as socially and spatially constructed. While place-based learning does not seem an obvious leitmotif through the curriculum of fine art education, it is nevertheless an important part of an art student’s education and forms part of a so-called Hidden Curriculum in the UK context. How this is so will be illustrated in this chapter. First, it outlines the activities that are emerging from inside the art school with a lens on the studio as space for social exchange and interaction around art. From there onwards, I will look at the emphasis for the students to leave the studio and explore the city as pedagogue (Fox 2013) and origin of artistic practice. Methods and ways of how the students develop activities in the city through place-based learning are introduced as well as how they are situated in the wider provision of space for production and circulation of art. Beyond its relevance for understanding a sense of place, these activities provide an understanding of how art students and their lecturers shape the local art situation (Madoff 2009), while extending the knowledge of local DIY activities (Relyea 2013) crucial in understanding the art world through the lens of artists as producers. The activities can also highlight how learning at the school mirrors important developments in contemporary art with relational aesthetics playing an important role (Bourriaud 1998). This introduces 71


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a new understanding of art schools within the framework of place-based education (Gruenewald 2003a), which has not yet been considered. Most important, which the concept has lacked, is an intersubjective understanding between art, education and place. 5.1. THE ART SCHOOL STUDIO ‘Daniel Birnbaum asked the question, should an art school be a monastery or a bazaar? He doesn’t answer this question, but I think it’s a really good question about how we want the students to operate’. (Lecturer M18) The fine art department at the school with whom I conducted research across painting and sculpture pathways is based at the original purpose-built Grosvenor building, nested alongside the other Arts and Design Faculty buildings and the Manchester Metropolitan University campus. It features ceiling-lit spaces for painters as well as open-space sculpture studios in the basement conducive to collaborative working. The above statement identifies the challenge of making the setting work for those who prefer a place not only of calm and reflection but also one of exchange and conversation. I want to consider in this section the art school studio as element of both, social and situated learning, which extends the notion of a classroom as traditional learning environment. Pointing at the studio as important practical and situated environment of learning builds the basis for understanding how art school education can also be place-based, if we consider place as an expanded studio. Although students engage in the pathways painting and sculpture following a series of workshops in which they are introduced to techniques and concepts, it is not uncommon for painters to switch sides, and work with installation and performance-based practices among other formats. In the painting pathway, the students are allocated a cubicle space as studio as it is thought they require wall space onto which they can hang their work. The walls however, more than for paintings, serve as pinboards for sketches, photos, material samples, notes and memos, all of which reflect the diversified thought processes and practices within painterly practices. One of the students, for example, collated a mind map called ‘Map of Thoughts/Life’, which displayed the basic elements and processes of an art student’s life, covering the following topics: ‘home, Manchester, uni, art, friends, family food, hobbies interests, skills and employment’. The student drew lines between aspects that intersect and clusters of things that are related, to visualise an art student’s life. This highlights how the studio can be a space of mental reflection on everyday life (Johnstone 2008), which carries the connotation of the school

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as a withdrawal space from world. But this can also mean isolation, which is a notion coming from modernist tradition. It is perhaps misleading how painting lecturers assume the sectioned-up layout of the studios needs to bear function for the individual rather than the collective. Yet there are many accounts of students pursuing painterly practices and self-taught activity in collaboration, for example, through setting up life-drawing sessions or discussing the challenges of representational painting, as this requires skills not taught as part of the curriculum. Contrary to the seeming acceptance of the painting students as sectioned off from each other, the sculpture students proudly claimed their open workspaces were positioned against the mode of isolation. They saw this linked to the way in which art has relational and spatial aspects (Bishop 2004; Bourriaud 1998) to which they responded with the studio set up as an open and collaborative space. This also holds relevance in terms of the art school being a social space, which is something they clearly understood and utilised. Across the interviews, it was the original old art school building, as well as the messy and unclean studios, which was considered one of the reasons the students were attracted to the school. The state of ‘mess’, citing one of the student’s (Painting Graduate M2) perceptions of the studios before starting on the BA fine art course, can be considered a product of their learning and practices. As students arrive, their studio spaces are empty white cubes waiting to be filled. Although there is evidence of art transitioning into a post-studio environment through digital, spatial and relational practices, there are many voices from within art schools that demand protection of this physical studio environment in face of cutbacks and a transfer of material to digital work. McHugh (2014) emphasises the art school studio as locus where practices emerge that exercise working with space and developing social relations. This emphasises the importance in discussing the studio as part of a placebased education, which positions learning as social and situated experience. The studio is also an environment in which art students are exposed to a multiplicity of emerging practices and where they access the discourse around art. Being there, apart from access to informal networking opportunities, allows students to exercise how to look at contemporary art and advance their ability for aesthetic critique. While there are many students who engage in spatial and relational practices, which will be a detailed focus in the second part of this chapter, here I want to introduce practices that are developed around the notion of the art school studio as authentic site of the work of art (Buren and Repensek 1979), but also as pedagogic site. These are important examples through which I can illustrate not only how the everyday social and cultural environment of the school can be a source for practice or a mode of working (Baldessari 2017) but also how the art school needs to be accounted for as a place in itself with


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Figure 5.1  Studio at Grosvenor building Copyright: Silvie Jacobi

which students identify, develop emotions and meanings. Painting Graduate M2 explained how starting from a painterly practice, and coming back to the school from a residency in which he was opened up to other ways of working, his practice shifted strongly into a digital direction. He acknowledged that certain practices, including his digital drawing, did not need a studio. When I then asked him where he works since having graduated, he took the Greater

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Manchester map I had printed out for the interview and on the back of it he drew a map of the United Kingdom in which he pointed out to me all the places he frequently visits. He referred to his place of work as ‘’, playing with the notion of how the studio can be anywhere, even considering places of mobility such as the train or a café as production places. This hints to an expanded notion of the studio to include a multiplicity of settings and locations. What is important here is despite the student’s non-spatial attachment to the school, it became the source for his work. He used the school’s social setting and the developing art scene around it as a source for ethnography on which basis he developed drawings and cartoons that critically engaged with the situation of an art student. Another student used the social environment of the school as a source of inspiration for her art practice, dealing with notions of female identities as well as organising events for the student body investigating issues around feminism, ethnicity and diversity at art school and in the art world generally – a major concern for much of Chicago’s (2014) writing and artistic work. While the student’s studio practice materialised around the representation of the female body in a sculptural practice, she developed a programme of events for other art students to engage with these underrepresented topics. They investigated how, for example, in the painting pathway all the lecturers were predominantly white male, while much of the student body in painting was female. She debated with her colleagues, inclusive of artists external to the school, issues around exclusivity of art school education and how this could become more accessible and diverse. The studio as social space more directly informs the relationships that develop at the level of an art scene, in which social and symbolic interaction is key in trading opportunities (Helguera 2012). There is firstly the peer relationship between students, which develops across the different year groups on the BA through study trips as well as sharing the studio space. The social interaction across the years allows for learning from more experienced students, especially in aspects of self-organised activities (Relyea 2013) of which older cohorts have had more experience. There is of course also the relationship with staff that develops in the studio. In Manchester without signing up for a conversation you could have one with someone passing by. Perhaps that’s the reason why some people have more of an idea of what they do. Maybe these meetings are just more often as well, and the aspect that the school is smaller matters. (Painting Graduate M22)

Graduate 22 could distinguish her experience in Manchester from studying at the Royal College of Art in London for her postgraduate education, where she felt the time of tutors and peers was much more restricted than what she


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experienced at Manchester. For most of the students and graduates, however, it was difficult to distinguish what was particular about Manchester School of Art in relation to other art schools, as they never studied anywhere else. The strong student-staff relationship was also underlined by the lecturers’ presence at private views of student shows and their commitment in being available to the student after tutorial hours inside but also externally to the school. Some lecturers invite students for studio visits to learn how these are managed and where they are situated in Manchester. The ‘smallness’ of the school, but also of the city as place, likely contributes to the frequency of informal interaction, which is key for development of strong ties (Jack 2005) or also considered as local buzz (Bathelt, Malmberg and Maskell 2004). The encounter between lecturers and students, which is on a horizontal level also considered as ‘peer-to peer’ (Oakley 2009a, 35), is crucial for forming friendships and working relationships with lecturers beyond graduation, which could be considered as a link for the student into an art scene as important ‘social circle’ (Relyea 2013, 164). An example of this is how some graduates who had particularly close links with lecturers now have studios alongside them, which again can highlight how such opportunities are traded through social relations. The social circle can be considered as community of practice (Wenger 1998), in which lecturers take a prominent position in a hierarchy of knowledge ability (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). This is not restricted to what they know about their subject but considers social and symbolic interaction as knowledge. As Painting Student M8, who was new in the school, noted, in order to take part in the social and symbolic interaction in the studio, it requires an understanding of the language used at art school and how she had to adjust herself to the ways in which lecturers and the students from the years above her talked about art. Language here is not restricted to the use of specific linguistic expressions, but transfers to the symbolic, social and cultural realm too. It is probably the conversation you have with tutors when you have crits and tutorials. They influence you quite a lot. Then you learn how you talk about art. Then I realised . . . more and more towards the end that we would be having those conversations even if there were no tutors around. And that’s I think where the learning was. (Painting Graduate M10)

Beyond the development of notions of the studio and artistic practice as I exemplified, the BA course is about developing the students’ language, self-confidence and ability to self-organise. It seems that many of the negative aspects associated with an unstructured degree were mediated by the collaborative activities and knowledge exchange emerging from this. Lecturer M14, who teaches across different pathways on the BA Fine Art, stresses

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that some of the most ‘streetwise’ students know how this language is about ‘reinvention and not about conventions’, which defeats the purpose of trying to adapt to existing formats of art. It calls for developing one’s own voice and strategies instead, which underlines the notion of how art school education is more of an ‘idea of education’ that the artist can appropriate individually (Groys 2009, 27). There are of course students who have different needs and who find it harder to socialise, while others have expressed how they felt left behind in terms of understanding what it was they were learning. Painting Student 8, for example, observed how only half of the student body regularly comes to the studio. This may be on the one hand because students work on projects outside the school to which they are encouraged to during the course. But this could also mean how some students simply do not engage with the way art is taught, as they may expect an emphasis on skills and therefore are alienated by a non-structured curriculum. This is the standard setting of fine art education in the United Kingdom as Oakley et al. (2008) pointed out. The emphasis on professional development signals how this has perhaps become the subject of structuring today’s curriculum instead of quality and technical aspects of practice, which traditionally provided structure. While some technical skills can be acquired in the school’s woodworking and sculptural workshops, traditional artistic training such as drawing is now a student-led activity, which is something the students find out about if they are present at school where these opportunities are advertised on self-made, quickly sketched/collaged posters. As part of the curriculum and especially in the final year for BA students, there is an emphasis on professional development (Carey 2015; Gordon-Nesbitt 2015) where students are familiarised with the workings of the art world, while also being encouraged to think critically about careers as an artist. To some extent, these skills are incorporated into some of the modules that encourage the students to do collaborations and exhibitions. There are also lectures by visiting artists and university staff on practical questions of maintaining a career as an artist. These, for example, include training on how to write proposals for exhibitions, doing residencies and writing funding applications. Students learn how to set up websites, set prices for work, how to communicate with gallerists and curators as well as writing personal statements reflecting on their artistic practice. Those aspects were criticised by Chicago (2014) in relation to how they often do not portrait an ‘honest’ picture of the art world and how it connected students too early with the art market. Professional development is also part of tutorials with lecturers as they guide students towards postgraduate study or help them find other routes to identify students’ interests and career potentials. This can be considered a more direct and meaningful approach as it considers the needs and practices of an individual student.


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Painting Graduate M22, who has established herself and her practice in London, was invited as visiting artist to provide a professional development workshop back at the school. She noted how some of the students were unaware of the standard national open submission shows for recent graduates, that is, the Bloomberg New Contemporary in London in particular. She felt these events were key in kick-starting an artist’s career in the United Kingdom, as they are discussed in the national art world media and expose artists to critics and curators based in London. The graduate and one of her colleagues, also a former graduate who runs an art space in Liverpool, simulated studio visit interviews with the students followed by a selection process of work and curating a show together. Here the studio becomes the stage for testing some of the assumptions about the art world, by bringing in external actors from the art world into the space of learning at the school. This staging of the art world inside the school may be the opposite of the qualities of place-based education. By bringing the art world into the classroom, they risk portraying a generalisation of an otherwise situated social world. The social interaction and knowledge exchange, more so than the studio as physical environment of production, is the aspect most graduates missed after graduation. The interviewees recalled how this environment enabled a regular informal discussion about their work and how this is in fact crucial to sustain interest in their practice. This is a case of ‘mutual engagement’ in a practice (Wenger 1998, 74) enabling its continuity. Some of the graduates had collectively set up studio spaces after graduation and saw these in the tradition of continuing to be at art school. How we’ve got the studio set up is just one big room, we all have our little desk. We nicked desks from the university as they were chucking them out. It’s literally that we made our studio from art school in a new space at the minute. It’s a big open space and we all talk to each other, and it’s not all boxed off. (Painting Graduate M23)

There is a notion here how graduates are very keen with carrying on with physical arrangements experienced at art schools, for example by taking redundant furniture from the school and arranging the studios in a similar way so that they facilitate social exchange. The students active in the space discussed earlier were a mix of graduates from the sculpture and painting pathways, and they chose to take on the open-space studio model from the sculpture pathway, as this provided for more social interaction. Graduate (M23) emphasised how working in the same space incubates productivity and discussion around each other’s practices and how this allows for new aspects to enter your own work. In this sense, relations of proximity in a community of practice enable engagement in a shared environment in which artefacts, knowledge, members and a cause

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are shared for a limited period of time (Wenger 1998), that is, the duration of the degree. The institutional environment suggests being a safety net for the students in which there is time, space and a support network of peers for artistic practice to emerge. This is associated with art schools being seen as experimental spaces in which exposure to art markets should ideally be limited. Therefore, capacity for socially powerful art can emerge (Pujol 2009), which in the face of instrumental career development in neoliberally minded universities is of course idealistic. At the point when art students leave the school, they realise how having a continued place of production over the three years, in which they have undertaken their course, has many positive but also some negative aspects on making work. When I was at university I used to like working with objects. I used to collect a lot of objects and used to have them around in my studio, essentially hoarding things with the hope that I’d use them for work. But once I was in a situation where I was in a less stable condition, I found that it wasn’t economical to keep all those things and move them around with me. So I kind of developed a body of work that was essentially quite packable. All the materials are quite packable but easy to obtain, quite easy to work with and can be taken apart, stacked away and moved to another place. And that in itself created an aesthetic. That process almost streamlines my decision making in a lot of ways. It means I am able to limit my engagement with various things and can focus. (Interactive Arts Graduate M26)

What the graduate is reflecting upon here depicts the process in which the setting where art is produced impacts its materiality. Limitations in terms of space and time do not undermine his practice. They transform it in a way that offers moments of surprise and an aesthetic determined by the situation. Being at art school allowed him to understand what it means to have a permanent base from which to make work. It was only after leaving the school that his practice consolidated by working with various limitations. He views his mode of adaptation in line with resilience, continuing to function with fewer resources (Pratt 2015). What this means for understanding communities of practice is how a specific locale can render practices and with it the likely way its community is constituted, which is why the aspects of location and urban contexts need to be more integrated (Amin and Roberts 2008). Despite the graduate’s criticism and acknowledgement of gentrification and how developers instrumentalise artists, graduates were confronted with shortterm solutions through regular studio relocations. This engendered little capacity for radical potential to change the system, which was what relational art in the 1960s was more inclined with (Bishop 2004). To exemplify this, Graduate M26 and a few of his colleagues had a studio in Federation House, which was part of Castlefield’s New Art Spaces project. The initiative provided


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temporary spaces for artists, with the gallery functioning as liaison between owners of space and artists. The graduates observed how their presence created a momentum as developers became interested in investing in the building. The group of graduates had to leave after the agreed six months’ residency period, emphasising the displacement mechanisms highlighted by scholars of gentrification (Deutsche and Ryan 1984; Zukin 1989). Forming resistance is one of the aspects that professional development provision at art school has to deal with more in order to provide a clearer picture of the problems that arise by becoming artists, while also avoiding the pitfalls of self-exploitation.

5.2. PLACE AND THE CITY AS EXPANDED STUDIO As the last section has detailed, the art school environment with the studio, in particular, can be considered as origin of engagement with place as an ‘expanded’ studio. This is because the studio is the place where art students learn about and identify with artistic practice and working with space, which transfers to how they explore the environment external to the school. The discussion of place is not written into the official BA fine art curriculum. However, the ‘Hidden Curriculum’, which are sessions led by individual tutors, engages in many ways with how art students arrive in Manchester and how place and its history, for example, can become the subject of artistic practice. The place-based aspect of the art school curriculum at Manchester is signalled through how lecturers invited fine art students to engage with the city at a very early stage, by demanding them to simply ‘go out’ and leave the studio. This breaks from the notion of a ‘good’ student showing attendance at school, while staying away could be considered the opposite. Breaking with traditional notions of accountability of schooling allows for unplanned learning to emerge from the city (Gruenewald 2003b). As the students arrive for their first year on the BA fine art course, they are allocated to groups and explore the city, documenting their experience through a Dérive, which is modelled on the tradition of the Situationalists (Bonnett 1992) about whom they are given a short reading list. This again is part of the hidden curriculum and not mentioned in the student handbook or the website for the course. The mission was for them to discover the city through collecting artefacts, making rubbings and drawing maps, among other techniques. The below quotes show the pedagogic intent of the tutor and how the student appropriates this in his learning journey. It’s about thinking about the city, what the city stands for and how the city has evolved. It’s not just a static thing, it’s a moving thing. . . . The point is to get them to think about what they don’t know and to be comfortable with that. It’s

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the same with the city. It’s capable of creating surprises. It is not just about their context, it’s their team, getting to know each other, orienting themselves in the city, to understand that there are different aspects of the city. (Lecturer M14) I remember the early activities, assignments that we were given were very much like Psycho-geography and kind of exploring the city. I remember the first day we were split into groups and there was a map of Manchester. We were given a square of Manchester that we had to just go out to find, to walk around it. I think we just had to make rubbings and bring stuff from that area. Then we all came back and made a map out of everyone’s different things . . . I always still walk past the square where we did that. (Sculpture Graduate M3)

This can most importantly expose how place-based learning initiates students’ memories and meaning associated with Manchester as a place, in this case specific locations in the city with which learning has directly engaged, which contributes to a construction of a sense of place. Without citing geographical concepts here, Lecturer M14 employs a multidimensional understanding of place through acknowledging its state of flux and process of becoming (Cresswell 2015). The engagement with place as a field of exploration, as Kitchens (2009) notes, has transformative capacity through exposing realities and, taken a step further, exposing them through performative action, which Situationalist practices such as psychogeography can involve. While this is not necessarily exercised as part of the above-cited pedagogic activities, it has the potential to be nurtured further in the students’ evolving practices, such as the two examples I will give below: I was just walking about and filming the city. I explored loads of different places. I ran out to places to film. That pushed me to focus more on the people here, and the architecture. I think that’s that, that kept me interested. Through that I started meeting loads of people. I find that more interesting now than the city as built environment. So I guess it [place-based learning] has an impact, by sending me into another direction. (Sculpture Graduate M7)

A mature student and mother, who was on the fine art course and who has subsequently become a member of teaching assistant staff, described in detail how she was engaging with spatial imaginaries (Bailly 1993) as she travelled from a rural environment to the city every day to go to art school. It was the freedom she gained from crossing the line between the rural and the city, which was very precious to her and offered a mode in which her artistic practice could develop in what she describes as a ‘secondary life’. It felt to me I had two different lives. It was almost a bit of a threshold when I crossed a certain point on my train journey to Manchester. . . . You know as


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artists we start opening our eyes even more. . . . I just started taking stock of everything that I saw in the city. Then it was contextualised by doing research through artists that work in similar ways and just making work that came out of that sensitivity that I was seeing. It was tied in with my journey. I came and walked the same way every day and that became part of me mapping this secondary life that I had while I was here. Each day I picked something off the pavement, for example. (Painting Graduate M4)

Influenced by the Situationalist excursions the students undertook in the first year of their degree, they adopted a similarly explorative way of thinking, both in approaching artistic practice and in analysing the world around them. This contributed to how the two artists appropriated meaning from the way they navigated places through their practices. Teaching in art should ideally not tell students how to think about art or to make art. It instead should give them options and ideas in order to develop their very own practices and strategies (Groys 2009). Lecturer M14 projects the ‘not knowing about what art is’ to how the city is an unknown. This can be a resource for them in Manchester, but this process can also be transferred to other places where they will go as artists in the future. Lecturer M14 specified why he was interested in the urban dimension, because it represented for him the wider world that a critically aware and ‘streetwise’ artist has to know, which represents an intersubjective body of knowledge art students should develop. He considers that being aware about one’s setting, that is, the interest of the student in Manchester as place, is crucial to developing an identity that challenges conventions and takes risks. This aligns with theories of place-based education, which has the capacity to problematise certain social processes and relations, rather than to reproduce them (Gruenewald 2003b). With the Dérive or psychogeography experienced students are exposed to being in an unfamiliar situation, both in terms of exploring a new territory and a novel social situation. While this exposes them to something they do not know yet, the lecturer recognises how this could potentially be uncomfortable. It is the position of discomfort and perhaps failure that he attempted to trigger, which catalyses innovation and criticality in contemporary art (Buckley and Conomos 2009). The discomfort was also the position, which a visiting artist (Curator M27) believed students needed to engage more with, in order to break with conventions of making and especially showing work. With that he aimed to challenge the notion of white cube spaces, which the students have grown familiar with both aesthetically and functionally. This is an environment Buren and Repensek (1979) criticises as too removed from the reality of the work of art, which he sees situated in the studio or other sites of production. Curator M27 recently graduated from a London art school and returned to

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Greater Manchester, his home, to set up an artist-led space in Salford. With his experience in the artist-led scene in London and through other residencies, he brought with him a sense that making art does not need to be an elongated process, which is planned and staged in a tailor-made space. It can instead be a spontaneous exploration in which students respond to limited resources, time and space, with the aim to create an unexpected and unplanned encounter, which is comparable to the ethos of place-based education. The teaching the curator developed diverted away from the original brief of the lecturers, who hired him to conduct the standard format of studio visits, tutorials and selecting works for a show in the art school’s internal ‘Side Gallery’. This is a small section of the public Holden Gallery, often used for temporary student shows. After touring some of the studios and finding out how the students were at a stage in which they have not made much work due to an essay deadline, he decided to develop a two-day project, culminating in a show in a hotel room titled ‘#OhTell’, simultaneously being a hashtag for Twitter. The brief was for the students to bring anything they recently made and considered as work of art, to a private view of a show organised in an inner-city hotel room. The visiting artist booked the room on behalf of the students without the consent of the hotel management with the aim of challenging students’ perceptions about its conventional and ‘daft’ aesthetic, as well as to make them aware of opportunities outside of the frame of institutional validation. The Britannia Hotel on Portland Street, which Curator M27 chose, is a Victorian building with an entrance decorated by chandeliers while the rooms feature a conservative and tired decor in muted beige and dark red colours paired with old-fashioned table lamps and heavy old-fashioned curtains with an abstracted floral pattern. The event was attended by approximately sixty people including fellow art students, graduates and lecturers, who were given a mobile number of one of the group members to gain entry to the hotel. Because the hotel room was taken out of context of its original use, there was an obvious risk of failure of delivering the event as the hotel management could have shut down the event immediately. However, it seemed that this was part of the learning experience, the surprise and risk-taking element, which created a heightened level of artistic and cultural value for the show. In relation to the more passive modes of exploration Lecturer M14 delivered for the students, this project engaged in applied radical action within a learning framework, curiously challenging notions of sites for exhibitions and access to art. Further to the actual one evening event at the hotel, the students took the photo documentation of the event back into the art school’s Side Gallery in which they staged a ‘#OhTell (cont.)’ which stands for continued. This ‘show of a show’ highlights the event itself as work of art. It displayed the social


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Figure 5.2  Manchester School of Art, Side Gallery ‘#OhTell (cont.)’ show of students’ work Copyright: Silvie Jacobi

setting, how the room was transformed to accommodate art and a layout of its dimension. A floor drawing made of white tape attached to the floor showed the 1:1 dimension of the hotel room, giving an indication of its spatial dimension and layout. ‘It is kind of funny, you can tell that the students been indebted to the whole . . . Oh god! Find a gallery and find a space that looks like the space that you know where art is shown’ (Curator M27). There is a notion of what an exhibition space should look like and how art school education sits at the crossroads of either, teaching conventions or having the courage to break out of these, as is shown in the example of the hotel room show. Students who reflected on this event were excited to see how quickly they could develop work that had value beyond their individual artistic positions. If they had not already experienced doing shows independently, this event encouraged the students to do so. It was through this project that student M11 found short-term employment after her graduation in helping the curator and visiting lecturer with running an artist-led space in Salford, which highlights the importance of such external activities for professional development. The experience of setting up a space in which to have shows is highly valuable for learning how to organise and hang work and how this can be situated in spaces that are not the typical white cube environment. Sculpture Student M11 reflects on how she learned what works and what does not in the

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various spatial contexts she was confronted with as she participated in external shows alongside her studies. Painting Student M1, Painting Graduate M2 and Sculpture Graduate M7 in particular emphasised how they used some of the city’s empty and often derelict but spacious warehouses and cotton mills for art-related activities. They turned them into studios during some part of the term in which they had shows, as well as continued to use them as studio spaces over the summer when they could not access the studios at art school as the university was closed. ‘When you’re in the first and second year you need people who’ve gone and done stuff outside, so you’ve got a reason to carry on’ (Painting student, M1). The young artists told me how they carried on the relationship with the building’s owners through their friends from previous cohorts, which signals the importance of social interaction between students from different years at the school for trading such informal opportunities. In being confronted with the difficulty of making a space inhabitable, there was a certain acceptance and coolness associated with not needing to adhere to the white cube model: We just made it happen. It is a total old warehouse, it’s really dark, messy and cold. We didn’t put in white walls, we just kept it as it is. It became quite a cool alternative show. . . . We didn’t intend to make anything specific, but just building this structure with the wood. (Painting Graduate M2)

What this gives away is the engagement with the process of transforming a space and taking it as it comes, disregarding the conventions of the white cube aesthetic. However, this could also be because of necessity. If a clean white cube space would have been available and affordable, it may have been their preferred choice to show there, as is the case with university internal shows. Beyond the challenges of making the space ‘workable’ as the graduate described above, there were remarks about the health and safety risks involved. Painting Student 1, for example, described the building owners he worked with as ‘gangsters’, as they were doubtful over how they handled legal procedures, such as contracts of use and safety on site. It was not clear to me from the interviews with other students and staff how these risks were mediated within the institutional environment such as through risk assessments. These may have been part of the bureaucratic work that artists generally do not like to address. Graduate M2 also had a similar experience in that he set up a show in a warehouse as part of a larger project in which young people on community service orders were involved. This meant for the art students how they had an additional role as social worker in this case, having to oversee the work of potentially difficult to deal with young people. Here again neither staff


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nor students further elaborated on the potential risks involved in regards to ethical issues or health and safety. It seems that an artist is exposed to these complex situations in order to become the ‘streetwise’ person that Lecturer 14 describes. This alludes to the diversifying roles of artists, for example, in other creative capacity (Carey 2015), in relational aspects (Bishop 2006) or by taking on other roles in the art world (Birnbaum and Graw 2008), all of which can lead to forms of exploitation. Teaching does to some extent encourage them to think critically about the context in which they show and how this, for example, in a commercial context of a shop or café, can instrumentalise their practice, and how transforming a space means investing a lot of energy, money and time. While organisational aspects of collaboration and artist-led activities were not traditionally part of teaching in fine art, they have become more of a focus recently with the urgency to offer more structured teaching in the face of students paying high tuition fees. The fine art department as well as the faculty offer a set of modules aimed at helping the students to set up their own external projects in response to the need to equip students for the challenges with artist-led activities. Unit X is a module offered across different departments including fine art, aimed at fostering professional development through collaboration and working with external partners (Gordon-Nesbitt 2015). This has not only resulted in activities such as setting up spaces but also allowed for collaborations of artists with design or media professionals, as well as with museums and institutions in the city. This can be considered instrumental on the one hand, as it points students towards a linear pathway of success associated with the creative industries, while on the other it provides students with essential expertise beyond their practice but within a creative environment. Lecturer M18 noted how working with spaces is not necessarily everyone’s mode of showing or working. Instead he encouraged students to explore other modes of circulation, for example, through publications (zines), websites or events with film screenings or presentations. However, reflecting on those alternatives, he noted how the majority of students still preferred putting on exhibitions. The importance of shows may have been elevated through previous cohorts symbolising success by the frequency of shows they put on. The younger students can witness the way in which their work and space is presented, which is valuable to understanding what professional practice could be. Graduate M22 recalls how over a hundred people came to an opening she had in the first year and that the staff came to support the students’ activities, which she considered of particular value to Manchester School of Art. These events are a major part of social interaction outside of the school and celebrate the students’ achievements. Examples of situated practices in connection with

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putting on exhibitions, shows and private views can be understood as a transformative element of place-based education, as they directly engage with spaces in the city and therefore render their physical form and with that the meaning of place. This evokes emotions, associations and memories, which shape a sense of place (Cresswell 2015; Harvey 2012). Another transformative element, which is a challenging task, is to attract and interact with the general public. The main audience for artist-led activity and exhibitions remains the peer group of the art school. Module Unit X, for example, tries to mediate this challenge by formalising the artists’ activities and marketing them as a cultural offer for the city. While this holds relevance for those pursuing commercial practices, such as designers and architects, in the context of fine art where students need time to examine what their practice is, it is questionable to what extent students need to market themselves or be marketed by the school at this stage. Sculpture Student M6 describes the way he experienced meeting the general public, who have ‘no real relation to art’ because of artists’ intellectualised language, which he tried to challenge. He set up an exhibition in a church with the permission of the vicar who was initially open to the idea of showing art, although not so sympathetic to the way the student’s interaction was about art as something essentially conceptual. Contrary to the many other exhibitions his peers set up in warehouses or other empty spaces, many locals came, either because they were familiar with the church or simply because there was free wine available. A small number of the students and graduates I interviewed were for­ mally engaged in community arts activities, and they did so through working directly with museums, schools and other social organisations. What this signals is how practice itself determines the scope of how much engagement with audiences is manageable for maintaining levels of artistic autonomy (Haskins 1990) and how not all practices cater for outreach activities (Jacobi 2017). Through the development of artist-led spaces outside of the art school, it is not just social relations that form, for example, between students and staff, but also a sense of place of the city in which they study. In the framework of a sense of place, place-based as well as social learning can be considered as a process of individual or collective meaning making of space which becomes place. Considering many of these activities are temporary, this generates memories associated with place, which can also be referred to as shared histories (Wenger 1998). An example of this is how Student M3 reflected earlier in this section that he revisits the places where he engaged in place-based learning activities. This meaning-making process was represented in the students’ practices in particular through engagement with Manchester’s history, which is an aspect that a number of students addressed as part of their practice. Through the


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Dérive/psychogeography experience, which I introduced earlier, the students were also introduced to the history of Manchester, highlighting the city’s relationship with Marx and Engels, and the industrial revolution (see chapter 4 for details). This was not considered as a formal history lesson but important background information for students to identify with their current place and how this holds potential for identifying as an artist. Two of my interviewees (Sculpture Student M5 and Sculpture Graduate M3) highlighted how this has directly influenced their practice from the very beginning through to their third year as they continued to work alongside the themes of political activism, notions of the radical and local history. Because I always loved the idea of freedom of art, you can do what you want, but at the same time it’s the worst thing ever. You can do anything. If I have an exhibition, my first thing I do is research the place, go into the history of it . . . usually my work responds to a past social political issue or a current one, or a prediction. A lot of my research starts to build up. I often go out to the actual place, speak to a lot of people. That’s the easiest and most interesting way. (Sculpture Graduate M3)

Graduate M3 expressed how his interest in Manchester grew around some research he conducted into the history of Hulme, a traditionally working-class neighbourhood which became the stage of a major regeneration overhaul during the 1990s and 2000s. This interest intensified after he learned to explore places free from any preconceptions and spending time with the community, learning about their cultural practices. This is close to the scientific process of grounded theory in which the research has no preconceived ideas of the field. This ethnographic approach borrows, unknowingly by the student, from the methods that human geographers would use to conduct observations. This highlights what Hawkins (2011, 2013) identified as increasingly intersubjective interests between geography and art including the use of scientific methods. Prior to going into the field, he did a basic literature review to learn about the history of Hulme through which he found out how the now ‘gentrified and boring place’, as he described Hulme, was the stage for social and political issues, which excited him as source for his work. His way to gain access to the community was through knitting groups and a well-maintained community website. Through these channels he found people who were local to when Hulme was stigmatised as the ‘horrible place’, which he wanted to question. For his artwork, he focused on a specific story from the 2000s where sites in Hulme were developed for the Commonwealth Games. One of the landmarks of Hulme, which was an old tree with which many locals connected convivial memories, was at risk of being taken down for the development

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of a hotel. The community guarded the tree for several weeks. When it was uprooted, they took the tree chunks and dumped them onto the steps of the local town hall to express their frustration. In legacy of the community action, the student planted a tree at the site where it originally stood and on which the hotel was never built. With this he materialised aspects of Hulme’s hidden past, while also highlighting processes of resilience in the community, which became stigmatised in the face of the many problems the area was known for. This work has the potential to reposition the public’s perception of the people who formerly lived in the housing estates and its surrounding environment. While this makes a statement about the identity of place, it does not in any way aestheticise or cultivate the area in the way it could play into the hands of developers’ artistic mode of production. This process is more about imagining displaced communities, which could be compared to Deutsche’s (1996) account of the homeless projections by Wodiczko in Union Square, New York City. What both works have achieved was to put a new and perhaps otherwise unseen lens on place and its people. In the case of Union Square, it was to show how place was inhabited by homeless people, who tried to survive and were displaced with the arrival of investment in the area. In comparison with many other students and graduates, the student showed particular courage in stepping not just outside of the art school building but also outside the comfort zone of what an art student might be expected to do. Through participation in aspects that are not traditionally considered art, such as joining community groups and participating in the people’s cultural practices, conventions of art school education were stretched and practices explored that further develop the notions of contemporary art. The same student also developed a work that directly commented on the artistic mode of production as highlighted by Zukin (1989). For an event he developed as part of Castlefield Gallery’s yearly graduate shows called ‘Launch Pad’, his work simulated the sale of the gallery’s property with a large ‘For Sale’ sign positioned outside the premises. This was aimed at raising awareness of processes of displacement not just of communities, as he has done with the Hulme project, but also of the potential displacement of the city’s arts infrastructure. This recalls the struggle identified by Deutsche and Ryan (1984), in which some art world actors are blasé despite risks of displacement. The student’s project posits a case of place-based learning in which the student goes beyond studying and learning from the city, and touches on how he is actively involved in highlighting problematic social and political processes through activism. These representations and acts of change have the capacity to transform perceptions and meaning of place, as learners do not just engage themselves but also wider audiences in the power struggles of how space-place is produced (Lefebvre 1991). ‘Because I also


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do the research thing, Manchester was perfect for that. But I think of going to Berlin, it’s got so much more going on there. Not that I’ve used up all the Manchester stuff . . . I only just scratched the surface. But I need a bit of newness’ (Graduate M3). As he elaborates above, although Graduate M3 engages in intensive research activities with Manchester as place, which enhances his sense of place through a practice that gives place meaning, this has not intensified his rootedness in the city. Instead, he emphasises mobility with the possibility of transferring his artistic research method to other places. I will further emphasise this in the next chapter where I am outlining the impact of the processes from this chapter, on artists’ spatial relations. Student M5, who was a close friend with Graduate M3, was equally interested in the city’s history but found different stories through which his practice became framed. Contrary to his colleague this has led to him feeling attached to Manchester. I saw a Jeremy Deller exhibition and one of his banners. It got me this idea of working class culture and community. Because I am from a working class family it was what interested me towards it . . . the idea of trade unions as a history that I didn’t know much about. I started looking for ruins around the city of Manchester, these factories that decline and the outskirts of Hulme and Ancoats. And I started looking into the history of specific sites. So I thought it would be a good idea to create a banner, which held that history of the site within itself. I first did work in this abandoned factory in Hulme, which used to be an old printing and book binding works. I found out through a historian that the factory was involved in a lot of underground printing for the socialist movements in the late 19th century. (Sculpture Student M5)

Jeremy Deller is a British artist whose practice involves creating large protest banners on issues including class, education, the environment and war. He works together with manufacturers of trade union banners. While this was one starting point for the student to link his personal identity as working class with art, it was the discovery of Manchester as the site of these activities that enhanced the student’s interest in his surroundings. He also emphasised how the lecturers put him into situations where he met other people, inside and outside of the art school, engaged in social and political issues. This highlights the aspect of internalising the city’s infrastructure into learning, which is at the core of place-based learning in which the place/the city becomes the pedagogue (Fox 2013). The banners the student produced are representations of place, interweaving different layers of meaning. This includes material symbolism through the locations of the factories, through material form of the banners which those factories produced and the past histories of social movements in Manchester. ‘I am a big advocate of creating your own

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opportunities, and inviting people from your level, and loads of people to create their own opportunities, then you create your own scene’ (Sculpture Student M5). Contrary to his colleague, the student felt no urge to move away from Manchester, as he believed that if opportunities did not exist, you have the potential to create them. With this he was also aiming to invest more resources and energy in Manchester as familiar place. The two then students culminated a lot of interest in the student community to engage with radical issues and in protest, for example, against the displacement of homeless people from a location close to the university. Painting Lecturer M18 observed how there are always students whom their peers gravitate towards, and it is those who influence the culture on their course and the types of practices that are being engaged with. This is also the case in relation to artist-led activities such as putting on shows and setting up spaces. Not all practices students engage with are spatial and relational or need to be circulated in spaces. They evolve around many other formats and engage with a broad set of interests such as highlighted earlier with feminism, social critique and humour as well as purely material-aesthetic questions. The two cases I outlined here are exemplary of how specific lecturer’s aims to teach art as an encounter with place have materialised in the student’s work, which is why I emphasised them in my discussion of how art school education can be place-based. 5.3. SUMMARY I have outlined in this chapter how place is understood and used as pedagogue and site for artistic learning and practice. This is inserting art and place in an intersubjective environment in which artists can become critically aware of the world around them. Place-based education has the capacity not just to familiarise artists with the fabric of place, but through this identifying and revealing problems that legitimise power hierarchies and struggles in cities. In this sense, the intent of art, to be critically engaging, mirrors that of place-based education with which it forms an intersubjective discourse. I have highlighted how the notion of conducting an artistic practice emerges from within the art school studio and how this is taken outside of the school with students becoming more ‘streetwise’, which describes how they appropriate practices of self-organisation. This includes developing sensitivity towards the urban contexts in which their work emerges and is shown, such as engaging with the material fabric of the urban environment and issues of access and affordability.


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I have pointed out how learning and artistic practice with a place-based focus contributes to the way individual or collective meaning of place is constructed and through which artists do not just develop a sense of place but also transform it, that is, through their practice, events and physical spaces they develop. This answers important questions about how art school education not only impacts artists’ intrinsic development through their subject-specific practices but also why this has a dialectical component with the emergence of a sense of place. This points to the way geographical thinking and knowledge is already integrated in fine art education and how this can potentially replace the focus on professionalisation and entrepreneurship, which I believe is overemphasised in UK fine art education. I have briefly attempted to illustrate here already how this engagement with place has different impacts on artists’ spatial relations, in particular its contribution to rootedness/place attachment, of which I will detail more in the next chapter as I introduce more aspects of artists’ careers and livelihoods relevant to this case.

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Spatial relations, emerging scenes and questions of the market in Manchester

As the previous chapter has highlighted, learning at art school does not just focus on art as subject but also has an intersubjective relationship with place through which artists gain a sense of criticality of the world around them. The place-based learning activities artists engage in, whether this is running artist-led spaces, setting up shows or developing expanded practices, contribute to how they construct a sense of place. This is because all these activities engage with how place attains meaning for artists alongside identifying their interests. This chapter focuses specifically on connecting the subjective reading of learning and artistic activities with an objective view on these through artists’ spatial relations. While the previous chapter has articulated artists’ emerging sense of place through learning activities, this chapter considers practice in conversation with the spatial relations of place itself, through which they identify opportunities and limitations. This translates to how I will articulate the respondents’ spatial relations as a dialogue between rootedness and mobility. In order to do this, I will first discuss the process of arrival at Manchester School of Art to illustrate the students’ reasons for coming to Manchester and why they felt the city is or was particularly suitable (or not) for their fine art education, considering the spatial relations of place as factors. In this context, place is debated as an environment that both enables and is used for practice and career development. The point of graduation creates a void that invites the students’ reassessment of their sense of place alongside location choices, which are investigated as spatial relations. This transfers to how there is a Manchester art scene, which potentially informs these processes, but which in itself can be characterised by spatial relations. 93


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In this case study, I will provide an emphasis on careers as an important element of British privatised higher education (Carey 2015) in which it is the goal for educators to prepare students for entry to a job market. Although art school staff do not necessarily associate a career with becoming and being an artist, it remains the lens through which trajectories of graduates are understood. It is also why at the end of the chapter I will refer to the art market as an important reflection on how specific places cater for artists’ careers, more than others. 6.1. THE JOURNEY TO AND THROUGH ART SCHOOL Aside from the curriculum at art school in which artistic practice and an understanding of its production context develops, the process of arriving at a place to study art is an important part of developing an artist’s identity. Because this is an obvious element of any university student coming to a new place, this process is often overlooked. This section considers how art students construct sense of place in the process of their arrival through identifying with the spatial relations of Manchester and beyond. The arrival of students should also be distinguished from those entering other higher education courses. Coming to art school in the United Kingdom is associated with a student quickly absorbing an artist’s professional identity, with an emphasis on professional development even before artistic positions are developed. This could be why the process of studying a BA in fine art has been considered as ‘shortcut’ to the process of becoming an artist (Baldessari and Craig-Martin 2009, 25). Art school education distinguishes itself from other forms of higher education through a process of learning in practice (Wenger 1998), which marks itself off from studying towards a career or profession in other academic or perhaps more vocational fields. Coming to art school means for many accepted applicants relocation to a new place. For a large number of Manchester School of Art’s first-year fine art students, it is the first time in their life when they were confronted with identifying not just with a new place but also with a new way of thinking. This includes aspects of the specific language that art assumes, and with it meaning, which I addressed in the previous chapter. There were some students who came to Manchester already for their foundation degree and who stayed on, which meant they were already familiar with the school and the city. This was an advantage compared to their peers who relocated from the local towns and cities where they had completed foundation degrees. Manchester School of Art recruits the majority of students from the North West region where Greater Manchester is its conurbation. A management staff overseeing recruitment at the school (M25) explained this through the

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recent rise in tuition fees and living expenses. As a consequence of this, more and more regional students stay within the region as they commute to Manchester, which has an impact on how they develop a sense of place. Mature Painting Graduate M4 explained how escaping the rural setting of her family life allows her to form a new identity, which the city with all its layers, diversity and buzz enables. This underlines how spatial relations impact on the way artists imagine themselves and their interests and how this impacts on their individual sense of place. Another student noted this process in relation to her identification with queer culture, which mirrors the rural-urban dialectic and underlines the urban as a set of spatial relations with which she identifies: ‘My work is a lot about queer culture. If you’re out in the landscape, and unless you’re in the city, the concept of queer doesn’t really exist’ (M11). Students and graduates I interviewed who came from the region grew up in places such as Stockport, Liverpool, Derby and Preston, as well as in Manchester itself. There were a number of students as part of my sample who came from Wales and some from London and the South West who expressed concerns over London being too expensive, which is why they did not go there to study art. This sample reflected data I discussed with the university management staff (M25) whose recruitment map for the fine art course in 2013 (which is a restricted internal document) showed a clustering of applications and enrolled students from the North West and North Wales, with a few dots scattered around London and the South West. To put this demographic into the context of the UK art world, I will give a historical example, which can highlight the relations between London and Manchester as destinations for art school education. Up until the 1980s, when art schools were still independent higher education institutions, they provided opportunities for the local population and had a regional focus (Banks and Oakley 2016; Beck and Cornford 2012), comparable to what Manchester’s recruitment information suggests. The popularity of the YBAs who trained in London in the 1990s (Stallabrass 1999) arguably contributed to the status of London art schools as highly attractive destinations. This is underlined by respondents who first considered London, but then chose Manchester either by necessity of being rejected by London art schools or by recognising London was too expensive. The YBAs presented a prime example of how artist-led activity led to the formation of a market for their work (Grenfell and Hardy 2003), which is what young artists navigating to London aspire to. The students’ knowledge of the expense of studying in London, both in terms of financial and quality of life aspects, was a key reason for highlighting Manchester’s suitability for the study of art. This is, for example, attributable to having less studio space at London art schools, worse quality and expensive housing options as well as less opportunities to set up self-organised


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exhibitions outside the school due to the lack of affordable space. Of course, this is offset by the art market, which has a strong foothold in London and can offer young artists exposure to important actors in the art world, or the creative and cultural industries more broadly. It is debatable whether this aspect is important during undergraduate fine art studies, where students are encouraged to develop work independently from commercial goals. The success story the YBAs have indirectly promoted to a new generation of students in the UK seems to be out of reach to most current art students, as space in London is at such premium cost that artist-led activities like those the YBAs engaged in are effectively being curtailed today. The fear of the cost of living and debt to be incurred by studying in London was associated with the scenario of ‘loneliness’ and ‘pressure’, which put some of the interviewed students off in their choice of coming to London. This is not a scenario they necessarily experienced themselves directly but one they became familiar with through friends who studied in London. Some students (M12 and M1) who aspired to go to London art schools reflected on the people they met at the interviews as ‘arrogant’ in contrast to the ‘humble’ environment they encountered by coming to Manchester School of Art. Interestingly, some of the interviewees, who considered London as their primary choice for studying art and were denied a place there, were first disappointed in coming to Manchester but realised quickly all the opportunities this unlocked for them. They valued the large studio spaces at the school and considered the social atmosphere welcoming and friendly, which is an attribute also transferred to place as characterised ‘humble, honest, good and helpful’ in the process of settling in. This was an aspect transferred to how students wished to conduct their own practice, and how they saw their own identity as an artist reflected in where they studied. (Interviewer: What attracted you to the school?) Just how humble it was as a place, as a whole place but also as an art school. It would be just completely different in London. What I liked as a person or as an artist, I hate arrogance. I like subtlety and being humble. (Painting Graduate M12)

The humbleness is related to how most of the students felt it was easy to connect to others and how the lecturers provided a supportive atmosphere from the very beginning, which signals openness and horizontal level of access for newcomers. In contrast to London as main counterpart of comparison, the case of Glasgow with a much-hyped art school and artist-led scene (Lowndes 2010; Relyea 2013) gives an explanation of why an understated profile of an art school serves well as site for artistic learning: So when you look at this myth of London art colleges and the one around Glasgow as well, they’re obviously great institutions, but at the same time I feel there’s so

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many more opportunities in the North West and the North generally. It’s competitive, but it’s not to an extent where you’re stifled. (Sculpture Student M5)

Manchester School of Art maintains a low profile, despite being among the top five art colleges in the United Kingdom in terms of volume of applications, which in itself may be attractive for artists who critically engage with artistic trends and prominent social circles in the art world. Schools operating outside of this pressurised environment may in fact deliver a potentially better standard of fine art education with the advantage of providing better studio space and a supportive team of lecturers. Although London makes processes in the art world legible through being a global centre of the art market, by contrast studying art in Manchester can reveal how there are opportunities stifled in London. This allows for focus on Manchester making alternative processes around the production of art legible (Sassen 2004, 3). Following Sassen’s (2004) analysis and the example of Glasgow, we can note how cities of smaller size can be strategic places where processes in the art world develop and how this is specialised because of a certain, in this case, evolutionary productive function. This was also articulated through Gilmore et al. (2016) by juxtaposing affordable production space in Manchester with commercial and institutional opportunities in London. Through the juxtaposition with other places, art students identify the kind of artist they want to be and where this is possible. As London in particular has emerged as a counter-perspective to Manchester, this highlights the way a sense of place is constructed through places beyond and not just through its internal spatial logics and relations (Massey 1991). A sense of place, in this case, is constructed not only through the processes of place-based learning as outlined in the previous chapter but also through spatial relations of place (and between places) in conversation with learning and practice. These relations are to some extent imaginary, as art students except for mature students have not lived in other places (yet) for a sustained period of time. In terms of Manchester’s internal characteristics, it is interesting how in particular the negative aspects of Manchester associated with its bleak industrialbuilt environment are turned to its advantage as a number of interviewees felt the city is edgy and cool because of that. Some students detailed how this built environment accommodates an art and music scene in which they feel inspired to study art. Especially the Northern Quarter, which is central Manchester’s hub for music venues, record shops, bars and cafés, is recurrently detailed as reason for the city’s artistic and subcultural feel. It is frequently visited by the art students I interviewed, who attend music gigs while some of them who have their own bands also put on events – not necessarily at Northern Quarter but frequently in students’ homes or venues local to the art school. This underlines the connection between art and music that Banks and Oakley (2016) have identified to be instrumental in the development of local


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creative industries in the United Kingdom, especially for rock and pop music in the past whose stars often went to art school during the 1960s and 1970s. More so than a specific neighbourhood that is culturally active and diverse, as previously highlighted the spatial relations of the city are part of the students’ sense of why Manchester works for them and their practice. It is its ‘manageable size’ (Painting Student M1) with roughly 530,000 inhabitants that enables a positive perception. With it comes a sense of time and opportunity that the students reflected on. Painting Graduate M2 in particular valued ‘the short time to get from A to B’, which also means he can visit the studios of his colleagues more often and spontaneously. This was again compared with the London situation, where he noted the lengthy travel across the city to visit artist studios or to get to private views, which leads to less frequent and informal meetings. Many of the interviewees thought it was easier to meet their colleagues and organise activities, as artists are less dispersed, and they could focus on the opportunities available to them. This was something Lecturer M18 noted in relation to private views of which there are less in Manchester due to the small number of venues. These are common spaces in which the art community comes together informally. Whereas some graduates have expressed concerns over the lack of an art market and public art infrastructure in the city, others thought they benefitted from the focus this gained them. The smaller size of the overarching art scene also meant it was easier to establish a name as an artist as there are less to compete with, whereas London was considered as a scenario where an artist is a ‘small fish in a big pond’ (Painting Student M1). All these examples, again, contribute to an understanding of how spatial relations of place and between places play an important role in meaning making, not just of place but also of the practices and careers that are possible in specific cities. The interchangeable use of the city with the art school, when asking students about their reasons for coming to study there, signals how the art school appropriates important meaning as a place itself, that is, as locale. This is so because it becomes the centre stage of the art student’s social and symbolic interaction, through which the school appropriates meaning as place. I have already in the previous chapter reflected on this in relation to the notion of the studio as social space. Here I want to recall this by putting an emphasis on the ‘crit’. Thornton (2009) illustrates a typical crit at CalArt (California Institute of the Arts) as an informal discussion and open-minded critique of work set in an almost anarchic environment where anything is possible to say, to think or to do. At CalArts this took the format of a one-day session led by a professor, inclusive of a meal and drinks together, in which students were allowed to bring their dogs, lounge on sofas, smoke or sit on the floor as they pleased. Also, at Manchester School of Art the students form such tutorial groups to debate work and develop projects led by the lecturer who proposes

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a topic or site of interest. These were however much more formal and are usually shorter than a day, but depending on the lecturer the formats can vary. As the students identify needs outside the formal curriculum, it is expected for them to self-organise these crits. This was the case of a small group crit I joined organised by Sculpture Student M11. The participating students regularly debate their work together on the basis of their interest in gender. It evolved in an informal setting and I could observe how the small group of artists had developed friendships through their shared interest and histories of practice. Sharing historical roots, being part of an institution and sharing the same discourses through learning, is part of the process of emerging communities of practice (Wenger 1998). The group raised the important point about the social interaction that influenced how they belonged to a community currently associated with Manchester, as they expressed a wish to stay in Manchester after graduation. Because of the emphasis on how social learning configures belonging, Painting Students M1 and M11 felt it would be a missed opportunity to leave for another city after finishing a degree, as the student body is considered an important resource and support network after graduation. It is an important part of an emerging artist’s career to be embedded in a social network that can help artists manage risks during periods with no income (Banks et al. 2000). For example, Painting Graduate M4 considered the loss of this setting as ‘starting from the bottom up again’. If you come to university for 3 years and then just leave, it has no effect on you if you live in a different place. It kind of seems a bit of a waste living there and making friends with people and knowing the spaces and things like that. I know a few people are interested in setting up a space and making exhibitions and carrying on, the motivation to making work. You need people. (Painting Student M1)

This assumes how it should be beneficial for many graduates to stay local to where they have studied; however, this was contradicted by graduates observing how ‘not many stuck around’ in Manchester (Interactive Art Graduate M26). Also connecting with the previous chapter, there is no evidence to suggest that place-based learning intensifies rootedness of an artist, but how this is a diverse and complex relationship individually constructed by artists. This was revealed by how both respondents M3 and M5 have developed a strong sense of place through their interest in Manchester’s history, but how in the case of Sculpture Graduate M3 this does not lead to an increased relation of rootedness with Manchester. The findings here can detail how the spatial configuration of the community of practice points to dispersion, with nodes emerging in other locations


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where members of the community go (Amin and Roberts 2008). This signals how the community of practice is held together by social ties generated through practice rather than through location and how it emerged from a specific setting, that is, the art school. Interestingly through shared histories of students, M1 and M11 have developed an emotional bond with both the art school and Manchester. This contributes to an imaginary sense of rootedness, which stands in opposition to the realities of dispersal of their social network and multisitedness of economic opportunities. 6.2. LEAVING ART SCHOOL, LOCATION DECISIONS AND MOBILITY In between arriving at and graduating from art school with a BA in fine art lies an important three-year frame in which the emerging artists are given the certainty of staying in one place and having a fixed studio if required. This is crucial for the activities I detailed in the previous chapter to unfold and with it developing a better understanding of how a place can cater for one’s art practice and the networks that are crucial in sustaining it. It is closer to graduation in the third year in which students are confronted with, yet again, another location decision. The decision of where to go next after graduation is often conditioned by career opportunities for fine art students in the United Kingdom, which are addressed in a number of professional development seminars – one of which is specifically organised for third-year students called Future Now. This is either led by staff or through the many visiting artists who have experienced the same journey. It aims at preparing the students for the first year out of art school, which Oakley (2009a) recognises as the most difficult one due to having to establish a basis for income, for example, through part-time work, while also needing to find an environment in which their practice can be continued. In a sector in which only an estimated 1–4 per cent of graduates ‘make it’ as artists, it is debatable whether teaching professional development does in fact whitewash career opportunities. What my interviewees observed in response to this was how only a handful of graduates ‘stay and make it’ in Manchester, while others are dispersed in the North West region and pursue a variety of opportunities or careers. The graduates who stayed in Manchester region found work as freelancers in fields such as film (M7), manufacturing (M23), technician work for local galleries and museums (M26) and becoming a teaching assistant at the art school (M7, M4), whereas others stated they continued to pursue a practice. It remains unclear whether they can live from their artistic activities or how they subsidise their living.

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There is the opportunity to continue onto the master’s programmes at the school; however, this was not an immediate option for the majority of artists I interviewed due to primarily financial barriers with the Manchester course costing in the region of £9,000. In light of this and the formation of selforganised studio projects and participation of some students in alternative art schools (e.g. School of the Damned), there are now more ways for staying in the social circles required for artistic success. I have heard from a small number of my respondents that they entered London’s Royal Academy and Royal College of Art, which as I highlighted in section 4.4. are instrumental institutions for speeding up art world success. After graduating from the BA in Manchester, Painting Graduate M4 noted how ‘there are wider life decisions to make’, which he identifies as a class issue, with many of the working-class graduates needing to find work immediately after graduation. Some students already have experience in working within the creative industries through taking part in one of the school’s professional practice modules (Unit X, Art and Audience). For some this resulted in ongoing collaborations with Manchester-based businesses and organisations. It also generated entries on the CV, which gained graduates better job prospects often outside of the art world. Others have taken from these self-organising skills, which they hope to employ in artist-led activities. However, these offer limited economic perspectives. Many members of the Greater Manchester art scene congregate around Salford, yet the university does not have a presence there with a space, which is instead located in Stockport and provides studios for primarily design graduates. Therefore, external organisations are stepping in to provide opportunities for fine art graduates, alongside a variety of emerging self-organised studio providers, some of which are co-founded by graduates. Arts organisations external to the school and art school staff are primarily concerned with fostering conditions in Manchester and the region through which artists educated there can be retained, which emphasises spatial relations of place attachment and rootedness. Manchester School of Art is considered an important production element of the art scene of the city, along with the University of Salford’s fine art programme, which signals the city as destination for artists (A-N 2016). Fragmentations are evident between the existing scenes. This is why regional retention of art students after graduation should not be taken for granted. As students leave the school they are expected to form their own networks and projects through which they ‘grow out’ of the art school scene. Because I’m outside of the university bubble, I guess I don’t see a lot of what they [students] do. (Painting Graduate M23)


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Part of the reason I am going to Berlin is, I don’t feel Manchester is my city anymore, now that I am not a student. There is just not a lot here apart from shopping. I never had this feeling as a student. Manchester was my kind of thing. Now I feel I am on the outside. Not in a bad way. I just think it’s not my city anymore. (Sculpture Graduate M3)

This points to how the art school may in fact be a self-referential scene. It could even be suggested how the school (re)generates its own scene through the cycles of admission and graduation, through which the scene remains relatively autarkic and closed. At the point of graduation this could lead to a loss of identification (see second quotation from respondent M3) not just with the art school as place but also with the city, as the community of practice disperses and loses its connection with place. Curator 27, who is from Manchester and came back to the city from studying at Camberwell College of Art in London, notes how difficult it is to break into the art school scene when not having studied there. Coming back you felt like this outsider. It was hard to get into their systems, which were obviously quite tight and closed because people were all at art school and hanging about there and meeting people who were just naturally going on from school to a space or run a project or just do one night thing stuff. It feels like it took me a lot longer to get to the people who would otherwise be interested in the stuff [artist-led projects], they would either not come or not be bothered. You know it’s just an added effort to get within the system, because you’re not part of the system already. (Curator M27)

Because the students and graduates generate activities that serve their interests and the curriculum of the school, projects from those external to the school as well as those of older generations seem to be less on the students radar, unless lecturers address this specifically. ‘A lot of our staff have their own studios with the big studio providers in the city. There was always a working in the city for the art school. . . . But again it’s just about them being individual subjects’ (Module Coordinator M24). While lecturers as well as graduates who live and work in Manchester have existing links with the external art scene through their studio providers and shows, it remains a challenge to consistently map this and bring elements of it into the curriculum. Castlefield Gallery aims to bridge boundaries between the scenes, which could be considered as different communities of practice. The gallery presents a post-institutional environment that supports the narrative of retention of local fine art graduates. It runs an artist membership network that provides continued professional development for local artists at any stage of their career, which highlights their potential in bringing together graduates with artists already established in Greater Manchester. Castlefield originated

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from the initiative of Manchester School of Art graduates as an art space in the mid-1980s, which subsequently raised its profile towards becoming the renowned and publicly funded artistic development organisation it is now. Their membership scheme, which offers regular professional development sessions and networking opportunities for recent art school graduates of any school as well as for self-taught artists, is one of their approaches to growing the art scene. By growing is meant how their services are open to artists with self-trained backgrounds, while also representing Manchester School of Art graduates. Through this they aim to facilitate negotiation at the boundaries between different communities of practice. However, the graduates I interviewed felt they were not actively part of the organisation as their graduate shows were highly selective, with only three artists chosen to show from one cohort. Their artist development work is paired with advocacy work with the aim of improving the contexts in which artists work, especially relating to securing meanwhile spaces as part of their New Art Spaces initiative. When an art school has a relationship to the art scene around it, it has a positive effect. This happens beyond the teaching, almost like an aftercare policy looking at the alumni, because they are the best advocates. . . . We look at what we can do best, what is art, what is the value to the emerging arts scene, and how can we work with an art school that’s developing lots of graduates. (Gallery Manager M9)

The above quoted representative of Castlefield noted how important it is for the art school and the scene, in which he includes the city’s public art institutions and the city council, to work together in order to provide a platform through which artists currently studying there can develop a sustained practice. This externalises the responsibility from the art school towards arts organisations like his, along with policymakers to make sure graduates have a platform for a continued engagement with practice and with the city. In the above quote he misses out how the art school can be considered as an art scene itself. Graduation is an important transition moment when students cross the boundary between being in the scene internal to the art school and the scene externally. This can be considered within the framework of Wenger-Trayner’s (2014) landscapes of practice as the moment of renegotiation of practice and belonging to a community of practice. The boundaries between the communities are important characteristics of the landscape and contain exchange of knowledge and innovation. Understanding the Manchester art scene as such a landscape allows for a more interconnected conception of the art school in relation to the local art scene. Here retention of artists should not be a quantitative exercise but should aspire for quality of contemporary art associated with Manchester.


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Although Gallery Manager M9 detailed a strong DIY scene in Manchester, which could offset the lack of established organisations especially those representing the art market, a number of students and graduates repeatedly noted how they perceived self-organising as limited option of professional development. The DIY scene was hard to observe for me as a visitor, as the spaces and projects set up by artists are temporal and apparent only for an opening night, in many cases, or by the way this is advertised and documented through social media, for example, Facebook events and Instagram. While students are well equipped to understand place, having attained selforganising skills with their practices (see previous chapter), the graduates in my sample were struggling to keep these activities alive, as their priority was gaining an income. This is a reason for thinking about leaving Manchester. It also signals how the reality of teaching differs from the realities in the scene external to the school. Aspects of self-organising may idealise intrinsic artists’ capacities and opportunities over and above the fact that this can lead to self-exploitation. This is a case of where teaching may not portray a realistic picture of the art world and artistic lives (Chicago 2014). There are not many alternatives. There is no space. It is a hell of a lot worse in London than here, but . . . You can try and convince an empty shop to let you have an exhibition. It is so much effort and you have to do so much. They want a level of control over you, which just ruins it. (Painting Graduate M3)

How graduates remain engaged in artist-led activities may have been differently narrated by a different sample. For example, I could have engaged with different cohorts of students who may have been more involved with the external scene, which is suggested by the recent development of Manchester Art Directory. This is a website with active social media accounts, listing all Greater Manchester artist talks, contemporary art events, galleries and venues. Manchester School of Art students founded the listings platform in 2016, but it seems to have been discontinued in late 2018, as this is when the last updates were posted. Because this platform did not exist when I conducted my fieldwork, it suggests how students and graduates were aware of a lack of visibility of the art scene external to the school and how they needed to self-organise on a collective level to map these activities and spaces. I can speculate here that the organisers have moved elsewhere and did not hand over the website to incoming art students. The directory has exposed recent developments in the DIY scene in Manchester with more arts infrastructure and especially studio providers emerging, either led by artists or supported by the city council, which can provide the opportunities the graduates found were previously lacking. For example, Rogue, which was founded in 1995 has had to relocate in 2017

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from its Piccadilly Station location close to the city centre to an unused school building in the east of the city due to their former building being redeveloped. Here support from Arts Council England and Manchester City Council could ensure affordable rental conditions, although at the expense of the studio provider now being situated at the periphery of the city. Because the building could not house all the existing artists and was inconvenient for commuting artists, Paradise Works (2017) was founded in Salford, which now accommodates some ex-Rogue artists. Other regional studio providers recently established are Mirabel Studios (2009), Caustic Coastal (2014) and OA Studios (2017). Artist-led (DIY) projects that are sustainable over the long term are also founded and managed by those who are external to the art school. This is the case of Curator M27 who moved to Manchester to benefit from availability of space to run his curatorial project and Artist M16 who founded Islington Mill, a cross-arts studio provider with educational programme. This highlights how the external art scene in Manchester is not necessarily fed by the school’s graduates who may in fact go elsewhere after graduation. The perceived lack of opportunity locally makes ties with other regions as well as international support networks indispensable through which the limitations of one place can be bridged with opportunities elsewhere. This of course has to be understood as dialectical. Graduate M23 poignantly underlines this through acknowledging how ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, which recalls the notion of Student M5 that you can create your own opportunities where they do not exist. Some of the Manchester graduates are networked as part of an alternative art school called School of the Damned (Jacobi 2017), which connects recent graduates from across the United Kingdom to engage through self-organised learning. Most of their meetings take place in London; however, the group also comes to Manchester for crit sessions and shows. A respondent from the cited research, which I conducted in 2015, noted how a lack of space in London leads to shows in Manchester, which provides a useful exchange between spatially dispersed resources, that is, space in Manchester and highprofile art institutions in London. Access to wider geographical networks was already negotiated in many cases during the artists’ time at art school, as, for example, lecturers encouraged students to apply for residencies in the United Kingdom or abroad. In other cases, students participated in one of the school’s Erasmus exchange programmes through which international exchange was written as an option into the curriculum. This generated weak ties (Granovetter 1973), which reach out to a wider community of artists and lead to opportunities for graduates beyond Manchester. Beyond physical mobility through artists visiting other places for the purpose of seeing exhibitions, doing studio visits or taking part in residencies,


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artists are exposed to works that are globally circulated through social media for example, which underlines imaginaries of mobility. This informs artists’ way of seeing, which is inevitably conditioned by a global aesthetic as well as what they see around them through working in the same location: I go to Leeds and Liverpool quite a bit. I know quite a few people in the art scene there. Beyond that not really. I am looking at mostly internet-based research. Even though I don’t like to think of it as researching for my practice, it’s just about keeping up with what people are doing and things like that. (Painting Graduate M23)

The above artist expresses how it is integral for him to visit other cities in the region not just to see other art but also to see this in connection with its art scene and the activities around which art develops there. Social media and especially Instagram have also become platforms where artists connect with the visual trends of the art world, while representing their own work at the same stage as professional galleries do. This however does not mean a death of distance as art production and circulation is in most cases still connected to physical materials and spaces. Painting Graduate M2 was exposed to new ways of working through travelling to Berlin for a residency during his studies after which he came back and changed his practice on the basis of what he learned abroad. This sense of mobility was retained during the year after his graduation, as he could not refine where he was based as an artist. I recall his notion of a ‘’ from the previous chapter, which apart from this being his practice, says something important about his imaginary of the art world as a spatial system. This also reconfigures his sense of place in relation to Manchester. While he highlights his belonging to Manchester by ‘coming back’ to visit friends and their studios rather than staying, he spends time in various locations to participate in shows and exchanges with other artists. We did a show at the start of our 3rd year in Amsterdam. The bus journey’s been also time of contemplation of what to do for the show. You are not leaving the studio, it’s continuation. . . . This came about through contacts I made in the residency in Berlin. In Amsterdam we’re still doing work together. The studio is the UK and mainland Europe. The studio is the world, so it could be a ‘www. studio’. (Painting Graduate M2)

This gives an indication as to how the art world for this particular student is multisited and how even practice itself is in this case interwoven in travel. Mobilities are also represented through lecturers at the school, as they show work internationally or have galleries in London and abroad, or through some lecturers being born in other European countries with which they

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maintain close art world links. There are cases in which lecturers commute from London to Manchester as they have other teaching commitment there or have an established studio. Lecturer M19, however, recently relocated to Manchester from London to save costs and to provide for his young family, which reaffirms the notion of an exodus from London that Manchester can absorb if there are sufficient opportunities. Lecturers M15 and M18 have both studied at London’s Chelsea College of Art, but after completion returned to Greater Manchester to pursue their practice and being offered a post as lecturer at the school. 6.3. THE ART MARKET AS PLACE FACTOR Reasons for leaving Manchester were articulated on the basis of selforganised activity being limiting and challenging to sustain but also because of a lack of an art market and art institutions in the city, which was mirrored in Gilmore et al. (2016). Although London sent warning signs in terms of the difficult living circumstances, it was still a site associated with diversity of opportunity and access to the art market, which Painting Graduate M22 who studied at RCA and has a studio in London highlighted. In the early 2000s the advice would have been to ‘take a train down to London’ as soon as possible after graduation (Harris 2004, 7:112), which differs from a more nuanced reflection on the qualities and functions of Manchester today. This underlines how accessing the art market is associated with certain freedoms to sustain an artistic practice, as Gerber and Childress (2017) analyse. Speaking to a London-based art world consultant (M28) revealed how the art world hierarchy is tied to big auction houses, blue chip galleries and lower hierarchy galleries, which all operate out of London and need technicians as well as curatorial and administrative personnel often supplied through artists. The consultant felt as long as this infrastructure is still largely operating in London, artists will navigate towards there. This signals a contrast with what I noted in section 7.1 in this chapter, where London fared worse as location for studying art, for which it was considered too fast, big and expensive. London may offer to some more opportunities at a certain stage of their career, especially when looking into postgraduate training or developing a professional profile on the art market. Apart from London being the prime location for the UK art market with auction houses, the Frieze Art Fair and a wealth of commercial galleries serving all levels of the market, London houses the two most prestigious postgraduate fine art courses in the country. These are the Royal Academy (RA) and the Royal College of Art (RCA). Admission to both is highly competitive. Painting Graduate M22 moved to London as she was lucky to have


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entered the master’s degree in painting at the RCA straight after her BA. This course is highly competitive at international level. After completion of the degree she stayed in London, as she was able to secure a livelihood. She preferred London to Manchester for the time being because in Manchester it was not possible for her to ‘break through the glass ceiling’ due to distance from crucial art world actors. ‘Based in London someone can call me up to come to the studio. Those things aren’t impossible for Manchester but you need to be at a certain point in your career where someone is going to take a 2-hour train journey’ (Painting Graduate M22). She however sees the potential of moving back there once her career has become more established, because Manchester is part of her imaginary of belonging. This aligns with the observation made by Velthuis (2013) who determined how local trust networks between galleries and artists are necessary at the early career stage, whereby location does not seem to matter so much for those artists already established. Travel for the cited artist is crucial to negotiate relations with gallerists, in this case at art fairs mostly abroad. The close understanding of the market as pathway to success stems from an early on engagement of British art school education with aspects of selfmarketing and entrepreneurship (Carey 2015; Oakley, Sperry and Pratt 2008). Even though fine art lecturers themselves are critical of this and do not necessarily encourage the students to have websites too early on, the university body in which the art school is framed makes career development a necessary hurdle for fine art students. This is part of a larger governmental framework in which universities and their courses are rated according to their career prospective without taking into account how higher education provides intellectual capacity more so than training for specific jobs or careers (Slaughter and Rhoades 2000). It is obvious how this is a problem for the field of contemporary art, which is a highly ambiguous economic arena (Beech 2015), in which value is relatively detached from ‘normal’ economic and labour market processes. What is however contradictory from the findings is the students’ own preoccupation with wishing to be part of a commercial gallery or working at an art’s organisation after graduation. Several of my respondents detailed how they believe Manchester has no art market at all. Manchester Contemporary, a yearly art fair co-founded by local gallery owners (Gallery Manager M21), was set up to provide representation for artist-led spaces in Manchester and to build a regional collector base so that a market can emerge. While this was welcomed by Manchester School of Art, who have a stall at the fair, the students felt it was confusing to ‘stage an art market once a year’ (M26). At the 2016 fair an emphasis was put on cities as art market centres, with specific talks set up to debate what Manchester

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could look like as such a centre. There was a consensus that galleries as well as artists are changing the ways they work as they move out of London, which means opportunities for Manchester to absorb some of the outflow of art world talent from London (GLA 2014). It was suggested that Manchester would find its own identity in the art world, as it does not need to replicate the London model but can have its strength as place of production, of which the art school is an important element (A-N 2016). Speaking to one of the artists and directors at Rogue (M17) revealed how the lack of a market was specifically identified in a lack of representation of local artists by Manchester art institutions. The same artist co-authored a paper with Gilmore et al. (2016) that investigated the reasons behind artist retention in Manchester through artists working at Rogue studios. This highlighted the tensions between affordable production space in Manchester and commercial and institutional opportunities in London. Simultaneously while I conducted my fieldwork at Manchester School of Art, the painting staff commissioned me to write a paper that was aimed at interrogating the dynamics of local art production, in particular painting, and the linkage between painters and place. They believed local gallery representation was in fact not the predominant issue and how talking about the concept of a local artist could even be considered ‘patronising’ (Painting Lecturer 18) as it is a reactionary view about the art world as a global system. It also underestimates how place as well as an artist who works in Manchester has multiple identities (Massey 1991) and is connected to other places, as was exemplified by many students’ narratives including places such as Liverpool, Leeds, London, Berlin and Amsterdam. This points to the underlying relationship between Manchester graduates and a geographically expanding art world they are part of (Harris 2011). 6.4. SUMMARY The chapter has illustrated how arriving at, studying in and graduating from Manchester School of Art forges spatial relations with Manchester and places beyond, especially with London. Here many perspectives surfaced that were introduced and mirrored in Gilmore et al. (2016) which examined the trajectories of artists based at Rogue studios and reasons for them staying in Manchester. I have been able to articulate in much more detail the opportunities and limitations that are associated with Manchester and where art students need other places for their development and success. Most importantly, I added an evolutionary angle through revealing how these needs are directed by


Chapter 6

processes of artistic learning at art school, in particular what concerns career prospects and livelihoods. As part of this I have articulated how: • Artists’ sense of place, which in contrast to the place-based activities of the last chapter, derives meaning also from spatial relations of place (and places beyond); • Career and livelihood decisions impact artists’ spatial relations, with an emphasis on interconnected relations of rootedness and mobility. Manchester emerges from this as a fulfilling place for artistic study; however, it seems to lack economic opportunities and access to the art market to which many graduates aspire. Where some stress the value of creating your own opportunities through self-organised activity in Manchester, others underline the limitations of this and instead imagine places such as Berlin as more attractive. Fragmentations were highlighted on the one hand between the art school scene, which is self-generated by cycles of admission and graduation, and the scene external to the school which was not always visible due to the students’ community being defined through closed shared repertoires. This is why processes of retention of graduates should be rethought as a process of innovation and exchange, rather than it being a number exercise of mere retention of graduates. This is underlined by how, for example, belonging to a community of practice was highlighted as a social and practice-based phenomenon, which is less dependent on location and instead points to connectivity with other places. Focusing solely on policies of graduate retention is fragmentary and should be complemented with an understanding of their spatial mobility. This increases the capacity for artists’ exchange and leads to a wider geographical awareness of Manchester’s art scene and art school.

Chapter 7

Positions of artistic learning and diverse place-based activities in Leipzig

Following the two chapters discussing how Manchester School of Art students and graduates experience being at art school in relation to place, the following two chapters will discuss the experiences of Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts. In these chapters, I will refer to the school as HGB, using the abbreviation of its German name Hochschule für Buchkunst und Grafik. I visited Leipzig during 2014 when I wrote my master’s thesis on the role of artists for urban change in Leipzig. Many of the activities engaging with the urban environment and landscape outlined there were facilitated by art students and culminate in artist-led spaces and house projects. This highlights the undervalued potential of the art school not just for developing an art scene but also for a subculture, which neither the academy nor local policymakers paid much attention to (Marguin et al. 2016). The new rector of the school stated in a recent interview the school needs to reach out to the city, its public institutions and audiences more to remove mutual reservations and its notion as ivory tower institution (Kleindienst 2017). With this ambition of the school in mind, it was timely to revisit Leipzig in 2017 to conduct further research on its role for developing the local art scene. This first findings chapter of the Leipzig case will similarly as with the first Manchester chapter focus on the curriculum. It will investigate how the curriculum shapes specific activities with place being an ‘extended learning environment’ (Media Art Graduate L13). The aim of this is to detail how being at HGB forges a relationship between artists and place through the curriculum entailing aspects of place-based learning. I will start with illustrating the peculiarities of the traditional curriculum of the school to depict the learning environment in which specific local repertoires emerge, which is important to differentiate how specific practices have unique relationships with place. I will present artist-led projects and spaces the students 111


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are engaged in as part of the process of developing a sense of place. Artistled spaces in the German context are referred to as off-spaces, which are also linked with practices that engage with aspects of the city, in particular gentrification and the use of space. Although the chapter narrates a reality that is often concealed by the hype around the New Leipzig School painters (Gerlach 2008), it captures this as shared local repertoire (Wenger 1998) and highlights how painters have a different engagement with place than media art (Medienkunst) students. 7.1. THE HGB CURRICULUM AND INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT In chapter 4 the history of HGB was already introduced and how after Reunification the school had to renew its foundations, which were based on a skill-based curriculum with an emphasis on life drawing and representational painting to fit in with a socialist ethos and figurative aesthetic. Media Art Graduate (L19) who studied at the school in the early 1990s observed how the institution had to position itself completely new in the face of the old system becoming redundant under Western influence. This, for example, meant how lecturers had to reapply for their positions at the same time as their practices stood the test of credibility and relevance in a new art world that opened up for them. Traditionally, the school taught printmaking, drawing and painting with an extensive list of well-equipped workshops for the students to pass through. Despite the emphasis on moving towards new media and conceptual forms of art making following the changes in 1989 and 1990, the curriculum retained its traditional use of workshops and life drawing. These elements distinguished the school from most other German and international academies where representational modes in fine art were mostly abandoned with the arrival of new media. It was also at the beginning of the 1990s when the school established a course for media art, which was aimed to break with tradition and showing how the institution was ready to embrace new media such as film, installation, performance and conceptual means of art making. The other two fine art courses are painting/drawing (Malerei/Grafik) and photography, which distinguish themselves from the school’s graphic design offer, providing a diversity of teaching groups (classes) in which students can specialise in system design or typography. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the HGB became known as the ‘seedbed’ for the success of New Leipzig School painters (Gerlach 2008; Modes 2007), most of which studied at HGB. Many of its members distanced themselves from the hype as it was considered a stigma, which only showcased a fraction

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of what the school offered. Media Art Graduate L19 continues to explain how no one expected any meaningful and successful modes of artistic practice to emerge from the painterly tradition, witnessing a downward trend or at best having to reposition its broken identity (Crimp 1981; Obrist 2016). The painter Neo Rauch most prominently challenged this assumption with his international art market success, which positioned representational painting as something that Leipzig became known for as an art school but also as a city. This was in accord with Leipzig Museum of Modern Art celebrating Rauch’s fiftieth birthday through a double retrospective with Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne in 2010. While painterly practices have acquired a level of prestige and acceptance among city officials and an artloving public, which is perhaps linked with the notion that painting is the easiest way through which ‘people are seduced into the fascination with art’ (Obrist 2016), other forms of artistic activity have evolved hermetically in the background of this hype during the mid-2000s. It is these background activities with a multiplicity of practices and spaces that will be explored in this chapter, in contrast to the hype around Leipzig-based painting, and how the school not only functions as continuum of its tradition but most importantly how anti-positions emerge.

Figure 7.1  Neo Rauch ‘Die Fuge’, Metropolitan Museum, New York City Copyright: Richard Winchell


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Aspects of the generous space of studios, internal and external to the school, as well as the factor of having a flexible time frame within which students can study towards their diploma (postgraduate level), are key to understanding the school’s curriculum. The art school building, which is located adjacent to the Academy of Music and the University of Leipzig’s main library, was custom built in 1887 to accommodate studios with natural light at the top floors and workshops as well as classrooms distributed throughout the building. The size of the building and spacious studios compared to many British art school buildings is notable; however, not all courses have their own studio spaces. During the first two years on the course when the students undergo their foundation (Grundkurs), they have access to all workshops but will only start with their studio work in year three when they are allocated a place in a professor’s class and studio. The class-based arrangement was inherited from the traditional system of European art academies in which the students study under the influence of one professor for the duration of their course. In Leipzig this is five years for the diploma and seven for Meisterschüler level, which is the equivalent of a practice-based PhD. It is common for students to take more time to complete the course, as they are reluctant to leave the safety net of the institution. Professor L3 supports the prolonging of the course, should the student’s position not be sufficiently developed to defend it at diploma stage. This signals a strong emphasis on having time to focus on the study of art and investing in the quality of students’ learning rather than releasing artists prematurely. Leipzig, currently rated as one of Germany’s most affordable large cities, seems to provide the conditions that make this possible. Media Art Student L104, for example, reflected on Leipzig being ‘the only city in Europe where you can find this dynamic’. With that he means how a student can develop his or her practice independent from market pressure as they can live in the city without having a large amount of income. Acknowledging the favourable situation could quickly come to an end because of Leipzig’s recent population gain, Graduate L19 points to Leipzig as an exceptional case whereby its fast shrinkage led to economic decline, which created a level of freedom for artists and students exceptional within Germany or even Europe. He wonders how this can be sustained as the city is growing and how artists need to adapt: ‘Was or is Leipzig’s situation with so much open space a coincidence or an accident? And following this comes a big crash, a collapse? Can you sustain what we have in a normal case?’ (Media Art Graduate L19). Pressure from the Saxon state ministry grows for students to complete their course within the time set for the course due to accountability requirements of public money spent. At the same time, rents increase and students are likely to feel the impact of this on the duration they can spare to study. A finite

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time frame however does not necessarily mean a bad impact on the students’ experience, as, for example, Painting Graduate L20 specified how he liked the speed of his postgraduate course at the Royal Academy in London, whereas he considered HGB slowed down his activities. While time is likely to become a more rigid factor for the courses and artistic development, this might also be the situation for the factor space, which the students could easily access outside the school in the past. This is necessary as the art school only provides studios for its painters, while media art students have one or two rooms, also serving as office for their professors, in which not all students have the space to work. These offices are meeting places for class meetings (Klassentreffen), which are the equivalent of the ‘crit’ through which collaborative projects are planned and individual work is critiqued. Many of the media art students have studios outside the school, which they share with other artists and colleagues. Their practices can be mobile and/or temporary, which is why they do not need fixed spaces. It is common that beyond the two-year foundation course there is very little exchange between the classes, as their students tend to be nested in separate studios. As a visitor I found more closed than open doors, both physically and metaphorically. It was hard to gain an insight into the practices that developed behind these doors, through which a peak could be considered intrusive. My interviewees themselves reflected in relation to this on an atmosphere of coolness, competition or perhaps insecurity, which they could not clearly find reasons for. Media Art Graduate L12, who entered the school as a mature student, observed how students could easily be spotted in the city through their style of clothing. She explained how after entering the school young students transform their identities quickly, symbolised through a particularly slack look, which she describes as ‘making themselves look ugly’. This signalled a sense of belonging and covered up insecurities that stem from being unsure about artistic positions or knowledge ability in new social settings. 7.2. ARTIST-LED SPACES AS EXTENDED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT There are some students who need the support of the student body such as Fine Art Graduate L1 who believes the social exchange through informal conversations while ‘drinking coffee’ or ‘hanging around’ led to the productive environment that shaped his work. In fact, this very social environment led to him developing a performance-based practice. Others, for example, Painting Graduate L6 and Painting Student L16, needed to distance themselves from the social environment of the school and sought studios outside as they entered their third year. This signals a differentiation between those


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who need to work in isolation, understanding social interaction as distraction, and those requiring friendship groups in which they feed off exchange. Although the mode of isolation is associated with a romantic notion of the struggling and suffering artist, or with the individualist notion of modernity, it is recalled here as a way to illustrate the diversity of art’s production today. This also means artists operate differently in the context of the scene that surrounds them in which they have pressures to be ‘seen and heard’, which Artforum poignantly transfers to a notion of ‘Scene and Herd’ (Artforum 2018). This expresses the link between being socially active with selfpromotion through the group or scene artists affiliate with. In Leipzig, students have a differentiated view on this and some may actually distance themselves from social pressure that can lead to the commercialisation of their work. Autonomy plays an important role in the discussion of their practice, which in turn has diverse meanings. Having a studio space outside of the school is one way through which students manifest their autonomy from the institution, which Media Art Graduate L104 considers too market-driven and ‘stuck with its past’ with the emphasis on painting and not enough engagement with the scene that is outside of the HGB. ‘The HGB does not develop anything itself in the city. It is really just a business card, you put HGB on your CV. That’s great for the art market, but the internal network of Leipzig is much bigger than what is at HGB’ (Media Art Graduate 104). This student’s experience points to the view that the greater part of artistic interaction is happening outside of the school while the institution is considered the ivory tower it tries to avoid being. There are various approaches to setting up production and exhibition space independent from the school, which are a result of Leipzig’s favourable urban conditions. These range from artist-led spaces, so-called off-spaces, to house projects, curatorial projects and off-space festivals. I want to first introduce the project of Media Art Graduate L104 whose statement about the HGB I just quoted. Parallel to going to art school he became part of a network where he was involved in the politics of his neighbourhood Lindenau. He views the HGB and its staff inherently linked with the art market and with Spinnerei, its flagship galleries and the representation of the big painter names that Leipzig is known for. The activities of Lindenow, Leipzig’s renowned off-space festival, and the range of spaces where students are showing, are portrayed as alternative to the market. Although distancing himself from the school, Graduate L104 found application and space for his performance-based practice through the network in contrast to the prevailing importance of painting and drawing at the school. This is an issue Media Art Student L112 has equally identified as she felt her process-based work, which sits in the realm of the relational and arts-based research, is not as accepted (yet) in Leipzig.

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Being from France and having travelled across Europe, Graduate L104 observed how Leipzig offered more freedom to use spaces for artistic production than any other city he visited or lived in previously. House prices were as low as €80,000 for a multi-apartment house in the mid-2000s when he became involved. Together with a friend he bought a house in the formerly rundown district of Lindenau, which following 2005 became the setting of intense artist-led activity. In turn this set in motion a process of gradual uplifting and soft gentrification. To save costs, Graduate L104 renovated the house in several phases with the help of resident artists and international friends, from which they started to run an artist-exchange network that provides artists residencies. The self-organised renovation of houses was pioneered in Leipzig by HausHalten e.V. and their concept of Ausbauhaus (bare-bones house), securing a derelict property’s future through collective maintenance activities with the option of house ownership, which is likely to have inspired Graduate L104. At least three other of my participants sourced their studios through the organisation. The aim was to secure permanent space for artistic production and to withdraw the property from the market, which requires the continued commitment of the founder(s) to keep it this way. The student quickly became established in the neighbourhood and his project participated in Lindenow festival, which he has subsequently helped to organise. He particularly highlights with this how the art school has very little insight to this world and how in some cases professors and also students denounce this type of extracurricular activity in the name of artistic autonomy. This contradicts in some ways that art has developed a relational approach, in which it is those activities that enable practice. The risks many professors see with these activities is self-exploitation, as running spaces requires time, money and energy, which can be risk intensive and direct the focus to politics instead of art. While most of the professors would agree, it is essential for the students to develop an idea of how place can support or inform their practice, Professor L8 warned how too much fragmentation into various groups can take away the spirit of the art school as a hub. If the school distances itself from the opportunities that come from artist-led activity, Media Art Graduate L104 warned on the other hand that it overlooks the realities of the art scene in Leipzig where means of artistic production are sustained in some part through an alternative economy, as the market cannot provide for everyone. He believes a self-organised and non-institutional network like his residency organisation is necessary to create opportunities outside of the market. Affordable space is an essential building block of this to secure these efforts for the long term. This example underlines the opportunities for artists to bond with place through physical infrastructure being developed as opposition to what the art school offers. Being engaged with the transformation of urban fabric and the


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politics of the local community creates meaning of place. This contributes to this graduate’s rootedness in Leipzig. The graduate’s commitment in bringing international artists to the city was recognised by his professor (L8) as something that Leipzig can strongly benefit from, first because it creates an international flair in which the subliminal East and West German divisions, felt mostly by the generation that experienced the situation before 1990, are not as pronounced anymore, and second because it supports artists’ retention as there are opportunities created to be part of a post-institutional network. Lindenow festival is another organisation where artists are invited from other cities and countries to put on shows. A result of these partnerships is an increased sense of the situation of Leipzig viewed through the lens of the visitors, for example, those from Hamburg reporting how gentrification is much more advanced there than in Leipzig. This again underlines the exceptional situation of Leipzig, which in itself attracts artists who have graduated from art schools in other German or European cities. The engagement with the community in the neighbourhood was something Media Art Graduate L104 emphasised as a politics, which he defined as being part of the urban fabric and coexistence with other groups of residents and their cultures. He also recognised how his project is part of a process of gentrification, in which he argued that ‘if it evolves slowly and alongside growth in wages’ it would have a positive effect on the neighbourhood. This hopeful and emancipatory language of trickle down, however, overestimates the positive impact such spaces can have on local communities, and how the capacity of art spaces may in fact be in the realm of self-interest. I could, for example, not observe a direct link between the group’s activities and the creation of job opportunities that would increase the level of income of the local community. Here I refer to Harris’ (2012) paper, which witnessed the gentrification of Hoxton where artists exercised a level of control that led to the transformation of the cultural landscape and through which to some extent they benefited from development. The outreach projects offered by some of the artist-led spaces, such as working in schools and putting on artist talks, are peripheral in solving structural local problems. At their best they can highlight inequalities and political conflict, but will often not create direct opportunities for existing residents. This can also be linked with the capacities of place-based education, which challenges existing relations in place more so than having the capacity to radically change them. As Lindenau and Plagwitz became popular in the mid-2000s for their offspace culture, Media Art Graduate L13 ran a space and observed how the neighbourhood dynamic changed, as ‘houses were refurbished, shops disappeared and people slowly moved away, because it got too expensive’, eventually also leading to the closure of their project when the rent-free time was

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over. Graphic Design Graduate and Curator L111, who was also active in the area with a warehouse-size off-space in which he developed a curatorial programme, recalls the division between those in the local community left behind from Reunification and locked in unemployment, and the incoming young population eager to explore the freedom Leipzig provided (Raabe and Waltz 2014). In the face of these cultural divisions, it is problematic for artist-led spaces to remove the barriers to the local community, which are created through the visual and intellectual language learned at art school. The visual language implies barriers of access as there is no sign outside signposting the use of the space as gallery. The interiors are often bare, with white walls and grey floors alike the white cube model of commercial galleries, or kept in the original state in which the artists found the space, including remains of old wallpaper, wall paintings or bare concrete or cement. With minimal work on display, artist-led spaces are a visual break from a built environment surrounding it which features decay, graffiti and billboards alongside newly refurbished, brightly plastered period style houses on which the occasional anti-gentrification tags are sprayed. The artistic activities that take place in the spaces present not just a physical but also an intellectual barrier to those not familiar with art: It is not so much the aspect of us not engaging, but only because the door is open, lights are on and people are hanging around, these are criteria why people do not want to come in. Some people think they have nothing to say about art, and do not want to be confronted with that by being involved in a conversation. We have to think about who is part of the neighbourhood, and who feels excluded from the outset. (Media Art Graduate L13)

In that respect, the argument of fragmented communities in which artist-led spaces serve their own interests may be true, but this develops out of the necessity to show work and develop opportunities for a future artistic life outside of the art school. As the above statement underlines, the artist community is aware of limitations of access through the barriers their engagement with art potentially creates. In reference to the observation how the local community felt deterred paradoxically rather than invited, artists have to work on their capacity to understand places and their community and what forms of engagement are possible. As not every practice is relational or spatial, it may be necessary for artists to acknowledge openly their role in the politics of space as competing user. Vogelsberg (2010) discusses the emergence of the artist-led scene in Lindenau and details some of the fault lines in the engagement with the local community, which mirrors the engagement gaps identified here. The first line


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is between the art scene and the local community, as it was recalled how the community was afraid of entering the spaces and did not know how to engage with the activities that often had a different logic to what they expected to see as art. The second line is within the scene between those who study at HGB and those who have other backgrounds outside of art. He writes how easy it is to orientate towards the HGB, as the students dominate the scene and find it familiar. Through what he describes as ‘selective openness’ (Vogelsberg 2010), founders of off-spaces operate strategically and selectively with whom they engage, whether this is the community or their peers. Although they may use a language of openness to underline an emancipatory practice, their spaces can become enclaves for those with a similar background, which can result in neighbourhood segregation rather than tolerance (Helbrecht 2011). These cases underline how going through art school forges place-based activities of learning, which are by no means instructed by lecturers but, put into context of institutional cultures and questions of autonomy of art, lead to critical engagement with the art world’s exclusivity and barriers of access. There is an element of active change of the learning environment (the city) involved in this, as artist-led spaces influence neighbourhood dynamics, and part of learning is how artists need to position themselves between fulfilling the ends of art and those aligned with social or perhaps political ends in the neighbourhood. The discussion about the use (and politics) of space, and the role of art within that, has recently become a central part of the class of Professor 3, who teaches in the area of media art, although his class is open to any medium in a process-based understanding of art. Contrary to the previous cases, this is an example of formally instructed curriculum at HGB being part of the professor’s class. The class regularly shows their work at the yearly Rundgang, and also as part of temporary external projects. A property investor who runs the ‘Dietzoldwerke’ in north-west Leipzig, which houses a number of studios of the professors’ students, approached the professor with the opportunity to establish an artist-led space in an empty shop which he owns. Painting Graduate L110 and Media Art Student L17 underline how local property owners and developers have a personal interest in art, as they support artists with affordable space and collect their work. This is also the case with the developers of Spinnerei who initially wanted to turn the industrial area into loft-style housing in the mid-1990s. The quarter, however, remained a site for artistic production and more recently for start-ups. Since the school has no financial resources to fund off-space activities, the professor agreed to the deal for an initial period of six months with the aim that students would independently develop a programme typical for off-spaces in Leipzig, taking into account the role they play in the transaction between art and property as part of the teaching. In December 2016 the

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space opened as ‘Speculative Spaces’ (Mark 2016), maintaining an active Facebook page with regular opening and closing events. I interviewed one of the students involved with the space whose practice challenged the context in which he showed his work, namely the relationship between art and property. My show was the second in the space. There was one before, which has also dealt with issues of space, but more with its aesthetics and materiality. I have tried to name concrete relations instead. I have for example exhibited a work, in which I displayed a map of the space alongside displaying the front door key. The title for this was ‘Die ursprüngliche Akkumulation des Matthias Mahnke’ (The original accumulation of Matthias Mahnke). He is the owner of the space, a property guy. It was important for me to talk about the relationship between property, power over space and art. (Media Art Student L7)

The key the student exhibited became the symbol for the space in which the exhibition was held. The title of the work is instrumental in concluding the intention of the artist, which is to address aspects of ownership and power over the space’s use, exposing a particular hierarchy of ownership by naming the owner. While this is not intended to criticise the agency of the owner directly, as the students are thankful they are given the space, it highlights the conditions of ownership over space in general. As the struggle over space for artistic production in Leipzig is not as immanent as in other cities, such as Berlin or Hamburg, this seems a philosophical exercise for the students to learn how to position themselves in the face of these possible struggles. It is interesting to observe here how learning activities trigger less a sense of place about Leipzig but more so inform a method of engaging with place as an abstract concept. The students’ interest in urban and spatial issues was initially founded through the teaching in the Grundkurs, which was explained by Media Art Graduate L13 who now has a position at the school as associate lecturer at the media art department. He ran off-spaces in Lindenau from 2006 onwards when he was studying at HGB, at the same time as many non-art schoolrelated spaces emerged. He now works in a similarly self-organised capacity in both Berlin and Leipzig but his student (L7) noted how he had to scale down his work to retain some of his energy for teaching. His position at the school allows him to invite students to join activities that tie in with setting up spaces and showing work in unusual situations and settings, as well as engaging with the city artistically through using methods of geographical research. The school benefits through the network of spaces he accesses where students test exhibition formats and learn about models of how to run artist-led activities. The graduate (L13) has a specific logic as to what kind of models are possible primarily based on his experience


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in Leipzig and Berlin. He debates these with the students in a discussion around the impact the artists’ work has on a neighbourhood. Model 1 is to use a space temporarily while the rent is either free or very affordable, Model 2 is to develop a business plan through which artists can sustain the rent for the space and Model 3 is to buy the property and take it off the market. These models are all tied with a temporal hierarchy, from short term to permanent, in which the students are taught how to discern which model suits their work or projects. Alongside this, students identify with the different reasons and aims for running spaces and whether they want to turn these into a business, that is, a commercial gallery, affordable production space, whether they want to find a place to live and/or whether they are interested in being involved with the local community and neighbourhood change. Through the school’s activities space is involved. Because at the school you can work and make things, you have to show this somewhere. And we visit these shows together and familiarise ourselves with them. Despite this happening geographically outside of the school, it somehow remains part of the academic activity. . . . For exhibitions there is no book where you can read how to develop them. It is not a theoretical undertaking but a practical form of learning. That’s why the involvement in a location and with an exhibition space is always part of a learning process, because each exhibition has its own unique challenges. There is always something you don’t know yet, and that is the learning process. That’s why the connection between the city and the school is clear. (Media Art Graduate L13)

This statement summarises poignantly the need for an art school education to be understood as place-based, as art is made and shown in a variety of settings beyond the art school. Through examining and shaping these, learning becomes ‘accountable to place’ (Gruenewald 2003a, 641). Artist-led activities and spaces can also be a means of increasing exposure to the art school community for those wishing to enter HGB. This was the case of a group of four students who did not at the time study at HGB and who founded an art space because they wanted to be part of the dynamics and the hype in Lindenau during the mid-2000s. With friends already studying at the HGB, there were connections to the class of then professor Neo Rauch. His acclaimed students showed in their space a number of times and this raised their profile among HGB staff. Subsequently, three of the four founders applied to the HGB themselves and successfully entered. The aesthetic of their off-space, which has run now for over ten years, is that of a professional white cube with the obligatory grey concrete floor and daylight neon tubes adorning the ceiling. The hang and display of work adheres to a clean, spacious and thoroughly curated system, which resembles

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the spaces of commercial galleries or contemporary art museums. The landlord from whom they have rented for more than ten years already was interested in artists using the building, which allowed the tenants to negotiate an affordable rent while ensuring maintenance is overseen by themselves. Above the exhibition space are artist studios, which the team recently had to close along with the main exhibition space because the building was at risk of collapse. They initiated a fundraising campaign through selling artists’ work to gain funds for major structural repairs. Interestingly, one of the students (L17) started his journey by enrolling at the University of Leipzig’s Geography Department where he completed a five-year degree leading to the equivalent of a master’s degree. His thesis discusses the emergence of the artist-led scene in Lindenau, where the student had been active during his studies in geography. These artistic activities exposed him to the HGB and his interest in documentary film and geographical modes of artistic practice. What these engagements with different spaces in Leipzig can illustrate is how place-based learning is primarily understood as a material expansion of the studio and the appropriation of new sites of learning. This can be considered not only as a form of gaining autonomy from the institution but also as a way to exercise an expanded notion of art with relational and spatial modes of practice. In this context, art students learn about developing an exhibiting practice and most importantly about the different approaches to and challenges of running artist-led spaces. This can be considered as actively changing the environment in which they learn and therefore changing place – either for their own interest or in conversation with the local community of which there are limitations. Despite autonomy from the institution, students still form fragmented and closed groups externally, which can undermine their emancipatory intent to be more open and tolerant.

7.3. PLACE ENGAGEMENTS AS METHOD FOR MEDIA ART STUDENTS It was my conscious decision to divert from the hype about painting in this case, which has influenced the recognition of Leipzig’s art scene. Instead, I wanted to focus on the practices and activities that engage with place directly, which is the case of the media art classes. I believe in media art you have a very different approach to spaces. You often work with space, which is not just the realm for an exhibition but also a realm for one’s work; or how you integrate your work in this and how it relates to space or place. (Painting Graduate L2)


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This section gives four short examples of practices that are spatial (sitespecific) and relational, including reflections on how these have developed within the institutional frame of the HGB. I will emphasise how place-based learning in fine art leads to development of artistic practices that engage with place as subject and method, more than contributing to a sense of place that is meaningful exclusively to Leipzig. The link between art and geography explored by Media Art Graduate L13 in his teaching is an example of place-based learning in which students engage with place not just as an exhibition practice but also as artistic method and a specific language. The now lecturer founded a collaborative course with the Geography Department at University of Leipzig in which students at both institutions study together for two semesters. The context of the module, which ran between October 2016 and September 2017, was to explore the city and how it functions. The group visited many of the city’s institutions, public service providers and communities and took part in guided tours to study the urban fabric, landscapes and geographical dimensions of the city. The first semester was focused on collecting data while the second provided a platform in which ideas could be developed in response to the data, which consists of maps, photos, ethnographies and drawings. The module did not seem to have a preset goal, instead focusing on the unplanned opportunity that comes from working with artists and geographers. This opportunity materialised into artistic work or essays, with learning outcomes increasing the capacity for artists to think scientifically and for the geographers to learn from the ways of seeing and doing of artists, which draws the bridge between the disciplines that Hawkins (2013, 2015) addresses. At this stage it was not possible to talk about the particular assignments the students developed, as this was formative and the project ended after I conducted my interviews. But in my understanding, the core learning was experiential and the process was the actual artistic work through which artists were provided with an opportunity to position their practice. The practice of Media Art Graduate L12 responds to place in a similarly explorative way. The artist specified how she was often ‘out in Leipzig’ and other cities as a photographer while working for an advertising agency before she came to the HGB as a mature student. Through this she learned how it was not the visual environment that was at the forefront of her practice but the sound of the city, which became one of her main research interests. Her work in preparation for the diploma after five years of study focused on the city’s acoustic environment and whether it can be identified as sound or as noise. With this she aimed to show how little we acknowledge the existence of an acoustic field in the city and how this can reveal aspects of mobility of people, spatial barriers and how we orientate in the city from a perspective that is not visual.

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Her practice also suggested a very personal underpinning as the artist recurrently juxtaposes the desire for the city as a place of inspiration with the need to find peace in a rural setting. Some of the graduate’s mostly sitespecific works deal with how the natural or manmade cultural environment is being disrupted through new urban infrastructure, such as road bridges and the noise from cars. She claims that urban noise has replaced familiar traditional sounds and has become a new ‘holy sound of city life’. Her own installation provides a platform for reflection on an acoustic urban memory. Because her work is site-specific and presented in public space, she is often required to travel to different locations beyond Leipzig through which she is not as involved with the conventional shows in off-spaces. This is underlined by a similar position of Media Art Graduate L14 who noted how she exhausted Leipzig’s capacity to be the subject of her photographic work early on, as she developed her practice in response to different urban environments explored through travel. Site-specific work required Graduate L12 to apply for funding or to take part in open submission calls and commissions. She emphasised how this is much easier if you are still at the school, as people know you and approach you with ideas and opportunities through your professor. Media Art Graduate L15 experienced how he became more distant from the school when he started developing socially engaged projects with children. Being a father himself he felt how there is little such initiative to involve children in formats that discuss and develop art. This reflected on the ways in which he made work, which became embedded in the community and aimed at removing the barriers of access to art for those who would not traditionally engage with art. His social and political engagement however was considered as a form of instrumentalisation of art by his professor. It seems that in his case the ways of teaching and attitudes about art can be locked in the climate of a specific professor and his class, conforming to the institution. Here again the student recalls how the school does not (yet) take on board the innovative capacity of art developed in a relational context. It is my observation that among the students many are very active. The professors have reservations if you move towards a more political direction or if you do something that doesn’t meet the common understanding of art. Then you get in trouble when studying here. There is a drift between forms of knowledge between what is developed in the scenes and this is not transferred into the practices that are developed at HGB. Not just knowledge but also attitudes develop. With emancipatory projects it’s not all about subject matter but ways of participation and what kind of relationship there is with the public. This discourse does not happen in the practices at the school. (Media Art Graduate L15)


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Graduate L1 and one of his colleagues explore another relational format of a practice, which in their case engages with Leipzig as setting for the art world through the lens of humour. They took as inspiration the format of a German television show called ‘Durch die Nacht mit . . .’ (Through the night with . . .), which stages a dialogue between two German celebrities mostly within the high cultural environment, who are taxied through their German home city to explore each other’s favourite places and discuss memories attached to them. Gerd Harry Lybke, who is the founder of ‘Eigen & Art’ gallery at Spinnerei, gallerist and ‘maker’ of the New Leipzig School (Modes 2007), has, for example, featured in one of the original episodes. Their appropriation of the format was through staging themselves as artist celebrities in a YouTube video called ‘Durch den Tag mit [their artist names]’ (Through the day with . . .). In the video, they tour one of Spinnerei’s open studios events and stumble across the gallerists who they consider part of a patronising environment of fame that the New Leipzig School produced and which they aim to expose by this project. The second part of the project involved a screening of the film, which projected this humorous perspective on the local art situation back to the audiences who produce this at HGB. Although Graduate L1 has actively engaged with place in this as well as many of the other projects, the exploration of place has led to a sense of tiredness of place, due to hierarchies of local actors and how they form barriers of access and exclusivity. The practices that engage with place as subject reveal how they contribute to an understanding of spatial and relational methods for artistic practice. They may have emerged from initial explorations of Leipzig as place but are exhausted by creating meaning of only one place. With painterly practices this is very different, as I will explain in the next section. 7.4. SENSE OF PLACE IN THE CASE OF LEIPZIG’S PAINTERS It is worth re-examining what makes Leipzig a place known for its painters, especially those that work in a recognisable figurative way, which could be described as a local repertoire, which references Wenger’s (1998) idea of how a community of practice develops shared histories of practice by being embedded in a specific location. Through this some painters have collectively developed a particular sense of place in connection with Leipzig. The interviews I conducted with painting graduates and staff quickly revealed how there is a specific relationship between learning, being in Leipzig and establishing a studio practice there. Painting Graduate L2 explained how this was first linked with choosing to study with a specific professor who has

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an artistic position with which prospective students strongly identify, even before they arrive, which leads them to localise Leipzig for their studies. There are a number of fine art students from other national and international art schools who directly join a class and do not need to go through the two years of foundation. She continues to emphasise on the basis of her own experience how studying painting at HGB means studying at a specific place, that is not only the art school but also Leipzig. ‘You learn to paint in that specific place. You have created yourself an environment there in which you learned how to paint. I think it is hard to dispute the importance of how one is integrated in that place’ (Painting Graduate L2). With this environment she does not just mean the studio she is provided with at the art school, but how in many cases also painting students find their own studios outside early on during their studies. Graduate L2 founded a studio project, which she referred to as studio flatshare (Arbeits-WG), in one of HausHalten e.V.’s Ausbauhaus projects. The studio holders are friends and colleagues of the graduate. She highlights how important the exchange between them is to step out of the isolating practice of a painter and to discuss the work they make or the materials they use. She underlines how ‘because you paint for yourself, you always need someone from outside to look at your work and reflect what you do to avoid becoming blind’. With that she places a very strong emphasis on networks in a specific location, which she has developed during her studies. But also, in terms of material conditions place is important. I always thought as a painter you are flexible and you can work everywhere, that you’re a freelancer and so on. But I have actually found out how the time I spent here [at art school] was a subconscious bonding process with place, in which you learn how to understand and work with it. (Painting Graduate L2)

At the level of needing workspace Leipzig is very attractive as location. It seems just as important to recognise the art school at the level of knowledge development in which learning is an activity that facilitates bonding of people and their practices with place. Within the communities of practice concept, this process is conceptualised through the proximity and interaction of members of the art school. This leads to the development of shared repertoire through belonging, in this case to the same institution in which not only a similar cause is shared but also artefacts, styles, conditions and members (Wenger 1998). This shared repertoire is in the case of painters closely related to how they make meaning of their local environment. Painting Graduate L2 expresses how she finds it hard to feel productive when she is away from Leipzig, as she is not in the same environment that stimulates her work. Apart from the


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network she needs to discuss and change her work, she feels a certain ‘friction’ that comes from her studio and the urban environment surrounding it. Leipzig’s urban fabric distinguishes itself through a makeshift and crude character coining the landscape – something she could not find in West Germany where the built environment seemed too sanitised for her to be stimulated. This is a case in which learning shapes the need to be in a certain location, in which spatial relations such as distance can also hinder practice. ‘How does the atelier fit in with the surrounding urban environment? You need life in a city. Change that makes a change in your work. The ability to be part of this change by doing things yourself’ (Painting Graduate L2). How the external and especially urban environment influences the work of a painter in the studio is exemplified here, which Buren and Repensek (1979) hints at in his analysis of the function of the studio. This case shows how the landscape surrounding the artist does have an impact on their work (Myers 2011). She clarifies how the character of Leipzig, in particular the urbanity connected to its status as formerly shrinking city, contributes to a setting in which she can be in charge of change as self-organised artist. This includes how she is in control over access to space as well as how the urban environment in which she finds her studio compliments her need for inspiration. On the basis of learning how to paint in a specific place, location attains meaning through the artistic practice that becomes associated with it. Contrary to students of media art, here a specific place becomes meaningful as production environment rather than subject of a practice. It could be argued this setting is not as easily exchangeable than is perhaps the subject of a specific artistic project. Internal spatial relations of Leipzig are used in comparison to those of her West German home to construct a sense of place with Leipzig. This clearly conditions her spatial relation of rootedness in Leipzig and distances her to other places with which she compares Leipzig. Just as ‘learning produces practice’ with it emerges representational artefacts, works of art in our case that ‘perpetuate the repertoire of practices’ (Wenger 1998, 89). With repertoire is meant styles, discourses, artefacts and any other representations of practice, which can also include the curriculum at art school, as this is a way in which practice is abstracted and conceptualised. Nowhere was it clearer than with the class of then professor Neo Rauch, whose students have benefited strongly from his fame when he taught at HGB in the 2000s. In fact the New Leipzig School, which has its own artistic and perhaps even cultural repertoire, could be understood as a movement in the orthodox understanding of twentieth-century avant-garde groupings (Harris 2004), which stands in contrast to the ‘specialised practices’ of those artists who group around self-organised activities. I interviewed two of Rauch’s students who quickly after graduation were taken on by a gallery based at Spinnerei, which also led them to secure a studio

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space on the site. Many painters associated with the New Leipzig School, including Neo Rauch, have their studios at Spinnerei, which provides large scale and well lit studios in an industrial estate with vast industrial-size interiors and large windows for natural light. Painting Graduate L110 developed a painting practice that strongly mirrors that of his professor Neo Rauch, incorporating similar decorative, surrealist elements and references to buildings capturing the sense of a regional built environment. Rauch’s paintings are filled with surreal scenarios in which figures taken from a distant and gloomy past, perhaps coming from a troubled post-war and socialist environment, conduct secret meetings and float in the painted space as if they were in an alternative universe. Both artists also discuss the emphasis on being local and how Leipzig is valued as source of inspiration, so much that they claim an inability to produce their work elsewhere, which in contrast to media art students can seem patronising and dogmatic. As part of a televised documentary for which Rauch gave a biographic interview (Bergmann 2013), he demonstrates his connection with the city through an esoteric lens suggesting his birthplace gives him a unique energetic frame where it is only possible to develop his work. Aware of the criticism that his work receives especially from younger artists who believe his emphasis on the local and regional is of nationalist character, he justifies how it would be a waste of opportunity not to use his technical skills and phenomenological capabilities offered by a specific place. By place he refers to the HGB where he trained and Leipzig as place where these practices have become embedded. His former student (L110) has adopted a similar way of working and thinking as Rauch, as he makes references to local architecture in his work, and defends the view that a birthplace can be essential as a place for establishing an artistic practice: ‘You don’t always have to go somewhere else. Why should one be the loser who grew up in a place and searches for fulfillment there through finding what is specific about this place through your work’ (Painting Graduate L110). Because the graduate has been familiar with Neo Rauch’s work since his childhood through his father who also studied at the school, he became sensitive to its qualities and through studying there himself he claims he ‘found exactly what [he] was looking for’ with the technical training provided. The process of meaning making that conditions a painter’s sense of place is in all these cases directly linked to the traditional training they received at HGB, which is strongly associated with Leipzig as location. This underlines not just social and symbolic interaction as source for the creation of a mythicized desire for art (Helguera 2012) but also location. This can explain why some of the galleries at Spinnerei, such as Eigen & Art and Galerie Kleindienst, represent artists that were born locally and/or have studied at HGB (Velthuis 2013).


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Traditional training and figurative practice is undoubtedly not only a selling point for HGB and its graduates, especially painters, but also serves as orientation for opposition to it. While the painters have a repertoire that builds on the notions of the New Leipzig School painters, with their traditional techniques underlined by mostly figurative works, media art students and their professors believe the hype around this type of painting has long been over. As I highlighted in the last section, Graduate 1 uses the scene associated with the New Leipzig School and the galleries at Spinnerei as source for performance-based work in which he exposes its social relations as exclusive and ridiculing their celebrity status. There is a barrier between those that benefit from the New Leipzig School hype, those who ‘made it’, and those engaging in the off-space culture aligned with Lindenow festival who claim to be independent from the market. It seems that while the school is criticised by some (e.g., Graduate L104, Graduate L15) for not drawing in enough of the practices that evolve from the alternative scene associated with off-spaces, the HGB is the only space where these two worlds collide. This bears a lot of opportunities for mutual exchange as a form of learning between boundaries to avoid fragmentation between the scenes, which Professor L8 emphasises. 7.5. SUMMARY This chapter has discussed the experiences of art students, graduates and their professors in developing projects that engage with the city as an extended learning environment. These are projects that contrary to the Manchester School of Art case emerged in an active art scene mostly external to the art school, in which many students very quickly became independently involved to either position their autonomy from institutional and art market-aligned processes at HGB or to simply test practice and exhibition formats. There were also some opportunities in the classes of specific professors where these external aspects were brought into the curriculum. However, these emerged in response to existing and observable activities in the scene rather than aiming to set up these activities from the start, which was more of a case in Manchester. The opportunities in Leipzig still seem vast to experiment with the learning process towards an artistic position, as ‘the sense behind it does not yet need to be questioned, while space is still available at a low cost’ (Painting Graduate L20). Each student of the school’s total of around 600 students has the capacity, in principle, to develop their own projects or spaces external to the school, which was reflected in the large number of off-spaces in which students collaborated with other artists.

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There were important differences here between painting and media art s­tudents, which led to clearly distinguishable ways in which place plays a part in their identity as artists and their development of practice. This is an important addition to what was studied in the Manchester case, where a pluralistic field of practice could not portray these differences in such detail. Media art students and staff engage with place not only as site for exhibitions but also as subject-specific practice, in which place becomes appropriated as subject but most importantly also as method of a practice that tires of being focused just on one place. The criticality with which they engage with place allows them distance and therefore opens opportunity to explore other situations as well as that of Leipzig. Despite painting students being less engaged in exploring and transforming place as compared to those studying media art, they construct a strong sense of place of Leipzig, almost exclusively. This is because their practice is identified with Leipzig through belonging to a traditional repertoire, which is linked with the city as shared location. I will discuss in the next chapter how the curriculum and practice’s internal aspects will form the basis around which spatial relations of art students and graduates emerge, again following the practice-specific angle. It is the activities, projects and spaces described in this chapter that constitute the human processes that are crucial for informing the narrative that underpins a sense of place and more broadly that of the becoming of place.

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Artists’ spatial relations and landscapes of practice in Leipzig

The previous chapter detailed the intersecting process of learning and practice through which place, and within it physical space, is appropriated and engaged with in differentiated ways. This was articulated through the experiences and practices of media art and painting students at HGB. While painters bonded with Leipzig, media art students tended to have temporary affiliations with the city through a sense of place less exclusive to Leipzig. In this chapter, I will seek to investigate the location decisions and spatial relations of my respondents in their various disciplines to establish an account of the school’s role, as well as the internal and external spatial relations of Leipzig in attracting and retaining artists. I will first introduce processes of arrival at Leipzig to establish an account of identification of artists with the city and then illustrate how the emergence of artistic positions between painting and media art have different impacts on artists’ spatial relations. The analysis along the lines of artistic positions through which spatial relations differently emerge can portray the Leipzig art scene as landscapes of practice, contributing to a potential geographical reading of art scenes. 8.1. ARRIVING IN LEIPZIG As outlined in the previous chapter in much detail, the HGB has a longstanding reputation for technical training, which is the biggest selling point for applicants, leading to a ratio of 200–250 applications for 15–18 places in a professor’s painting class, for example. The reputation of the school as bearer of the New Leipzig School and Neo Rauch is highly attractive for many, as aspiring art students know they ‘have the option like nowhere else to learn figurative painting but also to abandon it’ (Painting Graduate L2). 133


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This aspect of having the freedom to abandon technical tradition signals how the HGB acknowledges that, although the students have learned technical aspects of specific media such as painting, they can break with this in order to develop something new with those skills. Respondents L1 and L112 came to the school with an interest in painting as this was the repertoire they most engaged with during the start of their course. However, they quickly abandoned this as painting was not the medium to express their evolving understanding of art, which became much more concerned with immaterial and process-based work as they progressed on the course. Painting Graduate L2, who discussed her experience as associate lecturer in the painting department with me, reflected on the reasons why students choose to come to Leipzig. She explains that besides the localisation of the professor and the school through its reputation, students engage with the art scene of the city, which means they identify their own artistic position with those of existing local artists, local art organisations and artist-led activity. A case of this is the experience of Media Graduate L5. Although not a painter she studied art at the University of the Arts in Kiel and came to HGB with the aim of reframing her practice. She shortlisted HGB and quickly identified an interest in joining the class of Professor L4, with whom she shares an interest in gender studies and performance art. A visit to the school prior to applying underlined her choice, as she could compare the art situation in Leipzig with that in other cities, clearly recognising its potential. ‘Then I looked at Leipzig. Not simply because its media art offer, but because of the feeling I had of the city which was open. And I had the feeling there were many off-spaces and galleries’ (Media Art Graduate L5). When Graduate L2, who is a teaching assistant now, and Professor 4 conduct interviews for admission to their Klasse (studio class), the reasons for coming to Leipzig are often discussed. Because the HGB is highly selective due to the large volume of applications, the applicants’ interest in place and what they hope to gain from coming to Leipzig can be a factor that improves their chances of admission, although this was not explicitly mentioned by the lecturers. The choice of suitable applicants is vast and any prior identification with place signals how an applicant has made a conscious decision they want to be at the school and will benefit from the place in which they study. Identification with place, even at this early stage, can be considered the beginning of a process of meaning making of the art school’s location through which art students gain a sense of place. There are those who spend years of preparation to enter HGB, for example, by putting a portfolio together, while others apply to multiple schools as they want to study art at all costs and regardless of location and reputation. When Fine Art Graduate L1 first applied to art school, because he expected this to be an easy alternative to university and being ‘fed up’ with years of

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secondary school education, he chose the HGB not because of extensive prior research but through the recommendation of friends, without knowing much of its reputation. He prepared a portfolio on the basis of some of his graffiti work and drawings, which did not succeed in him gaining a place but with the advice to take the academy’s short courses (Abendakademie) specifically designed for portfolio preparation. This was one reason together with affordable rents why he stayed in Leipzig prior to commencing his course, which he successfully entered the year following his Abendakademie training. Current students develop and run this course, which is curated according to the disciplines studied at HGB and provides a way for the general public to access the school’s educational offer. The school holds regular portfolio critique sessions in which prospective students can meet specific professors to assess their portfolios’ quality against admission criteria. The yearly Rundgang in which students and diploma graduates showcase recent work, alongside organising pop-up bars, food stalls and music, illustrates how activities from off-spaces are drawn into the school. This event, along with the many independently organised private views in the city, makes the school attractive to those external, that is, friends of existing students. Some of the respondents noted how their friends or partners joined the art school because they wanted to be part of the scene. The school is also open for applicants who have alternative forms of qualification other than Abitur, the school-leaving certificate that allows for entry

Figure 8.1  HGB entrance hall during opening of yearly ‘Rundgang’ Copyright: Eric Meier


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to any German university, if they can prove artistic competence and talent through a portfolio. They may have vocational qualifications and work experience in a creative or artisan trade prior to entering HGB, which are gained in Germany after leaving school at the age of sixteen. Some of the mature students I interviewed were from this background while others have started off with studying another subject at university before they commenced their studies in fine art at HGB. While the school now focuses on recruiting more recent school leavers as instructed by the ministry of education of the Saxon government, for a long time professors preferred to choose mature students as they brought along prior life experience, which the professors considered beneficial for their development as artists. For example, Media Art Graduate L12 and Painting Student L16 engaged in vocational training in Leipzig in the advertising industries prior to coming to HGB. It was through their partners who studied at HGB that they decided to apply themselves. They already had a developed sense of what Leipzig meant to them, which they considered as ‘home’. They however exhibited a blasé attitude towards the art scene as they already felt familiar with it, as well as not being as engaged in off-spaces or exhibitions as their peers who recently came to Leipzig. This may be also linked with how mature students have their own social relations in a place already and do not rely as much on seeking connections within the school. Media Art Graduates L12 and L14, who experienced the GDR as children and young adults, specified how they preferred to stay in the East. For this reason, they came to study in Leipzig, as this felt more familiar than the cities in West Germany which they visited. The East-West difference still seems to play a role for the location choice of the students, but also for staff. Media Art Professor L8 noted that international students do not feel the perceived divisions as much as those who grew up in Germany. The East can be considered negatively through what was observed as ‘people’s closed mind-set’, influenced through years of isolation from the West, which is why the professor prefers to live in Berlin than Leipzig. Painting Graduate L2 however noted how Leipzig appealed to her because it was imperfect, especially in relation to the built environment. In the 1990s and even today the school experiences huge popularity among West German applicants, because of the technical alignment of the school and the freedom that Leipzig meant postReunification, which has been considered as a ‘playground’ for people from the West (Raabe and Waltz 2014). Those who moved from elsewhere to Leipzig detailed their relationship with the city often through the vantage point of the previous places where they have lived and worked, through which they could properly distinguish the qualities of Leipzig. This can result in praises of its freedom and active subcultural scene as discussed in Raabe and Waltz’ (2014) podcast. This

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setting emerged through a culture of illegal squats at the end of the GDR, many of which were turned into spaces for art, culture and activism. You can still breath here. Here you have the feeling that you can move and shake things when you go through the streets, also with little resources. You don’t need to have millions in your bank account to take over a property and to realise projects for yourself. That’s where sub-culture starts. Little or no money, creativity and passion to change something – passion for a city in which something opens up for you. This is a permanent process that you need to get somewhere with art. (Painting Graduate L2) We [residency project] have around 2 to 3 artists every year who stay in Leipzig. They stay because it is the only city in Europe where you can find this dynamic of self-organised networks. Here is something that doesn’t exist elsewhere. (Media Art Graduate L104)

Graduate L2 values in particular the freedom and ability for self-reliance that comes from having less monetary constraints through which she develops an emotional response to being in Leipzig, underlining a strong sense of place. She considers this as factor that makes Leipzig a place of her choice in which she has found permanence for her artistic practice. The ability to explore opportunities and to develop according to your personal interests leads to personal satisfaction. The unique sense of freedom and subculture suggests being a reason to stay, also for others who may not have been educated in Leipzig. Dresden wasn’t the place in terms of societal context for me to live and work. Before I started art school in Dresden, I was in Halle where I went to school. The contrast between Halle and Dresden was huge. Then Halle was totally open, no stone standing on the other. This is the way how many people still remember Leipzig with its streets completely derelict. I did exhibitions in Halle, and with that open feeling I went to Dresden where it wasn’t like that. The city there was like a museum with all the tourists, a dead city centre in which the art school is located. Leipzig is the golden mean between the two. (Media Art Graduate L15)

Respondent L15 has developed a sense of place in Leipzig in contrast to other places with which he connects meaning. While not mentioning explicitly what he finds particular about Leipzig other than its more active politicised scene and subculture, he describes Leipzig as a construction of the qualities of two other places. This underlines the vantage point of multisited ethnography (Marcus 1995) through which place is understood in reflection with others, which also mirrors Massey’s (1991) conception of place as having multiple identities. Here the local cannot be studied in isolation, as the experience of the respondent is connected to other sites.


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8.2. ARTISTIC POSITIONS AND THEIR IMPACT ON ROOTEDNESS AND MOBILITY How sense of place as well as spatial relations inclusive of places beyond Leipzig are constructed has to be differentiated between artistic positions in this case. On the one side painters expressed a strong attachment to Leipzig, attributable to their practice being part of the traditional repertoire the school fostered for many years, which provides an easy route into the city’s commercial art scene associated with Spinnerei. This underlines a particularly strong setting for local trust relationships between artists and gallerists (Velthuis 2013) on the basis of having studied at HGB or being born in Leipzig and its region. On the other hand, media art students and graduates were more critical of Leipzig as the place of their artistic production, as their practices seemed disconnected from the traditional repertoire, which to some extent was challenged by the HGB itself but less so by the arts organisations in the city. For painters this leads to a sense of place in which external influences render the view of Leipzig as positive and through which it remains the spatial centre of an artist’s activity, despite international spatial relations that develop along the lines of global market exposure. For example David Schnell, he was in Rome for over a year, but the centre of his life is here in Leipzig. He has his studio here and a silkscreen workshop, the same as Christoph Ruckhäberle, who also runs Lubok publishing and shows in London and Paris, but also in New York. But his centre of life is also here. (Painting Graduate L110)

Schnell and Ruckhäberle, both names associated with New Leipzig School, have studios at Spinnerei, which is also where the galleries that represent them are located. The same constellation is true for some of the Rauch students including Graduate L110 and L6. Painters need affordable studio space and permanence of their means of production that binds them to a fixed place, in which ‘you learn to use the city for your practice’ (Painting Graduate L2). This permanence underlines how movement across space on the level of production is not necessarily efficient for painters, as setting up studios, workshops and technical equipment requires conditions that are relatively fixed. This however does not restrict the mobility of the work of art, which can be circulated without the artist needing to travel. The fact that cities such as New York, London and Paris were quoted on the previous page, signals notions of success related to an artist’s CV to include multiple global art world places. This underlines the importance of global exposure for the status and success of an artist. At the same time it sheds light on how this is not necessarily

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connected with travel of artists themselves but perhaps the travel of works of art, which is not clearly detailed in Relyea’s (2013) notion of ‘unimpeded travel’. In the case of Leipzig’s painters art world success seems to increase when their geographical centre is in Leipzig, which disproves the claim that artists are required to adopt global identities or live in global art world centres to be successful. The contrary might be true with the case of the New Leipzig School painters and the generations following them, benefiting from the reputation of being permanently based in Leipzig. This also relates to showing work locally and regionally, which is exemplified by Painting Graduate L110 whose radius of exhibiting is mostly between Leipzig and Berlin, yet generating enough sales to sustain his livelihood. This is most likely what art critic Obrist (2016) meant by art needing to be understood through the lens of local differentiation as a means of seeing success in quality of the work from a specific place instead of only having the perspective of an intrinsic artistic position. This dynamic however is different for those studying media art, where an opening up towards other locations and especially Berlin could be observed. Because media art students work with a diversity of media and subjectspecific interests related to place, which I outlined in the previous chapter, their engagement with place is much more complex. Also, media art students do not necessarily need a studio space, which negates their reliance on a fixed site of production. This is why I will outline the cases where spatial relations of Leipzig were understood as opportunities for them, to then juxtapose this with where they were identified as limitations. This underlines the constructiveness of place through internal and external spatial relations, which some painters, but most of all media art students, recurrently reflect upon to situate their practice. Graduates L110 and L20 note how for the size of a city Leipzig has a substantial presence of galleries and artist-led activity, which is not the case with many cities of similar size. In the below case, the student discusses this in relation to an ‘action space’ that provides her with opportunities, and how the small size of the city contributes to her sense of belonging. I am from Berlin and came to Leipzig via Zurich. There’s a small microcosm here. You develop small networks, through which things become tangible. You meet people who you know and this develops a work connection. And because Leipzig has a small number of art institutions you have an overview. Through your own interest and engagement you can get where you want, which happened to me through three coincidences. In a big city this wouldn’t be possible. For me the ‘action space’ is perfect in Leipzig. But the small-town feel can also seem unreal, and for some this is not big enough. You have to know what you need, and if it is enough what you can find in Leipzig. (Photography Student L109)


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The smallness of the city can contribute to the positive perception of having not less, but intensified opportunities and experiences, where you can have a focus both in terms of your practice and the art world that surrounds it. Media Art Graduate 5, for example, recalls how she stayed in Leipzig not only because of her daughter’s education but also because she developed a small ‘fan club’ of people who engaged with her performance work, which is a network she built up during her studies in which she grew her audience list. She highlights the importance of having a peer network around you after you graduate to have a continued exchange in the same discourse, despite the distant wish to go to London or New York, which she abandoned in the wake of being anxious about losing these networks. Painting Graduate L20 who moved to London after completing his diploma identified the ambivalence between London where the artist needs to ‘waste’ him/herself to survive; yet, he is given structure and deadlines. In Leipzig everything is ‘slowed down’ both in the curriculum and the speed at which the city around him evolves. This underlines the space-time compression of place (Massey 1991). Currently, he lives in London as he prefers a larger ‘action space’ in which things develop faster. Painting Graduate L2, who participated in an Erasmus exchange in London, specified on the other hand how the size of the city affected her work. She made smaller paintings in London because of the size of studio available to her. She observed how her sense of Leipzig changed through this experience when returning. As I came back from London, I wasn’t bothered where I’d live because I knew everything was close together, because I experienced another dimension. And the longer you live in a place that is smaller, you move in a smaller radius. You have to understand distances in relation to the places you already lived in. (Painting Graduate L2)

Leipzig is put in contrast to places that are bigger and busier. Graduate L2 details how ‘something is lost’ there, although these places signal endless opportunities and freedoms. While this way of reflecting on spatial relations is not restricted to artists, the frequency with which other places are referenced suggests how students and graduates see themselves in the context of a larger art world than that of their current city. Participants have portrayed Leipzig as the perfect and unique place because of its limitations as it allows them to develop their practice in this setting. On the other hand Leipzig is too small and these limitations drive away graduates especially those in the media art pathways, in many cases to Berlin, which is just over an hour away by intercity train. Although most of the interviews for the Leipzig case were conducted in Leipzig, I met two of the interviewees in

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Berlin (Fine Art Graduate L1 and Media Art Graduate L14), as it was important to illustrate the reasons why graduates moved away. Leipzig is rather small, and after 7 or 8 years that I lived there, it is over. This depends on your kind of engagement. My mates and I have polished off everything that’s there, every exhibition. We met all the people that you need to know. With the gallerists you realise that you’re not up for their schmoosing. We did our own exhibitions everywhere possible and where you can rock things. (Fine Art Graduate L1)

The graduate also highlighted how he has access to internationally acclaimed artists such as Ai Weiwei, who he ‘stumbled upon’ in Berlin, which would not be a possible scenario in Leipzig where much of the scene evolves around set names of gallerists and artists, who he feels are known locally but not necessarily elsewhere. Despite the possibility to be engaged in the off-space culture, there was not enough change for him to feel engaged, or to develop further in Leipzig. By claiming that elsewhere activity happens that is essential for being included in the art world (related to media art practices), he highlights how Leipzig is peripheral whereas Berlin is the centre for his activities and perhaps of an international art world. Here the possibilities of Berlin as external influence have not led to a positive recollection of the internal spatial relations and qualities of Leipzig but to an active decision to relocate to Berlin. His peer (Media Art Graduate L14) who also moved to Berlin already during her studies detailed how she felt the smallness of Leipzig, which is so comfortable for some, creates an atmosphere of stagnation, where there is not enough change to stimulate an artist’s practice. This contradicts the view of Painting Graduate L2 who noted how there was enough change in the city for her to be inspired as painter. Both artists shared the experience of living in larger cities during their studies, yet the influence of being in a bigger city had a very different impact on them. Graduate L2, who lived in London for a short time, experienced a sense of recollection towards Leipzig’s internal qualities. She secured a teaching role at HGB, which is also why she continued to growing her network and setting up her studio in the city. Graduate L14 who engages in a photographic practice and works as a writer and editor experienced the urge to leave Leipzig as the external qualities superimposed the limitations of Leipzig for her practice, but also lacking job opportunities. I was in Leipzig for 10 years, also because of my studies prior to HGB. In 2003 I left for Spain and then I never really came back. It was too small for me, nothing developed. I had a big circle of friends from the previous studies, and they left while I was at HGB. I had the feeling I was a relic. Many of them moved to


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Berlin, which was an important reason for me to go. And there are jobs, which is important. (Media Art Graduate L14)

Professor L8 who lives in Berlin and works at HGB noted how many of his media art students including Graduate L14 moved to Berlin while they were studying. This was partly because of an acceptance of their work in Berlin, which was harder to find in Leipzig, and partly because of a ‘glass ceiling’ which they could not break through in Leipzig simply because the institutions and networks relevant to their practice were in Berlin, and elsewhere. However, from those who are rooted in Leipzig there are reservations about Berlin, which goes back to the discussion of how external influences can lead to a closer identification with Leipzig. Now lecturer, former teaching assistant L117 detailed that going to Berlin is a decision that many students play with as they think they can break through the glass ceiling quicker there, although he warns that the studios are ‘double the price’ and how a possible break through is not easier due to the transitional character of the art scene. This is described by Painting Graduate 6 who has a partner living in Berlin and frequently visits the Berlin art scene, while she is more comfortable in her Leipzig networks and her studio at Spinnerei: There are several art scenes scattered all over the city [Berlin]. And despite going to only a few exhibitions I do see the same people. It may not be as big as you think, but works differently. . . . I have the feeling you have to talk more, to visit more exhibitions. . . . Here you’re automatically seen. You know many people, which contributes to people staying longer as you’ve got the chance to talk. In Berlin you see a lot, you may be up to date and you can go to exhibitions immediately. You get more information, but here you’ve got time to find out what you are about. I think it is a question of the type of person you are. (Painting Graduate L6)

The graduate recalls how Leipzig has a much more intimate and slowed down culture in which she prefers to work, although she also acknowledges how in Berlin you are ‘up to date’ and knowledge is exchanged more frequently, but perhaps with less depth. To bridge the gaps between those benefits it can seem necessary to be part of both scenes, which is signalled by Graduate L12 having experienced how many of her colleagues state on their websites that they live and work in two cities. This makes having both strong and weak ties indispensable for artists to take part fully in the art world (Granovetter 1973). There are a number of respondents who choose to travel to bridge between their practice in Leipzig and job opportunities elsewhere. Graduate L104, for example, works as a technician for a gallery in Paris where he can earn enough income within a short period of two months to live in Leipzig for the rest of the year. Graduate L12 has a similar relationship between being settled

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in Leipzig but having to travel regularly to pursue her site-specific practice in which new places provide the context for her work. Although she is very committed to her practice and knows where she wants to take it next, she explains how the aspect of travel is tiring and expensive. I have exhibited a lot cross regional in the last few years. This is something that annoys me. I liked to do it for a few years but I am tired of it now. But it is part of it if you don’t just want to show in Leipzig. . . . Having to continuously travel, reacting to new spaces, situations, people, conditions that I encounter there. Despite often not receiving any money, they expect you to do it, still. With all these decisions you think about your portfolio. Where you exhibited is always good to read. International is even better, to be part of something to give you status. (Media Art Graduate L12)

This underlines Relyea’s (2013, 6) notion of how ‘unimpeded travel’, which is thought of contributing to art world success, is applied in an entirely functional way as means of improving your CV and portfolio and to expand an artist’s network. With the notion of this being ‘annoying’, the lack of enjoyment for visiting other places seems to defeat the purpose of this travel. As much as ‘extreme local performances’ such as developing art spaces can present a form of self-exploitation, so too is ‘unimpeded travel’ which is costly and requires different but equally exhaustive energies. The causality between travel and an increased status through success, however, is contrary to the experience of the painters in Leipzig, who have career success despite being tied to location. This, of course, is a unique situation where Leipzig has a local market, which reaches out to the global fairs through its gallerists. 8.3. ART SCENES AS LANDSCAPES OF PRACTICE While the previous section detailed artists’ sense of place and spatial relations through the different artistic positions that emerge from HGB, this section will look at the composition of an art scene as landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). It does so by taking on board the different artistic positions I explored throughout the two chapters, painting and media art, understanding them as communities of practice with overlapping barriers in between which artistic negotiations take place. It is important here to consider the scene’s social composition and politics including issues of access and fragmentations to detail how these aspects transfer to spatial relations of landscapes of practice. This investigates the bond painters have with Leipzig and how this transfers to an understanding of the Leipzig art scene, as well as alternative scenes with a spatial distancing from Leipzig. I will first consider how painters are more closely related to activities that


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take place in the art market and then discuss fragmentations with those who are part of the off-space scene, which are often media art students. The HGB is considered the focal point for much of the activities in the local art scene and as forbearer of a hype of Leipzig (Raabe and Waltz 2014), which was subsequently fuelled by the opening of many of the now renowned galleries at Spinnerei who represent many of the successful graduates. Without the school would be nothing here. It is the interface for many activities, which are initiated by people from HGB. (Curator L111) It is of course not compulsory to having studied at HGB, but I’d say 90% of people have studied there who are active in Leipzig. They are HGB graduates or still students. Art spaces are an interface for student audiences. (Media Art Graduate L12)

In terms of the art market the HGB has a strong footprint in Leipzig. For example, a printmaking technician who works at HGB established Galerie Kleindienst at Spinnerei, which is known for showing and selling positions exclusively from the school. Painting Graduate 6 got to know him during her studies while working in the print workshop, which quickly after her graduation led to a deal for representation through which she could sustain her living exclusively from her practice. Another example is of Gerd Harry Lybke, founder of Eigen & Art Gallery, who had equally close relations with the school as he used to be a life model there for many years before Reunification. In the 1980s, he ran his gallery informally as a showroom in a central Leipzig flat to avoid confrontation with the state. Quickly after Reunification, this established itself as Leipzig’s most renowned commercial gallery. Through his life modelling activities he gained access to the scene of the painters, some of which he represents and most famously Neo Rauch who has an international reputation. With Rauch taking on professorship at HGB in the 2000s, many of his students were equally fed into this system of representation. In 1992, Lybke established an additional exhibition space in Berlin. In 2015 this was followed by the opening of a second space in Berlin, which functions as a ‘lab’ showcasing emerging artists and positions that diverge from the range of artists the gallery is known for. This underlines the increasingly important relationship between Leipzig and Berlin not just for innovation of practice but also to exchange market opportunities. The scene of the market, which is dominated by painters and the New Leipzig School, is fed by a continuity of teaching and repertoires at HGB, which Modes (2007) defines as a microcosm in which distance and therefore critique is not necessarily exercised. This underlines a community of practice with barriers of access for those with interest in other artistic positions or

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those not having studied at HGB, which exposes difficulties for the local art scene to overcome these barriers as sources of innovation. Often these HGB people are ‘uber artists’, that’s how I always call it, people who celebrate and live their status. I have friends who are painters, who are very established now and don’t do anything else. I am in this network, but it is not a necessity for me. . . . But some of my friends who are not invited to certain openings suffer from trying to belong to this group. There’s a lot of envy, who is part and who is not. (Media Art Graduate L12)

The celebratory mode of belonging to the HGB scene described by the above graduate signals a high degree of competition, which is illustrated through envy and notions of being excluded. HGB is not just a place from which markets for local art emerge, but most importantly opposition to its exclusivity through off-spaces and artistled activity. Painters are more likely to engage with the art market as their medium is predestined to be shown in the traditional gallery environment and it is considered the art form generating most sales (Obrist 2016). The discussion around painting is based on aesthetic decisions and engagement with materiality more so than with any conceptual issues, which involves traditional attitudes towards the production of art and identity as an artist. The media art pathway opens up a different set of attitudes, which awakens artists’ sensitivity towards breaking with tradition and being aware that innovation in art is about recurrently renegotiating what art is. I have highlighted previously in this chapter how media art students break with the repertoire of tradition that HGB stands for and how this leads to a distancing from the scene local to Leipzig, and instead how they engage in the Berlin scene. Alongside the establishing of a commercial art market infrastructure dominated by a few successful names and galleries was the arrival of an artist-led scene in Lindenau and Plagwitz in 2005/2006, partly propelled by students of HGB, for example, Graduate L13 who now makes his experience part of the teaching at HGB and those who came to Leipzig from other art schools such as Dresden’s Academy or Weimar’s Bauhaus University. For the HGB, off-spaces function as ‘experimental spaces in a transitional stage, in which the scene could reproduce’ (Media Art Student L17). This means there is a certain time in an artist’s career, and particularly during the time at art school, in which showing in off-spaces is considered key to developing work and an audience. As students leave the school, they often have an ambition to limit their engagement with off-spaces and instead either seek gallery representation or look for public institutions to show their work. Depending on their practice this is not always possible in Leipzig.


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Figure 8.2  Spinnerei artist quarter in Plagwitz, West Leipzig Copyright: Thomas Riese

Graduate L19 described how prior to the mid-2000s there was very little opportunity for students and graduates to show work outside of the school. He illustrates how the two main artist-led spaces, ‘Kunstraum B2’ and ‘Laden für Nichts’, were the main spaces in which the scene met. After the main commercial galleries, previously located in the centre of Leipzig, moved to Spinnerei in 2005, a wave of artist-led activity took over the neighbourhoods of Lindenau and Plagwitz. He recalls how the scene has become fragmented and perhaps oversaturated with the multiplicity of off-spaces. He also notes how this can lead to the development of particular groups of audiences in which feedback is limited to the group’s personal interest. Everyone has the courage to open their own space to show. They drive the level of competition. . . . But although you invest a lot of energy, feedback might be limited as it is hard to reach an audience beyond your peers and friends. (Media Art Graduate L19). There are many project spaces where certain interest groups and mininetworks help themselves and produce for themselves. I thought for myself should this not be the HGB’s function? The institution is still very important as it holds the threads together and makes connections. Where are the central places where we all can meet and exchange? Where everyone knows that there’s a private view because everyone goes. There are less and less spaces which are not so fragmented. The school is starved out by autonomy. (Professor L8)

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The splitting into ever-smaller interest groups can mean not only the scene diversifies around different artistic positions as practice but also how it becomes more fragmented with barriers, which are used to express antipositions and defensive notions of autonomy. Lecturer L8 felt this undermines the role of the art school, acting as interface in a landscape of practice, and therefore as place of negation between practices. While Curator L111 characterised off-space activities to exhibit a ‘great deal of solidarity’ as the basis of running them, these ideals suggest being gate-kept within small interest groups, which contradicts many of the emancipatory goals of artists to be open and tolerant. The off-space scene is also criticised by those who favour the art market as career choice as they are by some considered to be linked with the subcultural scene that is primarily active in house occupations and a culture of protest (Painting Graduate L110). For example, in the previous chapter, I noted how Professor L8 resents students becoming too politically involved as this stretches the conventions of art and was considered a form of instrumentalisation. Curator L111 sees the preoccupation of artists with house projects as ‘frustrating lefty existence’ in which political and ideological engagement takes over someone’s artistic ambition as these activities are highly timeconsuming and in many respects organisational rather than artistic. He also perceived how people can get stuck in running the same space as they are preoccupied with its running and less aware of other opportunities elsewhere in Leipzig or beyond. The aspect of setting priorities and focusing on artistic practice was also a reason why Media Art Graduate L5 distanced herself from the political aspect that is part of many off-spaces. I have to say, I was restricted in my engagement with off-spaces as a single mother. Especially those kinds of spaces where you make a lot of direct democratic decisions. All the communication and the political was nerve-racking for me. But I wanted to act artistically and for the political side I had no time. On the one side there is the artistic work, and on the other you can think about how to sustain this, that the rents stay low. (Media Art Graduate L5)

The graduate’s statement culminates in a setting of boundaries between the artistic practice itself and political engagement surrounding it to sustain the preferable conditions currently found in Leipzig. While the viewpoint of artists affiliated with off-spaces is that the market is not experimental enough (Media Art Graduate L104), art market-oriented artists consider work presented in off-spaces as ‘unfinished and premature’ (Media Art Graduate L12). Painting Graduate 110 illustrates this by how he is often ‘greeted by photo snippet collages’, which are quick to produce and to hang. While it was considered how the time at art school is the right


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framework for being involved with off-spaces, the time after graduation was considered as opportunity to position yourself either with the art market or with public institutions to be recognised as a professional artist. In this sense professional development is a trajectory through which artists transition from the scene identified with off-spaces to that associated with the art market. To put this into perspective, not many achieve this step in their career. Many of the respondents work part-time besides conducting a practice, which Media Art Graduate L10 reasons as a way to keep art autonomous. This is an aspect that Gerber and Childress (2017) emphasised in their paper on artist teachers. Some who work part-time do this in the art world or creative industries through which they have opportunities to meet curators or critics who could be interested in their work. Only two out of twenty-eight artists included in this sample were able to live exclusively from their practice, and they were all located and represented at Spinnerei. Apart from, of course, the four professors and two associates I interviewed who earn a living through teaching paired with maintaining a practice. The Saxon government with its foundation Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen is particularly generous in supporting contemporary artists through practice scholarships and residencies, as the ratio between artists and scholarships is more balanced compared to other federal states. A member of staff at the Support Bureau (L11) at HGB detailed how this is a reason for artists to keep their base in Leipzig, as they are aware of these opportunities and have received funding in the past. In contrast to this, Media Art Graduate L14 who lives in Berlin sees herself confronted with ‘abandoning art’ for a period of time, as she is able to support herself through proofreading and editing jobs, which has become a more meaningful activity than the search for recognition as an artist through public art organisation and the art market. The same accounts for those cases as reported by Lecturer L117 who evaluated how many of his fellow graduates went on to become schoolteachers and were not at all involved with artistic practice anymore. The different scenes I encountered and which I understand as communities of practice have no relevance anymore to those who have abandoned art for other career pathways. I have outlined how there are different communities of practice emerging from not only the artistic but also cultural practices their members engage in, which can be considered as different art scenes: (a) The scene associated with off-spaces and media art and (b) the scene linked to painting and the art market. Taking them together portrays an aggregate art scene, which can best be conceptualised within the framework of landscapes of practice. It remains open to answer the question how this scene is particularly related to Leipzig as location and its art school as locale. The market-dominated cluster is located at the Spinnerei quarter in Plagwitz around which the off-space scene developed, while the school by

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definition of its building is not spatially linked with the externalised art scene as it is located close to the city centre. Although there are fragmentations between the scene that is dominated by the market and the one by off-spaces, they were until recently located in the same neighbourhoods of the city, Plagwitz and Lindenau. This is changing as spaces are opening in the East of the city where regeneration is taking place, while Plagwitz and Lindenau have now been developed. A spatial link between the school being somewhere and a scene developing seems arbitrary on the basis of the above observations. In contrast, I will consider here how a Leipzig scene can also exist beyond the geographical boundary of Leipzig, as, for example, Professor L8 reflects on how he meets with his students and graduates in Berlin. Leipzig seems to be a reference point there. This is put into stark contrast with those who are part of the scene that is tied with HGB’s traditional repertoire and the art market. In my experience people look towards Berlin. For painting the connection with being here is still tight. All the students of Rauch are rooted here and work here, at Spinnerei mostly. They made it, but others move away. Leipzig does remain a point of reference amongst them in Berlin, however. They meet in a similar constellation. (Media Art Student L17)

By observing how a scene that meets in Berlin still is connected with and identifies itself through Leipzig as location, it suggests how landscapes of practice are stretched across places. The meaning of place may be detached from its physical location in this case and instead becomes meaningful in context of an imaginary landscape related to the formation of communities of practice. The affiliation as a Leipzig art scene is, of course, relevant through physical location of its emergence but becomes important as a spatial imaginary based on Leipzig internal biographies, practices and activities the graduates take with them, or perhaps export. While the art school becomes the place from which communities of practice emerge, and which are recurrently regenerated by the admission of new students, when they graduate the notion of a Leipzig art scene is not just contained in Leipzig but is also carried beyond the physical location of the school. This underlines how art scenes, understood as landscapes of practice, are fluid, multilayered and have various boundaries. It was highlighted in both of the Leipzig chapters how important artistic positions are in forming such landscapes and how artists develop spatial relations on their basis. 8.4. SUMMARY The experiences between painters and media art students do not just vary in terms of how they use place for their practice and how place becomes


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meaningful through this process, but it also differentiates in location choices. While painters are tied closer geographically to Leipzig because of a local repertoire and success with an art market defined by this, media art graduates tend to look beyond Leipzig as their practices seem to be more accepted in Berlin, or other individually relevant cities. Leipzig artists benefit from local reputation and value chains, because a painter’s rootedness is an aspect of success, instead of gaining this through global exposure and travel (Relyea 2013; Velthuis 2013). It became clear how the positive values of Leipzig’s spatial relations could be best understood through external place influences and in relation to artistic practice, which puts a spotlight on the internal conditions that make Leipzig so productive. In Manchester this externalised view was also important to highlight its status as a place of artistic production more so than consumption, whereas in Leipzig sense of place goes hand in hand with a mythicisation of a city that carries symbolic weight from its unique historical position after reunification. Similarly as with London’s role for the Manchester case, Berlin was mentioned recurrently as reference of a higher hierarchy art world city. Some media art students already moved there during their studies, driven away by the internal influences that make Leipzig so attractive for others. Because of the relevance of a discussion of places beyond Leipzig where graduates are active, the chapter concluded with a spatial understanding of an art scene that may not necessarily be linked to a physical location, but to people who are or were at some point linked to Leipzig and the HGB. This furthers the spatial understanding of art scenes, which were place-internally fragmented in Manchester and temporal due to the fact that involvement in the art school scene has a strict cut-off point with graduation. The Leipzig case has demonstrated how art scenes are fluid and interconnected, which is also attributable to a higher education system that allows students certain temporal and spatial freedoms. This is why an understanding of nodal scenes emerged, where practice seems to hold communities together more so than location.

Chapter 9

Comparative analysis and conclusion

While the previous chapters focused on case-internal findings, this concluding chapter first analyses both cases through a comparative angle by introducing a number of key dimensions of analysis, which leads to a broadening of understanding of each of the cases significant for the topic. Second, it establishes a concluding frame linking the overall findings back to theory and subject-specific literature. This is achieved first through highlighting how the research provided answers to the original research questions as well as detailing what unexpected and new perspectives emerged from this study. Analysing this through the lens of the theoretical framework, I will be able to illustrate how this research provides a spatial perspective on the practices and systems of production of contemporary art emerging from art schools. This is followed by articulating the significance of this research on further levels, starting with a regional development perspective on Manchester and Leipzig and culminating with policy recommendations based on the findings. I will outline some of the project’s limitations to portrait what this book has achieved and identify opportunities for further research on this topic. 9.1. COMPARATIVE DIMENSIONS: TIME, SPACE AND CURRICULUM One important differentiation factor that I will introduce is the national context of higher education as this has an important impact on the organisation of art schools and the experiences this shapes for students. The relevant background to this was already outlined in chapter 4, establishing how the British higher education system is being privatised with students taking the burden of personal debt, while the German is publicly funded without 151


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financial contribution from the student. In this chapter I want to draw on these important differences to point out how sense of place and spatial relations of art students/graduates manifest themselves differently because of these contrasting contexts. This will establish additional perspectives on the previous case-internal findings through a relational reading of the cases. This to some extent aligns with the theoretical approach of portraying a place through another to identify a case’s uniqueness. It also comments on Robinson’s (2005) approach towards comparative urbanism based on linking similar processes across the cities rather than making those conditioned to comparative urban form and spatial relations. Within this there are possible connections that I will identify between Manchester and Leipzig through which this comparative exercise provides additional research angles. I will start with considering the factor of duration of study as part of how the national higher education system impacts students’ experience. This determines different spatial relations, which I will articulate through the capacity for students to bond with place, including its communities of practice and established infrastructure. Furthermore, this is underlined by the narrative around affordability of space as part of the local urban situation, which is portrayed differently because of local and national economic systems. Teaching familiarises students with self-organised activities in urban spaces; however, there are contradictory outcomes in terms of their political engagement and sustainable artist-led activity. Following this, the spotlight will be on the two very different art school profiles and what this means for attraction and retention of students and graduates in a place. It will also outline how the emphasis on the ‘local’ may in fact be a reactionary way of pointing out the value of place in the art world. Study time frame and bonding with place The fee-based system at Manchester School of Art standardises and effectively restricts the time of an education by setting a number of three years after which students graduate with a BA in fine art. This signals that although students are protected during those years in education, the cutoff point at graduation releases them into a world of uncertainty, arguably prematurely as the students are very young (usually in their early twenties) to be released into the art world. Manchester students feel the immediate pressure of earning money after leaving art school, which was considered a class issue. The majority of the students incurred large debts to cover tuition fees and maintenance. The pressure of paying for living expenses kicks in after graduation with the end of loan payments. Some students even decided to move back to their parents to give themselves more time to consider their career options.

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Students and graduates at the school, however, did not express how the £9,000 fees per annum and monetary pressure was a downside as such. I observed how they wanted to retain an image of the artist who is, as a matter of his or her autonomy, not interested in money. This was illustrated by asking the below student whether the £9000 fee per year has tainted his art school experience: I think in a way it is totally irrelevant. It’s just pretend money for a degree. It is not, but . . . I feel like what you get for it isn’t a school or a piece of paper, which you do in other courses. You set a lot of self-goals. You come out a lot more confident, make work and know how to analyse that and take that to other places. It is a way you think and create something. It is ridiculous £9,000. I don’t think art schools should charge that much. It is just a random number. (Painting Graduate M2)

The value of the degree for this student was within the narrative of becoming more ‘streetwise’ and independent as well as learning how this could be transferred to various living situations and places. However, behind this façade of acceptance was a slight confusion regarding the costs for a nonstructured and studio-based education, which was not addressed further as line of criticism. Manchester graduates quickly after leaving the school have to look for other career paths to earn money, which was suggested by how the number of those pursuing an artist website decreased the longer they were out of art school. The BA in fine art can be considered as shortcut of an experience of becoming artists, yet it arguably cannot replace an experience of becoming an artist, which can take a lifetime (Baldessari and Craig-Martin 2009). This poses the question how a degree or certificate can authorise an artist, which perhaps signals unrealistic hopes and aspirations in the students and can portray a wrong picture of the art world (Chicago 2014). In Manchester this experience of becoming artists is substantially shortened by means of standardisation of education with a strict cut-off point, leaving a disjoint between what can be coined as ‘art school experience’ and artistic development in the art scenes. This could be one reason for explaining the segregation between the school and the external scene, which was not always visible or accessible to students as their activities evolved mostly around the communities engaged in the curriculum. Although the curriculum emphasised self-organisation as a means of sustaining practice, this could in many cases not be continued in an equally focused way after leaving the school due to immediate restrictions of resources. A financialised education model with a set time frame as delivered in the United Kingdom, or in the United States, for example, does not provide the flexibility to accommodate certain aspects of artistic development that


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take time, for example, the setting up of infrastructures or communities that cross the boundaries of the school towards the external scene. This, according to many of my respondents from Leipzig, should be flexible to meet the needs of the duration of study, as much as it is currently flexible for the use of media and concepts in a pluralistic fine art education. In terms of spatial relations of artists, the higher education system and with it its temporal dimension may limit or foster the development of a local art scene beyond the school. This can be illustrated best by looking at the Leipzig case in comparison, where students transition out of art school slowly and having developed livelihoods before they graduate. The advantage that Leipzig has, of course, is the openness of a city that has been recovering (at least until very recently) from a period of shrinkage due to German Reunification, with some of the cheapest rents for a city of its size in Germany (Lange et al. 2008). As I will emphasise in the next section, the flexible duration of study is a significant factor that contributes to an artists’ development in a specific place. This is because art students in Germany are freed from the financial burden of tuition fees and therefore they have freedoms the Manchester students do not have. With the flexibility of studying longer than the necessary five years to complete the diploma at Leipzig Academy, the need for individual artist development over time is taken into account. Professors actively encourage investing time for the study of art to solidify the students’ work, although there are pressures from the state education authorities to minimise the costs incurred by those students. From the certainty about artistic practice that develops during the five years on the diploma comes a sense of place, which is understood as a factor that facilitates bonding with place. This emerges due to slowly establishing networks, infrastructure being set up (e.g., workshops, studios, artist-led spaces) and shared meanings being formed that are connected with a specific place where artists and other art world actors co-locate. I have outlined how this is particularly so with painters, who associate more strongly with Leipzig than media art students/graduates, although they engage less directly with physical space and activities in the city than those studying media art. In my area (media art) it is not so important that you brand yourself as Leipzigbased. It is always good to mention that you studied at HGB, because everyone can recognise where you’re from. But with installation art I have the feeling this is not as crucial. I think with the painters the recognition is much stronger when you say you attended the Leipzig school. (Media Art Graduate L12)

Having a firm understanding of one’s practice, as nurtured through the studies at HGB, can lead to identification with places where this type of practice is

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most supported, for example, as was highlighted with the focus on painting in Leipzig and students/graduates of media art navigating to Berlin. The understanding of place in accommodating certain practices is not a static process but it is about conversations that develop with artists, lecturers and critics engaging at art school and the art scene(s). The temporal dimension as conditioned by two very different higher education systems has a crucial impact on embedding artists in a specific place and lets them develop roots. This was evident especially in the Leipzig case, where the extended length of the course was understood as a crucial reason why the artist is embedded in that place or learned to understand which other places would cater for him/her. Although the students in Manchester learned about the role of place in facilitating their practice, the same place attachment dynamic was not observed. Graduates were ambiguous about their location choice at the same time as still being explorative about their practice and career paths, which also alludes to the aspect of how students were much younger with an entry into the degree at eighteen to twenty years of age. This contrasts with graduates in Leipzig who are older, including many mature students whose conscience was clearly formed, first around their practice and second the places that would support what they wanted to do. The national higher education context does not just shape the curriculum at art school but also has an impact on the relationships between artists and place. It suggests that the more time an art student spends in a place to study art the more it can solidify not just their artistic position but also their sense of place and therefore spatial relations. It could also be argued the shorter time frame that Manchester students spend time in the city drives them out into the art world as they have less in-depth bonds with a specific place, which is beneficial on the level of exchange between places and the development of weak ties. In contrast to this, the Leipzig scene was by some respondents considered as a selfcontained microcosm because of its steady and slow development, which does not have enough external (weak) ties to foster innovation and critical perspectives (Modes 2007). A Leipzig graduate who recently studied in London considered the length of the Leipzig Academy diploma too long and slow for him to be productive, hence seeking a much faster-paced environment of learning. These examples highlight how the processes I have outlined are relative and constructed through the world view of individuals whose practices suggest being the lens through which they understand the art world and its spatial relations. Urban space as extended learning environment As much as the aspect of time is crucial for students studying art in a specific place, the urban condition and aspects of affordability of physical space (for


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production and exhibition as well as for living) play an important role in retention of art students after graduation. Although this research has revealed how learning and practice are crucial in the emergence of sense of place, the factor of the urban environment and landscape plays an important dialogical role. Although both cities have a large student population, it was suggested by Mace et al. (2004) how retention of young people is crucial to outweigh population losses. They point to a range of job opportunities to ensure this. Art scenes can be considered as such fields of opportunity in the art world, although they are not strictly manifesting themselves through jobs in an economic understanding of a labour market. More so than through local labour market processes, the prerequisite of artists being retained in a place depends on access to affordable space and urban conditions that are preferable to artistic production. In previous chapters, I have outlined how students use place through artist spaces external to the art school for developing an exhibition practice and also how they establish studio spaces either already at the time at art school or after graduation. For example, in Manchester there were many accounts of students using temporary spaces in mills and warehouses to put on group shows in connection with some of the assessment criteria of their course. These then functioned as experimental settings and also as social events, where students and graduates across different cohorts got together. The lecturers invited external teaching staff to develop projects with the students, which challenged the conventional sense of showing work and made the students familiar with being responsive to a diversity of exhibiting sites, especially those not naturally associated with art. Setting work in unusual exhibition spaces helped the students to identify how the art school serves certain conventions that are only challenged by the students leaving the art school building and exploring what opportunities are beyond what they already know. At Manchester beyond the degree, there was little evidence of how selforganised activity was continued, which the students had trialled during their modules. There were a number of graduates who struggled to find spaces that provided them with permanent production space after graduation. Those who managed to secure spaces faced difficulties in maintaining these, as they frequently had to move studios or were about to be displaced from the current building due to redevelopment. Therefore, their practices became nomadic or even immaterial, which was suggested by the development of digital practices as a response to their minimalist or non-existent production spaces. ‘It used to be easy even 5 years ago in Manchester to find a space to use for free. It’s becoming really difficult and I think it is problematic that they can’t do that’ (Lecturer M18). The arrival of Manchester Art Directory

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in 2016 suggests how there is much more artist-led activity initiated by students and graduates than could possibly be accounted for in this research. This includes announcements of private views, temporary spaces popping up and new studios advertising their affordable spaces, suggesting the artist-led scene is steady or even growing. However, there are also regular news stories of closure of spaces due to redevelopment, which underlines the temporary and nomadic character of the scene. In the Leipzig case, setting up exhibition spaces evolved much more independently from the course. The students were quickly absorbed in the artistled scene that emerged in Lindenau and Plagwitz since 2005, which through its diversity of temporary and permanent spaces provided an experimental platform that offered a spatial extension of the art school environment and also an opportunity to break from its traditions. This culminated in the development of artist-led spaces, of which some have been running for over ten years, for example, on the basis of having negotiated free-rent deals. In the mid-2000s, many of the artist-led spaces in Lindenau operated on the basis of those kinds of arrangements but many of them closed when rents were imposed as part of an uplifted environment. These spaces were considered an important platform for a student audience and were also seen as spaces that artists grow out of with graduation. This, for example, is the case of graduates who do not feel their practices are supported in Leipzig and who cannot break the glass ceiling by being engaged in artist-led activity. In their case affordable space is beneficial for the time of study, while further opportunities may only be accessible elsewhere, for example, Berlin or in different kinds of institutions. I have exhibited extensively and in many off-spaces in Leipzig and Berlin. I wouldn’t do that anymore. It was good for a while to get into the scene. This led me to receive a stipend from the senate here in Berlin. But I also reached a point in Berlin where I need to make the next step, which would include being shown at a museum or Kunstverein. (Media Art Graduate L14)

Artist-led activities are exemplary for a city that has been re-urbanising slowly, which is why many considered this as ‘unique situation’. It was even suggested by one graduate from the Leipzig Academy how the question of survival did not even occur, as time and space were not necessarily tied to monetary gain. Some other respondents cast a different perspective by suggesting that recent growth in population numbers, which is expected to cross the 600,000 mark by 2019/20, will render this sense of place as ‘unique’. They question whether some of the subcultural practices can be economically viable, which is already suggested by the number of artist-led spaces reportedly dropping.


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The above examples highlight how looking outside of the art school is practised in both Manchester and Leipzig, either as part of the curriculum or spinning this off as independent activity from what the students learn at school. Therefore, the city was considered an important ‘extended learning environment’ (Media Art Graduate L13) as art is exhibited in spaces external to the school, with the same urban spaces also becoming the production environment and subject of some of the students’ work. In both cases, students directly relate aspects of their learning and emerging practices to how they understand place. Artistic practice can therefore be considered as not only a learning activity in the direct sense of learning about art but also part of the process of learning about, making meaning of and being accountable to place (Gruenewald 2003a). This research has shown the many facets by which art students develop direct engagements with place, in particular the urban, in which practiceinternal aspects determine the kinds of environments artists choose to work in. For example, painters require fairly permanent physical spaces, a traditional studio, whereas media art practices do not necessarily need the isolationist walls of the studio and work embedded in the urban environment to develop relational or situated practices. Others again have withdrawn from material aspects entirely and engage in digital practices, often also as a result of the conditions of limited space and frequent travel, which has been mostly the case in Manchester. Although artist-led/self-organised activity is hard to sustain in Manchester after graduation due to loss of affordable production space reported by many of my interviewees, art students and graduates are not directly engaged in the politics over space in Manchester. They address displacement as a major structural concern, however one over which they have no power. This contradicts the students’ interest in political issues during their studies, which they use as source for some of their work. This is especially the case for students who expressed interest in Manchester’s history with roots in socialism, activism and radical movements. This can reveal a potential disjoint between the confidence that comes from being within the secure art school environment in discussing these issues and the uncertain position in which graduates find themselves, where they struggle to apply their critical and self-organising skills. This may also relate to an aspect of how fine art courses in the United Kingdom generally emphasise professional development, where artists are prepared for success in the art market as one pathway of ‘survival’. Activist practices and political involvement matter to a lesser extent within the professional discourse, yet Lecturer M18 considers these as the source for making artists ‘streetwise’. The active political discourses take place much more concentrated within the external scene, such as through studio providers who recurrently have

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to protect their permanence and therefore have to negotiate with the city council. For example, Islington Mill is engaged in setting up an Artist Land Trust in Salford to protect the area from being redeveloped for commercial use. The Leipzig case presents a very different picture, where political engagement can be very strong among some groups of students, which is not always welcome by lecturers who consider this as non-artistic activity. Of course, also in Leipzig artist-led spaces are at risk of closure or relocation, for example, recently with the temporary closure of a major size artist-led space called ‘Westpol Project Space’, which could not establish a financing model on the basis of now needing to pay rent and its reopening in 2019 near Spinnerei. A number of the respondents noted how they were part of house projects through which they withdrew production and living space from the market, while some others set up community projects. These external activities were in many ways even more aspirational (especially for media art students) than staying within the art school’s institutional context, which was understood as ivory tower that sided with the art market. Moreover, because it was considered how Leipzig only has a small market, it is necessary to organise alternative networks and opportunities, which contrary to Manchester provide viable routes for staying in the field of contemporary art for graduates. This is because Leipzig has developed a subculture that engages in alternative economies, which was discussed in detail on the radio broadcast by Raabe and Waltz (2014), in which politically engaged artists are to some extent part of and find meaningful ways of sustaining their practice without monetary reward. Art school curricula and shared repertoires Time (duration of study) and space (for production and circulation of art) as comparative factors are important to illustrate how economic and societal contexts of place determine how artists engage with and develop a sense of place. In this section, I will add how the schools’ specialism as part of the curriculum is another dimension of analysis that triangulates with time and space. Both institutions and fine art courses have fundamentally different curricula as a result of their local institutional but also national contexts, as set out in chapter 4. This has an important impact on how much capacity there is in a place to sustain specific artistic activities. The case of Leipzig has shown how a non-monetised format of education meant more freedom for the graduates to extend their study as well as to transition out of their course while having established livelihoods, while the Manchester course may be more of a stepping stone for students to gain further experience in other art world places.


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The courses also differ in the aspects of how art is conceived and taught. UK-based fine art courses are pluralistic and, in most cases, non-mediaspecific, whereas Leipzig Academy distinguishes itself from its national and international counterparts through a focus on skills and distinct classes where different media and concepts are taught. The emphasis on studying with a specific professor meant students came to Leipzig because they identify with a specific practice of the professors teaching there. Already at the stage of the application, practice is a factor that determines what kind of students will come to study in Leipzig. We have 4 classes in each discipline. They are more or less distinguishable in each class, for example the figurative classes of Lecturers a) and b). Localisation with professors means localisation with a city, people who are interested in working in a certain way. (Painting Graduate L2)

This suggests how from an early stage of the studies some students are very committed to the art school’s specialism through their professor. My initial interest in this research developed on the basis of questioning how a specialism of an art school can be beneficial for the development of schools of art and local art scenes (see chapter 2). While this is proven to be the case with Leipzig’s painters as well as some graduates who become part of a scene engaged in off-spaces, more analysis of this is required in relation to how this plays out in the Manchester case. Modes (2007) details the emergence of New Leipzig School and with it a scene of successful painters through Leipzig Academy as an ensemble of social relations with a continuity of teaching staff that ensured the school retained its skill-based teaching through the two-year Grundkurs. For example, the graduates of specific professors are in many cases employed to become teaching assistants and later on professors themselves, which means certain elements of teaching are translated across generations. This has led to representational painting reemerging, which until today remains what the school is known for externally, although it was considered internally as one of the ‘most boring’ (Media Art Graduate L19) departments at the school. Modes (2007) adds a spatial context to this slow process of emergence by suggesting how Leipzig is a microcosm in which distance and with it critique is not always possible or even desired. This underlines how for painters, specifically, Leipzig provides potentially a sufficient realm of action to sustain their interests and practices. This is because they have their community, infrastructure and shared histories tied to place. Certain gallerists, of course, were instrumental in topping up what emerged from the art school, marketing the newness of art from the former East Germany, which was also discussed in Modes’ thesis.

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On the other side, those who exercise critique of this scene may feel excluded, that is, those studying media art. Their subject-specific interests are much wider than the materially bound and skill-based painting discourse at the school and their engagement can often be anti-institutional in a sense of breaking with the school’s tradition. Because of how their practices are not necessarily understood in the local context they navigate to other places such as Berlin or in many cases establish alternative platforms, which is manifested in the active off-space scene. This exemplifies how the art scenes boundaries become spatialised through practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). The learning environment at HGB is a setting in which ongoing traditions of practice have produced a specifically local repertoire, in particular the one around skill-based education and figurative painting. Learning skills and techniques such as drawing still matter for artists at HGB, even for those not directly engaged with painting. This is contrary to notions of deskilling emergent from West German academies and AngloSaxon art schools, as it builds a basis for new artistic qualities to be developed. Many other art schools of comparable academic standing and size do not offer any training in skills and techniques, which was considered by lecturers at Leipzig Academy as problematic in the context of developing solid artistic positions. Furthermore, some of the graduates who removed themselves from their original aim of becoming a successful painter highlighted how despite engaging in media art practices they have attained the skills to paint portraits with which they can earn a living. On the other hand, breaking with tradition was partly the reason why especially the media art students engaged with the artist-led scene external to the school, as they found painting and the art market as destination for success limited to their conception of being an artist. This can reveal how learning also allowed for an alternative scene to emerge, in which a practice that distinguishes itself from another has shaped a community of practice. Therefore, the New Leipzig School does not just feed the scene in which painters operate but has also an impact on the scene that sits in opposition to it. In contrast to this and although Manchester has a long tradition as an art school founded on the basis of industrialisation, there is no specific ‘school of art’ such as New Leipzig School. This is why it is important to juxtapose the two cases here, to understand a possible repertoire of Manchester School of Art: In the last 5 years we’ve had a new group of staff including myself who all have been working here for short space of time. We’ve changed the ethos of the art school in relation to Fine Art. We now no longer have a very strict subjectspecialist approach. Like I said before it was a school of Lyrical Abstract Painting. It came from staff who realised that the education in Fine Art was changing


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especially in relation to new media and digital technologies. Fine Art didn’t really accommodate those new technologies. So a new course started called Interactive Arts, taking advantage of new media. (Lecturer M15)

The BA fine art course was not fully distinguishable from its UK equivalents except aspects related to student support and personable atmosphere, which the students frequently highlighted. Manchester School of Art has a few renowned graduates, among them most often recalled conceptual artist Ryan Gander, who graduated from the fine art sister course, which is the BA in interactive arts. The school is less lauded in the art world in comparison to Goldsmiths, which is known for the emergence of the YBAs. Although the above staff member claimed the school was important for having established a painting movement called ‘Lyrical Abstraction’ in the 1980s in response to the arrival of new media, other staff and students did not know about this, which is attributable to how there was no continuum of teaching staff on the course – and, therefore, less-defined pathways of shared histories of practice. This is common for the UK art school landscape where lecturers frequently change their place of work. UK fine art courses are taught in a pluralist way and so is the course at Manchester School of Art, which means they often have no media-specific or conceptual alignment such as through a professor’s influence as repertoire. This means how in juxtaposition with Leipzig Academy, which retained a local profile, shared histories of learning are less restricted to being in Manchester as location, because a similar art school experience could have been found while studying fine art somewhere else. This may explain how graduates are keen on exploring other places or networking beyond Manchester as they share a similar learning experience with graduates from other art schools. This articulates how a network like that of ‘School of the Damned’ becomes a suitable post-institutional environment in which graduates from art schools from all over the United Kingdom can continue to develop their practice, disregarding location. There is a notion among UK art school lecturers that the professor-student model of teaching is in fact outdated as it assumes how the practice of the professor has too much power over the development of artistic positions held by the students. Some staff are looking back at this model with nostalgia, recognising the potential of the Leipzig Academy to establish a local scene, which seemed very attractive to them. They even suggested how some painting students in Manchester are looking towards Leipzig as inspiration for their representational painting. The pluralistic model adopted in the UK should ideally accommodate the development of individual positions rather than certain recognisable local practices. In my observation, this is not as

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clean-cut as this criticism may suggest. Within the classes of each professor at Leipzig also a diversity of positions emerged, as much as at Manchester certain trends were determined by the way lecturers shared their personal interests with students. What however distinguishes the schools in the United Kingdom, and this may not necessarily be scripted in the curriculum, is the institutions’ informal capacity to nurture the social and symbolic dynamics highly relevant for shaping art scenes (Helguera 2012). The curriculum in Manchester engaged students in those social aspects and they quickly learned how being artists and positioning themselves in the art world is social. The differentiation of a profile of an art school as I detailed in this section has an important impact on the formation of local repertoires and communities of practice through which a specific place becomes relevant for artists. Leipzig Academy may have an advantage to retain students because of a clear local profile based on a traditional repertoire it has developed on the basis of histories of practice. This provides a security for those aligning themselves with this scene and having trained at the school. However, it may lead to less innovation and knowledge exchange, as the scene is restricted to what is known within its boundaries. In comparison, the Manchester graduates are required to look beyond Manchester to engage with artists with shared histories. While this may mean less capacity to retain artists in Manchester, it ensures that cross-regional influences are brought into the local art scene and how there is much more knowledge exchange as a result of this. 9.2. ART SCHOOLS AND PLACE: ANSWERING THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS It is important here to recall the research questions, which appeared in several places in this book to highlight first the context for this topic and second to underline the hierarchy of thought underpinning the findings. This research is underpinned by the following research questions: • How is learning at art school place-based? • How does this process condition artists’ sense of place and spatial relations? • How do art scenes emerge through learning and what is their relationship with place? These questions emerged solely from empirical data through a grounded theory approach, highlighting them as important themes within the participants’ world view and not the researcher’s predetermined interest.


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How is learning at art school place-based? The findings have exposed how the learning activities of art students at both art schools are place-based, despite this not being mentioned as emphasis of the overall course aims and objectives in fine art higher education. These activities have been outlined in chapters 5 and 7 through the range of placebased learning activities, which is a subjective view on art school education covering its content and where relevant specific pedagogies. Through responding to and interrogating recent developments in contemporary art with relational and spatial practices (Bourriaud 1998; Hawkins 2013), art schools have become platforms for engaging with place in ways that other place-based pedagogies do (Shannon and Galle 2017), highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of art (Hawkins 2013). In chapter 3, I have introduced some of these developments of art since the 1960s. How these fed into today’s pluralistic art school curriculum was debated in the volumes edited by Madoff (2009) and Buckley and Conomos (2009). However, the impact of certain spatial or relational modes of teaching on how artists develop relationships with the world around them was not further discussed in depth in these volumes, which is why the narrative of art school as place-based education contributes to fill this knowledge gap through this book. I have also presented a case with the Leipzig Academy in which a local tradition of artistic practice is interwoven with place, although contradictory to what we may have expected less so directed through place-based pedagogies and experiences. This is primarily attributable to the painterly practices, which are studio-based and not taught in a relational and spatial way. Instead, local histories of practice are a way of nurturing belonging in communities of practice. For those engaged in expanded practices, the city has been understood as ‘extended learning environment’ (L13) of the art school. This embeds aspects of expanded practices into the curriculum through modules that engage with the city and geographical modes of practice (Hawkins 2011), including using spaces in the city for exhibitions and artist-led activities. Most importantly, the school provides a setting in which art students learn about self-organising and with it the notion that social responsibility and urban engagements can inform autonomy of art. These artist-led activities, mostly in temporary spaces external to the art school, serve the students with exhibition space as well as being temporary sites of production. I have articulated how learning about artistic production and exhibiting develops out of the art school studio and its internal exhibition spaces; however, external spaces are necessary to test ideas and contextualise artists’ work beyond the institutional frame, which contributes to innovation in fine art. This is how place becomes drawn into the learning process, as

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those elements of learning can only be experienced in external spaces. This highlights the importance of understanding art school education also as placebased education. By being embedded in the urban landscape, some of the students and graduates engage with aspects of gentrification and politics over the use of space. Although they are not as directly exposed to dynamics of displacement while being ‘protected’ by the art school environment, they are encouraged by some lecturers (e.g., L3 and M14) to reflect on their role in urban change as competing users of space. There are selected students from both cases who made work in response to politics between space and art (Deutsche 1996), or who worked with local communities as subject or method of their work. This highlights how the art school is a seedbed not just for artistic practice but also for critical engagement with art in relation to existing power structures influencing the urban situation, which is one of the principles of place-based education as critical pedagogy (Gruenewald 2003b). For students in the Leipzig case the choice to conduct artist-led activity during their time at art school was based on gaining autonomy from the institutional environment of the school, which was not the case for Manchester students. Leipzig’s art students and graduates illustrated this through expressing a discrepancy of knowledge dissemination between activities ‘in the scene’, with which they refer to off-spaces, and what is taught at art school. This can be traced back to different notions of autonomy of art (Haskins 1990) and how art schools adapt this in their curriculum and institutional culture. The notion of autonomy of art within the institutional context of Leipzig is closely related to art free from any form of instrumentalisation, even of relational capacity, which is criticised as potentially political or fulfils a primary social function. It is however exactly this relational capacity (Bourriaud 1998) that some of the students see as the real value of autonomous art. Beyond the students’ engagement in self-organised activities and artist-led spaces, both cases have revealed how place influences the work made at art school and beyond. This is through place characteristics and the urban landscape influencing artists’ emotional capacity to make work, but most commonly how a specific place is used as subject and material for artists’ work and practices. I have detailed how the urban environment surrounding the studio of a painter, such as in the case of selected painting graduates in Leipzig, can influence a certain style of painting and a continuity of practice. This builds on the notion that there is a world outside of the studio which influences studio-based work (Buren and Repensek 1979; Myers 2011), which means how also the world outside the art school is highly relevant to an art student’s practice. This does not necessarily mean influences that mirror the urban landscape but rather conveying a specific feeling that they connect with being in a place. Some of the painters in Leipzig argued the experience of the


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environment surrounding the studio is of foremost importance for stimulation of the studio-based work. This is a process that starts at art school, where the appropriation of place as a unique setting to paint is experienced and learned. Citing the artists who are identified by critics as belonging to New Leipzig School can best highlight a social and symbolic setting in which Leipzig maintains a mythicised notion and which has contributed to an increased desire for art from the city (Helguera 2012). This is because place becomes strongly identified with a specific way of painting and the community of practice (Wenger 1998) that surrounds this. The qualities of this mythicised environment are constructed by individual members of the community and can include certain characteristics of the built environment and being born in a place (e.g., L9 and L110), or being surrounded by a network of people engaged in a similar practice (e.g., L6 and L2). These characteristics underpin what Velthuis (2013) identified as local trust relationships with galleries and curators. This leads to an expression of strong bonds with place, so much so that living in other places is ruled out. A comparable scenario could not be identified in Manchester, which through a pluralistic curriculum and non-continuity of teaching lacks a location-specific profile. This however does not mean a limitation, as its potential for outward looking both in terms of new practices and places can lead to innovation. On the other hand, those engaged in relational and spatial practices in both cases have outlined how they use the city as material or subject, for example, recording the city’s sound (Leipzig case) or making work in response to a specific place history (Manchester case). They have to a lesser extent built their practice around the need for emotional alignment with a specific place as a setting for their production but can transfer their practice to other places as a method. This is a requirement for site-specific work, which by nature explores different sites that are in most cases not all in one place. Hawkins (2013, 62) refers to these kind of artistic activities as ‘urban engagements’, following a conception of place as ‘sensuous environment’ within which artists develop and situate their practices. These approaches to conducting a relational and spatial (situated) practice were taught in specific one-off modules at both art schools, which were initiated by lecturers with a specific interest in place and artist-led activity. This was aimed at raising artists’ awareness of the possibilities of contemporary art, beyond traditional notions of subject matter, material and setting of production and exhibition. Key to understanding art school education as place-based education, following Gruenewald’s (Gruenewald 2003a) conception, are the following aspects in summary: • The curriculum offers some taught modules engaging the emerging artists in an intersubjective understanding between art and place, for example, through familiarising the students with aspects of geography and

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geographical methods, which they apply through expanded practices in the urban realm as sensuous environment. • Place is an extended learning environment, in which the city becomes a pedagogue, not just for learning how to use the city as setting for production and circulation but also as subject and material for practice. • Through engaging with and transforming place as part of self-organised activities learned at art school, new practice-specific meaning of place is created and existing power relations, for example, regarding ownership of space, are made visible. Through this, art school education becomes accountable to place. • Practice matters and determines how artists learn about and engage with place, which is either directed through place-based learning (relational and spatial practices) or on an emotional level of belonging, identifying their practice and community of practice with place. How does learning at a specific art school influence artists’ sense of place and spatial relations? Artists develop a sense of place through the meaning they weave into place as part of their learning and practice, which is a process I addressed in answering the previous question. These activities can be considered as the ‘place-related affairs’ or ‘forms of belonging’, for example, to a community of practice (Wenger 1998) as Agnew (2011, 327) points out. How different practices develop meaning of place needs to be distinguished. For the case of painters in Leipzig, I have shown in the last section how their practice is strongly associated with Leipzig on an emotional level of belonging to a community of practice and how they therefore have strong bonds with the city. This results in spatial relations of place attachment, which require proximity of artists to the place where they have ‘learned painting’ (L2) and where they have set up their infrastructure and network. Although these painters have to a limited extent engaged in activities associated with place-based learning as painting is traditionally studio-based, it is the importance of place which provides the right practice environment and in some instances the urban landscape which makes them particularly attached to Leipzig. However, here it is crucial to underline the importance of understanding the community of practice (CoP) (Wenger 1998) associated with painting in Leipzig as source for place attachment. I noted how the continuity of teaching painting has led to the manifestation of a CoP that defines its barriers through a specific shared repertoire and engaging in shared histories of practice. These histories emerged from being at art school and were identified with the specific practice profile, in this case figurative painting. This CoP arguably


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remains local because its barriers are not easily negotiable, as critique and distance are not necessarily needed or even welcome (Modes 2007). It is interesting here to highlight painting as a practice that does not directly engage with place as material and subject and how, despite this, painters in Leipzig gain a particularly strong sense of place and spatial relations of place attachment. This is because they consider the art school in connection with a specific place in which they learned to operate in a specific way. They see this as a repertoire they identify with and need to be part of to continue their practice. This is also further strengthened by the need for painters to have a permanent studio space, which requires preferable urban conditions that Leipzig can currently provide. Because Leipzig has the unique case of having established a market for painters, the need to move away for those who are in this network is less pronounced, which highlights again why practice matters in the discussion of spatial relations. In contrast to this, those engaged in expanded practices that are relational and spatial at both case study schools have developed also a strong sense of place attained through their direct activities in place. The rich meaning of place they developed through their practice and self-organised activities, however, does not necessarily translate to place attachment as could be expected. Instead, there was a notion that having fully explored what one place offers increases their interest in exploring places beyond, where they imagine or could find new opportunities. This is because place-based learning taught them methods of working with place as material and subject for their artistic work (Hawkins 2013, 2015), which is not restricted to just one place. Through this can be inferred how increased meaning making of place through place-based learning should not be confused with reasons to retain artists. Contrarily, this may inspire art students to move to other places. Situated practices require new situations and places as source for their practice. Also, on a more practical level one place can also pose limitations in terms of careers, which is why some graduates (e.g., L12 and M2) navigate multiple places. Some respondents of both case studies have had access to multiple places simultaneously, either because they travel between them or have gained various place experiences by having lived in different places. This underlines the notion of a global sense of place (Massey 1991) in which artists conduct their practices and livelihoods between places, which suggests place attachment and mobility are not mutually exclusive. This is exemplified in the dialogical nature of place and space (Agnew 2011; Cresswell 2015; Harvey 2012) in which specificity of place can be determined in connection with external influences. The value of this way of thinking lies in how it does not dismiss questions of rootedness and instead asks what belonging means in a context of place in a multidimensional sense. This view also highlights a system of interconnected art world

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places (Sassen 2004), which was evident through students and graduates recurrently juxtaposing Manchester with London and Leipzig with Berlin. Opportunities and limitations of first studying and then leading an artistic career and livelihood were discussed not just through the lens of the place where the art school in question is located but most importantly through places beyond. These global perspectives can perhaps underline why Bourriaud (as analysed by Cunningham 2010) came to the conclusion that postmodernism has been superseded with Altermodernity. He puts a global lens on understanding contemporary art, an art that can be both local and global (Biggs 2001), and therefore highlights geographical dimensions as source for understanding art. The ability for emerging artists to travel imposes a power hierarchy (Massey 1991; Relyea 2013) as inequalities exist between art students/ graduates who can afford to travel and those locked out from this mobility opportunity. In the Leipzig case, travel did not matter as much for those involved in the inward-looking scene of painters or those artists working with local gallerists. For them the art world microcosm works internally and distance may not be needed to develop further or create opportunities (Modes 2007). Local gallerists acted as agents of wider geographical exposure and instead of the artist their work had the capacity to travel. This however may be at the expense of innovation in the local scene, as the internal system has too many barriers that are defined by shared histories based on practice (Wenger 1998). London and Berlin played an important role as higher hierarchy art world places, identified with a larger and more varied art market and access to a multiplicity of opportunities. The spatial relations of places, especially their size, density and economic relations to other national cities, played an important part in helping artists identifying not just where but also who they want to be. For example, Leipzig’s small size has been considered favourable in light of coming back from the buzz and speed of London, where some of the students at Leipzig Academy spent six months for their Erasmus exchange (e.g., L2 and L20). Those on exchange in London had to downsize their work as consequence of both the city and the art school offering less space. Leipzig and Manchester were considered valuable places for studying art, as their size, speed and economy contributed to an environment in which artistic experimentation was possible, whereas the same conditions presented some limitations after graduation, especially in Manchester which lacks a local art market or opportunities for alternative economies. This highlights how different art world functions are played out across places and how an understanding of this develops from going through art school. Furthermore, Leipzig has a practice-specific function, as it was seen as attractive place for painters because of its local school of art.


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What this research has not studied are the specific urban impacts of artists on processes such as gentrification (Cameron and Coaffee 2005; Deutsche and Ryan 1984; Harris 2012; Ley 2003; Markusen 2006b), as this was not the focus but an important context (or setting) for artistic practice. What I have illustrated instead through studying learning and artistic practices evolving from art school are the activities that artists conduct and how these shape artists’ sense of place. For example, this can explain dimensions of activism, autonomy and challenging power relations in the local urban landscape as part of critical pedagogy (Gruenewald 2003b). In summary it can be determined that learning at art school, which involves place-based education, conditions sense of place and artists’ spatial relations in the following ways: • Art students and graduates construct sense of place on the basis of learning and practice, which they either associate with place or use this as a method to conduct activities in various places as emergent through place-based learning. Here practice profiles have to be clearly distinguished in their capacity to shape spatial relations of artists between place attachment and mobility as an interconnected process. • Locally shared histories of practice (Wenger 1998) emergent from some art schools led to specific forms of place attachment, as practice becomes closely associated with place. This is the case of painters in Leipzig, although they do not engage with place-based activities as much as other artists engaged in relational and spatial practices. • Those engaged in expanded practices (relational and spatial) have detailed a specific investment in place through setting up artist-led spaces and developing practices on the basis of subject-specific or material-specific conditions of place. This intensified meaning making of place can, but does not necessarily, result in belonging exclusively to this place, that is, place attachment. It may in fact lead to an interest in exploring new places and opportunities. • Internal and external spatial relations of place play an important part in determining artists’ sense of place and their spatial relations, that is, place attachment and mobility. This is primarily aligned with opportunities and limitations emerging artists identify with developing a livelihood in a specific place. • However, in conclusion of all the above points, practice is of foremost importance, understanding it as source for sense of place and spatial relations of artists. This underlines the notion that an ‘array of phenomena’ linked to the art world rather than a ‘contingent spatial formation’ (Molotch and Treskon 2009, 536) is key to understanding spatial relations in the art world.

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How do art scenes emerge through learning and what is their relationship with place? I have previously referred to the concept of communities of practice (Wenger 1998) in the Leipzig case as a way to conceptualise how a specific practice repertoire can lead to place attachment. In contrast to this interpretation, it could be also argued that CoPs do not need to be held together by location, which is the case where graduates move elsewhere and when its community may develop new nodes (Amin and Roberts 2008). As the CoP concept is based on an environment in which learning is experienced in and conducted by practice, it mirrors the setting of the art school, which I intended to study as source for the emergence of art scenes. Formed through social and symbolic interaction (Helguera 2012), it is relevant to study art scenes as CoP with the help of art schools, as they present an evolutionary element through learning. Studying art scenes in conversation with artists’ sense of place is important, as this compliments an understanding of artists’ spatial relations beyond the criteria of place itself and through what can be referred to as landscapes of practice (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner 2014). This creates a case where belonging means to a community of practice, bounded by practice rather than location. Where practice is strongly associated with place, for example, through specific shared histories and repertoires connected with place, then this community’s boundary may also be determined through geographical boundaries. What practice means here is both in the broad sense of cultural practice and in the narrow sense a specific artistic practice. This allows for highlighting the importance of practice over the importance of place itself as determining process for artists’ spatial relations, which exemplifies why place needs to be understood from the angle of human processes (Cresswell 2015). This equally refers to how national and local contexts can influence the art school curriculum and with it practice, which was were set out in chapter 4. The aggregate concept of landscapes of practice recognises the multidimensionality and transitional nature of belonging, which I have addressed also through the concept of global sense of place (Massey 1991). This was illustrated by how students and graduates of Professor L8 at Leipzig Academy moved to Berlin during their studies. Berlin became a place with which they identified their practice more so than Leipzig, in which a different tradition is embedded. It was suggested how after graduation the same networks developed in Leipzig meet in Berlin, which exemplifies how a spatial imaginary of a Leipzig scene can be found in Berlin. Landscapes of practice pay particular attention to the boundaries between practices as environments in which not just modes of belonging are negotiated


Chapter 9

but also negotiation of practice. This understanding highlights how the view that favours local tradition and continuity of teaching as the only approach to create a vibrant art scene is limiting. A more progressive understanding sees this in connection with art scenes and communities of practice allowing for distance and critique. As I have highlighted through various discussions on the value of art school education (Buckley and Conomos 2009; ElDahab 2006; Madoff 2009), innovation in contemporary art production comes from engaging with something unfamiliar, breaking with tradition and bringing together previously unconnected subjects. Therefore, aspects of tradition should at the same time allow for engagement that critically positions itself as opposition. For example, media art students at Leipzig Academy fulfil this role, as their practices clearly distinguish themselves from the local tradition. However, in both cases fragmentation between different scenes, for example, of the art school and the scene external to it and between the various interest groups engaging in a specific practice profile, leads to little engagement at the boundaries of CoPs. Professor L8 at Leipzig Academy recognised how the art school is best positioned to fulfil the capacity of the boundary and is therefore central in creating and challenging the notions of local art scenes. Fragmentations in Manchester were, for example, attributable to a lack of transfer of graduates into the local scene, which may be because of a too self-referential scene of the school through admission and graduation cycles, without enough visibility of activities external to this environment. At Leipzig Academy, fragmentations were persistent more so because of specific interest groups and defensive forms of autonomy aligned with artistic positions. I have shown in this section how art scenes can be understood as communities of practice embedded in a landscape of practice, which are bounded by practice foremost, rather than location. • This points to practice as key for understanding of belonging and spatial relations of artists. Practice directs specific engagements and relations with place. • An added value of the communities of practice concept is how boundaries account for knowledge exchange and capacity for development rather than barriers. This puts mobility and travel into a favourable light in contrast with a view that favours immobile local traditions and artist retention. 9.3. SIGNIFICANCE AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH This research has revealed new perspectives on a geographical reading of the art world. It can provide answers to While’s (2003, 251) question what such

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a reading might be and what kind of ‘difference place makes in the production, distribution and consumption of art’? This research has focused on the emergence of specific practices at art school and how they condition a sense of place and spatial relations of artists. This brings together a subjective view on learning and artistic practice with an objective approach of these processes as source for location decisions, place attachment or mobility. This study could reveal the importance of learning at art school and artistic practice itself in determining spatial relations of artists. The limitations of a place and its opportunities were discussed in relation to the needs of a specific practice from an emotional, artistic and livelihoods perspective and how this becomes appropriated through learning. Place factors such as affordability and economic opportunity were important, as I have outlined in connection to national contexts. However, without discussing practice they cannot explain location choices or a sense of place. This underlines the value of a humanist approach to understanding place (Cresswell 2015) and what it means for the people who navigate it. This points to how an understanding of the spatial relations of artists and perhaps the art world should look into art-internal aspects, which underlines Hawkins’ (2011, 473) call for a ‘more inter-subjective, relational way of understanding art work and world’. This research has not just illustrated how the study of artistic learning and practice can reveal place as extended learning environment, but also how place(s) matter as spatial systems of the production and circulation of art. While Hawkins (2013) points out the areas in which art and geography have overlapping subject-specific interests based mostly on theory, my research has exemplified how this way of thinking has been applied also in art schools as part of an implicit place-based education. The result here was how developments in art (especially through teaching staff L13 and M14), which have been increasingly spatial, have become part of the art school curriculum, with it advancing artists’ awareness of place in conversation with the development of their practice. Through opening up of art schools towards other forms of knowledge and the organisations that represent these, they become a site of knowledge exchange not just for artists but also for geographers and other researchers. Equally, as artists find new meaning through place, art theorists should use this capacity to discern place as factor for the emergence of certain artistic positions or movements. The geographical aspect of differentiation of art has so far rarely been acknowledged, although Obrist (2016) identified its potential. With more critics, theorists and curators engaging consciously with the place of art’s production, it may be possible to engage collectors in those regions ‘without’ markets (A-N 2016; Terry Brien 2016). Also, understanding the dynamics behind artists’ sense of place and spatial relations helps actors in the art world to identify where they should go to look for opportunities as well as to evaluate risks.


Chapter 9

This research has revealed how explanations about location choices of creative industries professionals, in this case contemporary artists, should be looked at from a sector-specific perspective through studying their practices. Even within the narrow area of contemporary art production, if we consider this as a sector, there are major differences because of different types of work or practices. This makes a sector-specific and qualitative study, like this research, indispensable in understanding place relationships as an indicator for regional development of the creative industries, also studied under the umbrella of creative cities. Considering place factors on their own as sources for understanding why certain creative industries locate somewhere does not sufficiently allow for pointing out causal relationships between those industries and place. Furthermore, within the understanding that place is multidimensional and relational to places beyond, the simple attraction and retention narrative to define a success of a creative city/region is limited. Regional development should within this thinking include not only increasing industrylevel but also cultural linkages with other cities and regions, which is important for innovation through exchange of human capital and their knowledge. The research time frame of only two years for each case limited the opportunity to follow artists trajectories, which is an opportunity that future research can explore. Within a longitudinal approach on this topic, further emphasis could be placed on the history of specific art schools in conversation with phenomena emerging today, which would be important to understand how, not just art schools and their curriculum have changed, but how this has differently impacted on geographical formations. This would involve archival research in cooperation with the relevant art schools and oral history interviewing methods with specifically selected participants who have either worked or studied at the schools many years ago. This research is a snapshot of the art world through the lens of a specific art school at a specific time. Further investigation should extend beyond the two case studies and have an international scope to test some of the assumptions made in this book. I have drawn from three international examples (CalArts, Düsseldorf and Glasgow) on the basis of the literature in chapter 2 to outline how schools of art emerged in specific places, having served as preliminary art historical contextualisation of this topic. There are substantial opportunities to conduct empirical research with art schools around the world, as research on these institutions is limited to art-internal discussion, with questions around their significance for culture and cities remaining unanswered, and therefore potential advocacy potential from a policy perspective untapped. As outlined in chapter 4, this research is based on qualitative approaches because of its aim to understand processes and relationships between art schools and place through fine art education, rather than manifesting market

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success, retention and mobility through quantitative indicators not indicative for art world success and processes. Quantitative approaches could however be more relevant for the study of other sectors in the creative industries, which follow a steady economic logic. This topic has extensive potential to be extended by investigations into other sectors whose workforce is trained in creative higher education institutions, that is, designers, architects, musicians and performing artists, and whose experiences may be very different to those of artists covered in this book. This would also allow for a better context for an economic geography angle and potential quantitative analysis of this subject (Comunian and Faggian 2013; Comunian and Gilmore 2016; Goddard and Vallance 2013; Powell 2007). 9.4. CONCLUDING SUMMARY This book has contributed in-depth knowledge of the practices and processes evolving from art schools as important source for understanding the artist’s sense of place and their spatial relations. The capacity for art schools to have this influence is generated not only through elements of place-based learning embedded in art school education but also through local repertoires and developing shared histories of learning as part of a continuum of teaching. This emphasises the importance of artistic practice and learning as source for understanding artists’ sense of place, contrary to seeking this from the character of place itself. It is important to distinguish different artistic practices and the ways in which they use a specific place or city as expanded learning environment, and how this impacts on their spatial relations. While painterly practices depend less on this capacity than those engaged in expanded practices, evidence in the Leipzig case showed they bond strongly with place despite not directly being engaged in place-based activities. This is also conditioned because of a continuum of teaching of this practice. In contrast to this, students and graduates engaged in expanded practices have expressed a need to engage in other places after graduation to explore new subject matter and material for their practice. Contrary to what may be expected, a strong sense of place emerging through direct activities in place does not lead to a greater tendency for artists to stay in Leipzig or Manchester. Local tradition through continuum of teaching and practice may instead incentivise this. Additionally, the requirement to stay put can be exemplified through the practice of painting, which tends to locate in a permanent and fixed studio as site of production, contrary to many mobile expanded practices. As I have argued, the narrative of rootedness or retention of artists is not progressive in an art world that is increasingly


Chapter 9

globalised, with different functions being spread across places that artists navigate. This is underlined by the emergence of relations of artists living in Leipzig with Berlin and those living in Manchester with other cities in the north or London in particular. It was outlined how artists develop a global sense of place in which place attachment is not mutually exclusive to mobility. They may exercise both relations as they navigate the art world. Furthermore, this relational thinking applies to how we can grasp the importance of art scenes in this debate, as belonging is expressed to a community of practice with a shared history of practice rather than to a specific place. I have illustrated art scenes within this frame as landscapes of practice, whose boundaries are shaped by practice rather than through location. Because practice is a process that determines spatial relations, we can also transfer practice boundaries to an understanding of how geographical boundaries of art scenes are determined. Future research on this topic, whether this is around the art world or other sectors in the creative industries should continue to invest in a solid understanding of practice, in its narrow and wider cultural sense, to draw conclusions about geographies of the sector or group being studied.


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Author biography

Dr. Silvie Jacobi holds a PhD in geography awarded jointly from King’s College London and Humboldt University Berlin. She was born and raised in Zwickau, East Germany, and moved to London to study fine art at Wimbledon College of Art followed by postgraduate studies into urban and cultural geography. Her research follows her autobiographic interest in artist development from art school education onwards embedded in the frame of urban development and the geography of the art world. She has co-founded London School of Mosaic in 2017, an alternative art school dedicated to teaching the lost art form of mosaic and using it as a tool for community art practice.





M1 M2

Painting Student Painting Graduate

M3 M4 M5

Sculpture Graduate Painting Graduate Sculpture Student


Sculpture Student


Sculpture Graduate


Painting Student


Gallery Manager


Painting Graduate


Sculpture Student


Painting Graduate

Specification Final-year student, figurative painting Recent graduate, digital drawing, travel as practice Radical and performance-based practices Mature student, works at the department Final-year student, radical and performance-based practices, works in a bar to earn money Final-year student, printmaking and installation Works at the department, teaching video editing First-year student, painting and material exploration Castlefield Gallery, not-for-profit artist agency and gallery Recent graduate, digital drawing, runs an artist-led initiative without a permanent space Final-year student, installation, engaged in issues around gender equality at art school Recent graduate, figurative painting, represented by a local gallery and based at a studio provider

Graduated** (2016) 2015 2015 2013 (2016)

(2016) 2014 (2018)








Table Appendix 1  Continued Code



Sculpture Student

M14 M15 M16

Lecturer Lecturer Artist

M17 M18 M19 M20

Studio Representative Lecturer Lecturer Painting Student


Gallery Manager


Painting Graduate


Painting Graduate


Module Coordinators University Marketing Representative Interactive Arts Graduate






Art Consultant

Specification Final-year student, interest in arts education and community engagement Printmaking/sculpture Painting, based at Rogue studios Islington Mill, alternative art school and studio provider Rogue Studios, artist studio provider Painting, based at Rogue Studios Painting, recently moved from London Final-year student, non-EU and mature, painting International 3, commercial gallery in Salford Represented by a gallery in London where artist also lives and works Graduated several years ago, manages temporal artist-led studio spaces, works in a manufactory Unit X: professional development and collaborative module Also student recruitment lead in fine art

Works as art technician for Manchester arts organisation, has been part of artist-led studio projects Founded a studio and curatorial project with semi-permanent space in Salford London-based art market consultant

Graduated** (2016)

2011 2013


** Brackets indicate future years of graduation at the time the interviews were conducted.


Description Fine Art Graduate

L2 (L106*) Painting Graduate



Specification Class of fine art, performance practices, lives in Berlin Recent Meisterschüler (equivalent to PhD level), has established an artistled studio in one of HausHalten e.V.’s Ausbauhäuser Class of media art

Graduated** 2016 2014

Code L4 L5

Appendix 193 Description


Professor Media Art Graduate

Class of intermedia Teaching assistant at the class of intermedia L6 Painting Graduate Based at Spinnerei studios, represented by a Spinnerei gallery L7 Media Art Student International student, interested in spatial practices and in politics of space L8 (L114*) Professor Class of media art L9 Painting Graduate Successful painter working and being represented at Spinnerei L10 Media Art Graduate Runs an artist-led space in Lindenau L11 Professional Runs the 2017 established Support Development Staff Bureau at the academy L12 Media Art Graduate Meisterschüler, mature student, sitespecific practice L13 Media Art Graduate Ran artist-led spaces in Lindenau, associate lecturer at the media art department, lives in Berlin L14 Media Art Graduate Photographic practice, lives in Berlin L15 Media Art Graduate Recent graduate, founder of socially engaged art projects, lives in house project L16 Painting Student Mature student, figurative painting L17 Media Art Student Mature student, has a background in geography, runs an artist-led space and lives in a house project L18 Media Art Student Meisterschüler, international student L19 Media Art Graduate Graduated in the 1990s, founder of artist-led gallery at Spinnerei L20 Painting Graduate Did a postgraduate degree in London L104* Media Art Graduate Recent Meisterschüler, runs an artistled space/house project with an international artist exchange network L109 Photography Student Involved in curatorial projects and art educational activities L110 Painting Graduate Recent Meisterschüler, based at Spinnerei studios, represented by a Spinnerei-based gallery L111 Curator Graphic design graduate, ran an artistled space and curatorial project in Lindenau L112 Media Art Student Interested in collaborative forms of practice, lives in a house project L117 Teaching Assistant Painting

Graduated** 2012 2008 (2018)

1990 2016 2002 2016 2010

2010 2014

(2017) (2018)

(2017) 1995 2013 (2015)

n/a 2013


*  L104–117 are interviews I conducted as part of my master’s research which served as preliminary study for this PhD. ** Brackets indicate future years of graduation at the time the interviews were conducted.



Websites of key institutions and organisations researched: Manchester Manchester School of Art: Castlefield Gallery: Rogue Artist Studios: Caustic Caustal Salford: Manchester Contemporary: Paradise Works: Leipzig Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig: Leipzig Baumwollspinnerei: Lindenow Festival: Museum der Bildenden Künstler Leipzig, Museum of Modern Art: www. Kultur, Standord, Bestimmung:


Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. See HGB activism, 13, 25, 89, 137, 158, 170 Altermodernism, 10, 13, 169 alternative art schools, 22, 42, 59 Amsterdam, 13, 106, 109 art: art or artistic production (see production of art); contemporary (see contemporary art); criticism, 3, 6, 47, 61, 79, 129, 153, 163; market, 3, 6, 10, 12 – 13, 16, 20, 29, 38, 45, 52, 55, 77, 79, 94, 96 – 98, 104, 107, 110, 113, 116, 130, 144 – 45, 147 – 49, 150, 158, 161, 169; scenes, 6, 44 – 45; school, 6; situation, local, 1, 126, 134; theory, 5, 9, 13; world, 6 artistic mode of production, 46, 51, 89 artistic position, 22, 29, 35, 60, 94, 111, 127, 133 – 34, 138 – 39, 143 – 44, 147, 149, 155, 161 – 62, 172 – 73 artist-led activities, 15, 28, 86, 91, 96, 101, 117, 128 artist-led scene. See scene, artist-led artist-led space, 6, 12, 21, 51, 54, 83 – 84, 93, 108, 111, 115 – 16, 119 – 20, 123, 146, 154, 157, 159, 165, 170 Artist Union England, 12, 62 Ausbauhaus. See Haushalten e.V. auto-ethno-cartography, 67 – 68

autonomy, 11 – 12, 17, 20, 47, 58, 60, 62, 87, 117, 120, 123, 130, 146 – 47, 164 – 65, 172 Baldessari, John, 23, 24, 28 – 29 Bauhaus, 20, 58, 145 Becher, Bernd and Hilla. See Düsseldorf School belonging, 2, 5, 7, 33, 35 – 36, 41 – 44, 99, 106, 108, 115, 127, 131, 139, 145, 164, 167 – 76 Berlin, 13, 18, 27, 50, 62, 90, 102, 106, 109 – 10, 121 – 22, 136, 139 – 50, 155, 157, 161, 169, 171, 176 Beuys, Joseph, 4, 19, 23 – 26, 28, 46, 60 biographical interviews, 65 bohemian graduates, 3 Bologna, 66 boundaries: of art scenes, COPs and practices, 2, 5, 33, 41 – 45, 102 – 3, 130, 147, 154 – 55, 161, 163, 171 – 72, 176; geographical (see geographical boundaries) CalArts, 4, 23 – 24, 27 – 29, 98, 174 Castlefield Gallery, 51 – 52, 79, 89, 102 – 3 Central Saint Martins, 58 cities, 33 commercial gallery, 52, 108, 119, 122, 144




communism, 55, 59 communities of practice, 41 conceptual art, 4, 6, 18 – 19, 25 – 28, 162 contemporary art, 1 – 31, 39 – 40, 44, 47, 52, 61, 64, 71, 73, 82, 104, 108, 123, 148, 151, 166, 169, 172, 174 creative cities, 3, 174 creative geographies, 45 creative industries, 7, 12, 21, 42, 45, 52, 61, 86, 96, 98, 101, 148, 174 – 76 creative turn, 45 crit, 98 – 99, 105, 115 critic, 10 – 11, 13, 21, 24, 27, 38, 52, 54, 78, 139, 148, 155, 166, 173 critical pedagogy, 40, 165, 170 criticism. See art, criticism cultural labour, 12 – 17, 61 cultural policy, 5, 42, 49, 61 – 62, 69, 174 cultural work. See cultural labour curator, 10 – 13, 38, 52, 77 – 78, 82 – 84, 148, 166, 173 curriculum, 5, 18 – 22, 55 – 58, 65, 71, 73, 77, 80, 94, 99, 102, 105, 111 – 14, 120, 128, 130 – 31, 140, 151, 153, 155, 158 – 59, 163 – 66, 171, 173, 174; hidden (see Hidden Curriculum) Dada, 46 – 47 degree show, 13, 65 deindustrialisation. See post-industrial dérive, 46, 80, 82, 88 digitalisation. See digital practices digital practices, 10, 47, 73 – 74, 156 – 58, 162 discipline or disciplinary, 7, 11, 20, 23, 31, 33 – 34, 46 – 47, 59, 64, 124, 133, 160, 164 displacement, 14, 16 – 17, 38, 51, 80, 89, 91, 158, 165 DIY, 1, 12, 15, 28, 37, 52, 71, 104 Dresden, 137, 145 Düsseldorf Academy, 4, 22 – 26, 60, 174 Düsseldorf School, 23 – 24, 26 East Germany, 53 – 54, 59 – 60, 136 – 37, 160 education, place-based. See place-based education

Eigen & Art gallery, 55, 126, 129, 144 entrepreneurial and entrepreneurship, 21, 62, 92, 108 ethnography, multisited. See multisited ethnography European, 5 – 6, 19, 29, 38, 53 – 54, 60, 106, 114, 117, 118, 137 everyday, 11, 19 – 20, 24, 26, 46, 47, 72 – 73 exclusivity, 47, 75, 120, 126, 145 expanded field, 4, 6, 46 expanded practices, 2, 6, 9, 22, 54, 67, 93, 167 – 68, 170, 175 figurative painting, 1, 112, 126, 130, 133, 160 – 61, 167 fine art education, 2, 8, 18, 26, 71, 92, 154, 164 foundation. See Grundkurs or Grundstudium fragmented or fragmentation, 44, 101, 110, 117, 119, 123, 130, 143 – 50, 172, 176 funding, 12, 56, 60 – 62, 77, 125, 148 gallerist, 1, 11, 13, 28, 44, 77, 108, 126, 138, 141, 143, 160, 169 gallery, commercial. See commercial gallery GDR. See East Germany gentrification, 4, 9, 15 – 17, 20, 29, 33, 46, 54, 79, 112, 117 – 19, 165, 170 geographers, 15, 40, 88, 124, 173 geographical boundaries, 2, 7, 45, 149, 171 Glasgow School of Art, 4, 22 – 28, 96 – 97, 174 global sense of place, 5, 14, 36 – 37, 43, 47, 168, 171, 176 Goldsmiths (University of London), 16, 23, 162 grounded theory, 5, 64, 68, 88, 163 Grundkurs/Grundstudium, 19, 55, 60, 114 , 121, 127, 160 Haushalten e.V., 54, 117, 127 Heidegger, 35, 37 HGB, 111 – 12, 115, 116, 120 – 30, 133–36, 138, 141–46, 148–50, 154, 161 Hidden Curriculum, 71, 80

histories, shared. See shared histories Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig. See HGB interaction: social (see social interaction); symbolic (see symbolic interaction) Kunstverständnis, 10 landscapes of practice, 2, 31, 33, 41, 43 – 48, 103, 133, 149, 171, 176 learning: artistic, 4, 47, 68, 71, 96, 110 – 11, 173, 175; place-based (see place-based education); social, 41, 87, 99 Leeds, 106, 109 Lefebvre, Henri. See production of space life drawing, 19, 73, 112 Lindenau and Plagwitz, 54 – 56, 118, 145 – 49, 157 Lindenow festival, 56, 116, 118, 130 Liverpool, 78, 95, 106, 109 locale, 3, 35, 79, 98, 148 location, 5, 35, 39; choice, 1, 4, 15, 56, 93, 136, 150, 155, 173 – 74 London, 1, 14, 16, 18 – 23, 27, 38, 50, 52, 57 – 58, 61, 75, 78, 82 – 83, 95 – 98, 101 – 9, 115, 138, 140 – 41, 150, 169, 176 London School, 1 Manchester School of Art, 52 Marx, Karl, 51, 88 media art, 64, 115, 120 – 21, 123, 128 – 31, 133 – 34, 138 – 43, 145, 148 – 50, 154 – 55, 158 – 59, 161, 172 Medienkunst. See media art Meisterschüler or Meisterklasse, 60, 114 mobility: social, 19, 21, 57; spatial/ physical, 2 – 3, 5, 7, 29, 31 – 37, 43 – 45, 71, 75, 90, 93, 105 – 6, 110, 124, 138, 168 – 72 modernism, 1, 19, 47, 73, 169 multisited ethnography, 5, 64, 137

Index 197

neighbourhood, 16 – 17, 22, 35, 45, 51, 54, 88, 98, 116 – 22, 146, 149 neo-conceptual art, 23 – 28 neoliberalisation, 22, 42, 56 Neo Rauch, 55, 113, 122, 128 – 29, 133, 144 New Image painters, 23 – 27, 36 New Leipzig School, 2 – 3, 53 – 56, 112, 126, 128 – 30, 133, 138 – 39, 144, 160 – 61, 166 New York, 2, 14 – 15, 18, 25, 27, 29, 89, 138, 140 off-space(s), 6, 56, 112, 116, 118 – 22, 125, 130, 136, 141, 144 – 49, 157, 160 – 61, 165 ordinary cities, 14, 38, 50 photography, 24, 26, 112 place attachment, 7, 31 – 37, 45, 90 – 93, 99 – 101, 118, 128, 138, 150, 155, 167 – 73, 176 place-based education, 39 – 40 placelessness, 35, 40 polytechnics, 57, 59 population loss, 50 – 51, 114, 156 position, artistic. See artistic position post-industrial, 36, 50 – 51 postmodernism, 10, 35, 47 post-studio, 24, 28, 73 power relations, 15, 33, 35, 37, 40, 167, 170 practice: artistic, 2, 4, 6 – 7, 14, 18, 21, 46, 66, 68, 71, 77, 79 – 80, 82, 91 – 92, 107, 113, 123 – 24, 126, 128 – 29, 137, 147, 154, 158, 165, 170, 171, 173; conceptual (see conceptual art) precariousness, 12 – 13, 21, 57, 61 production of art, 1, 3 – 9, 12, 14, 38, 44, 46, 47, 51, 97, 109, 116 – 17, 120 – 21, 138, 145, 150 – 51, 156, 164, 172 – 74 production of space, 34, 36, 40, 89 professional development, 13, 59, 65, 67, 77 – 80, 84, 86, 94, 100, 102 – 4, 148, 158



professor, 18, 20, 24 – 28, 55, 60, 65, 98, 114 – 36 psycho-geography, 40, 46, 81, 82, 88 qualitative, 2, 7, 63, 174 quantitative, 61, 63, 103, 175 RCA, 75, 101, 107 – 8 regeneration, urban. See urban regeneration regional development, 7, 151, 174 relational aesthetics, 19 – 20, 47 relational turn, 37, 45 relations: power (see power relations); social (see social relations); spatial (see spatial relations) repertoire: local, 42, 110, 112, 127, 131, 159, 167, 171; shared, 65, 112, 150, 161, 163, 175; traditional, 138, 149, 163 residencies, 77, 83, 105, 117 Reunification, 50, 53 – 55, 59, 119, 136, 144, 150 rootedness. See place attachment Rosalind Krauss. See expanded field Royal Academy, 58, 101, 107, 115 Royal College of Art. See RCA rural, 2, 14, 29, 35, 39, 81, 95, 125 scene: art (see art, scenes); artist-led, 27, 83, 96, 119, 123, 145, 157, 161; cultural, 23, 45, 53 – 54 School of Paris, 1 School of the Damned, 101, 105, 162 self-exploitation, 80, 104, 117, 143 self-organised, 6, 12, 26, 75, 95, 101, 105, 110, 117, 121, 128, 137, 152, 158, 167 – 68 sense of place, 7 sensuous, 35, 166, 167 shared histories, 34, 42 – 43, 99, 100, 126, 160, 162 – 63, 167 – 71, 175 shrinkage. See population loss Situationalist International, 40, 46 – 47, 80 – 82

social circles, 97, 101 social interaction, 6, 10, 11, 75, 78, 85 – 86, 98 – 99, 116, 129, 171 socialism, 35, 51, 158 socially engaged, 27, 125 social relations, 34 – 37, 63 – 64, 73, 76, 87, 130, 136, 160 social sculpture, 24 – 25, 46 social worlds, 44, 57, 63 – 66, 78 soft gentrification, 54, 117 sound art, 124 – 25, 166 space, artist-led. See artist-led space space-place, 31 – 35, 89 spatial imaginary, 36, 100, 106, 108, 149 spatial relations, 7 Spinnerei (Leipzig), 55, 116, 120, 126, 129 – 30, 138, 142, 144, 146, 148 – 49, 159 Stockport, 52, 95, 101 streetwise, 77, 82, 86, 91, 153, 158 studio, 7, 22, 72, 80 subculture, 17, 53, 97, 136, 147, 157 Surrealism, 46 – 47, 129 symbolic interaction, 6, 10, 11, 44, 75 – 78, 98, 129, 171 teaching assistant, 81, 100, 134, 142, 160 teaching staff, 156, 160, 162, 173 theorist, 7, 173 thick description, 66 unlearning, 20 – 21 urban regeneration, 4, 22, 29, 42, 54 urban scholars, 7, 15, 46, 54 Wächterhaus. See Haushalten e.V. West Germany, 55, 59, 128, 136 white cube, 73, 82, 85, 119, 122 workers, 10, 14, 16, 63 world: art (see art, world); social (see social worlds) Young British Artists (YBAs), 23, 95, 96, 162