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Variant 8 Summer 1999
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Pierre Bordieu's Sociological theory of Culture - Brigit Fowler
With studies such as 'The Rules of Art and The Production of Belief', Bordieu's writings have been an important if not vital contribution to unravelling the underlying power structures within the production and economic administration of education, art and culture. Here Fowler, the author of an academic study of Bordieu and a lecturer at Glasgow University, presents a precise overview of his work to date.
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Art School Jungle - Lorna Miller
A cartoon work from the creator of 'Witch' exploring the horrors of the Art School life drawing class.

Tales From The Great Unwashed - Ian Brotherhood
A poignant and brooding short work of fiction which has the themes of protection and fear of loss.
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20th Century Prison Blues (an essay informed by four novels) - Jim Ferguson
The novels are The Star Rover by Jack London, Men in Prison by Victor Serge, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler and Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan. Ferguson focuses on several comparative aspects and levels of meaning in these works - their parallel use of the interior monologue as a metaphor for incarceration broadens out into a discourse on personal freedom.
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History of the LMC - Clive Bell
Well illustrated both visually and through Bell's quotations and painstaking research. The London Musicians Collective forms a bridge between the early experimental work of the 60s to the contemporary hybrid forms of improvisational and electronic music. Bell's very faithful account presents the history of the organisation from a very human and self-effacing point of view. It explores the little known evolution of the Collective and the vast range of unique events it has staged on an international level.
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'Tun yuh hand and meck fashion' - Mervin Jarman & Matthew Fuller
This is a short interview which outlines Jarman's 'Container Project' which is an initiative to take a mobile media centre to the streets of Jamaica.
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Comic & Zine reviews - Mark Pawson
Although tremendously popular and influential, comics and fanzines are still looked down upon in British culture as a minor art from. Variant provides this revue section as a regular feature. From recently produced and lavishly obsessive works of individual artists to re-issues of classics of the genre, Pawson's enthusiastic round up explores a weird array of underground graphic art.
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Supplement: Byzantine Politics (The Abduction and Trial of Abdulla Ocalan) - William Clark
The first in a series of supplements to the magazine, this has been recognised as at the forefront of reporting on the case. The product of extensive research - it is a wide ranging work sensitive to the many twists and turns of international law and diplomacy. It unravels the events surrounding the abduction of Ocalan by forces which had earlier planed his assassination, revealing grave abuses of international law and the judicial process. Ocalan remains in a Turkish jail in circumstances exactly similar to those surrounding Nelson Mandela's imprisonment.
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The Wilson Plots - Robin Ramsay
Robin Ramsay is a writer whose work provides a unique insight into the political history of the 70s. It is an account which - unlike conventional versions - takes into consideration the activities of the security services and associated agencies. The focus of this essay includes various attempts at de-stabilising the Wilson government. The essay looks back on the paucity of the process whereby information came to public attention in the media concerning the 'Spycatcher' affair and the case of Colin Wallace. It also brings the reader up to date and outlines the inadequacies in regulation of the largely unaccountable 'secret state'.
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Dragsters and Drag Queens - Simon Herbert
The first of two US anthologies reviewed in Variant 8, this is a comprehensive review of the anthology 'The Citiizen Artist', which contains a selection of retrospective works from 78 - 98 drawn from the influential US-based High Performance magazine. The book provides an in-depth commentary on the - at times highly charged atmosphere - of the period, of which High Performance editor Steve Durland is quoted to have remarked: 'the performance artists had become the evangelists, and the evangelists the performance artists.'
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A Cut and Paste Conversation - Renee Turner & Jason Bowman
Interviewed by Jason Bowman, Renee Turner is part of the De Geuzen Foundation. Based in Amsterdam it is essentially an art and design team dealing with site and context specific projects. The Foundation started in 96 as an attempt to create a forum in the Netherlands for critical inquiry and to initiate situations where visual practices are viewed and understood as integrated social processes.
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Art Activism and Oppositionality - Ann Vance
The title is that of the anthology of work from Afterimage magazine edited by Grant Kester. Afterimage aimed to challenge institutional hierarchies and widen the remit of art criticism. It wanted theory to engage directly with context, community and issues of accountability and account for (and reveal) its bias. Vance reviews the themes of the collection finding its ideas and contentions still highly relevant to contemporary concerns.
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The First European Seminar on Artists-run Spaces - Micz Flor
Held in Stockholm with over 30 Europe-wide initiatives participating, this gathering was a unique opportunity to explore the history, reality and future of artist-run spaces. Micz Flor reports back on the flexible structures which have emerged to deal with ethical dilemmas and bureaucratic obstacles.
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Return to the far Pavilions - Daniel Jewsbury
A review of the 48th Venice Biennial with a particular focus on the national pavilions. Jewsbury concentrates on the Irish and British contingents.
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When you care enough to be the very best - Leigh French
A well-researched round up of the latest attempts by several funding bodies to comply to new government directives. The article presents a strong case that the coercion making public funding bodies function 'pseudo-capitalistically' and uphold 'market values' has had a damaging and suppressing effect on any open debate.
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