Visual Arts, Nottingham Trent University
My research is focused on generating a conceptual analysis of collective artistic practices in Northern Ireland following the historic Brexit referendum. I argue that contemporary artist-led projects of this kind should be analysed as virtual spaces wherein communities can engage in prototyping radical public discourses which oppose the reignition of political tensions in Northern Ireland. It has become clear that artists are having thoughtful, nuanced engagement with difficult conversations which have not been possible in political discourse because of sectarian antagonism. The exceptional success of 2021 Turner Prize-winning Array Collective raises the question of social reform through the lens of collaborative action, activism, collectivity, and artistic practices.
Through the analysis of collective modes of relational aesthetics prevalent in contemporary artistic practices and implementation of Mark Fisher’s posthumous text “Acid Communism” (2018) as a theoretical departure point, I contend that, by recalling radical forms of collectivity from the ‘60s social revolution, the neoliberal hegemony can be contested through a process of collective ‘unforgetting’. This would preposition NI’s ‘68 moment, for example, converging with the post-Brexit social environment, which has once again raised the consitutional issue at the heart of the Northern Irish socio-political debate.