Joseph Beuys, Overcome Party Dictatorship Now, 1970- 72
Beuys was a German activist artist. Buys found out that the wood was going to be cut down and decided to make a poster. The photograph/ performance are the aesthetics in this piece of work and the socially useful task is the ethics in this piece of artwork.
What are my responsibilities to the wider world?
- Duty: as members of society we have a duty towards other members and the wider environment
- Ability to respond: many of the structures of contemporary society tend to numb or dull our response to the world in which we live
Bevy’s work challenges people to respond with action and to participate.
Koki Tanaka, Painting to the public, 2012
Artworks are created in studio, then moved to the gallery. Public ‘miss’ the work. Tanaka walked the streets of Japan with other artists and their work.
The form of art in any given society is linked to the forms of production operating in that society or inherited from earlier times. In the west, we tend to think of art as either:
- craft based (handmade)
Conceptual art is an exception, as nothing needs to be made in order for it to exist. Conceptual art is is indifferent to production.
3 roots for socially engaged art:
- Joseph Beuys, 7000 Oaks, 1982-87. Beuys planted 7000 oak trees around Kassel, Germany. The oak trees improved the environment, he also brought the community together. The trees are a forever changing sculpture as the trees change throughout the seasons.
2. Institutional Critique
This installation stops viewer from looking at any artwork, instead the viewer looks at the human social engagement at work.
3. Public Art
The boy on the rocking horse makes the sculptures around look ridiculous as it is a young boy on a toy.
Claire Bishop argues that instead of thinking about ‘a generalised set of moral percepts’, we should instead focus on ‘the disruptive specificity of a given week’.
What does she mean by ‘disruptive specificity?’
Something distinctively artistic to her but does not mean it is ethical.
What would be an example of this?
She argues that ethics alone cannot replace aesthetics where art is concerned. Art’s purpose (for her) is not therapeutic it’s not intended to make us feel better about out lives. Instead, the value of art lies in its ability to expose injustices and contradictions that everyday life renders invisible and unthinkable.
She talks about being worried that aesthetics is the only thing that matters in art, she is worried art will only be art if it is pretty.
Socially Engaged Art:
– Artworks that address political issues
-Artworks that perform a function
-Artworks that prompt or enable a (new?) form of sociality: Participation
Ai WeiWei, Straight, 2008-12
There was no evidence of how many people died in the earthquakes. The schools collapsed as their walls were built out of steel poles and concrete. Ai WeiWei wanted to create a memorial for the children who died in these schools. He tried to find out the names of the children and found 1800 names. He took the steel rods from the rubble and straightened them. Each rod represented a child that died. The number of rods don’t match perfectly to the number of people who died but the visual mass of steel and names is relatable. The memorial for the children meant more to Ai WeiWei than whether the work was classes as art or not art.