Recomposing the image of the world: micropolitical art interventions in the 21st Century

Shepherd, Jessica. 2019. Recomposing the image of the world: micropolitical art interventions in the 21st Century. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research explores how creative practices can renew perceptions of ‘globalisation’. Against the backdrop of increasingly polarised political discourses, in which ‘globalisation’ is often understood as synonymous with ‘global capitalism’, the following research aims to expose and deconstruct ideologies that ultimately situate people as commensurable and exchangeable. Its purpose is to find ways in which through cultural practices - in particular micropolitical art interventions - we might recompose the image of the world, facilitating critical methodologies that can sustain creative freedom and positively impact the ways in which we constitute our environments.

To do this, it turns to the work of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, in particular his writings on ‘world-forming’, and undertakes embodied reflections on these writings through three practices: protest performances with arts group Liberate Tate, grassroots curatorial practices with Art Action UK and institutional research at the Arnolfini in Bristol (participating in the Arts Council England Quality Metrics framework). I approach these three practices through analyses of three key philosophical threads throughout Nancy’s writing: spacing, exscribing and co-appearing. These concepts are critically evaluated with reference to their philosophical or literary context, contemporary art theory and political theory.

To further address why and how these practices might recompose the image of the world, each analysis plots the development of theory from ontology to the political – a process that Nancy visualises as a ‘slope’ or ‘inclination’. Tracing this incline throughout Nancy’s writing, the thesis looks at ways in which cultural practices can sustain critical and creative engagement, facilitating alternative global paradigms. It suggests that recomposing the image of the world has ethical implications for artists, curators, audiences and cultural institutions.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis, with third-party copyright images removed.


Jean-Luc Nancy, world-forming, globalization, political art, Liberate Tate, Fukushima, institutional practices

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 March 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2019 14:47

Last Modified:

31 Mar 2022 01:26


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