Response To Social Practice Art

Based on my understanding of the reading, there were several points highlighted which were quite significant. The meaning of art making should not necessarily bring out social problems or issues that have already existed or known to the community. It may close the gaps for those who are unaware, or those who deserve to recognize the existing problems that need to be resolved. Instead, what the author is trying to redefine with artmaking is to introduce possible solutions which are creative, innovative and sustainable in the long run. Most importantly, they are social solutions that helps to bring a change to the communal environment that are affected by social issues (homelessness, drug trafficking, prostitutions, single motherhood) and what more can art do than to relate to people, communities then through meaningful art making.

The article also mentioned how Political Art in this day and age are presumably made to get profit out of their works. This is understandable considering art industry, like any other industry aren’t always set out to produce forms of appreciations, awareness but it works the same way businesses work – to make money. At the same time, art works which are heavy with strong influences from political theories, political stands and political figures, and given the internet with its resources, allows many forms of opinions and personal stands to be formed. With that being said, art can go both ways – to influence or to profit.

However, the article seems to point towards how “today’s ruling class” aren’t necessarily in it for the profit. Instead, they seem to avoid “commercializing” their art and prefers to make “outwardly avowed political solidarity as part of its defining trait”. From my understanding of this part, it suggests that political art is independent of any systems such as capitalism and instead an alternative forms of capitalism are made to influence a new mass of people – preferably a system that doesn’t constrain them the way capitalism has been (even though enough liberty has been offered to places such as USA, where this was written). This shows how influential art can be, and it takes on a whole new dimension in this age where people with wide access to Internet, and resources such as their communities and people are able to un-learn what the current system taught them and re-learn a new form of political system that can be a part of a new political system, as an alternative to the system they are under. That mean it hasn’t necessarily been defined as legal. This would ultimately be defined as “social practice” as written in there.

The artist Maureen Mullarkey seems to criticize this idea of social practice. She seemed reluctant with the idea of “social practice” which is quite predictable given author’s description of being “arch-conservative”, someone resistant to changes, perhaps even in her stance towards contemporary art of today. He seems to suggest contemporary art is trending with artists who are “soi-distant promoters of their own notions of the common good”. It seemed like she did not like the idea of how artists can appease to an audience by portraying themselves as the Good Samaritans of society, and possibly used as a tool to manipulate masses simply because they can. Perhaps, she, herself would know such creations of political art can be influential for reasons which are far beyond the “common good”, being an art critic herself.

In conclusion, I find that political art in general are rather questionable, especially with the artist’s intent. It is hard to unpack an artist’s intentions because there could be many. And with an artist’s ability to gather resources such as communities, especially vulnerable ones such as those who seek out shelters in Third Ward, Public Row Houses residences, may easily be trapped into thinking they are helped by Good Samaritans, when in fact it could be the opposite. However, I do think there are real good causes that are in support of looking after the not-so well off. It seems to be that in manipulation of people seems to be a recurring theme through contemporary art of today – whether it helps or “uplifts” the society and makes it progressive; only time will tell.

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Author: Najiha

Always looking for something more.

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