New Strategies for Old Practices

Contemporary Publics: Shifting Boundaries in New Media, Technology and Culture
Edited by
Glenn D'Cruz
Katja Lee
P. David Marshall
Sharyn McDonald
Published by
Palgrave MacMillan

The concepts, ideas, and material experiments that much contemporary art engages with rarely examine the commercial realities of the system that supports its exhibition. From the free labour of interns and artists to the 50 percent commission cut taken by gallery owners, contemporary art practice is trapped in a paradox in which it is free to critique its own histories and those outside the gallery but rarely analyses its own politics of production.

In this chapter, I discuss two recent art projects in Melbourne that work to undermine the neoliberal economics of the art gallery and public space. In discussing these strategies as tools for resistance, I advance a purpose for art that is not discipline specific and trapped in its own spectacular and self-referential game—as witnessed in the gallery and the academy. Using Giorgio Agamben, McKenzie Wark, and Guy Debord to think through and apply strategies of profanation and détournement, I argue for an art that operates as counter-practice, integrated with life but testing new practices and ways of being. It is in this spirit I appropriate space, form, and image to practise alternative lines of exchange; it is a practice that invokes a slow infuriation, a swarm, that resists the total neoliberalisation of the gallery, the academy, and public space.