Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social topics, Arts

Publication Details

A thesis submitted to Technological University Dublin in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, August 2021.


This arts practice-based research [APBR] addresses a political and ethical problem, namely how a creative practice can operate contrary to the destructive, predatory forces of extractive capitalism. The research took the systemic, socio-spatial violence of enclosure and economisation as a starting point, anchored in the concrete conditions of Limerick city, to test the critical, political possibilities of collaborative, cultural work. From an examination of the ways in which lived space is subsumed under the abstractive logic of ‘the Economy’, two processes of abstraction and enclosure are isolated and examined: i) a hollowing out of publicness, captured by the lexigraph public (strikethrough), and ii) a process described as the economisation of space, a hegemonic framing of urban space in purely economic terms, which draws local inhabitants into a performative idea of what the city means, and who it is for. Working through a socially engaged process, a critical and cognitive mapping methodology was conjoined with the emergent phenomena of aesthetic events, to generate ways of knowing, producing and acting in common, contrary to processes of enclosure and economisation. Through an extended analysis of selected aesthetic actions – Free*Space; Critical Cartographies; Contested Sites; and The Laboratory of Common Interest (2015 – 2019) – the thesis argues i) that the social order of extractive capitalism is underpinned by an aesthetic order, which acts upon the embodied dispositions of populations; and ii) that the aesthetic order is susceptible to modification through a practice identified as aesthetic work, which is unpacked and explicated in detail. The thesis includes a fully diagrammatic chapter that deliberately interrupts the research narrative, complicating the question of how knowledge is understood, produced and validated, and by whom.



Technological University Dublin