Living As Form (Nomadic Version), 2014
Living As Form (Nomadic Version), 2014 [Curator]
In the first decade of the 21st century, a critical mass of culturally infused activism and social engagement emerged. A diverse practice, socially engaged art is shaking up the foundation of art discourse, while sharing techniques and intentions borrowed from fields far beyond the arts. These cultural practices indicate new ways of life that emphasize participation, challenge power, and span disciplines ranging from urban planning and community work to theater, the visual arts, and civic-minded nonprofit organizations. These projects defy easy categorization, and raise contradictions regarding issues of authorship, and traditional notions of art. Such efforts might not be described as artworks, but their collaborative spirit, investment in community engagement, and deployment of cultural programs as part of their operations compel a consideration of what they do.
Bringing together a wide range of international projects selected in collaboration with twenty-five curators from around the world, Living as Form (The Nomadic Version) also includes local examples of similar practice. Site-specific and event-driven, the projects in Living as Form (The Nomadic Version) resist display in an archive such as this one. They address multiple audiences, and pay equal attention to the power of media. Admittedly, each video, poster, and image remain a pale shadow of the original action. Nonetheless, the sheer scale, geographic range, and interdisciplinary nature of these works illustrate how these kinds of projects are participating in the social and political landscape. They are a part of an emerging reality where cultural production and politics live in an increasingly integrated relationship. We hope that by exacerbating the tensions that exist among the myriad forms, this archive will inspire further inquiry, and ultimately, new approaches to social practice. For the artists, activists, and engaged citizens in Living as Form, it is that energy, not the notion of art, which propels them toward the elusive goal of social justice.
In the spring of 2014, J Soto, Anthony Romero and Sara Black curated Living as Form (Nomadic Version) at Antioch College. The exhibition was presented in three waves of seven artworks with weekly conversations in the Herndon Gallery facilitated by the organizers.
The exhibition concluded with the Living as Form Symposium May 9 – 11, 2014