Artistic Lives: A Two City Study

Forkert, Kirsten. 2011. Artistic Lives: A Two City Study. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This project, based on a study of artists in London and Berlin, is an exploration of the social conditions of cultural production. I am exploring cultural production as an activity which does not fit conventional definitions of work, as it is self-directed, frequently unpaid and takes place outside of paid employment. It is precisely its irregular character which makes cultural production vulnerable to barriers to free time, such as the expensive rent and chronic overwork prevalent in London.

I explore the social conditions of cultural production as an intersection of several factors: material conditions (particularly housing and the cost of living) which can shape the time and space artists have for their work, and their ability to survive on part-time and freelance employment; the politics of the cultural field, which shape the expectations artists have for their work and lives; cultural and social policies, which also impact on artists' ability to support themselves; and subjective issues such as artists' sense of themselves and their work, their sense of place and their relationship to other artists. This project explores how these factors intersect and inter-relate, in the way that social conditions can affect who can be an artist, who can sustain an artistic career, and the ways in which one can be an artist. In particular, I focus on the relationship between housing and professional identities, and how this functions differently in London and Berlin.

In order to explore these intersections, the project brings together policy analysis, interviews, biographical narrative descriptions, photographs and descriptions of my travels through neighbourhoods in both cities. It is an interdisciplinary project which draws on analyses and methodologies from the fields of art, visual culture and sociology.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


artists, cities, housing, social policy, london, berlin, gentrification, precarity, cultural economy, neoliberalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


6 October 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Jan 2012 16:55

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:26


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