Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 14-17 Open Engagement Event

Art moves forward continuously, expanding its definition. An interesting branch is social practice art. Descriptions of social practice art in criticism and theory quickly get off the track into art speak, and I'm not interested in going there. But if you are interested in what social practice art is today, you can meet and compare experiences with many of the world's practitioners. All at the Open Engagement conference happening in Portland Friday through Monday.

Their website has all the information and is refreshingly plainspeak.

Portland State University is a center in this art direction. PSU's Harrell Fletcher is well known for projects like Learning To Love You More. The PSU social practice artists have organized this conference as a project drawing participants from social practice centers. There are talks, discussions, gallery installations, participatory events, free, and open to you.

I'm particularly interested in what I call socially conscious social practice art, in which the artists work in the community almost like social workers. Examples would be the Future Farmers Victory Gardens, Natasha Wheat's Dreams Can Come True and Project Grow.

A common comment is "that is not art". This has been the historic nature of art. Radical forms emerge and they either succeed in being accepted (usually gradually and grudgingly) as art or not. No one but the viewer can make that decision, and each is right.

This program is an opportunity to look at what artists are up to on the front edge of culture, or what cultural workers are up to on the front edge of art.

At PSU and locations around Portland. Details at Free