InsUrgency in community arts

Issue Date:
2016
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The following is a theoretical attempt to kidnap community arts. There is no ransom or prisoner exchange because community arts has chosen to stay with a time, place and people away from humanitarian interventions, pacifying art practices and the oppressive mimicking of standardised representation. Contrary to some of the popular ideas about socially engaged or participatory art, there will be a return to the object of art. The object is understood as a possibility, a launching ground for action rather than the artefact of reified, elitist or commercialised legacies. Focus turns away from aesthetic reception, towards critical possibilities of production within a training context. The becoming of object into existence is broken down into a series of strategies, guided by philosophical and artistic concepts taken from anti capitalist and anti colonial bodies of thought, in particular the work of Amiri Baraka and Theodor Adorno. Central to all concepts is an urgent need for art and culture to become autonomous and self determined phenomena, aesthetically disruptive of real life and its methodologies of control. The production of art holds at its heart two major sentiments. The first is an urgent commitment to resist the tendency in community arts to re/describe the real: usually the lives of participants. This research is not satisfied with “show and tell,” and aims to offer ways to interfere with the ability of material suffering to reign supreme within the logic world of art. The second is the equally urgent commitment that training and production assert the right to, and joy of experimentation with form: form as a weapon against normalised and oppressive race, class and gender representation, and as a way to make process unique to the time, place and people of any given project. Form, speaking with the local and familiar as content, helps create a self determined process, unhindered by definitions of low art or high art, attempting to struggle for its own new and resistant specificity. This research-as-dissertation is one of how, rather than what. It attempts to find new strategies that refresh and re/commit community arts practice to oppose and resist, away from normalised slogans of social change and transformation.
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