conferences, Emerging Voices

CREATIVE LABOUR AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS

Day Two: Friday 2nd July, 10am-15.15pm (BST)   

Panel 1 – Transformations in cultural institutions 

10.15-11.15am

Chair: Kirsty Warner, King’s College London  

Stella Toonen, King’s College London 
Co-creation in Covid time: Opportunities for change in museums 

Abstract: Co-creation has become a prevalent term in the museum sector, but many museums are still hesitant to share power with communities, give away control and work without predetermined outcomes. The Covid-19 crisis has pushed them to rethink their relationship to working with change and uncertainty, as well as to the communities they serve and how the needs of these groups fit into their vision and practices.  

I will present an analysis of how co-creation has been catalyst for self-reflection and for organisational change in museums during the pandemic. To do this, I will draw on my fieldwork conducted at three contemporary art museums throughout 2020: Tate Modern (London), the Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester) and Queens Museum (New York). I will look at how they have used their co-creation expertise to navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic, but also how the pandemic has invited increased critical reflection on co-creation practices, and on working practices across the museum more widely.  

By looking at the opportunities (and challenges) that co-creation work offered for new learning and development during the pandemic, I will make a case for conceptualising co-creation as a catalyst for organisational change.  

Biography: Stella Toonen is a PhD researcher, based at both Tate Modern and King’s College London’s CMCI department as part of an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award. She studies collaborative practices between museums and communities and looks specifically at co-creation. She also works as a freelance researcher and producer, most recently on projects with the Museum of London, Creative People and Places, and Museums Galleries Scotland. Previously, she worked as a producer for public programmes at the Imperial War Museum and King’s College London’s Cultural Institute, as well as on exhibition projects for the V&A, British Museum and Science Museum. Stella obtained her BA degree in Liberal Arts from Amsterdam University College and her MA degree in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London.   

Inés Molina, Lola Visglerio & Alejandra Crescentino, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid 
Between the possible and the desired. Post-pandemic projections on cultural institutions in Madrid 

Abstract: In March 2020, the Spanish government decreed a state of alarm to control the COVID-19 pandemic, which lasted three months. One of the consequences of this emergency measure was the immediate cessation of all activities considered ‘non-essential’, and so concert halls, theatres, museums and art centres were closed, and events and festivals were cancelled. In this context, this presentation proposes an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on Spanish cultural institutions based on the reflections that arose from the public meeting ‘Culture and COVID: a conversation about artistic spaces and practices in Madrid’ (November 14, 2020). This meeting brought together several scholars and agents linked to three fundamental institutions of the cultural ecosystem of Madrid (Spain): Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina SofiaIntermediæ | Matadero and Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo. Authors addressed this debate as a result of a broader discussion about the challenges and issues facing art and cultural spaces today, which includes a series of questions related to the transformations, adaptations, reconversions and/or continuities of cultural institutions, as well as cultural work, during the COVID-19 crisis. Historical, institutional and temporal context is provided to situate the debate and further discussions, framed through an ecofeminist and degrowth approach. Key concepts such as culture as ‘non-essential’ activity, the ‘caring’ role of cultural institutions and the resistance to “compulsory virtualisation” during the pandemic, are addressed here. 

Biography's: Inés Molina, PhD candidate, Department Of Art History and Theory, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Degree in Art History from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.  

Lola Visglerio-Gómez, PhD candidate, Department Of Art History and Theory, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Degree in Fine Arts and Art History from the Universidad de Sevilla.

Alejandra Crescentino, PhD candidate, Department of Linguistics, Modern Languages, Logic and Philosophy of Science, Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Degree in Art History from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo.  

Authors are members of the research project ‘The publics of contemporary art and visual culture in Spain. New forms of collective artistic experience since the 1960s’ (PID2019-105800GB-I00).  
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Jie Qiu, King’s College London 
Digital Curators in Covid time: the museum’s digital heritage system and co-curation 

Abstract: The digital development of art and humanities areas is regarded as an opportunity for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) to explore the mesh connection and interactive relationship between digital heritage and remote visitors. Online access to digital objects, images, and records is the democratization of knowledge, enhancing personal visitors’ experience and extending the reach of the museum’s heritage to people who cannot visit all over the world (Clough, 2013). With the ability to connect to the Internet, digital technology has doubled the ability of individuals to participate in our collections and upload their own stories.It seems to be a widely recognised view that digital technology can extend the use of museums and democratise curatorial institutions, especially their digital heritage that can be spread by the Internet. As museums expand the digital heritage available to the public, the issue of linking these resources to the online learning experience has gradually attracted attention (Clough, 2013). However, the global digital heritage’s target audiences and learners do not include everyone. The reasons for this situation are complex and difficult to generalize. This study predicts that the digital divide, especially the compatibility of the museum’s digital heritage system with underdeveloped areas, maybe one of the main reasons why some learners cannot obtain the museum’s digital heritage. This study will design the research based on this hypothesis, and use the mixed research methodology to verify and analyse it.

Biography: Jie is an independent curator and currently lives and works in London and Hangzhou. She obtained a master's degree in Curating and Collection in the London University of the Arts in 2018; she obtained a master's degree in History of Design in the Royal College of Art (V&A Museum Cooperation programme) in 2020; she is a Ph.D. student in Digital Humanities at King's College London. Her research interests include contemporary art, digital humanities and digital curation. As an independent curator, Jie has five years of practical experience in curating in museums and galleries.Jie curated, lectured, or worked in V&A Museum, Han Meilin Art Museum, Turner Contemporary, Royal College of Art, University of the Arts London, and the First Jinan International Biennale. As a Ph.D. student in digital humanities at the KCL, she researches digital curation. Her research is about digital curation and digital heritage in art galleries and museums.
 

Panel 2 – Adjusting to the new normal: creative labour and working practices 

11.30-12.30pm

Chair: Jiawei Zhao, King’s College London 

Jessica Tanghetti (Ca’ Foscari Venezia / NABA Milano), University Ca’Foscari 
Precarity, connectivity and urban lives: the impact of Covid-19 on Milan creative and cultural workers 

The C-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing fragilities of creative and cultural workers (CCWs), highlighting their unheeded precarious working conditions. The strong connection between CCWs and cities and the concentration of creative and cultural industries (CCIs) production and retail or consumption outlets in major and global cities has further concentrated this negative impact, as the effects of C-19 have been stronger in cities. In Italy, CCIs are driven by the Lombardy region, thanks to the primary role played by the city of Milan. At the same time, Lombardy has been the Italian area with the highest level of C-19 cases. This study details the impact of C-19 and restrictive measures on CCWs operating in the region, presenting data from qualitative interviews with local CCWs alongside a digital ethnographic analysis of blogs, social media groups and online interactions. Among the main findings, the study highlights the role of C-19 as a trigger to broader debates and activism not solely for the emergency but for long-lasting changes. It has led to the creation and reinforcement of forms of collectivism and associationism in the city.

The paper also considers the role of the city as a stage of a public struggle and declaration of rights for CCWs. Given that the precarity of CCWs seems to gain attention only in moments of crisis, the study also reflects on the future of CCIs in cities branded as creative and the social securities and infrastructure necessary to allow CCWs to continue to flourish in the future. Research project developed in collaboration with King’s College London, CMCI (Dr. Roberta Comunian, Dr. Tamsyn Dent)

Biography: Jessica Tanghetti is a Post-doc Research Fellow at University Ca’Foscari in Venice, involved in a research project on creative clusters in collaboration with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. She is also a Lecturer in Arts Management, Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship at NABA Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and in Management at University of Brescia. She holds a PhD in “Business & Law”, with a research on business investments in the arts in England, conducted during a visiting period at King’s College London (CMCI) and supported by Arts Council England. Currently, she is Principal Investigator at “Shaping Tomorrow Today”, a research project in collaboration with King’s College London and Milano Art Guide on the impact of Covid-19 on cultural and creative industries in the Lombardy region of Italy, aiming to provide proposals to improve the sector, also in terms of cultural policies.

Massimiliano Raffa & Riccardo Pronzato, IULM University, Milan 
Music-making after the pandemic: algorithmic imaginaries and increased cultural optimization 

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated the processes of dislocation of the spaces of cultural creation and reception towards digital environments. In the case of music, this seems particularly relevant: streaming services, such as Spotify, have experienced exceptional growth, while the live music sector is suffering a severe financial crisis. Moreover, the culture of ‘social distancing’ triggered by the pandemic is likely to further marginalize the centrality of physical proximity within the processes of cultural exchange, while favouring the platformization of cultural production. Within this scenario, the role played by digital platforms and by algorithmic imaginaries, i.e. worlds of the experience users make of the algorithmic media, in shaping cultural production and consumption, is increasingly crucial. While the debate over the consequences of the aforementioned processes on music consumption is quite vibrant, much remains to be understood about how cultural producers may be affected. 

The main goal of this contribution is to address the following issues in the light of existing literature: i) The role of algorithms as cultural gatekeepers and how they may affect the creative disposition of music producers, as well as their strategies to relate with the broader environment of cultural production and consumption. ii) The optimization of culture, i.e., how cultural producers may attempt to create platform-optimized products adapting their creative efforts to platforms’ affordances, thus fostering processes of product homogenization. Finally, suggestions will be offered for future investigations regarding how all the actors in the music industry relate to streaming platforms. 

Biography's: Massimiliano Raffa, graduated with honours in Political Science and International Relations, is currently a Ph.D. student in Communication, Markets and Society at IULM University (Milan, Italy). After having worked in the creative field (in communication agencies, public institutions, radio stations, publishing houses, and as a musician), he undertook a research and teaching path focused on investigating the relationships between media environments and symbolic forms of culture. He has lectured at IULM University, SAE Institute (Milan, Italy), and the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy), holding classes in Media TheorySociology of Culture, and History of Music. His research interests include aesthetics of popular arts; media ecology and creativity; myths and symbols; history and geography of culture; new musicology; net criticism. 

Riccardo Pronzato is a research and teaching assistant at the Department of Communication, Arts and Media at IULM University (Milan, Italy), where is currently conducting a Ph.D. research regarding the production and reception of algorithmic media, within the doctoral program Communication, Markets and Society. Previously, he obtained a summa cum laude master's degree (MSc) in Sociology and Social Research from the University of Trento (Trento, Italy). His major research interests cover digital sociology, critical algorithm studies, everyday life, as well as socio-narrative approaches. He has already been accepted as an author to several conferences and got published in both books and academic journals, such as the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy and European Societies

Zinat Aboli, Mithibai College, University of Mumbai 
Small is big: OTT platforms are altering Bollywood’s business strategy 

Abstract: Many industries have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and there have been massive economic repercussions. Certain industries have been witnessing devastation. The Indian film industry is no exception. The Indian film industry which is the world’s largest in terms of feature films produced with over 1,500 films per year and generating sales of more than two billion cinema tickets is facing losses. The covid 19 pandemic has had far reaching impact on every aspect of the film industry in India. Big launches have been delayed, film, TV, and web series production has been stopped, movie theatres have been unable to show films, marketing and PR activities have seen a new low and low-wage worker are out of job and finding it difficult to sustain themselves. However, the Hindi film industry or Bollywood which is a front-runner within the Indian film industry is undergoing a transformation by taking bold steps to release their films online.With the theatrical releases in a state of limbo due to the impending lockdowns and stringent safety measures,more and more films are routing their release through popular OTT platforms.This present study focuses on the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Bollywood and the strategies adopted to salvage the situation with special focus on direct-to-OTT releases.

Biography: Dr Zinat Aboliis Assistant Professor and Head, Department of Multimedia and Mass Communication at Mithibai College, (a premier institute in Mumbai with top India Ranking) Mumbai. She has over 14 years of teaching experience for the Bachelors of Multimedia and Mass Communication program. She is a sociologist and media teacher with research interests on issues related to gender, social media, entrepreneurship, creative industries, and religious minorities. She holds a PhD in Sociology and has completed double Masters-one in Mass Communication and Journalism and the other in Sociology. She has presented research papers at national and international level. In India,she presented at Jamia Milia Islamia, University of Mumbai and Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai among other institutes. Internationally she has presented at Universities in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Malaysia. She is also a freelance writer and copy editor.

Panel 3 – Fashion practices in the pandemic era and beyond 

13.15-14.15pm

Chair: Lindsay Parker 

Lia Evangelina Barrese & Paolo Inno, University of Barcelona, Paolo Inno, University of Bari.  
The COVID crisis impacts through the GPN lens: the case of the fashion industry 

Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated some weaknesses that the arts and culture sector have been suffering from for a long time now (OECD, 2020). It has also highlighted the existing unbalances regarding power structures and geographic concentration within each of these industries and their networks at local, regional and global level. Precisely, power and geographic distribution are two of the main lines of analysis that drive our investigation in CICERONE, an H2020 EU-funded research project aimed at exploring the Global Networks of Production (GPN) in Cultural and Creative Industries (Coe and Yeung, 2015; CICERONE, 2019).This presentation aims to discuss the first preliminary results of the fieldwork in one of the selected industries:the fashion design sector, whose inequalities have been reinforced with the current crisis (Brydges & Hanlon, 2020). Drawing on the GPN perspective, we aim to shed some light on how the different segments of the industry (high-end/fast-fashion/emerging designers) have felt the impact differently in the different phases (Creation, Production, Distribution, Exchange and Archiving) of each of their value chains. From cancelled orders from their manufacturers to the digitisation of runways, passing through the new attention to sustainability, the fashion segment presents a quite encompassing set of problems, as well as our research in the field. Helped by a qualitative methodology that focuses on specific case studies, we argue that the dynamics of the fashion industry seems to be changing, but to what extent this is affecting the power relations and the segments where the highest added value are appropriated still remains unclear.

Biography: Lía Barrese is an economist specialized in Cultural and Creative Industries(CCI). After working 4 years at Buenos Aires City Hall developing politics to promote the CCIof the city, she was awarded with anErasmus Mundus Masters Scholarship for the International Master degree Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL) with a jointed degree granted by the University of Glasgow, University of Barcelona and University of Rotterdam.Among her publications: Barrese, L. & Pareja-Eastaway, M. (2020) Glocalisation dynamics: The appropriation of the ‘creative turn’ discourse in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2007–2015). Currently working as an Assistant Researcher on behalf of the University of Barcelona for the H2020 European research project CICERONE.

Paolo Innoholds a PhD in sociology from the University of Bari (Italy). His research interests include the subjectification of creative labour, social and cultural innovation practices and the study of the social imaginary. Among his publications: The regional journalism between storytelling and emergency. The case of Puglia (2020); Imagination as a sociological practice (2016). He is a journalist and a junior fundraiser. He currently works as Assistant Researcher within the CICERONE project, carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis on crafts and fashion design industries. 

Jazmín Ruiz Díaz, King’s College London 
When tradition meets fashion: Negotiations between popular craft, innovation and change of styles  

Abstract: Tradition, as a social construction, has been thoroughly analysed within disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. However, the ways in which tradition is enacted, performed,and negotiated in relation to fashion have remained largely under theorised. Against this background, this paper discusses the encounter between fashion and tradition by looking at the case of popular craft production in Paraguay. Drawing on Actor Network Theory (ANT), the study analyses Paraguayan popular craft as a process that interconnects a complex network of human and non-human actors. Within this network, the meaning of tradition is enacted through a series of associations that my research project aims to disentangle.Moreover, by following a set of actors through visual and digital methods, I argue that popular craft is interwoven by embodied, material and semiotic processes.Overall, I make the case that alternative approaches to fashion can amplify understandings of tradition as a creative, dynamic and living phenomena,while contributing to develop a decolonial research agenda within fashion studies.

Biography: Jazmín Ruiz Díaz Figueredo is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries at King’s College London. She holds a Master’s degree in Cultural and Creative Industries from the same institution and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences from the National University of Asunción, Paraguay.Her research interests lie at the intersection of critical fashion studies, decolonial studies, and gender perspectives on creative industries.Her Master’s arts-based research project KuñaJesareko: The Paraguayan female gaze in times of selfies aimed to promote the work of Paraguayan creative women on Instagram. Part of this research was included as a chapter in the book Amalgama: Women, Identity & Diaspora(2019)and featured in the magazine Marie Claire Argentina (May, 2021).

Gwyneth Holland, University of Westminster 
Dematerialising fashion through digital culture: Gucci’s virtual sneakers 

Abstract: The acceleration of digital fashion (such as NFTs, digital fashion shows and virtual garments) during the pandemic is challenging the nature of clothing – no longer tangible and embodied, it becomes something more performative, more temporary, eschewing some of the fundamental aspects of clothing, while heightening others.  

This paper focuses on Gucci’s virtual shoe, sold for around £12 (compared to around £500 for its other logo-covered footwear). It is a 3D model of a brightly coloured trainer, which uses augmented reality to appear as if the user is wearing the shoe. Its price allows more people to display the brand, while its technology limits its adoption to the most digitally aware consumers. 

My research considers how this shoe has emerged, its uptake and usage, and how it may influence the “wearing” of fashion. Gucci’s digital trainer creates different rules for consumption that owe more to gaming and social media than they do to the fashion industry. The garments only exist on specific platforms, designed to be displayed and then made obsolete. In this way, virtual fashion accentuates its commoditised elements: it becomes ephemeral content, detached from the sensation of wearing a garment, yet maximising the external impacts of clothing – display, expression, symbolism, status.  

This paper takes a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on theories of embodiment, consumption and digital culture – as well as fashion studies – to examine how increasingly digital lives will make the appearance of clothing more important than its worn experience, limiting fashion to a solely visual projection.  

Biography: Gwyneth Holland is a writer and trend forecaster with 20 years’ experience in the fashion industry. She is co-author of the textbook Fashion Trend Forecasting, and a consultant for global trend forecasting and marketing agencies, leading UK brands, and the Fashion and Design Chamber of Armenia.  She is currently studying on the Creative and Cultural Industries MA at King’s College London, as well as working as a senior lecturer in Fashion Business at the University of Westminster. 

Keynote speaker: Dr Anna-Mari Almila, London College of Fashion 

14.30-15.15pm  

In a Contagious Fashion: Some Historical Lessons for Today 

Abstract: After almost 1.5 years of the Covid pandemic, surely everything that can be said about Covid and fashion has already been said? We know about masks, and we know about those pants (and are sick of them). Yes, we heard that Ms. Wintour wears pants too, and saw that meme about Karl Lagerfeld and his (posthumous) pants. On the more depressing side, the cancellations of orders by big corporations, dismissal of vulnerable employees, hazardous conditions for those who have continued to work, sweatshops and accusations of modern slavery right at our fashion backyard, a mere 100 miles from London. What more is there to say, and how can new fashion futures be imagined?  

In this talk, I turn to history, in order to learn lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics, many of which are relevant to fashion in one way or another. During the Covid pandemic, there has already been a wide-spread interest in some previous pandemics, but not so much on others. Pandemic memories illustrate the dynamics of global collective memory and its blind spots, also touching upon some of fashion scholarship’s well-documented geographical and class biases.   

The Black Death of the 14th century helped stimulate luxury consumption and the emergence of ‘Western’ fashion, and it is widely mentioned when speaking of Covid. Cocoliztli in 16th century Mexico, which was caused by colonialism and allowed European appropriation of wealth used to stimulate fashion at European courts, is likened to Covid in Mexico and rarely outside of it. The Spanish flu that came in the wake of World War I was a major factor in the rise of the 1920s fashion boom, but it is in the Covid frame mostly commented upon the use of masks for medical purposes. Finally, the HIV/AIDS pandemic that emerged in the 1980s, and continues to kill today, was a deeply traumatising experience especially for the New York fashion industry for its stigma and horrifying early death rates. The stigma and experienced collective trauma, some argue, has contributed to a relative silence on AIDS’s impact on fashion and the fashion industry, a silence that has been increasingly broken only recently.  

I will end the talk with reflections upon Covid, global inequalities, and the importance of telling multiple stories of Covid realities, both now and in the future. Drawing attention to problematics of social inequalities, class, colonialism, and imperialism, and raising further questions as to whose lives matter, I argue that although the history of humankind certainly justifies pessimism and, often, despair, more optimistic lessons can be learned too. 

Biography: Dr Anna-Mari Almila is Research Fellow in Sociology of Fashion University of the Arts London. She writes in the fields of cultural, global and historical sociology, and her topics include the materiality of dressed bodies and their environments; fashion globalization and the history of fashion studies; the historical/political construction of urban spaces; and wine and gender. She loves social theory and (sociology of) wine. She is the author of Veiling in Fashion: Space and the Hijab in Minority Communities (2018). Her edited books include The Globalization of Wine (2019 Bloomsbury), The Routledge International Handbook to Veils and Veiling Practices (2017) and The Sage Handbook of Cultural Sociology (2016).