ARTS 777: History and Theory of Social Practice
Art as History? Art as Thinking? Art as Research? Art as Work? The aim of this seminar is to survey, critique and historicize the theory and practice of activist, interventionist, public, participatory and community based art that operates within and across fields such as performance, urban studies, environmental science and other socially engaged disciplines. The class will focus on such questions as: Why is it useful, even necessary, to understand the history and theory of social practice art? Where should we look to find the historical roots of social practice art? Are these within the history of art, or external to it, in the broader social sphere? In an increasingly privatized society how do we define and operate within a concept of the public sphere? And how are both mainstream and alternative type cultural institutions responding to the increasing interest in socially engaged art by emerging artists? Through lectures, readings, discussions, student presentations, group activities, guest speakers and off-site visits to galleries and museums we will seek to position socially-engaged visual culture and the shifting role of the artist within an historical, ideological, and critical framework.