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Amy McDonnell

Published date
19 Jun 2018

Why do Artists Associate?: Assembling the Social through Group Practices

Chelsea College of Arts

“...when bubbles, individuals, or beings, human and non-human, amass and cohere, their influence on one another creates all manner of formal distortion.” Hélène Frichot.

This project investigates artist group practices using Cuba as a case study. The research explores the impetus for grouping together and the forms that it acquires in both artistic practice and exhibitionary formats. This study develops through a critical engagement of social theory.

Since the 1950’s, Cuban political and social theory has not been examined without the appearance of, ‘mass’, ‘collective’ and the ‘social body’. I want to consider how these associational concepts have been perceived, why and to what effect. I am exploring how they compare to contemporary theoretical modes of assembling such as ‘multitude’ (Negri), ‘foam’ (Sloterdijk) and ‘expanded collective’ (Latour). This activity will lead to the collation of a ‘typology of association’ which will help to locate artists’ group work in a 'foamy' interrelation of social constructs.

My practice as a curator aims to test the adaptability and structural initiatives of artists as they assemble together. This exhibition-making process, ASSEMBLING,is collaborative from the point of conception. It simultaneously forms an association while discovering the ‘matter’ that draws this group together. Latour writes that, ‘the two have to be taken together. Who is to be concerned, what is to be  considered?’ (2005:16). The matter at hand must not be ignored. It is around these issues that we cluster, the process of which connects us.


Professor Neil Cummings

Professor Oriana Baddeley

Dr Michael Asbury