Artist-led business as a practice of worldbuilding
An essay by Joon-Lynn Goh
Written in correspondence with Kate Rich
Illustrations by Rosalie Schweiker
Graphic design by Mia Frostner, Europa
Sex with Cancer is many things. It is a shop; it is an artwork; and it is a campaign, exploring how people living with and beyond cancer can take agency over their own health and wellbeing. What holds these things together is a business. Not a business in the way we usually think of a profit-driven company or social enterprise, but a business led by artists who have experienced cancer and who wish to shift cultures around illness and intimacy.
Taking my experiences of co-founding Sex with Cancer as its starting point, this text is an exploration of the practices and possibilities of artist-led businesses in the UK. Working at the scale of the everyday, I believe artist-led businesses have the capacity to build different worlds in our current one. They can be sites of experimentation, magic, and stewardship in ways that can make change and transformation more accessible, pluralistic and aligned with the needs of future generations.
As we begin an ultra-marathon recovery from a global pandemic that has exacerbated long-standing social inequities in the UK and worldwide, finding tangible forms to build different worlds is not a fantasy project. Rather, it is about imagination, agency and possibility. It is about never returning to business as usual.