Common Cause values

The Public Interest Research Centre’s (PIRC) Common Cause Handbook [1] provides a useful outline of what they see as principles of how to work as impartially as possible. According to PIRC “values, as well as influencing our behaviours and attitudes, are connected to the way we understand the world”.


An artist, particularly when working in an actively political environment, must be aware of the potential for their values to influence: as we all have our own intrinsic and extrinsic values it follows no art can be value-free. If the artist’s values are going to be embodied in their practice, it may benefit the work for those values to be embraced rather than restricted. However, for a value to guide the work it must be relevant to it - context is key.


With campaigns such as the SOAS Justice for Cleaners, there is a clear set of intrinsic and extrinsic values centred on the importance of societal good over monetary worth and community over corporatism. With values not just explicit but at the core of their campaign, the question then arises around how this can be explored artistically.


In artistic work around such campaigns there are necessarily two sets of values: the subject’s and the artist’s. As the sets are unlikely to ever be in complete agreement - for example, a tension between what the cleaners wanted to talk about and what I wanted to show - whether the values are shared is of lesser importance than acknowledging they exist, and being continually aware of how they shape and reinforce thoughts and actions.



[1] Public Interest Research Centre’s (2012) 'Common Cause Handbook'