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How Not To Sell Your Soul at No Soul For Sale, Tate Modern, London, May 14th - 16th, 2010
Black Dogs were invited to take part in 'No Soul For Sale'; a three day event which posited itself as a festival of independent and not-for-profit art organisations. The invitation prompted much anxiety and cynicism within the group as we were concious of the contradictions and tensions involved in partaking in an event that both flattened out the nuances of independent and autonomous art production and valorised the Tate; a signifier par excellence of the institutional Artworld with which we feel little affinity.
After much internal debate we decided to use our presence at the event as a way to prompt discussion between visitors and participating groups about the nature of independent and radically not-for-profit art activity. We phrased this conundrum as 'How Not To Sell Your Soul at No Soul for Sale' and created a space in which this discussion could take place.
As we were obliged to spend up to 14 hours a day in the space without pay or remuneration for materials, travel or other expenses we made a decision to turn our space into a pub. This was both a way of transporting our usual meeting space into the Tate - demonstrating how the group operates - and addressed our own solution to the 'How not to sell your soul' puzzler; that being, 'Make sure you have a good time!'. The pub was complete with piano, table football table and all manner of bar tat that had been sourced from local boozers and breweries in Bankside, London and Leeds.
Visitors to the space were invited to have a chat about notions of recuperation and co-optation in the Artworld whilst watching members of Black Dogs drink booze. Beer mats were provided as a way of gathering and displaying advice alongside A3 posters that had been contributed in advance through an open call for submissions and by contacting other participating groups (click on the links to see the archived submissions).
In addition the group wrote and performed a Pub Quiz that outlined the landscape of politically-engaged avant-garde art history and commented on the venue for No Soul For Sale Event itself. The tie-breaking question asked the audience to guess the total non-remunerated artistic expenditure for all participating groups. The correct answer was approx £235,000. The winning team were rewarded with a copy of volume one of Henry Lefebvre's 'Critique of Everyday Life'.
Black Dogs came away from the event with some new excellent friends and knowledge of inspirational artist groups, slightly hungover but having had a seriously good time.
Black Dogs at NSFS were
Andy Abbott, Steven Allbutt, Michael Burkitt, Yvonne Carmichael, Luke Drozd, James Hill, Richard Ormrod, Bryony Pritchard, Dave Ronalds, Eva Rowson and Mick Welbourn