The two core reading articles ‚The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents‘ (2012) by Claire Bishop and ‚Autonomy, Antagonism, and the Aethetics‘ (2011) by Grant Kester argue modern art and social practice in terms of interaction and colalboration with society as a global fenomena as well as argue the aethetics, of art, art‘s impact on society and creativity.

Grant Kester spent some years a decade ago in doing the research in some critiques of activist and socially engaged art movements for two reasons. Firstly, the critiques bring up some appropriate and contemporary interesting questions for the futher analyses and secondly, ‚because the critiques themselves are symptomatic of certain limitations within current art critical discourse‘. (Kester, 2011, p.65) As Grant Kester argues in his article, this discourse has nearly reached canonical authority in contemporary art (Kester, 2011, p.85).

Grant Kester says, that according to the Russian constructivist Lissitzky, ‚avant-garde art constitutes a form of critical insight; its task is to transgress existing categories of thought, action, and creativity (beginning with the definition of art itself), to constantly challenge fixed boundaries and identities‘. (Kester, 2011, p. 20).

It is necessary for the artist to understand art to be creative and to be taken into the creative action. ‚For Lissitzky, the artist requires mono-logical clarity, because he is challenging bourgeois traditions, popular opinion, or other forms of collective‘ (Kester, 2011, p.20).  

Grant Kester argues new roles of art and artists since their function has changed dramatically. Contradictory ideas between individual artists and collectivity identity, between social art and its final product is as an experimental process. ‚The tension between artistic and normative models of subjectivity was central to the development of modernist art over the past century, and continues to inform contemporary art practice and criticism‘ (Kester, 2011, p.21).

Interesting art projects in movements are developed in cooperation, communication and exchange. Some projects are described in the article. They are such as Park Fiction in Hamburg, Germany, organised for exchange among the area‘s existing residents (musicians, priests, a headmistress, a cook, cafe-owners, bar-men, a psychologist, squatters, artists and interventionist residents) (Kester, 2011, p.24). Environmental project in Argentina is a collective Alla Plastica work to convince the authorities to be responsible for pollution and emerency housing for use during the flooding. ‚Located in the Rio de la Plata basin near Buenos Aires, mobilized new modes of collective action and creativity in order to challenge the political and economic interests behind large-scale development in the region‘. (Kester, 2011, p.25). The project Dialogue in India has been working on struggling over land and water acces, while also grappling with the impact of economics and cultural modernization‘. ( Kester, 2011, p.27).

Collaborative projects in defferent countries have a continuous interaction rather then being brief in time and ‚they seek to openly problematize the authorical status of the artist‘ (Kester, 2011, p.85). Moreover, the collaborative projects rely on more friendly atmosphere and relationships rather then being custodial.

Grant Kester argues between differences and similarities in networks with artists from different cultures and society that ‚neutralize‘ cultures. On the other hand, the co-operation in art practice and social interaction is ‚to encourage the degree of self-reflection, and calling attention to the exchange itself as creative praxis‘ (Kester, 2011, p.28). It is art becomes open during the projects from theory to practice.

Claire Bishop argues, that ‚contemporary atists have become the role model for the flexible, no-specialised labourer who can easily adapt to multiple situations‘. (Bishop, 2012, p.12). Participatory projects reference to communities melting boundaries between authorhsip and collective work, meanwhile the individualism is not welcomed in social exchange. Claire Bishop and Grant Kester agree, that in participatory art all are equal rather then custodial. Moreover, according to Bishop, ‚no failed, unsucceessful, unresolved, or boring works of participatory art because all are equal in the task of repairing the social bond‘. (Bishop, 2012, p.13).

Impact of art on society is analysed raising a question what art can do for society. Francois Matarasso thinks, that are fifty benefits of art to society ‚that it reduces isolation by helping people to make friends, develops community  networks and sociability, helps offenders and victims addres issues of crimes, contributes people‘s  employability‘ (Bishop, 2012, p.14) etc.  Claire Bishop also argues the idea of cultural theorist Paola Merli, that those outcomes will not change or even raise consciousnesss of people‘s daily existence.

The statement that everyone is creative represents more the authorities intention the individuals of society to work and live creatively rather than to release the creative potential of individuals. Creativity is not for the happier society but for being creative to produce. (Bishop, 2012, p.15).

 According to the writer, it is often said that socially engaged practices are extremely difficult to discuss within the conventional frameworks of art criticism.

In conclusion, social art is for people to be socially involved in activities to what they like or want to do, ar express themselve creatively in the way the poeple think or respond to the social and political events in society. As it is mentioned above, it is necesarilly has to be successful projects as no failure in social practice, all participators are equal includong te artist who has ‚the capacity to listen, openly and actively‘ (Bishop, 2012, p. 25). Art as a social practice in a process that engages to make solutions based on creativity and art.


Bishop, C. (2012) The Sicial Turn: Collaboration and Discontents, Artificial Hells. London: Verso.

Kester, G. (2011) The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Durham NC.

John Tomlinson


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