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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Public Sphere


Being a young artist today is harder than in previous generations. Lack of support and precarious labour, an economic disaster, a pandemic, a mental health crisis and the burden of tuition fees all conspire to make the relatively careless practices of previous generations a distant dream.

Last summer the UK government approved its plan to cut funding for art education by 50%. Rumours have also surfaced recently that a more ambitious plan to cut all public art funding and replace it with private sponsorship is being debated. Art and art education are all too often easy punching bags in the drive to subordinate all human activity to economic determinants, but these new lines of attack are proof once more that artists can and must provide vital critical voices in a failed market system that wants to commodify everything - aesthetic experience, learning and enjoyment. Art can never be reduced to its markets and our graduating Public Sphere students demonstrate that even against a hyper-mediatized cultural landscape laden with dance video snippets, desperate NFT dreams and occasional moral panics, one can still carve out a position, keep asking where the public sphere might be in all of this and question the means through which one might gain access to what remains of this embattled notion.

Our students come from all around the world, and they often find creative and subversive ways of producing critical art under a broad range of conditions, with their own constraints and restrictions. All of this makes this generation of young artists more important than ever. It is only through a continued faith in their work that we can conceive of ways to transform an often hostile environment into an inclusive, liveable, sustainable, global context for art.

Dr Pil Kollectiv, Pathway Lead, Public Sphere