“Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design”

“Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design”

Cleveland Institute of Art

Keynote speaker Shannon Jackson. Image courtesy Shannon Jackson.
October 7, 2014
“Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design”

International conference on socially engaged art, with Shannon Jackson as the Keynote Speaker.

November 6–8, 2014

Online registration deadline: October 31

Cleveland Institute of Art
11141 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106


What does it mean in contemporary art and design to be socially engaged? Are we talking about art that resists the conventional structures of the art world and re-imagines a new, unwieldy public sphere of social activism in the face of media spectacle and profit motives? Or can social practices in art reconcile aesthetic focus with external forces or agencies with regard for communities, perhaps affecting a timely catalyst for change? The recent spate of publications on what has been variously called community-based art, participatory art, collaborative art, relational art, social practice or socially engaged art, indicates that such questions have provoked a variety of studies that intellectually tackle what Shannon Jackson has noted as the “social turn.”

This international conference, hosted by Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) and titled “Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design,” proposes to examine various approaches to social practices in both art and design in an effort to understand the concepts, terms, and varieties of engagement of the past two decades or so. Among our primary objectives is to facilitate public discourse on the feasibility of interventionist projects in art and design in urban environments, with special attention to “rust-belt” cities like Cleveland.  

More than 30 participants from the US and abroad will explore the conference theme in the following sessions:
– Socially Engaged Art and the Public Sphere
– Artists as Activists: Voices from the Great Lakes Region
– Historical Precedents and Present Strategies of Social Practice
– Urban Design and Design in the City as a Force for Change
– Aesthetics, Ethics, and Politics
– Student Agency and Society: Visions for the 21st Century Art School

Lunchtime presentations will tackle a collection of insult humor from around the world (November 7), and the ideas behind a collective that is “Energizing Community with Mobile Sauna Sweat Batteries” (November 8).

An exhibition of works by international artists titled Community Works: Artist as Social Agent opens on November 7, with multi-layered narratives of identity, exile, and displacement through works of photography, video, installation and other media. A public panel discussion involving all six exhibited artists is scheduled for Friday, November 7, 5–6pm. Participating artists include Maj Hasager (Denmark), Dor Guez (Israel), Susan Jahoda (New York City), Chi-Yu Liao (Taiwan), José Carlos Teixeira (Portugal), and Caroline Woolard (New York City).

The conference will be framed by two academics at the forefront of this field: Shannon Jackson and Jen Delos Reyes. Read about Jackson and Delos Reyes, view the conference schedule, and register all from here.

“Unruly Engagements” is a key component of Community Works: Artist as Social Agent, CIA’s yearlong commitment to exploring social agency and the visual arts.

Online registration deadline is October 31. Participants may register in person thereafter. If you have questions, please contact [email protected].

About Cleveland Institute of Art
Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. For more information, visit cia.edu.



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October 7, 2014

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