Negotiating Jeopardy: Use Value and the Work of Labour of Art

Negotiating Jeopardy: Use Value, the Body and Political Dissent.

This talk takes as its starting point the ‘Autonomy Symposium’ which took place at Van Abbemuseum in October 2011. For many involved in the Van Abbemuseum’s ‘Autonomy Project’, this symposium marked a turning point: a move away from repurposing the term autonomy, as a means to re-democratize the experience of art in museum and gallery spaces, and toward a radical re-thinking of how those spaces could be reactivated as constituent museums. This shift, itself set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the global occupy movements, depended upon a willingness to radical rethinking how art and use, as tools of change, relate to the individual, social, ethical, economic and political body.



John Byrne is a Reader in The Uses of Art at Liverpool John Moores University where he is also the Director of The Uses of Art Lab (which forms part of Liverpool School of Art and Design’s Art Labs Research Centre). From 2008 Byrne worked closely with the Van Abbemuseum on the development of  ‘The Autonomy Project’ and, in 2013, Byrne managed and coordinated Liverpool John Moores University’s participation in the L’Internationale project ‘The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’. In September 2015 Byrne took on the role of coordinator for the L’Internationale ‘Constituencies’ Research Strand and was lead editor on the resulting L’Internationale publication ‘The Constituent Museum: Constellations of Knowledge, Politics and Mediation’ which was completed in April 2018. In July 2015 Byrne also became a Narrator/Curator of the L’Internationale ‘Glossary of Common Knowledge’ and, together with Zdenka Badovinca (Director of Moderna Galerija), co-curated a ‘Constituencies’ Glossary of Common Knowledge Seminar that was held in Liverpool at Liverpool John Moores University’s School of Art and Design in 2016. As well as this, Byrne has been an active member of The Association of Arte Útil (AAU) since 2013 when he collaborated with The AAU, Grizedale Arts and Tate Liverpool to install and run a temporary ‘Office of Useful Art’ during Tate Liverpool’s ‘Art Turning Left’ show in 2013/2014. Since then Byrne has also coordinated a series of pop up Offices of Useful Art at Liverpool School of Art and Design, The Granby 4 Streets area of Toxteth in Liverpool, and at the Florrie Institute in Liverpool. More recently, Byrne has been collaborating with the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, on developing work around John Ruskin and the forthcoming Office of Useful Art which will open at Whitworth in the fall of 2019. Via the Uses of Art Lab, Byrne is committed to growing and developing the Association of Arte Útil network as a worldwide constituency of artists, designers, activists, and makers who wish to explore ways in which we can use as art as a ground-up tool for imagining ourselves otherwise.