5/31/18

Today in the van, Faith Purvey read from Pablo Helgera’s book, “Education of Socially Engaged Art,” and asked us what it means to enter a new place as a visitor and create relationships through the lens of a socially engaged artist? He talks about how participation generates vitality and that socially engaged art cannot be created through an academic vacuum. This question and article got me thinking about another article ‘Relational Aesthetics’ by Claire Bishop. In this writing, Bishop talks about artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, a contemporary artist who converted a gallery space into a kitchen, serving the viewers pad thai to create a communally engaged experience within the confines of the museum. Her argument was that there is a lack of antagonism within this engagement that makes this piece unsuccessful. Being within the confines of the white walled museum restricts the spectrum of the viewer, leaving only art critics, museum goers, artists, and curators, leaving a wide variety of people out of the experience. So my question is this, how do you define socially engaged art? Is it creating an awareness of community through communal experiences? Is it a way for an artist to enter into a space as a visitor and understand the culture of a place? Who is it for? The artist or the community or both? I like to think that it is for both the community and the artist alike, creating a relational experience that supersedes any ideas of individual experience.  

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