What is the connection between art and social change? I’ve pondered this question for many years. Art is a deed staged not to accomplish a social or political goal but as an end in itself. Yes, an act could be art, but what about activism?
In order to properly follow up on my experience with Creative Time’s social practice summit, and given my heretofore lack of involvement with #OccupyWallStreet protests, I was pretty much obligated to visit Creative Time’s Living As Form exhibition at the historic Essex Street Market. I mean, the art included, for the most part, is all about progressivism and alternative modes of operating within our faulty society. And community! I love that word, community! As a dutiful citizen of the world, surely taking in an exhibition dedicated to valuing people doing stuff together over commercially-based, materialized practice would amount to me contributing something, somehow. Right?
Last Friday, I attended Creative Time’s third annual progressive social practice-centered summit, this year held in conjunction with their Living As Form exhibition. The summit was a day-long affair, stuffed to the gills with presentations about current examples of the intersections of art and politics. Over thirty artists, groups and thinkers presented in quick-fire, 8-minute succession, tackling a wide range of concerns, from the recent protests in Madison against the union-busting legislature to squatting to abortion, among other, less specific but otherwise community-oriented projects.