Art fairs are several-day events that occur on an annual basis in featured cities such as London, Paris, Basel, Miami, Madrid, Hong Kong, and New York. Often open to the public with the purchase of admission, the attendees of art fairs tend to be an international mix of gallerists, artists, dealers, collectors, celebrities, educators, and art appreciators. During the span of the fair, galleries display and promote featured artists (of which they represent) for the purpose of selling work to international dealers and collectors. Rather than display art historical narratives for educational purposes–as may be the case with museums–or represent national prestige through celebrated artists—as has historically been the role of biennials–art fairs present the projected interests of the art market.
Autonomism or Autonomist Marxism is a set of anti-authoritarian left-wing political and social movements and theories begun in Italy in the 1960s. It espouses an ideal of direct democracy effected by the people in the governmental decisions that impact their daily lives and calls for the independence of social movements from political parties in a revolutionary perspective which seeks to create a practical political alternative to both authoritarian socialism and contemporary parliamentary democracy.
A biennial is any event that occurs every other year. In the art world, it is used to describe large-scale international art exhibitions that generally occur once every two years, but can also refer to more sporadically recurring events. The Venice Biennal is considered the archetype for such international art events. It was founded in 1895 as a sort of World’s Fair devoted to contemporary art. In recent decades, biennials have been hosted in cities around the globe, as a way not only to showcase contemporary art, but also to market and develop cities themselves as sites of global tourism and international cultural investment.
Civil disobedience is an organized political act of intentional noncompliance performed by an individual or group. It has been used in various nonviolent resistance movements as a symbolic and literal refusal to obey what has been deemed unjust state power.
Consciousness raising (sometimes called awareness raising) is a method of coming to structural knowledge through intimate group discussions. Frequently attributed to popular 1960’s and 70’s feminist movements and associated with the slogan “the personal is political,” the practice of consciousness raising aims at revealing links between individualized, personal experiences and collective, political conditions.
The term “consciousness” used here has roots in the Marxist notion of class struggle and the idea that revolution may be ushered only once the proletariat gains an understanding of itself as a materially constituted class of individuals that face similar conditions of exploitation and share similar political interests. In other words, according to Marx, an awareness or consciousness of one’s collective position in the material organization of social and economic structures is needed to unite individuals as a class which may then make political demands.
As practiced within 1970’s feminist movements, specific instructions for facilitating consciousness raising have been published by the international network of women artists called West-East Bag (WEB).
Corporate art refers to works that are designed for or are purchased by corporations do adorn office spaces and public corporate lobbies. Corporate art collections have become a prominent venue for the collection and display of contemporary artworks, as corporate institutions build art collections both as an investment tool and a way to build corporate ethos.
A term coined by Paulo Herkenhoff for the 1998 Sao Paulo Biennial, for cultural cannibalism — the perception that post-colonial artists were limited to appropriation of European culture, rather than creating culturally-unqiue work.
Culture jamming describes a set of tactics used by anti-corporate and radical artists to expose and subvert corporate interests, often through the form of advertising. The refashioning of a corporate logo through graffiti or re-design to reference and expose corporate practices and interests deemed unjust or anti-social is a popular form of culture jamming.
A network of interconnected radio receivers and transmitters that would allow low-power or microFM radio signals to be transmitted efficiently across areas ranging from local neighborhoods to large cities. Pioneered by pirate radio artists like Tetsuo Kogawa.
is a technique developed by the Letterist International and the Situationist international. They used the term to describe their practices of using previous works–images, slogans, ideas –and re-deploying them in their own work to negate or overturn the previous work’s meaning or intention. Détournement was a critical political practice deployed within and against mass media as a way of turning mass culture against itself.
Read More: Guy Debord and Gil Wolman, “A User’s Guide to Détournement” (1956)
Dialogic artworks are works designed to be created or modified through audience participation. In shorthand, we can think of these as any work in which a “dialogue” makes or is central to the work. Rikrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (Free/Still, 1992/1995), in which the artist cooked and served food for free to museum visitors is often cited as a dialogic work.
Emancipatory politics refers to political practice or theory centered on liberation from legal, social, or political restrictions which are understood as dehumanizing or unjust. In her interview for Art of The MOOC, Suzanne Lacy discusses Emancipatory Politics as a component of socially engaged art practices.
is action oriented and consists of contextual practices. It is more of a social acquisition, as how individuals interact in and interpret their environment creates this non-explicit type of knowledge.
The term “happening” was first coined by artist Allan Kaprow in the late 1950’s to describe a non-narrative form of performance art. Happenings tend to place emphasis on viewer interaction, the creation of ephemeral situations or events, the blurring of art with life, and the expansion of art beyond conventional categories such as painting and sculpture. As Kaprow has put it, “The line between the Happening and daily life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible.”
Imagined Community is a theoretical concept coined by Benedict Anderson to refer to the existence of a sense of community among members of a group who may not actually exist as a community through day to day interactions, but identify as a group through social construction. Anderson understood the concept of “nation” to be an Imagined Community in the sense that members of a nation feel themselves to be a part of a national community through a shared identification with the nation as a social construction.
Land Art, also often called Earth Work, Earth Art, or Environmental Art refers to any art project or practice that is designed to be situated within the landscape. Land art works may be installed as artificial constructions made with materials brought to the landscape, or they may be made from organic materials found at the site or brought in from elsewhere. Land art is often site-specific and ephemeral, changing or eroding under natural atmospheric conditions.
Mail art or postal art is an art movement, often associated with the Fluxus group, in which works are sent through the postal system. These works are often small-scale (postage-card size) and sometimes address the circulation of the postal system directly in terms of their format and content.
A micronation is an organization or entity that claims to be a political state, but is not officially recognized as such by other world governments or international organizations, though they often claim sovereignty over a particular territory. Many micronations have established several of the trappings of officially recognized states such as flags, currency and passports.
Termed by French anthropologist Marc Auge, non-place refers to “a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place” (78). These spaces often link individuals to sites of transit such as metro stations and airports. Other “non-places” may be spaces like shopping malls and sites of commerce or leisure. One of the key differences that separates “place” from “non-place” is that “the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed,” and Auge continues on to make the claim that non-places acts as a measure of our time as they are produced through supermodernity (79).
Source: Marc Auge. 1995. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso.
Featured image by User Anton05 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
refers to a program, often a city ordinance, where some percentage of the project cost of large scale development projects is set aside in order to fund and install public art. The details of such programs vary from area-to-area. Similar programs, such as “art in public places”, attempt to achieve similar goals by requiring that public art be part of a project, yet they often allow developers to pay in-lieu fees to a public art fund as an alternative. Percent-for-art programs are used to fund public art where private or specialized funding of public art is unavailable.
an art form that combines visual art with dramatic performance.
Inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s concept of the flaneur (an individual who wanders the urban landscape with the intent of experience), Guy Debord elaborated upon the relationship between an individual and the interaction with a public environment. In his 1955 essay, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, Debord defines psychogeography as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”
More examples of psychogeography in relation to art from the Tate Gallery: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/p/psychogeography
Featured image by Andreas Tille (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.
Relational Aesthetics is a term coined by the art theorist and critic Nicholas Bourriaud to refer to art practices that take as their content social contexts and social relations. These works often create social space rather than a physical objects through performance or activities initiated by the artist or project.
Drawn on Marxian language and repurposed by Nicolas Bourriaud in his text, Relational Aesthetics, the term social interstices refers to a space that facilitates human social interaction. Marx refers to the term interstice as a pocket of trading activity that stands outside the capitalist framework. Similarly, social interstice as Bourriaud uses it references a similar defiance of the dominant system. In this case, social interstices are those spaces of free interaction that provide opportunities for social engagement outside of the norm.
Featured image by By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France via Wikimedia Commons
Social practice art refers to art practices that focus on social engagement and social issues. Social practice works are often participatory, collectively generated, community based, or otherwise engaged with issues of social and economic justice.
Social sculpture was a term coined by Joseph Beuys to talk about the social and political function of art. Beuys understood social sculpture as any work that attempts to structure social relations or change their structure through language, actions and performances, or physical objects. This idea of the function of art work was embedded in an understanding of society itself as a single, total and ongoing work of art.
a field of practice which argues that there is a critical difference between an art that engages in the politics of representation and the art institutions, and an art that engages in wider political practices. The development of socially engaged art has tended to follow particular patterns: (a) it has focused on communities defined by place; (b) artists have usually been in a strong position relative to the human community or environnment that forms the subject; and (c) it has been assumed that there is a clear distinction between the work of artists, who are able to give voice to disadvantaged communities, and the actions of business which has tended to ignore these voices.
is a theoretical methodology that approaches a problem or issue as a set of components that can be analyzed in relation to one another as a system. In her guest presentation, artist and educator Suzanne Lacy discusses systems analysis as a core approach to understanding the complex relationships between cultural, economic, and political systems.