FIELD: Issue 1

FIELD: Issue 1

University of California, San Diego

FIELD Seminar 1, University of California, San Diego, May 1, 2015. Photo: Farshid Bazmandegan.
May 7, 2015
FIELD: Issue 1

FIELD: A Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism, is pleased to announce the release of its inaugural issue (spring 2015), available now at FIELD was created in response to the remarkable proliferation of contemporary socially engaged art over the past 15 years. This is a complex, contradictory and unruly area of practice that is distinguished by its extraordinary geographic scope. Today we find socially engaged art projects under development around the globe, from India to Ecuador, from Senegal to Ukraine, from Cambodia to Ireland, and beyond. While otherwise quite diverse, this field is driven by a common desire to establish new relationships between artistic practice and other fields of knowledge production, from critical pedagogy to participatory design, and from activist ethnography to radical social work. In many cases it has been inspired by, or affiliated with, new movements for social and economic justice around the globe. Throughout this field of practice we see a persistent engagement with sites of resistance and activism, and a desire to move beyond existing definitions of both art and the political. This is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of contemporary art production. However, aside from a small number of well-established artists who operate primarily within the commercial gallery and biennial circuit, it has received relatively little substantive critical attention.

At FIELD we believe that the trans-disciplinary nature of this work requires a movement beyond the conventions of existing art theory and criticism. Thus, FIELD’s editorial advisory board includes key thinkers in the areas of art practice, history and criticism, as well as philosophy, anthropology and sociology, among other fields. FIELD was founded by Grant Kester, a leading figure in the analysis of socially engaged art. His books Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (University of California Press) and The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context (Duke University Press) have played a formative role in recent debates about the nature of this work. The journal is being produced with an editorial collective of graduate students in the Visual Arts department at the University of California, San Diego.

Our first issue features essays by Luke Cantarella, Christine Hegel and George Marcus on new research methodologies at the intersection of design and ethnography, Marc Herbst on the relationship between East German cultural policy and socially engaged art practice today, Greg Sholette writing on the tenth anniversary of the bellwether Interventionists exhibition at MASS MoCA, Sebastian Loewe on the appropriation of the Occupy Movement by Documenta and the Berlin Biennale, Krzysztof Wodiczko’s theorization of the role played by the “inner public” in his projection projects, and Sue Bell Yank’s analysis of the tension between community and self-interest in Jeanne van Heeswijk’s Freehouse project in Rotterdam. The issue also features interviews with Tania Bruguera, reflecting on her withdrawal from Immigrant Movement International, and Althea Thauberger on her Murphy Canyon Choir project with military families in San Diego. For more information you can contact FIELD at [email protected].

In association with the journal’s launch, the first FIELD seminar was held on May 1, 2015 at the FIELD office at UC San Diego. The event featured in-depth discussions with three FIELD Editorial Advisory Board members, addressing key issues associated with participatory art and culture today. Speakers included Fonna Forman, Professor of Political Science at UCSD, founding co-director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice and author of Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy, Francesca Polletta, Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine and author of Freedom is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements and It Was Like a Fire: Storytelling in Protest and Politics and Raúl Cárdenas Osuna, a UCSD MFA alum and founder of the innovative Transborder FarmLab in Tijuana and Torolab, a Tijuana-based art collective whose work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions. The journal content, events, and submission information can all be found here.

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University of California, San Diego
May 7, 2015

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