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"RADMIN", radical admin

Posted: April 30 2020

Fascinating, fresh, relevant and novel deliberations. A short collection of tricks, loops, swerves and contemplation on the administrative, edited by Kate Rich and Angela Piccini. Download the PDF of RADMIN Reader 2020, here.

This book is a memorandum from RADMIN, Britain's first festival of Administration, hosted by the Cube Cinema in Bristol, UK in 2019. Stapling together fields of artistic, domestic, corporate, academic and entrepreneurial life, admin is something we all have in common. However, its signature activities (managing, fundraising, budgeting, banking, emailing, accounting, meeting, maintaining) are largely experienced in terms of background drudgery, individual failure or stoic personal competence. The RADMIN Reader 2020 opens up space to think about administration as not just something we are eternally subject to, but a site for action and intervention, radical histories, dark arts, wild experiments, new collectivities and meaningful work.

Put together by the Feral Business Research Network: What can artists do for business? The Feral Business Research Network brings together radical economic scholars, artist-organisers, business operators and other researchers around this urgent question. At a time when ‘business as usual’ has been cast broadly into doubt, we investigate how artists might be mobilised to design new, wild and experimental shapes in business and enterprise for a radically reimagined economy.

Getting into the nitty gritty, from page 7:

What we [the editors] are both interested in is the quiet and long-standing cordon sanitaire - in the artistic sphere but also slicing across fields of domestic, entrepreneurial and academic activity - between the work of administration and the ‘real’, sanctioned or valorised work of making (art, things, ideas, the world). We acknowledge the many artists who work with administration as gesture, aesthetic, form, frame and process. Phil Collins set up a working office at the Tate as part of his 2006 Turner Prize nomination show. Suzanne Lacy centres a range of administrative and management practices in her work. Yet, there remains a sticky refusal to acknowledge admin as ‘the work’, which is evident both in its apparition in a separate administrator class (at the institutional level) and in classing the administration that we all do - as individuals and in organisations - as an infernal necessity, categories apart from the creative practice. This segregation is both deeply disturbing and also bizarre. While in the case of the institutions it is no longer possible to overlook gender, race and disability, there remains a class divide or chasm around admin as a role and an activity. The cleaner-organisers are paid less than the enforcer porter-security guards; the secretary-conveyancers are rendered invisible by the lawyers. The manuscript writers are thanked as typists. Nonetheless admin is something we all have in common, even while largely experienced as a place of individual shame or stoic-perverse personal competence. RADMIN opens up the space to think about administration as not just something we are subject to but a site for (collective) action.