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ICA Nought to Sixty Gazeteer No.1: i-cabin

I regularly contribute, on i-cabin's behalf, to the debate on current exhibition practice and I am often asked to comment on the notion of the artist-run space. It seems that the term is sometimes used as a substitute for a serious attempt at a worthwhile artistic agenda in that it acts as a synonym for 'alternative' or 'emerging'. In our increasingly lightweight creative culture the latter two terms read as inherently valuable in the search for the next big thing. Organisations believe that credibility can be gained by being seen to be, or to support, artist-run and emerging practices. I want to be clear that artist-run spaces, in many cases, fail to be any better than other galleries in nurturing artistic strategies of cultural importance and are not in themselves a sign of something important taking place. However, thanks to the research by Elena Serpotta, I am now beginning to remember that artist-run spaces are an economic and managerial scenario based on absolute necessity and artists' entrepreneurial drive to improve things for/by themselves. Sebastian Craig