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Susannah Haslam

PhD Work

Knowledge Mobility

The research project knowledge mobility considers broadly the contemporary domain of alternative arts education after the Educational Turn in art between 2006 and 2016, in London. It is composed across three thematic sections: knowledge, dialogue, organisation, which structurally inform the thesis and are reflections on an intertextual, part-collaborative, practice-led research process. A primary interest of this research has been in the productive and transformative capacity of the alternative model or organisation of arts education. Alternative is here defined, in the context of the surrounding literature of the Educational Turn in art, as a temporary or permanent project, programme or organisation led by artists, curators, and/or educators in response to the identified crisis in arts education.

The first part on knowledge consists of a lateral survey of the Educational Turn in art focussing on the contemporary practice of self-organised education and its associated art practices; the economic context of the UK’s creative economy after New Labour including the formation and implementation of knowledge exchange in arts education institutions; and the immediate art historical context of Relational Aesthetics. The second part introduces dialogue as the methodological frame; charting the research formally as dialogic and in dialogue, or intertextual, after Mikhail Bakhtin, Maurice Blanchot, Grant Kester, Michael Schwab and Céline Condorelli. It presents the research practice as a series of long-term conversations with four separate alternative organisations outside of the immediate domain of art: Leeds Creative Timebank, THECUBE coworking space, the IF Project experimental university and the Syllabus programme at Wysing Arts Centre. The third part evaluates the research against its context of the Educational Turn. It proposes in organisational terms that a possible future of arts education, specifically in the UK, will be hybrid: the symbolic institutions of education and alternatives, must work harmoniously to produce a middle ground between an increasingly exclusive institution of arts education and an increasingly exclusive set of alternative organisations that remain to be governed by the art market and its actors’ alignment to such market. This work sits in the present, and as such, its greatest task is to attempt to keep pace with a continually evolving discourse in this field.

This research addresses how knowledge mobility can critique and propose movement away from the instrumentalising capacities of the Educational Turn in art, considering an alternative to the go-to model of alternatives and understanding alternative actions as modes of addressing the crisis in arts education.


  • Susannah Haslam
  • PhD


    School of Communication


    Information Experience Design, 2013–2018

  • Susannah is a research practitioner and PhD candidate currently based at the Royal College of Art part of the AHRC's Creative Exchange research programme in the School of Communication. She is currently associate lecturer at LCC on the Contextual and Theoretical Studies programme. Susannah trained in art history and art theory in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths.

    Susannah works, writes and publishes in the expanded field of contemporary art. Her research broadly explores the contemporary conditions and notions of knowledge, work, community, intimacy, technology and space in relation to art — its worlds and its matrix of discourse — through a written, organisational and dialogic practice.