Sandra Lourenço

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Sandra Lourenço's MPhil/PhD Art research project

Performative Interplay: Contemporary art as role model to anti-model of corporate management

This doctoral research enquires into the ways contemporary art has become a model for corporate management. Two entwined questions are essential: what kind of mechanisms should be enacted by contemporary art as a means to challenge the idea of model and how could these potentially alter the way corporate actors/authors think about artistic practices? As a means to understand how these two fields are being affected by each other in neoliberal ideology, an investigation is required from the standpoints of both art and management. This comprises of three stages: a historical review of artistic modes of production and their relationship with corporations in the 1960s through the case studies of Experiments in Art and Technology and the Artists Placement Group; a closer look at how art manifests in the imaginative economy of managerial writings; and the analysis of recent artistic practices, in which the performative takes a central role through the use of language.

By looking at cultural theory, management literature, corporate projects (Deloitte, Quickborner Team and Xerox PARC), management conferences (Daved Barry), and artworks of artists (Alicia Herrero, Burak Delier, Carey Young, Jan Peter Hammer, Joel Slayton, Harun Farocki, Nicoline Van Harskamp, Pilvi Takala, and Pamela Z), this research discloses contrasting positions and ironic inversion as an artistic strategy of differentiation. Performativity is understood herein as the vehicle through which corporate actors/authors extract the necessary inspiration to reproduce artistic expressions and methods. Conversely, it is also the means of expression that contemporary practices often employ as a way to challenge corporate interests.

This is achieved by deploying the theoretical interdisciplinarity of performativity and examining the linguistic standpoints of both corporate management and post-conceptual artistic practices. What changes today in contemporary art is not so much the meaning of parody or irony, but the nature of the artworks – implicated yet critical of capitalist structures – and the circumstances to which they are attached – the growing complicity of art institutions with corporations.

By delineating a situation in which artists-as-curators are paradoxically placed as critics of corporate institutional structures and participants of those same structures, this research puts forward performativity as a disruptive device of a model of work idealised by corporate management that has been redefined in artistic practices in the past two decades.


  • Dr. Andrea Phillips
  • Dr. John Cussans


  • Dr. Alison Green
  • Dr. Marina Vishmidt

Jan Peter Hammer, The Anarchist Banker (2010), video still