start of an abstract I’m working on. In The WORKS

The Impossible ‘Architecture’ –

How artistic collectivism  and interventionist collaborative practices can be a confident move from Aesthetic autonomy to engagement with the social, the work place and the community.

Over the past 10 years or so, socially engaged artists have made ‘work’ that is, distributed into the public sphere using various mediums including, more recently, the internet (Yes Men, The Thing, etc). It’s important work as it radicalizes the individual from precarious artworld viewing traditions such as the White Cube space and allows an unknown recipient to carry out the act of the street (or other space) intervention without necessarily recognizing its place within the field of art.

The list of interventionist art is varied and wide even though many still consider it to be ‘outsider art’. This would be a mistake to believe this critical brush over.  There are many dominant key figures who have been individually, or more usually, collectively engaged in a practice that sometimes operates within an interventionist’s field – often for more political / social engagement, which that of the gallery can not offer.

Theorist Stephen Wright describes the interventionist as an ontological secret agent who is forced to don multiple identities: artist/activist, theorist/practitioner, participant/viewer, organizer/organized.[1] No doubt the interventionist curator will find such ontological fabrication indispensable, such as the street or publications apposed to the institution.

The list is endless but for referencing points we can look to artists who have a heavy history linked to interventionist practice within art: Art&Language (NY); Artists Meeting For Cultural Change; PAD/D (Political Art Documentation/Distribution); Group Material; Alan W. ABC No Rio; REPOhistory; Temporary Services; Anarchitecture; Yes Men; The Thing, etc.  They all have the same thing in common; A belief that through a collectivity, a collective unity, art as a communicative activity has the potential of disclosing hidden structures and power relations and repression within systems that rule our society (artworld and non art world).


[1] Stephen Wright, unpublished paper presented at the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo Egypt, December 13, 2005.

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