A Story of London: Art, Financialisation and The Valorisation of The Public Space

Anna Isabelle ‘Sai’ Villafuerte

February 2018

This paper will concentrate on how the recent changes in art production reinforceor challenge the ‘financialisation of everyday life’. This is seen within the context of the 1970s when deindustrialisation paved way for a new epoch in capitalist development and, thus, art production. Likewise, to 'reinforce' emphasises the ability of financial discourses to assert itself onto other sectors of social life, namely on the creative practice. This analysis is significant, allowing us to dissect the ‘artist’ as an economic subject and as a vehicle for institutionalised practices. On the one hand, creative labour reinforces the financialisation process by placing primacy on an economistic logic, where it is central to the political organisation of daily life. In realising the profitability of cultural capital, artists are considered to be a productive social asset, conducive to the profit-driven tendencies of finance. This has expanded a creative labour force of flexible workers with limited to no forms of insurance. On the other hand, financialisation is challenged when its principles are used for purposes other than its intended use. By exposing finance’s commodifying and potentially detrimental effects, it brings to life new modes of resistance through the individualised practices of artists – that is, through the power of cultural capital over economiccapital. This is exemplified using the case of London and its recent experience with arts-led gentrification. Not only does this reveal the relationship between culture and capital, but it contributes to the discussion on financial subjectivities and their ability to valorise the public space.