Orlek, Jonathan (2021) Moving in and Out, or Staying in Bed: Using Multiple Ethnographic Positions and Methods to Study Artist-Led Housing as a Critical Spatial Practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This is a collaborative research project concerned with the provision of housing by artist-led organisations. It is also an embedded ethnographic study of a particular house called Artist House 45, located in South Leeds. Artist House 45 is a pilot project by the artist-led organisation East Street Arts.

In this thesis I introduce the term ‘artist-led housing’ and stake a claim to studying it as a critical spatial practice. I adopt multiple, situated, research positions; each of which constructs a different relationship between Artist House 45, the architectural sites through which I work, and theoretical texts. This allows the roles and programming responsibilities of artist-led organisations to be analysed in new ways in relation to housing provision. In addressing the questions of why artist-led organisations are providing housing, what critical and spatial roles artist-led organisations are occupying in relation to housing and how embedded research can influence these, I make original contributions to knowledge.

I argue that artist-led organisations are conceiving of housing projects as both collective artworks and interventions within the housing market and sector. As such, artist-led organisations are occupying roles which differ from those of other ‘alternative’ housing practices such as community-led housing. Artist-led housing doesn’t nest easily within preexisting participatory models or coalesce into a coherent housing movement with shared characteristics, demands and goals. In response to this, I have developed new strategies and approaches, rooted in and among the day-to-day processes of artist-led organisations, for communicating, translating and scaling artist-led housing. This has involved the use of collaborative mapping and ‘multivoice’ writing. By adopting multiple research positions in relation to Artist House 45, I have sought to critique the project from different, and competing perspectives. This ‘moving in and out’ has involved changing my physical proximity to the house (i.e. from library-based study to literally moving in to live in Artist House 45 as a Researcher in Residence). It has also meant moving between different ethnographic methods and writing styles. Through embedded ethnography, I have been able to feed research back to East Street Arts quickly, allowing responsive interventions to be made while Artist House 45 was unfolding.

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