Your Art is in my _______________, Fall 2016
DA4270 / Fall 2016
Your Art is in my _________
Contact: Nancy Nowacek [nancynowacek at bennington.edu]
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor
Time: Wednesday 10:10-12:00, 2:10-4pm
Office Hours: Wednesday 12-1pm 4-5pm; By email appointment
Now over 10 years old, “Social Practice” is a term broadly applied to a variety of art-making strategies that implicates other people and/or social systems in their making. The genre has diversified from representing social forms (dinner parties, conversations) into stand-alone museums, real estate cooperatives, and schools: projects that intervene into real-world systems on their own terms.
This class will engage systems thinking as a lens in making artworks that interrupt and/or reimagine our contemporary experience from personal to global scales. We will look at game design and the writings of Donella Meadows, as well as design processes, other artworks, and the world around us in practicing this lens and pursuing socially-based artworks. Through lectures, reading assignments, discussions, project frameworks and critiques, students will work to define their own interests in and forms of systems interventions.
Students will work collaboratively and independently on projects that critically engage contemporary and relevant topics and contexts, local or global, online or offline.
By the successful completion of this course, students will have
- A foundation in the formative themes of socially-based artworks
- An understanding of the basics of systems thinking and ways to apply it to future topics and sites pursued in socially based works
- An understanding of the design process’ potential in socially-based projects
- Experience in creating socially-based artworks
- Working in group collaborations
Active participation in class and engagement with the course materials as well as with one another as collaborators is necessary and critical to this work. Active participation includes thoughtful listening when others are speaking, asking questions when they arise, and readily offering ideas and opinions in class discussions.
Students are expected to be present at every class, and on time to each class beginning. Showing up more than 15 minutes late to any class session without prior communication will be counted as an absence. Communication is essential: please email me if you must miss a class, and text me if you are experiencing an emergency situation that will delay your arrival in class.
Missing two or more classes may dramatically impact your final grade.
Students will be graded on participation, project collaboration, and reading responses, case studies, discussion leadership, as well as project information posted to their wikis.
Late work will not be accepted.
This class is a studio-style course that will focus on project development and completion. All projects in this class will be collaborative. The scale of projects will start small and increase in scope and length over the course of the semester.
Each student will be required to post brief 100-300 word reading responses, as well as discussion research, case study research, and post weekly updates on project research, development and documentation on a personal wiki page. Students much post reading responses, case studies, and discussion questions/research by 6pm Tuesday evening.
Jackson Moore will be available to help troubleshoot any wiki questions/problems you may have. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Readings & Discussion Moderation
Many weeks will feature reading(s) applicable to a sub-theme of the class. All students are required to post a brief 100-300 word reading response on their wikis.
Readings will be discussed in class each week, and discussions will be co-lead by two students. Students are required to co-lead at least two reading discussions over the course of the semester. The goal of the discussion is not to summarize the reading, but rather to voice an opinion on how the text relates to personal interests, current projects, and current events. Wiki postings for the weeks you will be leading discussions should be longer 300-500 words and include any additional research undertaken to engage with the writing.
When possible, weekly readings are posted as PDFs here.
Project Case Studies
Each student will be required to present on a particular artist and art work (if not two) over the course of the term. In addition to the 5Ws & H of the project, please include an analysis of the systems at work in the project—with what systems does the project interact? Intervene? How is the project itself a system? This is a research project and should include multiple source citations that can include images, video or other resources where applicable. All presentation materials — text, image, links etc. — should be posted on your Wiki. You do not need to write out every portion of your presentation, but you should include an annotated bibliography for all the sources you find.
The semester will consist of 3 collaborative projects, of increasing scope, as well as 2 (or more) very very small warm-up exercises. Project process and development should be logged on your wikis, as well as documentation of process and completion. It will be the storytelling and evidence of your project work, and long with your reading moderation, case studies, and in-class participation, will contribute to your final grade.
I would like you to commit to the following this semester:
- That you will be respectful of both your peers and my time and efforts with your own: that you will show up prepared for every class and work your hardest; be self-motivated and learn through trial and failure, sharing what you learn and/or know freely with all.
- That you will push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone, and be brave, adventurous
- and surprising.
- That you will be respectful to your public, their time, and aspects of their lives they share with you. Reciprocate with thoughtful and courageous work.
A few additional words…
Discomfortability: this work can be inherently uncomfortable at times, and very messy. If it feels like this is happening, take comfort, you are doing it well. If things become overwhelmingly discomfortable, please talk to me.
Working and learning styles: everyone has different ways of learning and working. Please always start your collaborations with a conversation about the ways in which you work and learn best.
Office hours and help
I am available by appointment on email for time in-between class sessions or after class. When I’m not in Bennington, I’m also happy to do Skype/Facetime appointments as my schedule permits. Please do not call or text me for an appointment: please email me. If you have not heard back from me by the end of the day, then please text me to make sure I received your email.
The Art of Participation, 1950-Now, Rudolph Frieling, SF MOMA/Thames and Hudson, 2008
Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space, and Social Inclusion, Edited by Cameron Carrier and Martin Zebraki, Rutledge, 2016
Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, bel hooks, South End Press, 1984
One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. Miwon Kwon, MIT Press, 2002.
Participation, Edited by Clarie Bishop, Whitechapel, 2006
Publics and Counterpublics, Michael Warner, Zone Books, 2002
Rock the Boat: Localized Ethics, the Situated Self and Particularism in Contemporary Art, Tere Vladen and Mikka Hannula, Salon, 2003
Social Acupuncture, Darren O’Donnell, Coach House, 2006
Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, William Holly Whyte, Project for Public Spaces, 2001
Thinking in Systems, A Primer, Donnella Meadows, Earthscan, 2009
What We Want is Free, Critical Exchanges in Recent Art, Edited by Ted Purves and Shane Aslan Selzer, SUNY Press 2013
Artificial Hells, Claire Bishop, Verso, 2012
Art and Social Function, Stephen Willats, ellipsis, 1976
Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Ranciere, Verso 2009
Examined Life: Excursions with Contemporary Thinkers, Astra Taylor, The New Press, 2009
Happenings and Other Acts, Edited by Mariellen R. Sandford, Rutledge, 1995
Living As Form, Nato Thompson, MIT, 2012
Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century, Nato Thompson, Melville House, 2015
SUBJECT TO CHANGE Check back often
Week 1: Introductions and Overview
Who are we and why are we here? Etc.
Readings: Darren O’Donnell, Social Acupuncture
Exercise: Meet a staff member (and maybe we'll turn it into a book or pamphlet!)
How to Talk to Strangers
13 Simple Journalist Techniques for Effective Interviews
30 Tips on How to Interview Like a Journalist
Week 2: Social Practice and Design
Reading discussion: Maria & Jordan
Case Studies: Kate Rich, Feral Trade—Hadil; Marie Lorenz, Tide and Current Taxi—Jessica
Overview: IDEO Field Guide & Design Process
Project 1 Assignment: Hyperlocal Intervention (in pairs)
Reading: Donnella Meadows, Thinking in Systems, A Primer, Chapters 1, 6, 7
Optional: Listen to the Revisionist History podcast Food Fight
Week 3: Systems
Systems Thinking Workshop with Susan Sgorbati
Reading discussion: Nila & Yanan
Project 1 team reports
Readings: Michael Warner, "Publics & Counterpublics"; Ted Purves, "Throwing Stones at the Sea"
Week 4: Publics
Reading discussion: Drew & Nam; Yanan & Jessica
Case Studies: Simone Leigh, Free People’s Medical Clinic—Nam
Phil Collins, The World Won’t Listen—David
Project 1 presentations
Readings: Rudolph Frieling, “Towards Participation"; Ted Purves and Shane Aslan Selzer, “No Longer Normal”
Exercise: In pairs, go to town and meet 2 strangers. Find out what they think of you. Find out what you think of them. Get stories, dreams, regrets—some definitive moments and ideas that transform these strangers into real, living, vital people.
Week 5: Participation & Exchange
Reading discussion: Hunter & Nila; Maria & Hadil
Case studies: Jeremy Deller, The Battle of Oargreve—Nam
Introduction to Project 2: Walking tour of downtown Bennington
Readings: WATCH “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”, Miwon Kwon, “The Wrong Place”
Project 2 assigned
Week 6: Place & Site specificity
Reading discussion: Hadil & Jordan ; Hunter & Roma
Case Studies: Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Complaints Choi—Nila
Katarina Szeda, Nothing Happens Here—Carina
Team Project ideas
Reading: Selections from Participation, Selections from Rock the Boat
Week 7: Audience & Community
Reading discussion: Nam & Roma; Jessica & David
Team Project updates
Case Studies: Laundromat Project—Roma
Thomas Hirschhorn, Gramsci Monument—Maria
Readings: bell hooks "Marginality As A Site of Resistance" WATCH: Judith Butler & Sunaura Taylor, Examined Life; Sharon Irish, “Tenant to Tenant”
Optional: Avital Ronell on meaning in Examined Life
Week 8: Power & Privilege
Reading discussion: Carina & Drew ; Carina & David
Case Study: Feminist Wikipedia & NY Times Reading Group—OPEN
Week 9: Topical Interventions
Project 2 Presentations
Allison Rowe via Skype
Case Studies: Not An Alternative, Natural History Museum—Hunter
Tattfoo Tan, NEMRE—Yanan
Caroline Woolard et al, REIC—Drew
Week 10: Plan Day No Class
Week 11: Research
Research workshop in library with Oceana
In-class time to start project 3
Week 12: Projects
Team research presentations & preliminary project ideas