Co-research: subjectivities and conditions of culture as labour

A project in three parts, starting 16 October 2012

This project (in three parts) is organised by The Strickland Distribution as part of its knowledge is never neutral programme with Transmission Gallery. The project revolves around cultural and knowledge workers concerned with understanding more about our working conditions and practices. The proposal is that we might do so through a project of three complementary parts: a reading/discussion group; a co-research inquiry; a workshop on the inquiry’s findings.
We start from the basis that cultural production – such as visual art, performance, sound – is itself a form of knowledge production.
If knowledge is never neutral, any form of knowledge production and distribution deserves our critical exploration; so as to understand its relation to how economic and social value is assigned, and to understand our own conditions of doing, not least in relation to one another.
For this, we will explore – in reading, discussion and inquiry – activist research that is often self-organised, precariously funded (if at all), and committed to its political positioning as well as to the desire to further the understanding of social processes. The last ten years have witnessed a renewed interest in such projects, whether called co-research, militant investigations or inquiries. The economic crisis of 2008 has placed even more pressure on interrogating the now and its proclaimed evidence of what constitutes truth and fact; yet, if the conditions for such kinds of research had been precarious before, they are even more so now in the face of broad sweeping cuts and reorganisations.
As a collective self-inquiry into culture as labour, the co-research project will begin with a series of discussions based on a short succession of readings. These readings introduce and the discussions explore the themes of research and learning in settings outside of academia or formal arts education. We will then explore the relevance such approaches might have for contemporary approaches to inquiry; exploring tools and practices to enable us to become co-researchers who then develop a three-month self-inquiry into our own positions and practices as cultural workers. We will then share our research in a public workshop.
In practice, the project will engage with traditional research institutions as much as contemporary art spaces. Doing so will enable us to recombine and hopefully collapse the distinction between professional educators and ‘genius’ artists, to move away from entrepreneurial celebrations of a so-called ‘creative class’ and towards emancipatory and critical education as collaborative research practice.


Part One. A series of discussions based on readings, starting 16 October 2012

Each discussion is based on the prior reading of a text.


16 October 2012 : Common notions: research outside institutions

Marta Malo de Molina, Common notions, 2003-04, Common notions, part 1: workers-inquiry, co-research, consciousness-raising,  Transversal (

download PDF : Reading 16 Oct Malo De Molina 2004


23 October 2012 : Workers’ inquiry and co-research as historical traditions for a contemporary practice?

ESC Atelier (Gigi Roggero et al.), 2007, The anamorphosis of living labour, Ephemera Journal), 7(1), 78-87.

download PDF : Reading 23 Oct 2012 ESC Atelier 2007


6 November 2012 : The researcher as subject and object in focus with forms of self-inquiry

Colectivo Situaciones, 2003, On the researcher-militant, Transversal (

download PDF : Reading 6 Nov Colectivo Situaciones 2003


13 November 2012 : Co-research into arts and culture as labour in the UK

A discussion based on a series of materials of the Prevarious Workers Brigade (PWB)


As preparation, take a look/ read some or all of the following (the links will take you to the respective pages

Ethics Code (Draft, April 2012), link here

Training for Exploitation? Towards an Alternative Curriculum. A Resource Pack (May 2012), PDF available here, and

Interview with Carrotworker Collective, published in FUSE, January 2012, read the interview here

There are various other resources and materials on the PWB’s website too


Time: 5.30-7.30pm

Place: Transmission Gallery, 28 King Street, Glasgow G1 5QP

Space may be limited, please confirm if you intend to participate:



Part Two

27 November to the end of February 2013 : Out of these discussions, a small group will go on to do a supported co-research self-inquiry into the subjectivities and conditions of their experiences of culture as labour.

You don’t have to intend to come to Part 2 to participate in Part 1.


Part Three

9 March 2013 : At a public workshop we will present and explore what our co-research has found.

All readings and further information available at:



View and download the fliers for this project in three parts:

Co-research: A project in three parts (Overview), A4 :  Co-research Overview A4

Co-research: Part 1. A series of discussions based on readings, A5 :  Co-research Part 1 Series of discussions A5

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