social practice

Post image for Learning Omaha: The Impossibility of Place (Part 4)

I’m home in Brooklyn now — I’ve been back for about three weeks. As the Department of Local Affairs starts up in Bed-Stuy, where I’m the artist in residence for the Laundromat Project, I’ve been thinking about different ways to frame and understand my summer.

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Chloë Bass's Department of Local Affairs office at Bemis Center

OMAHA — I walked from Nebraska to Iowa this morning, over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

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Chloë Bass photo for

OMAHA — Both teaching and social practice ask a leader (artist, teacher, organizer) to codify and articulate a set of steps that are then acted out by a group. There’s a place for uncertainty, but it should be strategically applied: by choice, not default.

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Post image for Social Practice for Domestic Workers: The NannyVan

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Recently, I watched as a group of artists and activists stood outside the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library beside the brightly colored NannyVan, talking to a steady stream of nannies about their rights and the obligations of their employers.

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Post image for What Tom Finkelpearl (and Many Others) Made, and Might Make

There’s been so much hemming and hawing about “social practice” art in the past few years, it’s a little painful to even say, or type, the phrase. So, it felt a little odd to be picking up a fairly lengthy book on the topic, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation. But the number one reason I was intrigued by this volume is the person who put it together: Tom Finkelpearl.

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Post image for An Artist Takes Feminism to the Stoops

“It’s a utopian vision of Brooklyn, isn’t it?” A friend asked this as we stood in the middle of her Prospect Heights block, watching people swirl around us, and I agreed. There appeared to be representatives of so many different races, ethnicities, genders, and economic classes, all packed into that one block, Park Place between Underhill and Vanderbilt Avenues.

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Post image for Major New Multifaceted Exhibition Focuses on Ecology and Environmental Issues

The word “expo” conjures big visions: grand pavilions, ferris wheels, exotic exhibitions, a world’s fair. But last Sunday, a different kind of expo opened at MoMA PS1, in Long Island City, Queens — Expo 1: New York, the latest curatorial effort of the institution’s director, Klaus Biesenbach. It’s not quite a world’s fair, but Expo 1, which is the result of a ongoing partnership between MoMA and Volkswagen, riffs on the idea by comprising many pieces that fit loosely together as a whole. It might best be described as an exhibition of exhibitions, or an extremely multifaceted exhibition, or an exhibition that’s “not only an exhibition,” as Biesenbach said at a press preview last week. He also talked about it in terms of wrapping “an envelope around the building [MoMA PS1],” while curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, a co-organizer of the show, called it “almost like a Russian babushka.” This was shortly after Obrist posed the essential question from which Expo 1 sprang: “What is a large-scale exhibition for the 21st century?”

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Interviews

Painting the Homeless

by Ben Valentine on January 10, 2013

Post image for Painting the Homeless

BERKELEY, California — Hugh Leeman’s work didn’t immediately impress me. It had a distinct Bay Area style, which is not my personal favorite — his paintings are loose, colorful, street art–influenced, and have some realistic surrealism mixed in — but what caught my attention in Leeman’s practice was the social utility interwoven with the artwork.

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Post image for Granting Reconfigured for Social Engagement

A Blade of Grass is rethinking what a grant to an individual artist can be. Earlier this year, the nonprofit organization, which explores alternative models of funding for interactive and participatory art practices, launched Artist Files, the first project in a multiyear experiment. The inaugural grant is rooted in the concept of social engagement and hinges on the harbinger of interactivity: the internet. Artist Files is completely public-facing, presenting the entire grant process in the form of blog posts and probing questions on the organization’s website. Visitors are invited to register and comment.

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Books

Art Cannot Provide a Way Out

by Ryan Wong on August 1, 2012

Post image for Art Cannot Provide a Way Out

In 2006, art historian Claire Bishop lit a fire under the collective seat of the art world with her Artforum piece “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents.” It set off — as much as any essay in the hermetic and staid world of contemporary art theory can — an uproar. Her new book takes it a step further.

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