'Messy Democracy' : democratic pedagogy and its discontents

Hudson-Miles, Richard and Broadey, Andy (2019) 'Messy Democracy' : democratic pedagogy and its discontents. Research in Education, 104(1), pp. 56-76. ISSN (print) 0034-5237


This paper reflects on a recent participatory installation by the artists’ collective @.ac, entitled Messy Democracy, as a case study to raise questions concerning the ‘distribution of the sensible’ within the neoliberal art school. The project set up a quasi-autonomous artists’ space within Hanover Project gallery 9 April–3 May, 2018 at University of Central Lancashire, Preston. This exhibition functioned as a space of collective pedagogy, co-labour and ‘dissensus’ situated in relation to the wider operation of the department of Fine Art. It also sought to operate as a critical alternative to contemporary models of the art school, rooted in notions of usefulness and romantic self-realisation, but re-structured in the service of ‘commodification’ and ‘financialisation’ in wake of the Browne Report (2010). Most importantly, Messy Democracy represented a ‘theatocractic’ ‘undercommons’ for alternate and counter-hegemonic subjectivities to emerge. However, hierarchical logics, resulting from the hegemonic ‘distribution of the sensible’ stubbornly persisted even within this nascent pedagogic democracy.

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