Social Montage: Speak-Act-Print-Publish!

Andy Hewitt, Mel Jordan

Research output: Non-Textual OutputExhibition


Partisan Social Club: Art-Study-Action represents a body of artworks that are presented in exhibition projects in art galleries and an art biennial. A series of methods for study, collaboration and production were developed to produce participatory artworks and events. The Partisan Social Club use membership, shared study, tagging and publishing together as techniques for social art practice. Through membership we enable the coming together of those with shared interests, creating a temporary institutional framework to debate political issues, leading to the production of creative outputs. Shared study supports skilling, develops ideas and confidence and provides knowledge on agreed topics. ‘Tagging’, allows members to work together to design and produce their own public events. These ‘tagged events’ call forth new participants who become members. Thus, membership of the Partisan Social Club expands with each collaborative event.

For Social Montage: Speak-Act-Print-Publish! We wanted to experiment with how the site of the work created a type of action as well as suggested new meanings. We worked with labour, economics and platform capital as a way to explore this. We produced slogan-boxes in the print workshop at Edinburgh Printmakers. In this instance we invited members to perform with and site the slogan-texts. We were able to use the education space, the outsides space, and the gallery space to host workshops, talks and present documentation of the PSC members.

Whilst in residence in the print workshop at Edinburgh Printmakers, we worked with artist and technician Anupa Gardner to screen-print eight new slogans onto four sides of 130 cardboard boxes (slogan-box). We aimed to explore the relationship between print, the body and publishing. We wanted to make reproducible, modular objects for PSC members to interact with. By printing a slogan-text onto a 3-dimensional mass-produced object we hoped the work would invite engagement through looking, reading and physical interaction. The boxes host the texts: Free work from capitalist exploitation; Working for mutual co-operation and solidarity; e-Workers of the world, unite!; Re-educate platform capitalists; All power to the commonist workers; End the accumulation of capital - work to satisfy human needs; Labour for common wealth not private property; Living labour - workers against capital.

The content for the slogan-boxes is labour; informed by Bruno Gulli’s ontology of labour (Gulli: 2005), in which he presents an alternative framing of labour as essential to our society; Gulli asserts that our current understanding of work is one that is co-opted by capitalism for the accumulation of private wealth and accordingly he attempts to recast labour as a type of human agency, in order that we can reclaim it for new social and collective endeavours. The slogans also refer to the realities of contemporary working conditions as articulated by Nick Srnicek, in his book ‘Platform Captialism’, he describes global tech companies as ‘economic actors within a capitalist mode of production’, rather than cultural or political actors who are informed by cultural values. (Srnicek: 2017). The cardboard box is a symbol of goods and trade.

As part of a study workshop we gave the slogan-boxes to the members of the workshop to engage with. Edinburgh Printmakers have relocated to an ex-factory building in Fountainbridge, the surrounding area between the building and the canal is awaiting redevelopment and is an unoccupied brownfield site. The PSC members took the slogan-boxes to the nearby site; they made an obstacle course, built arbitrary structures, put up a wall, strung the boxes together, defaced them- disconnecting them from their slogan, filled them with debris and embodied the slogans by carrying and wearing the boxes. This defiant response by the group could be ascribed to a number of factors; the ‘stirring’ labour slogans, the disposable nature of the mass-produced boxes, the camaraderie produced through working together, and the sense of freedom and potential that the wasteland offered, uninhibited from the typical rules of public space. We produced three billboard posters from documentation of PSC members using the boxes in the wasteland space. We installed the posters and the rest of the boxes in the gallery space with an invite to move them around or take them away.

Social Montage: Speak-Act-Print-Publish! was commissioned by Edinburgh Printmakers, Castle Mills, Edinburgh, for a residency in the print workshop resulting in an exhibition in their new gallery space, Gallery 2. Technical support, Travel and artist fee. £5,000. The residency 27 May- 1 June, exhibition 15 June to 14 July 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


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