Is Art inherently political? Social Practice Art

Critique on Social Practice Art
Personally, Art has always been a reflection of the world and its society. No matter how whacky or abstract the art is, it always expresses the creator’s state of mind/being.

Art is generally understood as any activity or product done by people with a communicative or aesthetic purpose—something that expresses an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a world view.

While we live in a society that is governed by politics and public concern, everything we do becomes political. The question becomes whether the art work involves more politics than art or vice versa.

It is a component of culture, reflecting economic and social substrates in its design. It transmits ideas and values inherent in every culture across space and time. Its role changes through time, acquiring more of an aesthetic component here and a socio-educational function there.

However the question of why Social Practice Art, which is so similar to Activism is considered Art, can’t be answered so easily. The definition of art is open, subjective and debatable. There has been no agreement among historians and artists, which is why there are so many types and definition of art. The concept itself has changed and is growing over the centuries. So I guess whether something is considered Art can be personal opinion or political. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

Rick Lowe’s becomes a Political Artist
While Rick was previously working on painting and sculptures that ‘reflected’ the state of his community, he decided to take action and be ‘directly involve’; in the community. His work, which was politically charged, became politically involved. So hence, I would consider artists, who are directly involved in social issues, political artists. Otherwise, they would just be ‘artists’.

Artistically Political or Politically Artistic
So technically, based on the definition of Art stated above, a lot of human phenomena can be considered Art. The difference is quality.

But logically, if the concept is so broad that celebrations of Obama’s election can be treated as art, then so too could the jingoistic celebrations that greeted Obama’s assassination of Osama bin Laden, with people chanting “USA! USA!” in front of the White House, or the militant Americana of Tea Party gatherings, or the theatrical passion of evangelical rallies, or any of hundreds of other more troubling social phenomena.

Unless we had an all governing art association to define and categorised every phenomena that happened on planet Earth, it really depends on one’s personal opinion. And even so, with new technological and scientific developments that challenge our way of thinking,  to challenge the boundaries of what Art is and what Art can be is an art form in itself.

Art is liberation of the mind. It often leads us to unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous territories, yet this is the quality in art that impresses us. We find the best artistic activities aesthetically and morally striking because of the challenges that they propose. Art stretches our understanding of morality, leaving a philosophical impact on our minds. In other words, art is always political. Artists, by profession, have a duty to challenge the society they live in and to question mainstream assumptions. By doing so, artists always take on danger, becoming vulnerable. – Ai Wei Wei


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