Artwashing London #2: Art’s complex web of financial investments – an ethical dilemma

The first post in this series, Artwashing London, explored V22 and its alter-ego V220 in a little detail, linking its group of companies to its headquarters in the Isle of Man.  It asked why would an arts organisation apparently interested in social impact want to register its activities in a tax haven?

This second post looks in more detail at some more of V22’s connections and compares its stated aims to its other directly or indirectly linked corporate interests.  This is a trail from London to the Isle of Man to Africa and back again.  I do not suggest that anything illegal has happened but there are several ethical questions that, in my opinion, should be answered.

Artwashing & gentrification (or the deeply interwoven web of arts & corporate interests)

I recently wrote a blog post about Artwashing London.  It looked at V22 and its connections to corporate interests and offshore company headquarters.  I will write another shortly and more about different cases I think could be classed as artwashing after that.

It is important that I explain my rationale.  This is not a conspiracy.  This is global capitalism underpinned by neoliberal ideology.  Nothing illegal but perhaps unethical?

Artwashing London – ‘Artist-led’ Studios, Library Takeovers, GLA Cultural Advisors, Property Developers & Offshore Tax Havens

London is awash with ‘artist-led’ initiatives that use ‘meanwhile’ spaces as temporary galleries, studios and all the usual stuff.  There are many bigger companies doing this too.  Nothing new here.  Sometimes, like in the case of Bow Arts and Balfron Tower, for example, they are rightly called out for artwashing.  There are many more cases of artwashing now than ever before.  More and more people are getting interested in its cynical misrepresentation of arts and culture as a ‘community good’ when really art is used as a front for big businesses, national and local government ‘regeneration’, property investors and a whole host of other people wanting to make a profit from, what is for many people, social cleansing.  Even artists are getting in on the artwashing act.

But why would any arts organisation want to set up its primary base in a tax haven -  particularly one who claim to be all about supporting local people and local economies?  And, why would Arts Council England and the Mayor of London (amongst others) be happy giving funds to a company that’s ultimately based in the Isle of Man?

This is the tale of one such case – V22, an ‘artists-led’ and, indeed, ‘artists owned’ arts organisation with a few different incarnations.  It’s a bit complex, but that seems to be how they like it.  It is one part of a mammoth case of interrelated artwashing that’s going on in London right now.

The Idea: Profitable Business “As If” Performance Art (or The Complexities of Artwashing)

This is a reblog (with additions) of a post that was originally posted anonymously on LSE Sociology blog.  I must explain a few things.  I wasn't comfortable being anonymous because, as a fellow activist said, anonymity is the greatest dispossession.  So here it is on my own site.  I stand by my work but must explain that my issue is not with the ESRC research nor with anyone involved in the forthcoming research project.  I am only interested in exploring The Idea - Platform-7 and what I consider to be an example of artwashing.  It is also important to note that this work is personal and not connected to anything else I am involved with professionally.  I consider this part of my ongoing activist work: an intervention; a performance; research as practice (praxis); art (or perhaps anti-art).  It is an act of resistance and a critique.  If this is problematic, I'm happy to explain more.