Do-It-Yourself: Politics and Aesthetics in the Margins and the Mainstream
2010. 92 pages. 8" x 5 1/4". Hand-stitched binding. First printing, 10 copies. Second printing, 10 copies. Open edition, currently out of print.
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Do-It-Yourself is Jamie Q's Master of Fine Arts thesis. It begins from a self-critical point of wanting to produce art that is not dependent on theory. It argues for the social value of non-theoretical object-based artwork, specifically regarding its potential as a form of local resistance to dominant systems of production and distribution. It outlines the complexities of the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic, and identifies its art-historical precedents in Dada and Fluxus activities. In addition to describing a mode of production or a political position, DIY can also refer to aesthetic qualities. By analyzing the work of artists whose work critics describe as DIY—including Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, and Barry McGee—the text addresses issues of corporate sponsorship and the marketability of marginality. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic capital provides a key framework for examining value systems in both the margins and the mainstream, while Andrea Fraser’s discourse around institutional critique dissolves conceptions of “inside” and “outside.” The inquiry is prefaced by contextualizing the text in relation to the author’s own studio practice.
Keywords: visual art, DIY, do-it-yourself, zines, artists’ multiples, institutional critique, Dada, Fluxus, art criticism, symbolic capital, Beautiful Losers, corporate sponsorship, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee, Chris Johanson.