This publication provides a dialectical conception of Relational Aesthetics (Nicolas Bourriaud, 2002), by focusing on the ‘value form of participation’ and the ways in which this gets subsumed into capitalist circuits to fit its purpose within culture. One of the original contributions of this research project within the field of political art, or art that aims to be political, is its in-depth critique of relational art’s political economy from the perspective of an engaged practice. The publication also provides insights into the role of the curator as the interlocutor of this exchange. By combining Marxist and Lacanian perspectives, Kontopoulou conceptualises the artist-student as the subject or social embodiment of surplus value and surplus jouissance. Her research interest is guided by her own position as a ‘transversal’ practitioner and by her desire to ‘curate’ a relative kind of autonomy that manages to de-link the symbolic from value and redistribute the surplus of participation back to social movements and the communities that support them.
Anna Alkistis Kontopoulou is a practice-based researcher, curator and educator working transversally across cultural institutions, pedagogic spaces and community groups in London, for nearly fifteen years. She has developed long-term participatory projects, exhibitions, research and writings at the intersection of art and urgent social issues like the struggles around education, democracy, migration, public housing, body politics and care. She has been Lecturer in Art at Reading School of Art since 2018.
This publication is based on the PhD dissertation completed as part of the London Graduate School's programme, at Kingston University, under the supervision of Professor Scott Wilson.
Dorothee Richter advised this publication, endorsed by the PhD in Practice in Curating Programme, a joint doctoral program of the Zurich University of the Arts and the University of Reading, with the support of swissuniversities.