EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P087)

Collective imaginations and collaborative art practice

Location M-134
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Fiona Siegenthaler (University of Basel) email
Till Förster (University of Basel ) email
Ulf Vierke (University Bayreuth) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Participative art projects have increased in what is called the Global South. Although claiming social inclusion, this art genre also raises questions regarding notions and concepts of 'community', collaboration, and power relations, and in what relation they stand to existing social imaginaries.

Long Abstract

In cities all over the world and particularly in what is called the Global South, we can observe an increase of socially and politically interested art practices that address audiences beyond the art world while adopting media and methods widely accepted in international art discourse. They mostly are labeled collaborative art, dialogical art, or participative art and often are event-like, performative, and processual rather than object-based. They are mostly directed towards social change and exchange, often in protest against political authorities and social realities.

Artists working in this genre mostly seek interaction with socially and economically marginalized 'communities' or 'groups', and they emphasize the integrative purpose and function of such art practices. Sometimes, they also involve political engagement such as public protest against social injustice, against failure in service delivery, police arbitrariness, unemployment, etc. Often, the artists also collaborate with, or at least are funded by, NGOs, social organizations or other networked groups that also speak to a broader, trans- and international public.

The presenters reflect the notions of social empowerment, collaboration, and community critically on the basis of case examples of engaged art projects in cities all over the world. What does collaboration mean? How is it related to notions of power? What social and aesthetic benefit do artists and their collaborators draw from these art practices? How are individual and collective imaginations of political realities and futures articulated in such practices? And what role does the ethnographer play when s/he is involved in these artistic initiatives?

Chair: Till Förster, Fiona Siegenthaler, Ulf Vierke
Discussant: Till Förster, Fiona Siegenthaler, Ulf Vierke

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Collective imaginations and collaborative art practice: introduction

Authors: Fiona Siegenthaler (University of Basel)  email
Till Förster (University of Basel )  email

Short Abstract

This paper introduces to the panel topic and looks at key aspects and problems with collaborative art projects in diverse cultural settings, by considering notions of 'community', collaboration, and power relations as well as social imaginaries.

Long Abstract

In cities all over the world and particularly in what is called the Global South, we can observe an increase of socially and politically interested art practices that address audiences beyond the art world while adopting media and methods widely accepted in international art discourse. They mostly are labeled collaborative art, dialogical art, or participative art and often are event-like, performative, and processual rather than object-based. They are mostly directed towards social change and exchange, often in protest against political authorities and social realities.

Artists working in this genre mostly seek interaction with socially and economically marginalized 'communities' or 'groups', and they emphasize the integrative purpose and function of such art practices. Sometimes, they also involve political engagement such as public protest against social injustice, against failure in service delivery, police arbitrariness, unemployment, etc. Often, the artists also collaborate with, or at least are funded by, NGOs, social organizations or other networked groups that also speak to a much broader, trans- and international public.

The paper introduces to the panel that aims to reflect the notions of social empowerment, collaboration, and community critically on the basis of case examples of engaged art projects in cities all over the world.

Compromising art? Participation, inclusive heritage and the politics of art in a pluri-ethnic society

Author: Johanna Mitterhofer (European Academy Bozen-Bolzano)  email

Short Abstract

Compromise is central to the success of participative art initiatives. This presentation explores compromise as collaborative practice and examines how compromises are envisioned, formulated and enacted by the participants of Open City Museum, a participative art project in South Tyrol, Italy.

Long Abstract

Open City Museum (www.opencitymuseum.com, OCM) describes itself as an "intercultural and participative art project for museums and their communities". Devised by a photographer and an art curator, OCM uses art as a tool to promote social cohesion in the province of South Tyrol, Italy. South Tyrol is characterised by a peaceful but uneasy co-existence between its Italian and German-speaking population. A growing number of migrants -- the "new" minorities -- are adding further complexity to the local context by challenging, through their mere presence, the established binary of German versus Italian which up to now has been defining South Tyrolean politics and daily life.

In a context where cultural policy and art funding are split neatly along increasingly blurry ethno-linguistic boundaries, and tightly intertwined with politics, the willingness to seek compromise and to accept compromise as opportunity rather than failure, is central to the success of OCM's participative art projects.

Thus, this presentation explores compromise as a collaborative practice. It examines how compromises are envisioned, formulated and enacted by locals with and without migration background, professional artists and political authorities throughout the various project stages: from defining what art is, to negotiating the relationship between art funding, cultural policy and art itself, to developing an understanding of art and cultural heritage open to, and shared among, all members of society.

Finally, the presentation poses the question how participants negotiate the fine line between productive compromises and compromises that may "compromise" artistic and social ideals.

A genealogy of resistance: contemporary Muslim artists in Cape Town

Authors: Heike Becker (University of the Western Cape)  email
Ala Alhourani (University of the Western Cape)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores socially-engaged performative art by Muslim artists in Cape Town. It examines the visual representation and the public imagination of the history of urban Muslim resistance and collectivity in the city, which is taken into the intimate fields of family and sexual tensions.

Long Abstract

The proposed paper explores socially-engaged performative art by Muslim artists in Cape Town. The discussion opens with an exhibition that was on show in Cape Town in November 2013. Three young local artists took on the challenges to present the trajectory of Islam in South Africa and the aesthetics and politics of Muslim resistance in Cape Town. Through performative and visual art, Weaam Williams, Igshaan Adams and Haroon Gunn-Salie examined the visual representation and the public imagination of the history of urban Muslim resistance and collectivity in the city. The artists worked through the lives of three prominent figures, who share the cause of resistance to colonialism and Apartheid with a firm grounding in Islam in a history that spans three centuries, from Tuan Guru, an important founder of local Islam, who was brought in the 18th century as a prisoner from Indonesia to the Cape, through to Imam Abdullah Haron, a religious leader and anti-apartheid activist, murdered by the Security Branch in 1969, and Jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim. The paper then focuses on the life, work, and aesthetics of Igshaan Adams, with special emphasis on his contribution to the Three Abdullahs event. The ritualistic performance he presented, together with his father - a respected member of the Cape Town Muslim community -, in response to the idea of legacy, while drawing on the historic figure of Tuan Guru, moves the collective imagination of Islam and community into the intimate fields of family and sexual tensions.

Mujeres de Maiz' Art(s) for social change

Author: Lucia Rosati (University of Vienna)  email

Short Abstract

“Mujeres de Maiz” is a contemporary artist and activist organization based in Los Angeles. Through Community Art(s) they try to empower historically oppressed groups. Their goals are to reclaim history, create positive images of themselves, and to provide a network for social and artistic exchange.

Long Abstract

"Mujeres de Maiz (MdM)" (Women of the Corn) is a contemporary Chicana artist and activist organization based in Los Angeles. Their mission is "to unite and empower women of all ages, colors, and sexualities by creating safe community spaces that provide education, mentorship, art, exhibition and publishing opportunities."

In this paper I'm going to demonstrate how MdM evolved from the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, the Chicana Feminist Movement and the artistic practices that have accompanied these movements since their inception in the 1960s/70s. MdM incorporated their emphasis on Mexican cultural heritage and a praxis based on the multifaceted dimensions of Chicanas' experiences. These experiences are connected to colonialism, violence, discrimination, struggles over human rights, citizenship, linguistic rights etc. This paper discusses how these experiences have led to the development of a strong community coherence and commitment reflected in MdM's work.

According to Community Art(s) approaches MdM create art that addresses to a specific community, mainly Women who identify as Chicanas, Women of Color or LGBTQ and is not intended to be exposed in galleries or museums. Their art is directed to people who reside in areas of deprivation and in addition to its aesthetic value is meant to effect a social change. This paper argues that a Chicana aesthetic space expresses the concern for social, global, and environmental justice engaging in the processes of recovery and transformation. MdM through their decolonizing practices create an oppositional voice and space giving alternative perspectives on historic and contemporary lives of Chicanas.

Art in public space as an agent of collaboration: the case of contemporary Mexico

Author: Magdalena Kohakova (Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague)  email

Short Abstract

The paper analyzes collaborative art practice within self-dependent communities forming in contemporary urban societies in Mexico. These phenomena are discussed in the case studies of three communities where the role of art as an agent of engagement and identity shaping is extensively powerful.

Long Abstract

The presented paper analyzes the phenomenon of collaborative art practice in Mexico in the case studies of three communities, Tepito Arte Acá and Reynosa Tamaulipas in Mexico City and Arte Jaguar in Oaxaca. In Mexico, where collaborative art practice has deep tradition (e.g. Mexican Muralist movement), visual approach to research of collaborative tendencies and self-dependent communities forming within the contemporary urban societies seems to be particularly efficient. Although examined communities are centered around art practices, their social and politic aims and struggles goes far beyond the art. As neoliberalism got increasingly influential in Mexico over the last two decades, more and more communities have been emerging to subsidize basic functions of state (e.g. health care, education, security and public amenities) that the Mexican government fails to provide to its citizens. In such communities, new political and social experiences are very often articulated and communicated through art in public space. The fact that this form of art is rooted in post-revolutionary visual discourse makes its influence even stronger. It shapes cultural identity and collective imagination of people in discussed communities. In this research I'm building on findings of my previous long-term field research of the function of visual communication in the process of negotiation and shaping of the national identities I carried out during two last years in Mexico.

Rethinking collaborative public art: agents and values in the monument to multiculturalism in Almada, Portugal

Authors: Filipa Ramalhete (Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa)  email
Maria Assunção Gato (Dinamia-CET /ISCTE-IUL)  email
Sergio Vicente (Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

What are the advantages of having a collaborative process instead of a single authorship to build a public monument? Is the result really a reflection of the communities’ values? How do the various agents interact? The paper focuses on the evaluation of a collaborative art process in Portugal.

Long Abstract

Participatory public art processes have been led to recent interesting experiences and results in some European cities. Participatory public art processes have recently led to some interesting experiences and results in European cities. In Portugal, a unique case-study of participated public art was developed which combined methodologies for participation in public art developed in Barcelona with others used to promote public participation in regional planning.

This case-study consists in the conception of a three piece monument built through a public art collaborative process in Almada, Portugal, between 2011 and 2013. This collaborative process involved several agents - the municipality, the experts' team, local associations and inhabitants - and was based on a sequential and progressive working methodology, through a dynamic and iterative process in which territory and community were the operative concepts for the monuments' conception.

This participatory process is currently under evaluation and several questions arise: did this participatory public art process represent an added value for the agents involved? Which kind of values did the participants wish for? Were the prime expectations converted in real benefits? This presentation proposes to discuss the different roles and empowerment levels of the different agents (sculptors, residents, anthropologists, local technicians and politicians) involved in the collaborative process.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.