Dirty Practice: Don’t Wash your Hands!

Constructive Cross Contamination of the Arts and the Institution

Posted: 22 May 2019
By Maggie Ayliffe
Submission date:
31 May 2019
Event date:
Monday, 1 July 2019 - 10:00am to Friday, 5 July 2019 - 4:00pm
Annual Symposium

Contact Email:



Short Residency and Symposium / Wolverhampton School of Art / 1-5 July 2019.

Art theorist Boris Groys reminds us of the importance of external inspiration within art education, of what he describes as a modernist feature of the “other within”, or becoming other (2009, 32). In what he proclaims provocatively as ‘art as infection’, he traces the relation between the art school (and by implication the artist studio) ‘infecting’ or polluting the world and vice versa (30). Groys expands: ‘Artists need to modify the immune system of their art in order to incorporate new aesthetic bacilli, to survive them and find a new inner balance, a new definition of health’ (28).

In this year’s Dirty Practicewe announce: Don’t wash your hands! or How do we perceive ourselves within the sterile language of HE frameworks.

Bacteria, dirt and parasites, we could say, offer another breach of boundaries, though the paradoxical and often contrary overlap of activities: the parasite or bacteria, within biological, ecological realm can be both guest/host, active/passive harmful and beneficial. Michel Serres uses the figure of the parasite as a cypher that disrupts clear categorization, beyond the idea of infestation. It becomes ‘a break in the message’ where we are ‘parasites of each other and live amidst parasites’, while the notion who benefits from whom becomes impossible (Serres 1982, p. 8).

We invite responses that deal with educational structures (and spaces) through a wide range of artistic practices that reflect on the increasingly denigrated and ‘sanitised’ language of an institutionalised Art School environment.

Dirty Practice invites applications from arts practitioners seeking to address issues pertinent to this theme during the residency and symposium. Please submit abstracts of up to 200 words for either a presentation, workshop or a proposal for practice-based work to: Christian.Mieves@wlv.ac.uk 

Deadline: 31 May 2019

Successful contributors will be informed by 5 June 2019.