While reading Randy Martin’s piece, I became very interested in his proposed idea of the interrelation between public and private in art-making. He writes: “In practice, art-making is an intricate journey where public and private are at once the vehicle, the route, and the destination” (p. 1). I wonder how this play works, and how could we define the public and the private. We have been analyzing with APP before, for example, how malleable, complicated and constraining the notion of “public” can be. Public spaces, for example, are typically considered to be a space in which people are free to enter from a determined hour to a determined hour. But does that make that space “public”? Does everyone fell free to enter such space? The same happens, I believe, with the notion of “public” when thought in relationship to art: can we really talk about “public art”? Is there an art for all of us? Or is it that the notion of “public” as we generally understand it is an utopia? And this, I think, goes beyond artists’ intentions.
Hence, I find the idea of artist citizenship interesting. Martin defines it as “an invitation to view the work where the artist forms a partnership with the public (…) artists who make a commitment to speaking on behalf of their work undertake a social compact with their audience that opens routes between creativity and judgment and between who gets to make art and who gets to decide what is done with what is made.” (p. 15). Many questions arise in my head, from this sentences: how can those partnerships be developed? What form can they take? Doesn’t the artist always have to decide which his/her public will be? Isn’t the artist, in the end, the one taking the main decisions in this partnership? How democratic can it be? Don’t artists always speak on behalf of their work? Isn’t there always a social compact between an artist and audience? How can this be different according to the artist awareness of his/her social intentions?
Many of these questions come back to Enwezor’s text. He writes: “the collective imaginary has often been understood as essentially political in orientation with minimal artistic instrumentality. In other instances shared labor; collaborative practice; the collective conceptualization of artistic work have been understood as the critique of the reification of art and the commodification of the artist. Though collaborative or collective work has long been accepted as normal in the kind of artistic production that requires ensemble work such as in music, in the context of visual art under which the individual artistic talent reigns such loss of singularity of the artist is much less the norm, particularly under the operative conditions of capitalism”. So, some more questions: how can the individual artist be merged into a collective? How does this vary according to the artistic practice? How can the loss of singularity of the artist be achieved in an “artistic citizenship”?