L E E D S u U N I T E D


Home About Works Contact

In 1994 Steve Carrick and Sean Kaye, both lecturers at Leeds College of Art, decided to form the collaborative group Leeds United.

The group was born out of a desire to produce artworks that operated across the division between what might be seen as the artworld and perhaps what might be considered the more mundane world of everyday experience.
In 1996 in the New Contemporaries catalogue Leeds United wrote:

Most of our work exists as disparate activities or entities, separated by both time and space, site and non-site, operating in the gap between the social domain and the aesthetic realm. They are often essentially unclassifiable except in terms of abstract conceptual links.
Our present concerns lie with the apparatus that surrounds the reception of the art object itself and the notion of the opening, or preview. Its relationship to the night-out or piss-up has become central to our concerns as artists.

The name Leeds United was adopted as an attempt to take the idea of collaboration at its most blunt and down to earth. The more obvious associations with football were only ever a minor concern within the work but the name did supply a number of critics with a readymade list of puns to populate their writing.

Leeds United examined and questioned the operation of the art world through the appropriation of other artists’ practices. This often involved the production of works that existed in the slippage between the real world of artists, dealers and galleries and a fictional world albeit rooted in the everyday. These works promoted the absurd possibilities that might result from the methodologies and gambits of fine art practice being shoe-horned within the more mundane and perhaps less exotic world of the quotidian. This tended to promote the group as a bunch of pranksters intent on producing a number of amusing parodies of other people’s work rather than having anything serious to say about the nature of fine art practice.

Almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy, Leeds United’s desire to interrogate the ways in which the machinery that orbits the art object constructs meaning and value, to some degree backfired, as they themselves became fixed within this system as a drink and joke fuelled, laddish, northern cliché.

To escape this narrow and simplistic reading of their work they decided to branch out into other arenas of practice that could be adopted without abandoning their initial principles and concerns. They began to operate under a number of pseudonyms such as L Foundation and MOMA, all of which existed concurrently with Leeds United. Originally functioning as a duo, the pair was now joined by a number of other artists, although the driving force behind the various collaborative groups remained within the hands of Carrick and Kaye. The concerns of these new groups continued to be with the apparatus that surrounds the reception of the art object rather than necessarily with the art object itself but, importantly, these new collectives could operate without being weighed down by the alcoholic pranks that had tended to dissipate any real critical debate in the work of Leeds United. 

more...