Thoughts – Social Practice Art

Social Practice Art

Social Practice Art is something that is pretty prominent in our society today, with increased artists giving responses to social issues through their art, and yielding some positive input to a potential solution to this issue.

And yet question that stood out to me in this article:

Is this strand of art a starting point for addressing social problems, or a distraction that keeps us from seeing their true extent?

Sure, it is very beneficial to have artworks or movements that highlight the importance of this issue at hand and encourage the masses to take a part in addressing the same issue. However, the amount of information that the artist can show about the issue through the artwork is very limited, and sometimes pretty surface level, so that the audience is able to easily understand the type of issue they are potentially going to fight against. Thus it blinds people or misinforms people of the extent of damage that this issue is causing certain parties, and when the audience realizes how big this issue actually is, they may stop helping or even argue on the deceiving aspect of that artwork, which deviates from the artist’s true intention of wanting to spread awareness.

Also, “the very fact that “social practice” focuses on tangible issues means that, quite often, its aesthetic aspect is downplayed” and some people cannot distinguish between what is social art and activist movements. What distinguishes the ‘art’ from the whole social movement is probably the fact that the occupation of the main person that headed this activity is an artist, to most people who do not discern a non-aesthetic work of art as an artwork.

Where does social practice stand in relation to the mainstream commercial art world? And how much different is it from relational aesthetics?

I would say that the line between what people deem as socially practiced art and commercial art is very thin, and as an artist myself, I often think of how different artists can convince their audience that their work will benefit the parties in need, rather than for commercial purposes. And the temporal bliss of an ideal situation created by relational aesthetics may actually be playing into the likes of social practice art, as temporal support by an audience towards an issue due to artworks by social practice artists, will help the issue in the long term. That being said, the work in itself will shift closer to being commercial art, due to its temporal impact on its audience. It also highlights the first part of this reflection about it not highlighting the greater extent of this issue at hand.

Final thoughts

Despite the criticism or potential backlash that social practice art may have on the society, I think that social practice art can be successful if we thought more about the execution aspect of these works. How can we create a lasting impact on our audience as artists, while bringing light of the graveness of an issue to sustain the audience support so that a long-term solution can be created? It’s a good thinking point for all of us who have a situation or crisis we want to help with in the future as artists.


Author: Amanda Lee

Sometimes what you are most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free

One thought on “Thoughts – Social Practice Art”

  1. Very good response with some challenging questions to further consider. I think your final statement articulating how social problems need long term solutions and art isn’t always executed to be sustained in the long term, is a good point.  So, I hope you might ponder and elaborate during class discussion tomorrow HOW CAN ARTISTS CREATE A DIFFERENT FORM OF EXECUTION THAT CREATES LASTING IMPACT AND AWARNESS TO SOCIAL ISSUES?

Leave a Reply