Monday, June 15, 2009

Socially Engaged...?

I identified with so many aspects of another blog by Emily Speed on how artists can actually get paid to make art. Whether it is feasible to be able to exhibit or take part in shows when there is considerable cost in time and money to yourself.
I believe in exhibiting even if it is unpaid- it is ,99% of the time it is unpaid- the and the preparation is meaningful. You can contemplate the work, its effect on others, complete a body of work.
It would also seem there is a lot of truth in that you can only get paid for 'projects'. The end result though may not be something you really wanted to do, perhaps a dilution, even with its own rewards. Its a tough balance
I recently went to a workshop on socially engaged practise to see if I could get some tips on this broad subject. I had not realised what ' Socially engaged' practise means until speaking to Artquest who were very helpful and shed light on this subject for me and that my own work carried elements of this; focussing on buildings within communities and the psychology of the society around it.
However, it is a very very complicated area.........! So, as I say , I have gone to a few conferences/workshops to figure this out a bit.....

At many my heart sinks very low , a room of professional funder finders. A whole other genre of artists who understand forms and how to get funding and all sorts of things. Amazing! But I also remember examples of dismal 'public or socially engaged' artworks being chuntered out under this title and funding going to this. In many aspects these ' public' works do not fit under the category of art- and many artists, ( even the ones at these conferences,) argue that there needs to be a new definition of such things

As a painter, it is not seen that your work can be socially engaged on its own, but I know that painting can be. It is interactive, conceptual, it touches people, it makes them wonder, it transports people. Much more so than some ' socially engaged work' which amounts to yet another mosaic for example or work that is actually excluding rather than inclusive because it is over conceptual and hard for non-artists to understand or engage with on any level.
Often these works can be an aesthetic disappointment to boot.

I have begun to try and expand my practise so I can be viable for projects, to interact with participants in an interesting way, getting narratives that actually end up informing my pieces as well. it has helped a bit with proposals as curators also seem to want interactive video /sound.
maybe one day in the far future if I have a hundred years to fill out a grant with the arts council I may even get funding to further my research.....?!But, it has been an interesting journey so far and I have only just begun.

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