About « Face »: A Debrief of Our Social Practice Art Experiment

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As the inaugural foray into the world of “social practice” pedagogy, my experimental art theory course, Art as Social Practice, yielded some expected aesthetic results and raised a few theoretical issues for future consideration. The project that was collaboratively developed in tandem with eighteen Corcoran College of Art and Design undergraduates was urban, public engagement culminating in an “art event” that modestly invited further viewer participation. Ironically perhaps, this quietly climactic display of the students’ photographic production provoked some unexpected tangents of latent disruption by this public audience through their willful sarcasm and humor. It is this realization that the always unpredictable public can re-direct any “social event” through their interaction by raising unforeseen issues which continues to make social practice art a living, evolving form. The course syllabus required my young initiates to each come up with an idea for a social practice art piece; our textbook was Creative Time’s Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 which references some of the best examples of the social practice movement. After reading all of the proposals, I selected five of the strongest in terms of potential and we then discussed the “pros and cons” of each of these.
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