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documentation and curatorial practice as political engagement

Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

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artist as producer and as citizen

Technology & Artistic Citizenship

A. Ellis

These two articles, though not directly related to this idea, make me think of collective online initiatives and curation. This immediately came to mind after reading Okwui Enwezor’s article “The Artist as Producer in Times of Crisis.” Enwezor writes, “The second type of collectives tend to emphasize a flexible, non-permanent course of affiliation…This type of collective formation can be designated networked collectives” (para 5). Continue reading “Technology & Artistic Citizenship”

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rirkrit_Tiravanija

In 1992, Rirkrit Tiravanija created an exhibition entitled Untitled (Free) at 303 Gallery in New York. This landmark piece, in which the artist converted a gallery into a kitchen where he served rice and Thai curry for free, has been recreated at MoMA as part of the installation Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now on view on the second floor. This back office curry kitchen has been replicated to scale, and the artist worked with MoMA to recreate the experience, with curry prepared and served by the Museum’s restaurant staff daily from noon—3:00 p.m.

In this deceptively simple conceptual piece, the artist invites the visitor to interact with contemporary art in a more sociable way, and blurs the distance between artist and viewer. You aren’t looking at the art, but are part of itand are, in fact, making the art as you eat curry and talk with friends or new acquaintances.

In the video above, Laura Hoptman, curator in the Museum’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, discusses the work, and visitors share their reactions. But come see for yourself, Thai vegetable curry and rice will be served through February 8 only, and the original recipe can be found in the installation.Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 3.20.44 PM.png

51iTtQKXTXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Enwezor.The Artist as producer in Times of crisis.

Artist

by Rebecca

When I first read Randy Martin’s article in Artistic Citizenship over the summer as suggested reading from Kristin, it resonated with me, and I took in as fact. Now, rereading the text after being in Arts Politics for a semester, I have a much deeper critical lens and a different analysis to the text.

Primarily, Randy states “artistic citizenship looks like an oxymoron” (pg1). His introduction paragraph shows examples of the times the artists have tried to banned from the state. For me, I do not see the artistic citizenship as an oxymoron. They go hand in hand, which is in fact why these empires have tried to ban the arts.  Randy continues with describing the artist is an individualist in which “answers to the muse, not the state”. But, how can you separate the muse from the state? All of our images, whether conscious or unconscious are surrounded by our culture, and our culture is of course infused with the government around us. I say it in almost every single paper I write, the artist holds up a mirror to society, it is how we understand the world. The mirror can be a direct reflection, or maybe a funhouse mirror, where we the spectators try to put the images together to make sense. Even artists who create art for arts sake, or pure entertainment, there is some form of unconscious work that seeps into the creation. I am reading Carl Jung’s work about the collective unconscious and how it informs the art we create and the art we as the spectator receive, which could have underlying effects on how I reread Randy’s work.

But, what I do love in this piece is the “key to artistic citizenship lie in understanding how art and artists are brought into the world (pg1). The notion of public resonates in a strange manor with me. I appreciate it, but in many ways I am turned off by a public performance art. Public visual arts, such as the civic monuments or the populist representational art, that Randy describes resonates very well with me. His statement “art is treated as the embodiment of shared values of the nation, public, or community – and serves to integrate through its own legible forms those who might otherwise remain strangers to another,” directly corresponds to my research in Jung’s work (pg3).

It could have been my initial excitement towards receiving a Master’s degree from Tisch School of the Arts, but the entire section on professional training within the arts is highlighted immensely, and in some way now, I do not know why I first thought of these lines as important. I think for me, I believe that there is an aesthetic value to the arts and I do love learning about it from a theoretical and practical state, so while I do understand the economic associations between commercial or independent art, I do think there is some merit in having training for the arts.

The strongest sentiment I have with the piece is  the same as when I first read it in July. “Unlike political citizenship, which asks that we take state authority for granted, art compels us to seek in ourselves the authority by which we are obliged to one another in the fleeting, discretionary occasions for publics to gather together” (pg12). It defines everything I believe that the arts can achieve and how we as activists want to engage our art in the larger social realm of the world.

Similarly, in Enwezer’s writings, looking at historical events, in moments of upheaval there is a direct relationship to how the arts are engaged within the society. In some ways, I disagree with the association of the artist as producer in a time of crisis to the link with modernism. Looking at theater history, while the Greeks were writing for a religious festival, there is an immense amount of political commentary when it comes to Euripides work. He was writing about class, women, and psychological state. While he was not as widely praised as he is now at the time, it was for this very resistance to the status quo of Greek tradition. Same with Shakespeare. Yes he was funded by the state, but Macbeth is a clear metaphor for the tyranny in the monarchy, he set five hundred years earlier in Scotland to ensure his piece was performed, but there is no doubt in my mind that his images subconsciously influenced the spectator.

Is community inseparable from the functionality of artwork?

The dialogue between the two articles hones in on the reflective, mirror-like quality of art concerning society. Art in collective contexts distorts the familiar associations and bridges within the hierarchy of making things, bringing forth a representation. But who is being represented in the reflection of society, in the aestheticization of space and the individual? The theme of reflection is brought up once more in both articles in the conceptualization of public spaces and collective spaces where the art comes into contact with both areas. Martin explains that these “spaces” for lack of a better word are vehicles for connection and reflection. Art is an end in itself, the process of which and original intention are a pre-production unnecessary into the interactions of the piece and its audience now. Politically, engaging people in spaces like these can be justified to mobilize dissent, to be a voice for the people. In the outreach of the artwork alone, in calling people together in a mutual connection, art becomes societally civic. With the event of the internet, I can’t help but wonder how this point is invalidated by its non-physicality. If public spaces are to aestheticize place and persons and their connection to one another, then the spaces inevitably demand a physical “being there” paired to the conceptual “?” of a piece. As Walter Benjamin wrote about the aura about an artwork being destroyed in the mechanical age, I wonder if we need a critique of art in the age of digital production. It is not sufficient for art to simply appear in public, the image of it becomes mute and political, and ideological messaging reshapes the pull of the artwork.

Art can now no longer be just an ends; it must be a process. The artist must now provide the means to navigate and negotiate differences into productive action.

Citizenship is a kind of group belonging that can be described along multiple dimensions at once personal, social, temporal, and spatial. Artists are born into a system that can never fully express or articulate that which needs to be said critically about the system, just as everyone else without the title is without a way to explain or navigate the systems into which they are born into. Embedded into the artist is the identity, right, obligation, and acceptance shaped by society. Art traveling into the public begs questions of context, it effects, and meaning without prescribed purpose. Form informing content and vice versa is a major system of thought underlining both arguments.

Art, however, has no binding to the sense of authorship or civic duty, it need not be a mirror to society had we not prescribed it context. Human interaction, what it’s audience makes of it, and how the piece makes them think critically about the world around them are all products of an economy based on consumption. To give art this definition of the relation is to place the concept into a hierarchy fundamentally based on limitation and negotiation. Collective artistry is proposed as a way of responding to the world around you, a process of consumption, but we must consider what is drawn out of focus in the generalization of making something, the traces and power structures that form and shape the art into a tool rather than philosophy.

Viscerally, I would like to believe that art exists outside of the human; viscerally I wish for art to bridge the private and public without being applied as a filter. But in the aestheticization of space and the complexities of adding personhood into the works, something within discourse is being left out ( especially if we consider art outside of the context of other art). If art is society looking itself in the mirror, what do we make of the moments outside of art, in the actual blurriness and indistinct communication od collective and individuals.

Artistic Citizenship – Joy

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”?

 

 

Artistic Citizenship reflection

by Rebecca

When I first read Randy Martin’s article in Artistic Citizenship over the summer as suggested reading from Kristin, it resonated with me, and I took in as fact. Now, rereading the text after being in Arts Politics for a semester, I have a much deeper critical lens and a different analysis to the text.

Primarily, Randy states “artistic citizenship looks like an oxymoron” (pg1). His introduction paragraph shows examples of the times the artists have tried to banned from the state. For me, I do not see the artistic citizenship as an oxymoron. They go hand in hand, which is in fact why these empires have tried to ban the arts.  Randy continues with describing the artist is an individualist in which “answers to the muse, not the state”. But, how can you separate the muse from the state? All of our images, whether conscious or unconscious are surrounded by our culture, and our culture is of course infused with the government around us. I say it in almost every single paper I write, the artist holds up a mirror to society, it is how we understand the world. The mirror can be a direct reflection, or maybe a funhouse mirror, where we the spectators try to put the images together to make sense. Even artists who create art for arts sake, or pure entertainment, there is some form of unconscious work that seeps into the creation. I am reading Carl Jung’s work about the collective unconscious and how it informs the art we create and the art we as the spectator receive, which could have underlying effects on how I reread Randy’s work.

But, what I do love in this piece is the “key to artistic citizenship lie in understanding how art and artists are brought into the world (pg1). The notion of public resonates in a strange manor with me. I appreciate it, but in many ways I am turned off by a public performance art. Public visual arts, such as the civic monuments or the populist representational art, that Randy describes resonates very well with me. His statement “art is treated as the embodiment of shared values of the nation, public, or community – and serves to integrate through its own legible forms those who might otherwise remain strangers to another,” directly corresponds to my research in Jung’s work (pg3).

It could have been my initial excitement towards receiving a Master’s degree from Tisch School of the Arts, but the entire section on professional training within the arts is highlighted immensely, and in some way now, I do not know why I first thought of these lines as important. I think for me, I believe that there is an aesthetic value to the arts and I do love learning about it from a theoretical and practical state, so while I do understand the economic associations between commercial or independent art, I do think there is some merit in having training for the arts.

The strongest sentiment I have with the piece is  the same as when I first read it in July. “Unlike political citizenship, which asks that we take state authority for granted, art compels us to seek in ourselves the authority by which we are obliged to one another in the fleeting, discretionary occasions for publics to gather together” (pg12). It defines everything I believe that the arts can achieve and how we as activists want to engage our art in the larger social realm of the world.

Similarly, in Enwezer’s writings, looking at historical events, in moments of upheaval there is a direct relationship to how the arts are engaged within the society. In some ways, I disagree with the association of the artist as producer in a time of crisis to the link with modernism. Looking at theater history, while the Greeks were writing for a religious festival, there is an immense amount of political commentary when it comes to Euripides work. He was writing about class, women, and psychological state. While he was not as widely praised as he is now at the time, it was for this very resistance to the status quo of Greek tradition. Same with Shakespeare. Yes he was funded by the state, but Macbeth is a clear metaphor for the tyranny in the monarchy, he set five hundred years earlier in Scotland to ensure his piece was performed, but there is no doubt in my mind that his images subconsciously influenced the spectator.

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