London Conference in Critical Thought

myself and James Ellison will be speaking at the London Conference in Critical Thought on the 6th and 7th of June at the Royal Holloway

Learning to resist: on the universities ruins.

James Ellison & Paul Stewart

This paper aims to critique current trends in the neo-liberalisation of education, as well as explore our experiences with the creation of critical alternatives. Together we began our participation at university, as art students, in the wake of the global economic and social ‘crisis’ of 2008, albeit at separate institutions.Two of the main theoretical benchmarks we encountered while becoming art students were Jacques Ranciere and Pierre Bourdieu respectively. We have allowed these thinkers to permeate our education, they have aided us in the exploration of notions such as institutional critique and radical aesthetico-political dissent.

As the battle to stop the rise in fees exploded into the political imaginary of the student body, so did an extended period of experimentation with autonomous pedagogies. This shift in consciousness prompted Paul to begin his project The Alternative Art College in 2011, which created an experimental platform to question pedagogical processes, albeit temporarily. As both of us began the next stage of HE, as postgraduate students, we encountered further outlets for critical engagement. James became involved with the latter stages of the University for Strategic Optimism, a radical pedagogical and aesthetic anti-institution. While situated within a university  we initiated projects together, such as Education as Experiment, May, 2012 and Holding Knowledge Hostage, February, 2012. Theoretically the work of Boris Groys, who’s transdisciplinarity and contextual critique, influenced our critical approach to autonomous art praxis.

Since graduating from Goldsmiths James has been involved in several occupied social centers including, Palestine Place and Cuts Cafe both ephemeral and unsustainable manifestations, while Paul has moved into a practical role in a private London business school, the forefront of the market based approach to higher education. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, ‘debt neutralises critical thinking, disciplining students into efficient components of the consumer economy’. As the university lies in ruins how will the next generation learn to resist?




you can download the full provisonal programme here





AAC mentioned in A-N


Cities outside London have grown from small beginnings to become active art centres; most have been built around artist-led activity. In Lincoln, an artist-led scene is building in strength and, for two connected reasons, there is potential for something particularly interesting. There was even a free Alternative Art College, run from student houses before it relocated to London.

By Andrew Bracey


Read more :

Manual Labours | 8 -12 April 2013 | Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London

8-12 April, 10-6pm
 Peltz Room, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD
 For more info:
FREE Public Events (no need to book):
Wednesday 10 April, 7pm
The Trainee – Screening and Discussion | Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s performance and film ‘The Trainee’ (2008) in light of her research into how art models the anomalous labour conditions of financialized capitalism.

Friday 12 April, 1-2pm
The Working Lunch | Peltz room, Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Public lunch hour and discussion led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.  Food provided!

Manual Labours is a long term research project exploring people’s physical relationships to work, initiated by Jenny Richards and Sophie Hope. This project reconsiders current time-based structures of work (when does work start and end?) and reasserts the significance of the physical (manual) aspect of immaterial, affective and emotional labour.
Manual Labours starts with a 35 hour ‘working week’-long investigation into the embodied, sensory, emotional affects of workwhich will include meetings with our co-workers, a 9 mile walk to work, film screenings and a Public Lunch Hour.
Through this project we are interested in exploring the transformation of labour processes through an investigation into the ‘physical’ relationship to work in order to map complex and overlapping experiences of work/life entwinement. During this first public manifestation of Manual Labours we will be building an archive of films and publications, alongside public screenings and discussions with co-workers to inform ways in which we can recapture a sense of agency within our current positions.   Developing research in a public setting through performative actions, each day of our week-long presence at Birkbeck focuses on one worker stereotype in order to research how these different ‘posts’ are de-stabled through everyday practices.

Two public events hope to generate conversations and contributions which will shape the evolvement of Manual Labours and allow us to explore the shared, collective concerns and tactics for reclaiming a critical and sensory experience of work/life.  Join us on Wednesday 10th April 7pm when writer Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s film ‘The Trainee’ and on Friday we’ll be offering a communal lunch hour with home cooked food and a discussion reflecting on the week’s activities led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.

Visit for full details of the daily programme.
Films accessible within the Manual Labours archive include: Moira Zoitl’s ‘Exchange Square’ (2007) exploring domestic workers in Hong Kong; Can Altay’s ‘We’re Papermen, He said’ (2003) which follows the operations of unofficial recyclers and rubbish men in Ankara; extracts of Marie Barrett’s ‘Remnant’ (2008), documenting oral histories of the closure of the garment factories in North-West Ireland; Jesse Jones’ ‘The Struggle Against Ourselves’ (2011) which explores Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold’s studies in biomechanics and Kennedy Browne’s ‘How Capital Moves’ (2010), a film which uses anecdotes of redundancy and insecure working conditions to explore the precarious nature of working for a multinational company.
Manual Labours is supported by the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice, Birkbeck (, Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.
For updates on the weekly programme of talks, discussions and screenings visit
To find out more, get involved or contribute, please contact

The aggressive criminalisation of a student body

“Today, 2nd April 2013, around noon time, hundreds of police, arriving in full gear and in some 15 police vans, assisted bailiffs and private security guards in evicting Sussex students from the occupation on their own campus.”


The police far outnumbered the protesters who occupied peacefully but yet were removed by brute force, the occupiers continued to resist and chant up on the 4th floor, others gathered outside to show support (both students and academics) but the 30/40 strong were nothing compared to the long arm of the law.

What is the outcome of this? Well it is a pure demonstration of the bullish police in action attempting to intimidate the passionate and bright voices of those who have joined together in solidarity.

This is an extreme and brutal demonstration of the level a institution will go to, even against their own students and staff. rather than conversation or a legitimate address to their students but instead to criminalize them and their activities, to isolate and victimize them.

Sussex should not be silenced, we will not be silenced,


Together in Solidarity.

IDS on 53 quid a week

IDS on 53 quid a week

This petition calls for Iain Duncan Smith, the current Work and Pensions Secretary, to prove his claim of being able to live on £7.57 a day, or £53 a week.

On Monday’s Today Programme David Bennett, a market trader, said that after his housing benefit had been cut, he lives on £53 per week. The next interviewee was Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who was defending the changes. The interviewer then asked him if he could live on this amount. He replied: “If I had to, I would.”

This petition calls on Iain Duncan Smith to live on this budget for at least one year. This would help realise the conservative party`s current mantra that “We are all in this together”.

This would mean a 97% reduction in his current income, which is £1,581.02 a week or £225 a day after tax* [Source: The Telegraph]