Unbribable Life II. Politics of the Art Scool

The Politics of the Art School: Study Day

04 Mar 2016

Zilnik June Movements 68_0

On the occasion of the visit of the creators of a Worker’s University in an occupied factory in Tuzla, this event brings together researchers and participants from art schools, radical art and worker movements in the UK and Yugoslavia.

Student Art Centres in Yugoslavia were important meeting points between artists and broader social and political issues and hosted left critique of the official culture in Yugoslavia and joined the neo-Marxist, post ‘68 critique of culture, including that of the emerging ‘red bourgeoisie’. Central to this was the linking of artists’ struggles to those of other workers.  What politics of solidarity were shared by artist and art student movements and their counter-parts in art school activism and occupations in the UK? And, how do current artists and art students and work in solidarity with other worker groups to fight the neoliberalisation of the arts and broader society today?

The event will be formatted around keywords, inviting past and present participants from the UK and Yugoslav contexts to discuss strategies and futures for their work in and across both contexts.

1pm – 6pm

Free, The Space

Chaired by Margareta Kern and Janna Graham.

Participants include:


Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (Ken Coates Archive), Nottingham

Nemanja Cvijanović

Occupy CASS

DITA Factory occupiers and founders of Worker’s University

Goldsmiths Occupation

Susan Kelly

Precarious Workers Brigade

Studio 70

Unite Hotel Workers/Implicated Theatre

Jelena Vesić

NTU MFA students

Vanessa Vasić-Janeković

Gillian Whiteley, Loughborough University




Welcome and Lessons from the DITA Worker’s University



Histories of Artist/Worker Solidarities in Former Yugoslavia and UK

Gillian Whiteley

Jelena Vesić



2:30pm – BREAK



Contemporary Artist and Worker Groups including:

Occupy Goldsmiths

Precarious Workers Brigade

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

Occupy The Cass

DITA Factory Occupiers

Studio 70

Vanessa Vasić-Janeković

Nemanja Cvijanović

Jelena Vesic

Unite Hotel Workers/Implicated Theatre

NTU students



All are welcome to contribute.

Travel bursaries available for students involved in art schools. Please write to janna@nottinghamcontemporary.org with your interest in attending.

In collaboration with Politicised Practice Research Group and Anarchist Research Group, Loughborough University.


[BLOK] is a collective based in Zagreb, established as a non-profit organization in 2001, which acts at the intersection between art, cultural work, urbanism and political activism. Their project For Student Centre as a Common Good explores the potential strategies of resistance against the dominant discourse, which sees the transition from the concept of social ownership to the neoliberal capitalist model as the only possible future. Working against the privatization of student cultural centres, their analysis, is focussed on the crucial years of 1991 and 2000, tracking the way in which the structures and conceptual changes of the time have influenced the present-day situation. http://www.blok.hr/en/projekti/ka-sc-u-kao-javnom-dobruprogrammatic

Damir Arsenijević is a Leverhulme Trust Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K., leading the project Love after Genocide. He is an activist, academic and a psychoanalyst in training, working in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His latest edited book Unbribable Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Fight for the Commons was published by Nomos in 2015.

Occupy The Cass is a collective group of students at London Met exercising their right to freedom of assembly and peaceful protesthttps://www.facebook.com/occupycasslmu/

Gillian Whiteley is Senior Lecturer Critical and Historical Studies at Loughborough University where she is co-ordinator of the Politicized Practice Research Group and co-organiser of RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt, Her research focuses on interdisciplinary practices and cultural production within radical and socio-political contexts. For projects and publications seehttp://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/aed/staff/academic/gillian-whiteley/ and www.bricolagekitchen.com

Margareta Kern is a visual artist and lecturer whose practice explores labour, migration, gender, construction of political agencies and subjectivities, informed by the ethos of collaboration, militant research and radical pedagogies. Kern holds BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College and MA in Visual Anthropology, UCL. Her work has been presented across gallery and educational contexts, including Tate Modern, The Photographers Gallery, Centre for Possible Studies, INIVA, Shedhalle Zurich, SC Gallery Zagreb and most recently the Cultural Centre Belgrade. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kern has been based in the UK since 1992.

Occupy Goldsmiths is part of a network of people opposed to the privatisation of Education. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Goldsmiths-Free-University-of-London/377711675763865

The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation was launched in 1963 to carry forward Russell’s work for peace, human rights and social justice. Located in Nottingham, the Foundation is home to a number of projects related to left politics in the UK, including the journal, The Spokesman and a current project working with the archive of Ken Coates, a former miner, radical educator and co-founder of the Institute for Worker’s Control. http://www.russfound.org/about/about.htm

Precarious Workers Brigade are a UK-based group of precarious workers in culture & education who work in solidarity with all those struggling to make a living in the current climate of instability and enforced austerity. http://precariousworkersbrigade.tumblr.com/

Studio 70 is an open, alternative arts education platform.https://www.facebook.com/STUDIO70SPACE/?pnref=story

Vanessa Vasić-Janeković works in the intersections of art, theory and activism, researching and articulating registers and distribution of tensions inherent to knowledge production hierarchies and their economic underpinnings. Previously a journalist, Vanessa has covered all of the major 1990s conflicts, reporting on the existence of the camps in Bosnia and covering the war crimes trials for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She is currently involved in the creation of a Worker’s University in Tuzla.

Jelena Vesić is an independent curator, writer, editor, and lecturer. She was co-editor of Prelom  – Journal of Images and Politics (2001–2009) and co-founder of independent organization Prelom Collective (2005–2010). She is active in the field of publishing, research, and exhibition practice that intertwines political theory and contemporary art. She is also co-editor of Red Thread – Journal for social theory, contemporary art and activism and member of editorial board of Art Margins. In her writing, Vesić explores the relations between art and ideology in the field of geopolitical art history writing, focusing on experimental art and exhibition practices of the 1960s and 1970s in former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe. She also writes on artistic labour and practices of self-organization in the age of cognitive capitalism. With others in Prelom Collective, Vesić developed a critical research project on the history of student cultural centres.http://www.prelomkolektiv.org/pdf/catalogue.pdf

DITA Workers University occupied the Tuzla-based detergent factory DITA, fighting the wave of corrupt privatization, exploitation and asset-stripping that has been destroying the industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For over two years they have guarded the factory around the clock to prevent the removal of machinery and assets. The process of privatization of DITA was carried out in collaboration with corrupt politicians, a corrupt judiciary, and banks that failed to carry out due diligence, providing toxic loans to the new owners — money that never reached the factory. They are resolved to maintain the occupation of the factory, moving into production and the setting up of a Worker’s University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmtLg7Qo0dE

Justice for Domestic Workers (J4DW) was established in 2009 and is supported by Unite the Union. It is an organisation of migrant domestic workers who work in private houses in the UK, and is active in campaigning to restore and improve the rights for domestic workers and for making domestic work visible in society. Marissa Begonia, coordinator of Justice for Domestic Workers was involved in the ILO C189, ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ negotiations at the invitation of TUC, Unite the Union and other campaigns involving J4DW


Marco Godoy is an Spanish artist currently based in London. His works explore the uses of language in protest and the alternative ways in which to perform disagreement. In 2012 he took part in Archivo15M, an assembly based organisation that archive and preserves banners that were saved from the 15M movement in Spain.www.marcogodoy.com.