‘I’m not being paid for this conversation’: uncovering the challenges of artist-academic collaborations in the neoliberal institution
Artist-academic collaborations are fueled by increasing institutional pressures to show the impact of academic research. This article departs from the celebratory accounts of collaborative work and pragmatic toolkits for successful partnerships, which are dominant in existing scholarship, arguing for the need to critically interrogate the structural conditions under which collaborations take place. Based on a reflexive case study of a project developed in the context of Tate Exchange, one of the UK’s highest-profile platforms for knowledge exchange, we reveal three sets of (unequal) pressures, which mark artist-academic collaborations in the contemporary neoliberal academy: asymmetric funding and remuneration structures; uneven pressures of audit cultures; acceleration and temporal asymmetries. Innovations at the level of individual projects or partners can only mitigate the negative effects to a limited extent. Instead this article offers a systemic critique of the political economy of artist-academic collaborations and shifts the research agenda to developing a collective response.