Art squats, artistic critique and resistance: Between recuperation and obliteration
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Art squats have been a characteristic form of the development and diffusion of counterculture since the 1960s. Their function is twofold, engaging in both art and social critique, and as a form of direct action in each field, resisting both capitalist property relations and the institutions of the art market. However, those functions may be displaced by others as a result of the effects of art squats themselves, such as neighbourhood gentrification. The changing cultural politics of the embodied critical practice of art squats are traced through three European examples. This paper follows Critical Cultural Studies in reading cultural practice as text to engage critically with Boltanski and Chiapello’s dismissal of artistic critique, and also problematising the alternative autonomist assumption that art squats unify the projects of art and social revolution by showing how their strategies can be subject to recuperation, while linking the strategies developed in art squats to contemporary practices of resistance.
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