Research

He is currently completing a book 'Being in a Band: The Leeds Art Experiment and the the Making of Alternative Culture 1972-1985' which explores the generative nature of collective creation on the eve of neoliberalism. It focuses on the post-punk scene in 1970s and 1980s Leeds, and on group-belonging in theatre and performance, visual art and music making. The book considers groups that came out of the art school, from Scritti Politti, Gang of Four, Delta 5 and Soft Cell, to Impact Theatre, the Pavilion Group, Ddart, and Hesitate and Demonstrate. It is a case study of the radical potential of higher education at a time when access to art school and university was free to all. He is co-editor of Post-Punk Then and Now, Repeater, 2016.

He is also currently working on another book, 'Anti-Gravitas', exploring the challenges to cultural seriousness presented within queer art and performance. It promises to be the first study to theorise the thrall to seriousness in academic and critical culture, and considers work which troubles the hold that seriousness has upon issues of value and importance. The book includes perspectives on the work of David Hoyle, Oreet Ashery, Kiki and Herb, Bird La Bird, Harold Offeh, Marisa Carnesky, Charles Ludlam, Joe Brainard, Jason Holiday and Shirley Clarke, amongst others. He is co-author (with Irit Rogoff) of Visual Cultures as Seriousness, Sternberg, 2013.

2018 will see the publication of a themed issue of GLQ on "The Queer Commons", edited in conjunction with Nadja Millner-Larsen of Goldsmiths.

In 2013 he made his first feature length documentary film, co-directed with journalist Ben Walters. This is Not a Dream tells a hitherto untold story of artist’s DIY use of moving image technology including original interviews with Vaginal Davis, Dara Birnbaum, David Hoyle, Kalup Linzy, Holestar, Nao Bustamante, Dickie Beau and others.

Butt was the co-director of Performance Matters (2009-2013), a creative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Bringing together artists, curators, activists, performance organizers, and academics to investigate the cultural value of performance, it was a collaboration between Goldsmiths, Roehampton University and the Live Art Development Agency. He was lead curator in the second themed year of the project, Trashing Performance. A DVD series, Crossovers, is now available for purchase delivering Performance Matters film and video research to broader media publics.

His earlier monograph explored gossip and homosexuality in the New York art world Between You and Me, 2005, and focused on the role of unofficial testimony in the production of queer art history. His edited collection After Criticism2004, brought together writings by contemporary artists and academics which variously foregrounded the creative and performative possibilities of critical response.