Black Dogs is an art collective formed in 2003 in Leeds. Our output has included formal exhibitions, relational and participatory installations, public events and interventions, publications, video, audio works and records and collaborative learning projects. The membership of the group is notionally fluid and can vary on a project-to-project basis, although in practice we have a fairly consistent core of fourteen members currently living and working between Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, London and Milton Keynes.
Black Dogs artistic and critical interests are broad and varied, underpinned by an interest in art’s potential as a social practice. We approach art as a space in which to experiment with new ways of understanding the world - and of being and acting together - that have social, economic and political resonances. We aim to unpick and problematise values such as self-advancement, competition, professionalism and the separation of art from life that we understand as being ingrained in capitalism and, by extension, the institutional art world.
We see our practice as having two main dimensions. Firstly, the projects and artwork we create. Secondly, the process of working as a collective. We are attentive to the way in which Black Dogs organises and goes about its (non) business, the alternative sphere in which we play (and help shape), and the ethics and social relations that arise from this. Through the structure and operation of the group we digest and analyze collectivity, collaboration, not-for-profit motives, hierarchies, waged-labour and DIY or self-organised approaches.
To date, Black Dogs has operated as a voluntary, not-regularly-funded and not-for-profit organization. Our activity is unwaged and any profits that are made are used to realise future projects. Our overheads are kept to a minimum by being nomadic and meeting in houses or in pubs; producing works that do not require studio space to make them; and through a creative and appropriate use of whatever resources are available.
Black Dogs is maintained through the dedication of spare-time and a collective belief that time outside of paid employment can be used productively and enjoyably to problematise the capitalist constructs of 'work' and 'leisure'. We hope that the operation of the group can articulate and inspire non-capitalist values as well as, if not more effectively than, the projects we undertake.
Leeds core 2008 - 2010
Leeds core 2004 - 2008
Associated members, collaborators and participants
Bryan and Laura Davies
Matt and Ross
No Fixed Abode
Peter J Taylor
The Drawing Room
Werewolves of London
(please contact blackdogsleeds [at] yahoo [dot] com if we have missed you from the list).
Cassie Kill kindly did a case study on Black Dogs as part of her MA which has been presented online as a Wiki page. You can view and contribute to it here.
Original website design by Dan Carey using Indexhibit, modified and maintained by Andy Abbott.