The Global Contemporary

globalarthobal:

Christian Marclay’s Bollywood Goes To Gstaad, 2013, Video and video installation

Christian Marclay’s Bollywood Goes To Gstaad, 2013, Video and video installation

 

While working on another project involved in site-specific installations on glaciers in Gstaad, Switzerland, Marclay caught site of the filming of a Bollywood movie on the hills below his location. He was apparently so intrigued by their presence in Gstaad that he devoted a film-editing project to his investigation of the phenomena. The “cut to Switzerland” is an actual term and trope in Bollywood films where the young couple in love is usually suddenly singing on the hills together or dancing without much transition from the landscape of India in the films. The point is that they are transported to a fantasy setting as a dream sequence or celebration of love. This cut used to be a “cut to Kashmir”, but as conflicts increased in that area, the location changed to the safer snowy mountains of Gstaad.

 

Marclay’s subsequent work is composed of a collaging of footage from a few decades of Bollywood films that contain these cuts to Switzerland that were specifically in Gstaad. Cutting from the similar settings on scenes, characters can be found on trains, in helicopters, on the hills, at the airport, each scene moves from one similar place, to a cut of the same place in a different film.

 

Rachel Aima, the writer of the New Inquiry article on the piece criticizes the new work against Marclay’s previous, The Clock. She wrote that the “cruel” precision of the cuts in The Clock contrasts the movements through the scenes of BGTG, where the actors seem to mesh into one “brown” person as their movements are repeated by the next actor or actress. In this way, Marclay’s own gaze, as a reflection of the origin of the piece is revealed. What he saw was a collection of Indians sticking out in Switzerland, and the film that he made was a bunch of Indians out of place in the Gstaad landscape. Marclay does not seem to be aware of this gaze caused by a trivial process of supposed similarities. Ultimately the editing acts as a reductive blending of one culture, a culture not understood by Marclay, approached with a brief intrigue and exocticism.

 

 And yes,BGTG drips with exoticization, fetish, cultural appropriation, and all the power dynamics that are implicit in a white man repackaging another browner culture to be consumed by the global jet set and art world fancies that frequent the socially gated Gstaad.” –Rahcel Aima

Here is the story from the New Inquiry.

Here is the interview with Marclay on Elevation 1049.

Voguing Andy Warhol in Whiteface

globalarthobal:

hyperallergic:

image
Raja Feather Kelly / The Feath3r Theory, "Drella" (2014) (photo by Aitor Mendilibar)

Raja Feather Kelly / The Feath3r Theory, “Andy Warhol’s DRELLA (I Love You Faye Driscoll)” (2014) (photo by Aitor Mendilibar)

In the early 1980s, Andy Warhol posed in drag for a series of Polaroid portraits. Wearing heavy white makeup in works like “Self-Portrait in Drag” (1981), he exudes a ghoulish glamour. The platinum blonde hair, crisp white shirt, and pale-as-a-vampire face pack so much…

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Referencing Andy Warhol’s personified nickname Drella, might have come back to haunt him in Raja Feather Kelly’s “movement based drag essay”/”vogue ballet” performance. Kelly and The Feath3r Theory are dressed in all white, including white face makeup, referencing Wahol’s polaroid series, “Self-Portrait in Drag”. Through a series of playful dances and comedy break, the performance focuses on Kelly’s character, Drella, who again acts as a type of leader in the group, obviously envied and hated at the same by the others. “ They would call out her name, Drella, with the cadence of mixed feelings: begging for approval but also resentful of the power she holds over them.“ Kelly sees this performance as a way of “mocking you mocking me”.

The gesture of white-face in a way could be seen as a kind of scag drag, or tranimal drag, which does not focus on the complete concealment of masculine features, but instead allows for a beard hair to show through, placing more importance on what it means to bend genders. The white face can also be likened to the media pressure on black women, like Beyoncé to become white-washed on magazine covers and editorials; Kelly jokes during DRELLA, “Beyoncé is a lot like my father… a total letdown.”

More multifaceted than just a choreographed drag performance, another layer of meaning is revealed from historical connections when Warhol sat on a judging panel for the Miss All-American Beauty Pageant Drag contest in 1967, where Crystal LaBeija was scored lower than a younger white queen due to her appearance not being white enough. LaBeija, who you might know from the documentary Paris is Burning as one of the main “mamas” left behind pageants to produce the first drag ball in Harlem, which subsequently fostered the dance style of voguing, some of which was seen in Kelly’s performance of DRELLA.

DRELLA is a subversive yet sanguine foray into questions of gender, race, and art history that playfully captivates while performing a critical perspective. Drag in fine art is rarely accepted, let alone people of color in drag, except for maybe Lyle Ashton Harris’s, America (Triptych) [Miss Girl; Kym, Lyle & Crinoline; Miss America], Silver gelatin prints, 1987-88 

imageThe performers seem to be dancing in between binaries, not quite white or black, male or female, causing questions of fluidity, or maybe something more to surface. 

yesbutnobutmaybe:

Conclusions drawn from Brian Holmes’ essay on DIY Geo-politics: Contemporary globalization activists seek a “resymbolization” of commodities and spatial relationships that highlight the realities of production and distribution of products and media and also argue the importance of operating outside the gallery-magazine-museum system. One of the primary tactics for this is the genre of ‘net.art’ that utilizes the non-hierarchical and rhizomatic elements of the world wide web as a facilitator for DYI production and distribution. Another tactic that also uses the Internet is the “map generator” in which cartography is re-ordered by anyone with access, focusing more on the social implications of routes and movements and the associated political implications that follow.Demonstrating the latter tactic, I’ve included the example of one of Bureau d’Études visual infographic maps. This one is the World Government 2013 that can be dowloaded as a pdf to view all text and information. By using the format of a map or flowchart as a model, World Government 2013 lays out in various sections the organizational and economic practices that have power throughout the world in 2013. If reading from top-left to bottom-right, the lines and arrows mark spheres of influence throughout world finance, food markets, governances of finance, and corporations.

yesbutnobutmaybe:

Conclusions drawn from Brian Holmes’ essay on DIY Geo-politics: Contemporary globalization activists seek a “resymbolization” of commodities and spatial relationships that highlight the realities of production and distribution of products and media and also argue the importance of operating outside the gallery-magazine-museum system. One of the primary tactics for this is the genre of ‘net.art’ that utilizes the non-hierarchical and rhizomatic elements of the world wide web as a facilitator for DYI production and distribution. Another tactic that also uses the Internet is the “map generator” in which cartography is re-ordered by anyone with access, focusing more on the social implications of routes and movements and the associated political implications that follow.
Demonstrating the latter tactic, I’ve included the example of one of Bureau d’Études visual infographic maps. This one is the World Government 2013 that can be dowloaded as a pdf to view all text and information. By using the format of a map or flowchart as a model, World Government 2013 lays out in various sections the organizational and economic practices that have power throughout the world in 2013. If reading from top-left to bottom-right, the lines and arrows mark spheres of influence throughout world finance, food markets, governances of finance, and corporations.

The battle over site-specificity as a model for socially engaged art has been waged primarily over competing definitions of ‘place’—an increasingly unstable epistemological category in both theory and practice. Specifically, site-specific art has come under fire for advancing an out-dated methodology that relies on nostalgic, essentializing visions of place and emplacement.

—p. 16, Lauzon, “Reluctant Nomads: Biennial Culture and Its Discontents”

Understanding the current slippery-ness and fluidity in the mention of place is crucial to the discourse around the Biennial. Biennials are understood to be tied to either the places they happen in or the places from which the exhibiting artists come from or represent. Even ideas around shifting place can become subject to the methodology that Lauzon describes as relying on nostalgia and essentialism, which eschews in the romance of nomadism in biennial culture. This is the notion that evolved somewhere within the boom of biennial culture in the 80s and 90s that privileges an abstracted understanding of transnationalism, commending ideals within the international art world that support the importing and exporting of artists and culture. The problem that Lauzon identifies with this tendency is that it fails to align with the lived realities of nomadism as it is affected by globalization, as the typical biennial locales and audiences are often those who experience the nomadic lifestyle at the affluent end of the spectrum which is highly reflected in the stylings of larger biennials, which Lauzon feels is detached from the other reaches of the spectrum of nomadism. (via yesbutnobutmaybe)

yesbutnobutmaybe:

From yu to meAleksandra Domanović 2014

Commissioned by Rhizome, Abandon Normal Devices, and Fridericianum, this video uses archival materials and interview footage to track a history of the now nonexistent Yugoslavia strictly through the rise and dislocation of the internet in Yugoslavia and specifically the .yu domain. Domanović utilizes news footage from the era and focuses on the stories of the woman who established and maintained .yu in 1987 at the NY Network Information Centre and the woman who was responsible for the domain’s move to and maintenance in Serbia. One of the first hurdles in establishing internet connection in Yugoslavia was that all code was initially in ANSCII which is based in an english alphabet, completely different and hard to maneuver coming from the slavic alphabet, and ultimately led to the development of Unicode. 
Michael Connor’s article for Rhizome on the piece described the project in relation to Alan Sekula’s Fish Story, where Sekula termed his work as ‘critical realism’, Connor dubs Domanović’s From yu to me as an ‘internet realism’. Another reference Connor makes in relation to the video is Alex Galloway’s book, The Interface Effect that is concerned with the strategies of web-based artists and groups who are concerned with “mapping the internet” whether it be a website, graphic display, or object. The consensus of Galloway’s study is that there needs to be a more open-ended approach to representing cyberspace than cartography or glitch-based strategies have been able to produce. What Connor proposes is that Domanović’s project is the sort of open-ended structure that Galloway calls for. 


From yu to me on Rhizome

yesbutnobutmaybe:

Nontsikelelo Mutiti: Ruka (To braid/ to knit/ to weave)

The African hair braiding salon, which can be found in cities all over the world, is a marker of diaspora and often an important site for African women living abroad to use their braiding skills to generate income. Spaces in New York City and Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom are a type of facsimile of the salons of Harare, Zimbabwe. When building her own installation, the artist will reference these important social spaces with walls painted in acid green or bright orange, magazine cut outs of celebrities, hair product models, flyers and posters from evangelical churches, not forgetting the ubiquitous small black television set on top of a cabinet playing Nollywood movies. The artist’s redrawing of an African hair braiding Salon will support her study of the technical skill involved, as well as provide a space to document and interpret these processes and forms through video, photography and printmaking.

Ruka (To braid/ to knit/ to weave) is a performance and social practice piece from interdisciplinary artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti, in which she plays the role of artist, designer, and researcher to the study and practice of hair braiding as part of Recess art space’s Session program. The project involve Mutiti both learning and teaching hairbraiding techniques, as well as producing the the resulting visual forms of her research, some of which can be found on her tumblr blog Get Out of My Hair. A crucial point of this project and research for Mutiti is the production of an archive around the cultural practice of hair braiding and it’s specifically it’s role for the African diaspora in Harlem. The art space hosting Mutiti’s project is also in Manhattan, but I think the perceived differences between the Soho locale of the art space and the contextual site of the project focusing on the Harlem hairbraiding business and community produces a teaching environment that means introducing a new idea or history to project participants.Mutiti’s Session runs from June 3-August 2, 2014 with a Community Braiding workshop on June 14 and Film Screenings on June 28 as part of the Session.Nontsikelelo Mutiti’s Vimeo 

yesbutnobutmaybe:

Nontsikelelo Mutiti: Ruka (To braid/ to knit/ to weave)

The African hair braiding salon, which can be found in cities all over the world, is a marker of diaspora and often an important site for African women living abroad to use their braiding skills to generate income. Spaces in New York City and Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom are a type of facsimile of the salons of Harare, Zimbabwe. When building her own installation, the artist will reference these important social spaces with walls painted in acid green or bright orange, magazine cut outs of celebrities, hair product models, flyers and posters from evangelical churches, not forgetting the ubiquitous small black television set on top of a cabinet playing Nollywood movies. The artist’s redrawing of an African hair braiding Salon will support her study of the technical skill involved, as well as provide a space to document and interpret these processes and forms through video, photography and printmaking.

Ruka (To braid/ to knit/ to weave) is a performance and social practice piece from interdisciplinary artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti, in which she plays the role of artist, designer, and researcher to the study and practice of hair braiding as part of Recess art space’s Session program. The project involve Mutiti both learning and teaching hairbraiding techniques, as well as producing the the resulting visual forms of her research, some of which can be found on her tumblr blog Get Out of My Hair. A crucial point of this project and research for Mutiti is the production of an archive around the cultural practice of hair braiding and it’s specifically it’s role for the African diaspora in Harlem. The art space hosting Mutiti’s project is also in Manhattan, but I think the perceived differences between the Soho locale of the art space and the contextual site of the project focusing on the Harlem hairbraiding business and community produces a teaching environment that means introducing a new idea or history to project participants.

Mutiti’s Session runs from June 3-August 2, 2014 with a Community Braiding workshop on June 14 and Film Screenings on June 28 as part of the Session.

Nontsikelelo Mutiti’s Vimeo
 

POWRPLNT

yesbutnobutmaybe:

globalarthobal:

"POWRPLNT is a digital arts learning and sharing collabortatory where creators of all ages can access software, inspiration, and share their work."

POWRPLNT provides a green space indoor garden through the use of aquaponics to merge the urban, digital, and natural. It is a non-profit space for creative collaboration. POWRPLNT’s workspace contains software packed computers that are used in a series of free classes for student from the ages of 13-18. Adults are welcome to use the space on a donation basis for their own projects. The space can also function as a gallery ad most importantly, an open and inviting place for peoples of all backgrounds to come learn and work together.

 

Classes are presented by new media art professionals who might specialize a class on specific topics like: 

fashion design

video production

music production

digital photography and editing

web-based hackery

illustration and animation

The founders are currently looking for crowd sourcing on indiegogo here. Basic costs include computer, space rental, software, and utilities. They will function as a pop-up space until a permanent location can be found. 

 

Their goals are to provide a safe and healthy place for students as an afterschool zone for exploration in the digital arts while providing technological education for all ages. Their proposed system recalls net cafes intermixed with a museum and a creative thinktank aimed at helping the future tech artists become successful tomorrow.

Aspects of globalization that are touched in this project certainly relate to Terry Smith’s third, emerging current of contemporary art which I have already posted at some length about. Because of its orientation around providing open-ended outcomes and encouraging skill building in communities and amongst youth is one aspect of this and utilization of DIY technologies is another. The project seems self-aware and world aware, being concerned with environmental and social impacts. However, like many of the other projects and collectives in the same vein, POWRPLANT is based in New York City which makes it accessible to the city’s high population, but I feel like New York is the expected locale of these projects and I question how successful this initiative can really be if it cannot reach outside the city. I imagine one of their goals is to at least encourage similar types of programs to crop up around the country and around the world. Computer coding program initiatives at the secondary school level are starting to emerge, which gives me hope that projects like POWRPLANT will start to become widely available through the increased integration of computer savvy knowledge into everyday life.

A R T S C O L L A B O R A T O R Y

goodghoulz:

            I would like to share very useful resource for which to find a variety of arts organizations from countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Founded by two Dutch foundations in 2007, Arts Collaboratory promotes “collaborative, inventive, and open visual arts practices that are socially engaging and transformative (artscollaboratory.org)” and serves to fund and initiate exchanges within the global art world. The organization itself strives to work closely with all of the participating institutions and promotes collaboration in its contribution to the transnational network. Arts Collaboratory functions on both local and global scales, and provides a “platform where these communities meet, enabling the sharing of knowledge across regions, borders, and languages (artscollaboratory.org).” As previously stated, Arts Collaboratory financially supports projects, of which organizations can apply to throughout multiple points in the year. Along with this, they maintain an exchange/residency program as well.

            This resource serves as a perfect platform to find a variety of different arts organizations from across the globe, all compiled in an easy to access list on their website, artscollaboratory.org. Based on my explorations, all of the links lead to actual organizations that serve as reputable sources for global art news and happenings in general. Furthermore, they operate on Tumblr, whose site has even more accessible posts on specific events from selected organizations in their program. The blog also provides a list of categories for greater specificity in your global arts search. Overall, this resource would be a great addition to anyone’s Tumblr feed and provides relevant information on biennials, workshops, projects, and the like.

vasundharaa:

This is a resource post for all the Good White Person™s out there. You know, the ones who say things like “It’s not my fault I’m white! Don’t generalize white people!”, or “I’m appreciating your culture! You should be proud!”, or “Why do you hate all white people, look I’m a special snowflake who’s not racist give me an award for meeting the minimum requirements for being a decent human being”.Well, if you are actually interested in understanding racism and how it ties into cultural appropriation, please read instead of endlessly badgering PoCs on tumblr with your cliched, unoriginal arguments and repeating the same questions over and over.
On White Privilegeaka don’t blame me just because I’m white:
It’s Not My Fault I Was Born White: Basics of White Privilege x
Racial Divide x
Endless Examples of White Privilege x
You Cannot Know What It’s Like To Be A Racial Minority x
Intersectional Feminism x
White Privilege Does Not Mean White People Have Perfect Lives x
White Privilege and White Supremacy: A Presentation x
You Will Never Experience Racism x
Understanding White Privilege x
White Privilege and Double Standards x
Systematic White Ignorance x
The Invisibility of White Privilege x
The Luxury of White Privilege x 
White Privilege: The Harry Potter Analogy x
Privilege Denial Bingo x
Privilege and Cost x
Check Your Privilege 101 x
Whiteness x
Whiteness is Not A Culture x
White Privilege and Racism x
Deeply Embarrassed White People Talk About Race x
When White Anti Racists Talk About ~Their Struggle~ x
White Privilege As A System x
On Reverse Racism aka you are being racist against white people:
Are White People Racially Oppressed x
White People, the new Racial Minority x
People Don’t Value Pale Skin!! x
There Is No Such Thing As Reverse Racism x
Racism vs. Not Racism x
But White People Are Discriminated Against In Foreign Countries x
The Myth of Reverse Racism: Why Cracker is Not N**** x
Satire: A Step Wise Guide on Being Reverse Racist x
Racism Against White People vs. Racism Against POCs x
On Cultural Appropriationaka I’m just appreciating your culture:
The Basics x
Identifying Appropriation x
But When We Wear It … x
Why Can’t I Wear It (Hipster Headdresses) x
Not Yours x
If You Take The Bindi x
White People Do It Better x
Multiculturalism and Appropriation x
Cultural Appropriation and Portrayals In Print Media x
Diminishing the Cultural Significance of the Bindi x
The Cultural Appropriation Bingo x
Why We’re Fed Up of Your Responses x
Identities Are Not Costumes x
Hinduism And Appropriation x
Religion and Privilege x
Bindis Are Cool x
Exotic India x
What’s Wrong With Cultural Appropriation x
Racism, Bindis and Ganesh Tattoos x
BUT YOU’RE SPEAKING ENGLISH! x
Cultural Appropriation Trolls x
Guide to Being An Appropriating Douchefuck x
New Age ~Culture Mixing~ x
In case you’re tired of the prose, here’s poetry x
Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Bindi x
Appropriating and Sharing x
Our Culture is A Punchline Until It’s a Trend x
Homage Or Insult x
Tattoos and Appropriation x
Bollywood is Not Synonymous With Indian x
College Party Costumes and Stereotypes x
Dotheads x
Bindis and Racist Humour x
Hindu Iconography x 
Misuse of Hindu Iconography x
Your Appreciation Doesn’t Help Us x
Assorted Vials of White Tears and Miscellaneous Antidotesaka I can’t change that I’m white/not all whites are racist/we are all humans:
Unoriginal Arguments Refuted x
Quick Checklist: You Might Be Racist If x
Your Opinion Isn’t Necessary x
I’m Not Responsible For My Ancestors x
The Kumbayah Myth x
Proud to Be White x
Good White Person x
We Don’t Hate White People x
Brutality of Colonialism And Why You Can’t Tell Us To Forget the Past x
People Who Claim Not To See Race Are More Likely to Be Racist x
All Races are Beautiful Said the White Girl x 
Race Blindness Is A Luxury x
Well, You’re Racist For Calling Me Racist x
I’ve Read About Its Significance, I Know What It Means 
Angry Because Someone Called You Racist x
We’re Not All Like That x
People Only Care About This Trivial Shit On The Internet x
I Can’t Apologize for Being Born White, It’s Not My Fault x
Why Can’t You Tell Me What I’m Doing Wrong x
It’s Easy to Be Color Blind When You’re White x
A Diagrammatic Guide To White Tears x
Conversations I’m Sick Of Having With White People x
Why Do You Hate White People x
I’m Trying To Be Cultured x
Sisyphean Conundrum x
What is Your Problem x
We Are All Human, We All Bleed Red x
It’s Just A Bindi x
How Not To Respond To Accusations of Racism x
I’m Italian And 0.009% Native American x
What White People Think Racism Means: A Venn Diagram x
White Guilt x
White Pride!!!111!!! x
I Like *Insert Foreign Country* I Want To Live There x
You Have So Much Hate, Fighting Fire With Fire Won’t Help x
BooHoo, Don’t Call Me Racist x
Not Everything Ended With Your Ancestors x
The Racist Reaction x
I Don’t See Why That Is Racist x
Crummy Apologies x
Okay. I agree. I’ve been socially conditioned not to notice racism and recognize my privilege. What can I do?
Listen x
A Step Wise Guide x
I don’t care about this bullshit; you’re making a big deal out of nothing, go home and delete your blog:
The Clueless White Person Bus x

vasundharaa:

This is a resource post for all the Good White Persons out there. You know, the ones who say things like “It’s not my fault I’m white! Don’t generalize white people!”, or “I’m appreciating your culture! You should be proud!”, or “Why do you hate all white people, look I’m a special snowflake who’s not racist give me an award for meeting the minimum requirements for being a decent human being”.

Well, if you are actually interested in understanding racism and how it ties into cultural appropriation, please read instead of endlessly badgering PoCs on tumblr with your cliched, unoriginal arguments and repeating the same questions over and over.

On White Privilege
aka don’t blame me just because I’m white:

On Reverse Racism
aka you are being racist against white people:

On Cultural Appropriation
aka I’m just appreciating your culture:

Assorted Vials of White Tears and Miscellaneous Antidotes
aka I can’t change that I’m white/not all whites are racist/we are all humans:


Okay. I agree. I’ve been socially conditioned not to notice racism and recognize my privilege. What can I do?

I don’t care about this bullshit; you’re making a big deal out of nothing, go home and delete your blog:

contempquand:

kilpatrih:

Whatever the problem, wherever in the world, two undeniable glaring needs often take center stage: food and shelter. Climate change and economic crisis have shone a particularly harsh light on these needs and those in danger from lack of them. Contemporary artists interested in these basic human needs have responded by creating works that address the base necessity of all humans for these things. Encapsulated in their work is: hopefulness, despair, absurdity, and ingenuity.

Urs Fischer’s Bread House is a temporal send-up of these basic human needs. It is a shell that reminds us of our own fragile balance between life and mortality.

Gregory Kloehn takes a hands-on approach to the problem of shelter hoping that his efforts will accumulate to make a difference in the lives of those lacking shelter. By building tiny portable houses, he brings his skills to salvaged materials to create nomadic shelters for homeless urban dwellers.

Michael Rakowitz does the same, perhaps even more efficiently, by creating inflatable structures that hook onto the Hvac air exchanges of buildings, providing not only shelter but heat as well. Rakowitz’s paraSITE designs are collapsible and weigh very little making them more easily transportable. This work could be seen as a nod to José Miguel de Prada Poole’s Instant City in Ibiza in 1971.

AFFECT-T is a group of architects who have designed tiny bamboo dwellings as a reaction to the extremely cramped living conditions in Hong Kong.  With 7 million people living within a little over 400 square miles, the lack of shelter in Hong Kong has led to people living in closet-sized “cage houses”. AFFECT-T has designed modular bamboo homes that can be built as a mini-neighborhood inside old factories and other former industrial buildings. The homes feature movable bamboo panels, allowing for customized spaces and 2-story living.

Tomas Saraceno builds inflatable pods that dangle in a web of interconnected supports. Some serve as play and living spaces, some as greenhouses. He sees these as a commentary on future dwelling, addressing both the need for shelter and food, but also drawing attention to clean atmosphere as part of the construct. 

The question these pieces and ideas raise for me is this: “What can art do to change the world?” This may seem broad, but your post really called into question what the purposes and functions of art can be. Is it art’s duty to point out problems or to solve them? Sometimes it seems as if artists are unsure of this themselves. I liked that you included a range of works from the more practical, architectural standpoint, to the artistic/conceptual standpoint, and works that were a combination of these two. Some of these works seem designed to find flaw with existing systems for providing people with shelter, but I often feel as though these messages fall short. Perhaps this is because the overall impact of the more temporary pieces seems so fleeting. As we discussed in class, many people might view such artworks as confirmation that privatization of welfare will succeed, or the reverse. If this art plays on people’s preconceived notions, can it be said to really bring about change in the situation, or perceptions thereof? Where does social change cease being art, and where does art become social change? This makes me wonder how homelessness and struggles for shelter differ across the globe. The circumstances behind such issues must vary from region to region, but it begs the question of whether art about homelessness or that is made for the homeless is actually addressing their needs or communicating with them in a meaningful way. In many ways, it seems as if the homeless are the ultimate minority, with even less of a voice than many minority groups.

This tension between ‘art that seeks to help marginalized populations’ and ‘art that seeks to call critical attention to the conditions of marginalization’ is a tricky one and the subject of much debate in contemporary art criticism (as some of you who follow the ‘social practice’ discourse well know).  The former gears more towards direct action, identifiable goals and outcomes, and explicit critique, while the latter often tends towards metaphor, deconstruction, and implicit formal critique.  Or at least that’s how the divide is largely approached, and I’d agree that sometimes artists/critics lack clarity on the matter (I also think this is a bit of a false binary that limits the production and reception of meaningful projects that seek to interact with the social field, but I digress…).  In all cases, it seems useful to consider who is being ‘engaged’, how, and to what ends.  Are ‘communities’ or ‘the marginalized’ simply serving as another artistic media to be manipulated by the ‘socially engaged’ artist (as a kind of sign of political progressiveness or criticality)? Or are they put to work as collaborators in a given project (and how does the compensation for such work stack up against artists and curators)? Does a penetrating conceptual investigation into structures of power equal out a project’s potentially exploitative aspects (e.g. Santiago Sierra)? I keep coming back to the ‘ethics of care’ that we ended the class on.  I’m not interested in prescribing what that would look like; rather I think about it as a kind of guiding principle or set of values for how to approach subjects, audiences, collaborators, etc. with a mind to the social, conceptual and aesthetic, as well as the infrastructural and economic matrices in which one makes work.