Alternative School of Economics

The Alternative School of Economics is a collaboration between artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck. It is both an artwork and a way of working; it links artist practice with self-education as a way to study economics, creating a framework for investigating political, social and cultural issues. The Alternative School of Economics are in residence at Phytology throughout 2018. ‘Speaking to the City’ responds to the position of the Phytology billboard, facing out towards the City of London. Taking on the radical East End tradition of resistance, the Alternative School of Economics present a series of statements that challenge the City and its logic of prosperity through financial growth. The statements morph and change over a period of two months, as each word becomes the next, a narrative of collective action is told. The Alternative School of Economics began in 2012, and was in part a response to the banking crisis of 2007/2008 in which economics dominated political and media discourse, when every subject from immigration to education was increasingly spoken about only in economic terms, and the inevitable outcome, we were told, was ‘austerity’. “From this starting point, and our interest in self-education inspired by our residency at The Working Class Movement Library, we saw a demand upon the general public to redefine economics on their own terms, to study it through the lens of day-to-day reality and personal experience. We continue to re-think what the study of economics is – to think of it not just as a scientific study of money and finance, but a subject that expands in to the study of many things – such as politics, geography, sociology, conflict and social relations. In this way, The Alternative School of Economics aims to respond to the changing pressures on the societies (local and global) in which we live and work. The Alternative School of Economics sets out to learn together, collaboratively, and in a non-hierarchical way. It is a social practice, working with people, questioning ideas through conversations and relationships. It is also a process of education and our own self-education. Sometimes we make artworks like books, films and installations as part of the process.” Conceptually The Alternative School of Economics is a statement – that people who are not economists, can set up an alternative school to reclaim economics as a social, everyday tool. Photo by Hydar Dewachi.

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