[This is a post in several parts, the text of a talk I gave in Nottingham for World Event Young Artists]

I was asked to come here today
To talk to you about something
Anything
They told me it would be a practice session
Though they didn’t tell me what we’d be practicing for
I have two hours of your time
Or you have two hours of my time
Or most likely we’re just sharing this space for two hours

When they asked me if I could come and speak
I said I would
And then I made up something to talk about
And as I imagine you have all done at some point in your life
And if you haven’t you almost certainly will
I made up a paragraph of text introducing something that hadn’t been invented yet

I was going to talk to you in quite conceptual terms
About the nature of urban space
And how the rhetoric of ownership
Reiterates the ideology of exactly the social order
We are resisting

(and when I say we there
I mean the people
Who believe in the possibility
Of something better than
The inequality and cruelty and wilful indifference
Of the world
And the society
In which we presently live
And if you do not believe in that
Then I would suggest the next couple of hours
Is probably not going to be for you)

I still think that’s interesting
But it’s not any longer what I want to talk about
Though if you’re interested there is a long piece
I wrote on the subject over here

Instead I want to talk in slightly broader terms
About the relationship between art and protest
More particularly
I want to suggest some ways in which
Art might be a kind of protest
Some ways in which it might be both
A challenge to the present way of doing things
And an attempt to make new ways

I might have called this talk

BEYOND AGITPROP: A NEW RHETORIC FOR POLITCAL THEATRE

Or

HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BEING BOTH EARNEST AND PRETENTIOUS

Or

IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU DO IT’S HOW YOU CHOOSE TO DO IT

Or

SOME OF THE THINGS I’VE LEARNT IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS

Or, simply

HOW I’M TRYING TO BE BETTER

But because this whole week was themed around the work of Georges Perec, I have instead called it:

POLITICAL ART: A USER’S MANUAL

And like George Perec’s Species of Space it is not so much one talk as several
With some lists
And some questions
As Perec was fond of both

And it’s a work in progress
And I’d be immensely grateful for your help
And I’m already immensely grateful for the help
Of those whose words I have borrowed
Unwittingly or otherwise

There will be time for questions at the end
But if you do have a question
Or anything to say at all really
Please do interrupt me at any point.

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