Artangel Commissions: The Impact of Hybrid Funding on New Hybrid Artistic Sites

By Charlotte Gould.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Basing our demonstration on research pursued in the archives of independent art commissioning agency Artangel, and after having conducted interviews with major actors of the period, we wish to demonstrate that Artangel have paradoxically both resisted and embraced the turnabouts of late twentieth and early twenty-first century cultural policies in Britain, and the now consensual hybridisation of funding for art. Since the charity’s creation in 1985, they have sought to control the degrees of accountability, private instrumentalisation and commercial exploitation their public, philanthropic and corporate supports might have been perceived as trying to exert. This reactive position to pressure, though not a vocal one, can sometimes be identified in the types of works Artangel has commissioned at specific periods, but mostly and much more clearly in the different sites the agency has chosen to occupy. From the outset, they have persistently sought out new locations for their projects which might redefine concepts of site-specificity. The aim of this paper is to explain why this major player in the British art ecosystem of the last thirty years came into existence when it did, and how it was shaped by the twists and turns of post-1979 British cultural policies. It also explores the impact its original take on art patronage has had on artistic definitions of private and public spaces.

Keywords: Art Patronage, Art Commissioning, Site Specificity, Public Space

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.11-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 580.942KB).

Dr. Charlotte Gould

Senior Lecturer, English Department, Parisian University Sorbonne Nouvelle, Nouvelle, France