Edward Dorrian

Research project: Working out of a contested common ground:  A politics of drawing as collectivity and organisation


The proposed research questions, identifies and examines the problems of an art practice as an organised open collectivity in comparison to the practice of a radical politics created with equality as its fundamental concept. The research will analyse organisation as a problem of particpation: A politics defined, as being the relation between participants. As a relationship between those who partake in the fact of ruling and the fact of being ruled. Situating itself within a current debate that considers whether political activity is ‘suffocated by the notion of consensus', the research will attempt to question, in practice, whether art and politics as understood as forms of ‘dissensual activity' can operate in transformative and creative ways for drawing out a collective practice that critiques consensus and speaks about the possibility of equality and free association. When thinking then about how we might organise or create new ways of proposing egalitarian forms of politics, of ‘being together', how can we test and evaluate [art] practices that purport to carry out radical ideas of collectivity? The research questions as a cross-disciplinary practice the specific problem of the ‘open-call' project as a practice of such collectivity: Projects that invite open participation; calls upon the energies of interested publics to partake a contested common ground; sets out to think and make new and other collaborative/collective practices. I propose to evaluate this particular practice of ‘organisation' through extended peer-review, visibly incorporating feedback into the work's editing process.  The proposal develops other possible models of drawing (responses to invitations to participate) that build upon [my] past cross-disciplinary practice (artist-led/projects) informed by theoretical research/investigation of  parallel models. Can something be made of this? A politics of drawing. The syntagma ‘politics of drawing' meaning that drawing ‘does' politics as drawing - that there is a specific link between politics as a definite way of doing and [drawing] as a definite practice[…] Drawing as a discursive practice as ‘intensity' encountered as ‘weakness' in shared, collective and precarious risk. Participation in contraries: As paradoxical forms of action. Experimental source and forum for engaging, testing and evaluating multidisciplinary debate in the real world.Drawing as a speculative practice, enabling the invention of subjects as an expanded reading and writing. A wide-reaching category for various organisational forms, co-operative models and collaborative structures - as a practice - pertaining to emerging and open-ended cultural encounter, exchange and enactment.       

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Working out of a contested common ground:  A politics of drawing as collectivity and organisation
  • Research supervisor: Dr Jana Scholze
  • Other research supervisor: Ms Amanda Ure


I'm an artist and a co-organiser (since 1998) of Five Years, an unfunded, self-organised, collaborative artists' project based in London.


  • Drawing & Painting. Fine Art (BA Hons). Glasgow School of Art.
  • Painting. Fine Art (MA). Royal College of Art.

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston University, Kingston School of Art, Studentship/Bursary.


Conference papers

Being Together Is Not Enough:Drawing Study: Drawing/Reading Group. (performative discussion):The Embodied Experience of Drawing. A One-Day Symposium 2018 Plymouth College of Art.