About PoCA


The Political Currency of Art (PoCA) Research Group investigates the condition and consequences of the claims to critique in contemporary art and elsewhere when such claims can be readily assimilated, as they now are, with the interests of more or less dominant cultural, state and financial institutions

This research is organized under the general umbrella of PoCA as well as more specific investigating of particular themes and strategies.

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The change in the status and operation of art's criticality is to be understood in the context of the recent shifts in social, cultural and financial structures and expectations over the last 40 years or so. Rather than being organised around normative or majoritarian standards, contemporary dominant sociocultural ambitions emphasise individualism, creativity, innovation, difference and questioning. These are of course key characteristics of what we have understood to be critical in art. But they are now also the characteristics that are to be affirmed simultaneously by liberal-democracies, insofar as they herald themselves to be auto-critical societies, and by contemporary models of capitalist economic advance, insofar as: (i) alterity and counternormativity are major forces of commodification ('rebel chic'); and (ii) the demand for innovation and difference is seen as a source of market expansion.

In these conditions critical art becomes emblematic of what is highly valued in auto-critical societies such as liberal-democracies, and the institutions and ideologies that promote it. This intertwining of interests, which leads to social-institutional-financial affirmations of contemporary art and the contrary (even when art practices claim to be institutionally critical) is what is meant by 'political currency' in this research, where currency is to be understood in the two-fold sense of our contemporaneity and also as economic circulation.

The project looks to understand what happens to art, what critical art can do, how its operation is to be understood, and what critique now is, in this condition. Our ambition is not only to reflect upon and generate contributions to artpractice in the light of what is understood for it to be political, but also to advocate art as a method for the redetermination of politicality as such. We aim to do so through a combination of discussion of practice and its contemporary conditions, together with curatorial and studio-based practices.

Image credit: PoCA logo designed by Mike Riley, Goldsmiths College, London


As well as activities run under the general umbrella of PoCA, there are also specific research strands co-ordinated by members of the Research Group.

Currently these research strands include:

The individual research strands are led by any member of PoCA, and attendance at any of PoCA's events is open to all.

If you would like to attend any PoCA event and/or propose research events or a new research strand please emailinfo[at]thepoliticalcurrencyofart.org.uk


PoCA is managed by a Steering Committee of five of its members.

For information about the work of the PoCA Steering Committee or if you have any questions about PoCA please emailinfo[at]thepoliticalcurrencyofart.org.uk