[NetBehaviour] Socially Engaged Art, Critics and Discontents: An Interview with Claire Bishop
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jun 23 12:37:21 CEST 2008
Socially Engaged Art, Critics and Discontents: An Interview with Claire
By Jennifer Roche
What criteria should we use to evaluate socially engaged art?
London-based critic Claire Bishop recently raised provocative questions
and poked at the critical status quo about the discourse surrounding
what she term, "relational" practices — socially engaged art,
community-based art, experimental communities, dialogic art, littoral
art, participatory, interventionist, research-based and collaborative art.
In her article for Artforum (February 2006), titled "The Social Turn:
Collaboration and its Discontents," Bishop argues that the creativity
behind socially engaged art is said to "rehumanize" a "numb and
fragmented" society. However, she emphasizes that she believes socially
engaged art has fallen prey to circumscribed critical examinations. The
discourse, she argues, has focused mainly on the artist's process and
intentions, or the project's socially ameliorative effects, to the
neglect of the work's aesthetic impact.
"Artists are increasingly judged by their working process — the degree
to which they supply good or bad models of collaboration," she writes.
"Accusations of mastery and egocentrism are leveled at artists who work
with participants to realize a project instead of allowing it to emerge
through consensual collaboration."
“There can be no failed, unsuccessful, unresolved, or boring works of
collaborative art because all are equally essential to the task of
strengthening the social bond," she continues. "While I am broadly
sympathetic to that ambition, I would argue that it is also crucial to
discuss, analyze, and compare such work critically as art.”
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